The benefits of proper sleep aren’t disputed, but determining what defines appropriate sleep and how to achieve it are subjects of vociferous discussion by experts who don’t always agree. As a result, the business of sleep is eye-opening.
According to the American Sleep Apnea Association in Washington, D.C., more than 50 million Americans are diagnosed with one or more of 80 different sleep disorders every year.
Further, as many as 30 million people in the country suffer from various intermittent sleep problems every year.
The effects of insufficient sleep have been highlighted in numerous medical studies. Healthy women who delayed their normal bedtime by 1.5 hours showed endothelial dysfunction (non-obstructive coronary artery disease), the American Thoracic Society, headquartered in New York, reported in a detailed study released in January. Columbia University Medical Center, also located in New York, recently announced a finding that delaying sleep by as little as one or two hours damages vascular health and could lead to cardiovascular disease.
In Southwest Florida, sleep experts such as Dr. Monica O. Woodward, medical director of the Sleep Disorders Center in Naples, help patients in many areas—daytime sleepiness to breathing disorders, and insomnia to arrhythmic (irregular heartbeat) sleep. Lee Health is one of several such health care organizations that specialize in children’s sleep issues, from disrupted sleep to behavioral problems, narcolepsy to restless leg syndrome.
Beyond medical expertise, wearable products touted to help sleep issues are becoming increasingly popular.
Three Finnish entrepreneurs, all with scientific expertise and interest in wellness, collaborated and introduced Oura in 2015. The titanium-made sleep ring debuted after a Kickstarter campaign, joining the barrage of wearables, products that monitor various patterns and assist users in their quests to achieve a better night’s sleep.
Oura rings, boosted by the testimonials of celebrities, surpassed 1 million in sales in 2022. The bands track collected data about a user’s body, activity and sleep using optical heart-rate monitoring. The results are downloaded to an accompanying app via Bluetooth and given three scores: sleep, activity and readiness. The ring also includes two sensors that measure skin temperature, respiratory rate (how many breaths you take per minute), heart rate and heart rate variability. The Oura ring uses the data points to track sleep and physical activity.
Like the Oura ring, TouchPoints purportedly reduce stress, increase focus, improve sleep and enhance performance. Worn as a pair inside wristbands, pockets or socks on opposite sides of the body, the gentle alternating vibrations shift from “fight or flight” stress reaction to a calm response. Ideally used 30 minutes before bedtime, TouchPoints have a built-in timer.
According to its literature, TouchPoints help with the two most common sleep issues: difficulty falling asleep at night, and going back to sleep after waking at 2 a.m. TouchPoint users have reported significant results, including those with autism, ADHD and PTSD.
“Whether it’s a working professional wanting to stay focused, a student using them to reduce test anxiety, a speaker using them to improve performance, a parent using them to calm a child’s tantrum or anyone who needs to be able to fall asleep without struggle, it’s really amazing to see the difference these make in people’s lives,” says Amy Serin, Ph.D., the TouchPoints inventor and a stress expert and neuropsychologist in Scottsdale, Arizona.
Kokoon Nightbuds are lightweight headphones packed with sleep technology. They can play soothing sounds to help users sleep or can be used as Bluetooth headphones to stream audio from a mobile phone. An optional optical heart rate monitor, built into one earpiece, tracks sleep patterns.
Nightbuds are marketed to stay firmly in place. They come with a stretchy headband and soft prongs on the silicone earpieces. The Nightbuds app features an array of white noise options, nature sounds, meditations and abstract music.