When it comes to staying in good health, getting enough sleep is very important because it increases mental acuity and sharpens decision-making skills. Not getting enough sleep has been reported to increase the risk of obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, coronary heart disease and stroke, poor mental health, and even early death.
That being said, it is not all doom and gloom though, there are quite a few wearable devices, smart mattresses, lights and apps, designed to make sure we get a good nights sleep. Some of them are good, others could be better, but so far I have not come across smart sleepwear that could do the job of my smartwatch, until now.
Sleep Tech You Can Wear To Bed
Who doesn’t like the idea of wearing pyjamas designed to make sure we get a good nights sleep. The good news is that we might not need to wait too long to own our very own intelligent nightwear, thanks to a team of researchers led by the University of Massachusetts, Amherst chemistry professor Trisha Andrews. They have devised a way of turning ordinary pyjamas into intelligent ones called Phyjama.
“Unlike most electronic wearables, the vapour-deposited electronic polymer films are wash-and-wear stable.”
The prototype that they have been working on brags five discrete and strategically placed textile patches with embedded sensors. Four of the patches are piezoelectric and can detect constant pressures like that of a person’s body against a bed. The wires from each patch attach to a tiny circuit board disguised as a button. Interconnected using silver-plated nylon threads shielded in cotton the pyjamas are capable of monitoring the wearer’s heartbeat, breathing, and sleep posture, and turn it into data that is wirelessly sent to a receiver using a small Bluetooth transmitter housed in the circuitry. It is this useful information that is then used to help improve the wearer’s sleep patterns.
Adopting a process called reactive vapour deposition, the researchers used this method to synthesise a polymer and simultaneously deposit it directly on the fabric in the vapour phase. In a statement, Andrews explained that this process allowed them to form various electronic components and, ultimately, integrated sensors. She revealed, “Unlike most electronic wearables, the vapour-deposited electronic polymer films are wash-and-wear stable. And they withstand mechanically demanding textile manufacturing routines.”
On the challenges, Andrews shared: “Our smart pyjamas overcame numerous technical challenges. We had to inconspicuously integrate sensing elements and portable power sources into everyday garments, while maintaining the weight, feel, comfort, function, and ruggedness of familiar clothes and fabrics.”
Going forward, the team is now also working on extending their technology to wearable electronic sensors that detect gait and send feedback to help prevent falls. As for Phyjama, Andrew is hoping to find a manufacturer, and if she does then, she has calculated that the intelligent nightwear would hit the market in two years and command a price tag between $100 to $200.