LAS VEGAS — If there’s a town that fights harder to keep you from getting a good night’s sleep than this one, I sure haven’t found it. Which may help explain why the sleep-tech collection of exhibits at the massive CES trade show here has become so popular.
Companies aren’t sleeping on the growing popularity of sleep tech. Although total CES exhibit space is roughly flat from last year, the sleep-tech section has swelled 22 percent, making it one of the fastest-growing concentrations in the hot digital health, wellness and fitness area. And that doesn’t take into account the growing number of smartwatches and fitness trackers with sleep tracking at neighboring wearable, fitness and sports sections.
Even when we’re not hopelessly overstimulated in Vegas, many of us are concerned about the quantity and quality of the sleep we get. No wonder. Sleep plays such a critical role in our physical and mental well-being. And yet, more than a third of us don’t get enough sleep.
Here’s a roundup of tech at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show that can help you rest easier.
Popular fitness tracker Fitbit has a sizable private-meeting area just inside the entryway to the show floor at the Sands Expo & Convention Center, where all the digital health tech resides. The company has on hand its newest fitness band, the Charge 3, along with Versa and Ionic, its latest smartwatches. All three feature Fitbit’s latest sleep-tracking technology, which monitors sleep stages as well as total sleep and awake times.
Fitbit is currently developing a sleep-quality component to its shut-eye monitoring. Last month, Fitbit Labs launched its Sleep Score Beta program, which the company said proved to be popular. All 10,000 spots in the beta program filled up in just a week.
The beta program delivers a nightly quality score from 0 to 100, based on variables like time spent in REM and deep sleep, heart rate and restlessness. The program also watches for breathing disturbances that could signal underlying disorders like apnea — but only with newer devices, which are equipped with an SpO2 sensor to track blood oxygen levels.
Tag, you’re sleeping!
The wrist can be a challenging spot to collect data for wearable suppliers because the built-in artificial intelligence must sift through irrelevant hand motions like waving and scratching to pinpoint the true biometrics. So this year, some health-tech players are exhibiting new devices that monitor sleep from other locations on the body.
I’ve been testing one such device, a novel wearable that tracks sleep and stress by examining breathing patterns. It’s called the Health Tag, from Silicon Valley startup Spire, and it attaches to the waistband of your shorts or inside a bra strap and communicates via a smartphone app. The Tag comes in packs, so you can permanently attach each one to a different piece of clothing. That way, you don’t need to constantly do laundry just to track activity.
The Tag does track your heart rate and count your steps. It also tallies workout duration, calories burned and heart rate range.
Beddr, another Silicon Valley startup, is demonstrating its new SleepTuner. More of a stickable than a wearable, the unobtrusive device monitors sleep from the forehead. It attaches with hypoallergenic adhesive stickers. Like the newer Fitbits, SleepTuner can monitor SpO2 to spot sleep issues.
Both SleepTuner and the Health Tag pair with iPhone apps, with Android apps planned.
Another class of devices pushes beyond monitoring and coaching to enhance sleep quality. They fall broadly into two categories: those that attempt to optimize sleeping conditions, and those that transmit sound waves to boost the restorative power of deep sleep.
Philips today unveiled the SmartSleep Deep Sleep headband. Part headband, part ear warmer, the device delivers “pink noise” to strengthen so-called “slow-wave” activity to enhance restoration once built-in sensors detect deep sleep.
I’ve been testing the headband for a couple weeks and found the device difficult to get accustomed to. When I moved during the night, the headband would shift, often waking me. Once I adjusted to wearing it, though, I did feel more refreshed in the morning.
After working late one night — and getting up early — the Philips’ SleepMapper app reported the headband boosted my Sleep Score from a terrible 56 out of 100 to a not-too-bad 72. I felt an odd combination of tired and refreshed in the morning, far better than the last time I only managed 4½ hours of sleep.
French startup Dreem is exhibiting its second-generation, deep sleep-enhancing headband along with a new Dreem Coach app to help identify and tackle problems that lead to poor sleep. I tried the first-generation band last year and found that, like the Philips device, it did noticeably improve sleep after a difficult adjustment period. The second-generation device is more comfortable than the original and should be easier to get accustomed to, the company said.
And Urgotech, also a French startup, just announced a sleep-enhancing headband called Urgonight. The headband and companion app are used during the day to train your brain to produce more slow-wave activity at night. Three 20-minute sessions a week over three months will result in sustainably better sleep, the company says.
Rather than enhancing the power of deep sleep, some devices aim to extend deep-sleep periods by maintaining temperatures in the 60- to 67-degree range, the best temperatures for falling — and staying — asleep.
North Carolina-based Kryo is previewing Ooler, a next-generation temperature-mattress cover that regulates temperature, as well as ChiliPad, its existing offering. And French startup Moona is exhibiting a temperature-controlled pillow by the same name.
Hopefully, with the right combination of monitoring, assessment and correction, we’ll all sleep well enough one day to beat Vegas at its own game.
Mike Feibus is principal analyst at FeibusTech, a Scottsdale, Arizona, market strategy and analysis firm focusing on mobile ecosystems and client technologies. Reach him at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @MikeFeibus.