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article imageQ&A: Why sleep trackers won't fix your sleep problem Special

By Tim Sandle     Sep 2, 2018 in Health
Sleep trackers fall short when it comes to improving sleep. According to Mike Kisch, founder and CEO of Beddr, wrist-worn devices cannot accurately gauge sleeping position and lack FDA clearance to make a diagnosis.
Fitbit’s latest Charge 3 announcement has touted new sleep tracking features to help identify sleep disorders. However, according to Mike Kisch this is the wrong approach for tackling sleep problems.
As an alternative, Mike and his team of medical and sleep experts have created Beddr. This is an FDA-listed at-home consumer SleepTuner that aims to improve your sleep within a week. The tuner, which is no bigger than a postage stamp, is worn on the forehead at night for a week and gathers insights on sleeping position, stoppages in breathing and more data to provide recommendations and improvements via a connected mobile app.
To gain a greater insight into this technology, Digital Journal spoke with Mike Kisch.
Digital Journal: How many people suffer with sleep disturbance?
Mike Kisch: In the U.S. roughly one of out three people or 100 million experience sleep problems. Across the world, that number swells to over one billion people.
DJ: What are the different types of sleep disturbance?
Kisch: The two most common sleep issues are insomnia and sleep apnea. Insomnia is the difficulty in falling or staying asleep. People with insomnia can feel dissatisfied with their sleep and usually experience one or more of the following symptoms: fatigue, low energy, difficulty concentrating, mood disturbances, and decreased performance in work or at school.
Sleep Apnea is a condition where a person stops breathing multiple times per hour while sleeping. This causes them to wake up potentially hundreds of times per night. There are 54 million people in the U.S. that have sleep apnea, and a staggering 80 percent of them have not been diagnosed. The consequences of untreated sleep apnea are both immediate (tired everyday) and longer term (much greater risk for Type 2 diabetes; hypertension and depression).
DJ: What are the underlying causes of poor sleep?
Kisch: There are many causes of poor sleep. Some are under our control and others are not. The first is related to basic sleep hygiene. That could involve going to bed and waking up at the same time, minimizing exposure to computer or smartphone screens within an hour of going to bed, and reducing the number of alcoholic drinks within four hours of going to bed. The sleeping position we choose can also affect our sleep hygiene For example, people with sleep apnea stop breathing twice as much on their back versus on their side.
Our overall physical health and genetics play a role as well. People who are obese or sedentary often have a stronger predisposition for sleep issues. People born with certain facial structures or narrow airways are also more likely to suffer from sleep apnea.
DJ: Are trackers a good idea for monitoring poor sleep?
Kisch: Sleep trackers have their benefits and shortcomings. Consumer sleep trackers are affordable and easily accessible. But they are not particularly accurate and fail to capture the necessary data to provide meaningful insights about what is really preventing you from sleeping deeply, breathing properly and waking up feeling refreshed.
DJ: What are the limitations of such tracking devices?
Kisch: While very easy to use and for the most part affordable, consumer sleep trackers are often inaccurate and fail to directly measure the most critical information required to more deeply understand your sleep. In fact, a recent study by the Center for Sleep and Circadian Science found that most popular sleep trackers overestimated total sleep time by over an hour.
These sleep trackers are expected to be worn or slept with every night, but tracking your sleep every night is often an exercise in diminishing returns. While natural variants in our night-to-night sleep patterns is fairly normal, tracking every night is unnecessary and may actually do more harm than good.
DJ: What does Beddr do?
Kisch: Beddr offers a better option that we call, “sleep tuning.” The Beddr SleepTuner is the first consumer-friendly, clinical grade “sleep assessment” product listed with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration that monitors your sleep, measures your oxygen, and detects how often you stop breathing. Developed in partnership with leading sleep physicians, the Beddr SleepTuner measures much of the same information as a formal sleep test to help people precisely understand the impact that variables including sleep position, lifestyle choices (such as non-prescription medication, allergies, and alcohol consumption), and current sleep treatments have on their breathing and sleep quality.
With life changes come sleep changes. We age. Our weight fluctuates. Sometimes we exercise and sometimes we don’t. Sleep tuning helps you understand what the impact of these changes are on your sleep quality and overall health, and empowers you to take the next steps that are right for you.
Sleep tuning gathers much of the same data as an overnight sleep lab test, but allows you to sleep in the comfort of your own bed and take multiple assessments over the course of several nights. The concept of tuning isn’t new. Even the best guitars and high-performing cars require personalized maintenance to perform at their best.
DJ: What can be done with the collected data?
Kisch: Sleep tuning answers real questions, such as: "Do you have problems breathing while you sleep?"; "How does alcohol, caffeine, medication, or a cold impact your breathing while asleep?"; "How does sleep position impact your breathing and sleep quality?"; and "How do your over-the-counter (OTC) or prescription (for example, CPAP or oral appliance) therapy impact your sleep quality?"
DJ: How did you develop Beddr?
Kisch: Our team came together with a common goal of helping people understand and solve their sleep problems. We have combined our backgrounds in consumer technology (Amazon, Nerdwallet, Soundhawk) and medical devices (Shockwave, Cardica) to deliver the first consumer-friendly, clinical-grade, FDA-listed sleep assessment product.
DJ: How has Beddr been assessed?
Kisch: As a FDA Class II medical device, we are held to a higher standard that requires us to compare the accuracy of our product to other FDA-approved products on the market. We also conduct formal clinical studies to ensure the accuracy of our product. The SleepTuner was developed under a rigorous quality management system and is manufactured to an exacting standard in a ISO 13485 certified facility.
More about Sleep deprivation, insomina, sleep tracker, health tracker, wearables
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