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Sleep-tracking wristbands are so 2013. Smart pajamas are the way of the future

Image used with permission by copyright holder

From sleep-tracking wristbands to sleep-tracking mats, there’s no shortage of smart devices which claim to be able to quantify the quality and quantity of your shut-eye. Researchers from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, have a new one to add to the collection, however: Sleep-tracking pajamas. By tracking various biometrics, the comfy wearables can reportedly monitor wearers’ sleep quality, including duration of rapid eye movement (REM) sleep and any breathing difficulties they might be having at night.

“We created a loose-fitting, comfortable and breathable pajama shirt decorated with five pressure sensors, which together reveal the posture in which the wearer is sleeping throughout the night, in addition to their heart rate and respiration rate,” Trisha Andrew, a professor in the Department of Chemistry at UMass Amherst, told Digital Trends.

Monitoring respiration over time during sleep can be crucial for diagnosing sleep disorders, such as sleep apnea. The added information about heart rate also allows diagnoses to be more accurate by filtering out spurious signals, motion artifacts or stochastic device malfunctions. Revealing posture information is also useful because it allows the wearer to find links between minor health problems, such as neck or back aches, or more major ones like lack of REM sleep or sleep apnea, with the position that the person is sleeping in.

Image used with permission by copyright holder

Despite the impressive functionality of the wearable, the sensors are tiny. They are also sewn into the material so as not to be noticed by the wearer. Signals from the five sensor patches are sent to a circuit board resembles a pajama button. The button also boasts a Bluetooth transmitter which wirelessly transmits the data to a receiving unit such as a computer.

“We are adding features to the shirt that we made to reveal a bit more information for the wearer,” Andrew continued. “We are making the complementary pant for the pajama shirt with a pressure sensor sewn into the waistband, which provides information about the amount of strain your lower back is experiencing throughout the night. This way, for example, if you wake up with lower back pains in the morning, you can look at the strain you are placing on your body during your sleep cycle and ascertain if you need a new mattress or to change the way you are sleeping.”

For now, this very much remains a research project rather than a product ready to be commercialized. However, as these technologies continue to evolve, we wouldn’t be surprised to see some variation of this join the other sleep-tracking devices available on the market. All in the name of the best possible 40 winks, eh?

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Luke Dormehl
I'm a UK-based tech writer covering Cool Tech at Digital Trends. I've also written for Fast Company, Wired, the Guardian…
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