Matteo Franceschetti couldn’t sleep.
He tried lots of gadgets, but nothing worked. He couldn’t remember to use them.
That’s when he created something he wouldn’t have to remember to wear or charge.
It’s a mattress pad called EIGHT, after recommended hours of sleep.
Eight personalizes sleep tracking for each user.
HOW IT WORKS: The mattress pad tracks your usual bedtime, time you fall asleep, normally wake, movement, heart rate, breathing rate, hours slept, and get out of bed. It also tracks room temperature, humidity, light levels, noise levels, and local weather.
Based on the info it collects, a companion app provides you with a sleep score, data on number of hours slept, sleep debt trends, and data on how much deep sleep you received.
The mattress cover also offers ten different temperature settings that can be adjusted on either side of the bed if you are sleeping with a partner.
The system costs between $249 and $289 depending on bed size, is available for preorder for $99 on its website. Use code SLEEPWEEK to get $35. off. According to the website, there is a one-year limited warranty and 30-day free return.
Last year, Eight launched a crowdfunding campaign for its mattress cover, which ended up raising $1.2 million, significantly more than its $400,000 goal.
Though the campaign ended in March 2015, none of the orders have been fulfilled yet, but Franceschetti said they plan to start shipping the device in the spring of this year.
All that tracking would keep me up. I do like the temperature feature, but I remember sleeping with heated blankets ended up being a health hazard. I recall learning years later that electric blankets create a magnetic field that has been linked to childhood leukemia, miscarriages, breast cancer and endometrial cancer. A study was published on it 9 years ago in the European Journal of Cancer Prevention. This mattress cover also runs on electricity. It’s radiating a constant low level magnetic field. You have no idea what it will do to you ten or twenty years from now. Further, whoever invested in it doesn’t want you to think them dumb for investing in everything called “smart” so fake blogs, articles and sites will pop up saying how wonderful it is without mentioning this hazard at all. Then, they buy quotes from physicians or experts to say it’s safe. The only one who suffers the long-term consequences is the healthcare consumer who bought it. You’ll be up worrying. Ah, the irony. The founders may add software with sleep coaches (again keeping you up). I’m thinking its because they already know this electric mattress will not improve your sleep. Smart people will not fall for slick presentations. The only person sleeping soundly will be the founder with millions of dollars from investors. They fell for the line: “Changing sleep forever, for better.”
Here’s a reminder of why sleep is so important to good health followed by what may be the underlying cause of insomnia.
Medical Causes of Insomnia from Sleep Foundation
Examples of medical conditions that can cause insomnia are:
- Nasal/sinus allergies
- Gastrointestinal problems such as reflux
- Endocrine problems such as hyperthyroidism
- Neurological conditions such as Parkinson’s disease
- Chronic pain
- Low back pain
Medications such as those taken for the common cold and nasal allergies, high blood pressure, heart disease, thyroid disease, birth control, asthma, and depression can also cause insomnia.
In addition, insomnia may be a symptom of underlying sleep disorders. For example, restless legs syndrome—a neurological condition in which a person has an uncomfortable sensation of needing to move his or her legs—can lead to insomnia.
Patients with restless legs syndrome typically experience worse symptoms in the later part of the day, during periods of inactivity, and in the transition from wake to sleep, which means that falling asleep and staying asleep can be difficult. An estimated 10 percent of the population has restless legs syndrome.
Sleep apnea is another sleep disorder linked to insomnia. With sleep apnea, a person’s airway becomes partially or completely obstructed during sleep, leading to pauses in breathing and a drop in oxygen levels. This causes a person to wake up briefly but repeatedly throughout the night. People with sleep apnea sometimes report experiencing insomnia.
If you have trouble sleeping on a regular basis, it’s a good idea to review your health and think about whether any underlying medical issues or sleep disorders could be contributing to your sleep problems.
In some cases, there are simple steps that can be taken to improve sleep (such as avoiding bright lighting while winding down and trying to limit possible distractions, such as a TV, computer, or pets).
While in other cases, it’s important to talk to your doctor to figure out a course of action. You should not simply accept poor sleep as a way of life—talk to your doctor or a sleep specialist for help.
Insomnia & Depression
Sleep problems may represent a symptom of depression, and the risk of severe insomnia is much higher in patients with major depressive disorders. Studies show that insomnia can also trigger or worsen depression.
Insomnia, Depression, Anxiety
Insomnia can come from feeling excited, worried, nervous or anxious. It’s natural for most adults. If it becomes a regular pattern it could lead to:
- Getting caught up in thoughts about past events
- Excessive worrying about future events
- Feeling overwhelmed by responsibilities
- A general feeling of being revved up or overstimulated
There are 2 types of insomnia:
- Onset insomnia (trouble falling asleep)
- Maintenance insomnia (waking up during the night and not being able to return to sleep).
According to the Sleep Foundation, when this happens for many nights (or many months), you might start to feel anxiousness, dread, or panic at just the prospect of not sleeping. This is how anxiety and insomnia can feed each other and become a cycle that should be interrupted through treatment.
Insomnia & Lifestyle
Examples of how specific lifestyles and sleep habits can lead to insomnia are:
- You work at home in the evenings. This can make it hard to unwind, and it can also make you feel preoccupied when it comes time to sleep. The light from your computer could also make your brain more alert.
- You take naps (even if they are short) in the afternoon. Short naps can be helpful for some people, but for others they make it difficult to fall asleep at night.
- You sometimes sleep in later to make up for lost sleep. This can confuse your body’s clock and make it difficult to fall asleep again the following night.
- You are a shift worker (meaning that you work irregular hours). Non-traditional hours can confuse your body’s clock, especially if you are trying to sleep during the day, or if your schedule changes periodically.
Insomnia & Food
If you can’t sleep, review the following lifestyle factors:
Alcohol is a sedative. It can make you fall asleep initially, but may disrupt your sleep later in the night.
Caffeine is a stimulant. Most people understand the alerting power of caffeine and use it in the morning to help them start the day and feel productive. Caffeine in moderation is fine for most people, but excessive caffeine can cause insomnia.
A National Sleep Foundation poll found that people who drank four or more cups/cans of caffeinated drinks a day were more likely than those who drank zero to one cups/cans daily to experience at least one symptom of insomnia at least a few nights each week.
Caffeine can stay in your system for as long as eight hours, so the effects are long lasting. If you have insomnia, do not consume food or drinks with caffeine too close to bedtime.
Nicotine is also a stimulant and can cause insomnia. Smoking cigarettes or tobacco products close to bedtime can make it hard to fall asleep and to sleep well through the night. Smoking is damaging to your health. If you smoke, you should stop.
Heavy meals close to bedtime can disrupt your sleep. The best practice is to eat lightly before bedtime. When you eat too much in the evening, it can cause discomfort and make it hard for your body to settle and relax. Spicy foods can also cause heartburn and interfere with your sleep.
Insomnia & The Brain
In some cases, insomnia may be caused by certain neurotransmitters in the brain that are known to be involved with sleep and wakefulness.
There are many possible chemical interactions in the brain that could interfere with sleep and may explain why some people are biologically prone to insomnia and seem to struggle with sleep for many years without any identifiable cause—even when they follow healthy sleep advice.
The Sleep Foundation reviewed Eight, which used to be called Luna, along with other monitors that slide under your sheets to keep an eye on your sleep habits without disrupting your slumber.
While most high-tech sleep trackers involve a wristband, some people prefer to sleep without anything on their arms. That’s where these three new products come in.
This system is made up of a mattress pad that goes under your mattress (above your box spring), a smart phone app, and a bedside device that produces light and sound. The pad tracks your sleep patterns and the light and sound programs help you transition to sleep at night and wake up in the morning. You can also use the Smart WakeUP function so that your alarm goes off when you’re in a light sleep cycle so you’ll feel less groggy. Another fun feature: The bedside device monitors light and noise in the room, in case there’s a connection between, say, a routine garbage truck on your street and your waking up at 5:00am every day. ($299.95)
Luna: (Now called EIGHT)
This mattress cover learns your sleep habits and cycles by tracking your heart rate and breathing rate. It also changes the temperature of your bed, warming it up around your normal bedtime and cooling down throughout the night. If you and your partner have different preferences, you can each set your half of the bed to separate temperatures. Think of this as turning your mattress into a smart bed, since Luna can communicate with other devices. For instance, Luna can connect with activity trackers (and figure out if your exercise or eating habits are affecting your sleep). It can “talk” to other smart home devices like your alarm clock (Luna will make sure that it’s set). And it can even work directly with your thermostat (Luna will lower it when you go to sleep). (Starts at $249)
Take any mattress—foam, memory foam, waterbed, pillow top, or spring—and place the RestOn sensor on top of it, under your fitted sheet. Hit start on the RestOn app on your smart phone, get into bed, and it will start recording heart rate, respiratory rate, movement, and sleep cycles. The RestOn goes one step further and suggests habits that will result in better sleep, like making your room cooler, cutting out late-in-the-day coffee, or eating a lighter lunch. You’ll also get weekly and monthly reports that detail your sleep trends so you can make adjustments to improve your slumber. ($149)
Stanford sleep research and treatment focuses on all types of sleep disorders including, but not limited to, the following:
INSOMNIA debilitates no fewer than 14 percent of Americans. It has been shown to be one of the strongest predictors of depression later in life. But new therapies, including some that do not require medication—such as sleep restriction, light therapy, better sleep habits, and cognitive therapy—bring 80 percent to 90 percent satisfaction even in severe cases.
OBSTRUCTIVE SLEEP APNEA afflicts 30 million Americans, or 10 percent of the population. Soft tissue in the airway stops breathing repeatedly during sleep, preventing deep sleep, causing low oxygenation, and resulting in sleep deprivation. Apnea is now accepted as the leading treatable cause of hypertension and is a strong predictor of stroke and heart disease. Difficulty with memory, intimacy, and attention are common.
CENTRAL SLEEP APNEA, a less common type of sleep apnea, affects several million Americans. Although people with central sleep apnea seldom snore, symptoms and results are much the same as the obstructive type—a deprivation of oxygen and poor sleep. About 40 percent to 60 percent of persons with heart failure have central sleep apnea.
RESTLESS LEGS SYNDROME (RLS) afflicts 12 million Americans. An uncontrollable urge to move the legs, often associated with painful sensations, seriously disrupts sleep. The genetic basis of RLS has just been discovered. RLS is also associated with depression, anxiety, and heart disease.
NARCOLEPSY AND IDIOPATHIC HYPERSOMNIA (disabling daytime sleepiness) shatter more than 200,000 lives in the United States. In addition to sudden, unpredictable sleeping, they can cause cataplexy, a muscular collapse brought on by emotional excitement. Lifelong treatment with stimulants or powerful sedatives is often required but brings only partial relief. Although the cause of narcolepsy is now established, almost nothing is known regarding idiopathic hypersomnia and its treatment.
Learn more about the Stanford Center for Sleep Sciences and Medicine by clicking on one of the links below.
MARIA DORFNER, the founder NewsMD connects medical & media.
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