Did you know that poor-quality sleep costs the US over $400B per year in lost productivity?
Pulling an “all-nighter” and being awake for 24 hours is equal to having a blood alcohol concentration level of 0.10%. That would qualify you to be arrested for drunk driving. This means blurred vision, loss of coordination, and loss of judgment.
For most people, sleep is often the first thing they give up. The popular belief that “you can sleep when you’re dead” is fundamentally damaging to your health, happiness, and longevity.
Sufficient sleep improves your ability to learn, make better decisions, and navigate emotional and social challenges with relative composure.
And physiologically, sleep has a slew of benefits, including strengthening our immune system, reforming our metabolism, regulating our appetite, and helping us to maintain a healthy cardiovascular system.
But getting a good night’s sleep is not easy for many people, even when they make time for it.
This is where robotics company Somnox comes in. They have developed a soft robotic device that improves the quality of your sleep and helps you wake up feeling more refreshed.
In today’s blog, I’m going to give you an overview of Somnox, how their technology works, and what this means for the future of sleep medicine.
Let’s dive in…
NOTE: Understanding how to use exponential tech like Somnox to transform your health and longevity is a key focus of my year-round Mastermind and Executive Program Abundance360.
(This blog is written by Peter Diamandis, MD and Felicia Hsu, MD)
WHAT IS SOMNOX?
Most sleep improvement interventions are framed around pharmaceuticals, sleep hygiene, and mindfulness.
But pharmaceuticals offer only temporary relief and often come with side effects. And lifestyle changes are helpful but aren’t always practical or effective.
Julian Jagtenberg is an entrepreneur whose mission is to change the world using robotics. With a lifelong passion for robots, he pursued his study of robotics at the University of Technology Delft.
Jagtenberg’s journey began because of his mom’s poor sleep.
She could only sleep for 4 hours each night, and her physician kept prescribing pills. But those medications came with harsh side effects, headaches, and brain fog. She didn’t feel like herself.
Jagtenberg saw this as a lose-lose situation: either deal with the effects of sleep deprivation, or the side effects of traditional sleep medications.
And he wanted to use robotics to change that.
Inspired by soft robot movie characters such as Baymax and EVE (Wall-E), Jagtenberg set his Moonshot to develop a soft robot to fix his mom’s sleep. He found a paper on a concept called “breathing memory.” The idea is that if you hold onto a baby while sleeping, it will synchronize with your heart rate and respiration rate.
So Jagtentag set out to translate the breathing memory concept into a sleep robot that has sensors and a feedback loop to detect your sleep patterns, and then physically guide you to breathe at a very slow pace. All you have to do is hug it at night like a pillow and it will work its magic.
Jagtenberg called it the Somnox Sleep Robot.
HOW EXACTLY DOES THE SOMNOX SLEEP ROBOT WORK?
The Somnox Sleep Robot is a kidney-shaped pillow that the user can hold to sleep. It relieves the mind and body of stress through three elements: breathing, sounds, and affection.
1. Breathing. The Sleep Robot mimics the rise and fall of the breath, which is similar to our physical breathing movement. By holding the Sleep Robot, the user will naturally sync with its breathing rate over time.
But how does this physiologically help your sleep?
It turns out that breathing affects a person’s relaxation state by influencing the nervous system. Slowing breathing down balances the autonomic nervous system and tunes down your sympathetic “fight or flight” response. And the research supports this. One study found that infants improved their normally chaotic breathing after sleeping with a breathing bear.
2. Sounds. The Sleep Robot can play music, white noise, pink noise, and ambient sounds to help the body achieve full relaxation mode. For instance, meditation music is incorporated to induce a calm state. Users can also choose their own music as well through the Somnox App.
3. Affection. Designed to be comfortable and easy to use, the Sleep Robot’s form is inspired by the pregnancy pillow. Drawing on ergonomic experts, Somnox created the robot’s shape so users can maintain a natural sleeping position, without deviating from their natural neck and shoulder alignment. It becomes a sleeping companion that the user can place next to their chest and hug with their arms.
The very first production-line Sleep Robots came out in January 2019. In a recent trial, Somnox found 54% of customers reported falling asleep faster and 83% reported it helped them relax.
Though Somnox is focused on sleep, Jagtenberg believes that their technology shows how “breathwork”––breathing techniques performed to improve physical or mental well-being––is a key new focus in health technology. It’s the foundation of meditation apps, such as Headspace, Calm, and Insight Timer.
As for Somnox’s future, Jagtenberg is now working on “invisible” sensors that can be embedded into clothing to detect indications of stress or anxiety. They would then provide real-time feedback and recommend breathing practices to help keep you calm.
These technological developments point to a future in which we will have continuous sensors monitoring our health and providing real-time solutions.
Technologies such as Somnox’s Sleep Robot are made possible by the extraordinary convergence of exponential technologies.
The combination of robotics, sensors, and real-time feedback systems is transforming how we sleep.
And improving the quality of your sleep is one of the most underappreciated elements of extending your lifespan.
Using Somnox’s Sleep Robot represents one of the actions you can take today to increase your potential healthspan, with a target of making it to a healthy 100+ years old.
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