Sleep is essential for human health, as much as food and water. However, in our intensely busy culture, many people fail to get enough. Not getting at least seven hours each night can lead to an increased risk of several psychological and physical illnesses, including diabetes, heart disease, depression, and anxiety.
When struggling to sleep, it’s important doctors have some data on how you doze to potentially diagnose a sleep disorder and offer advice. For those in this situation there are two options: conduct a sleep test at a medical facility or recruit a smartphone app at home. Using an app is much more convenient though a lot less accurate. With this in mind, many groups have been trying to develop precise and convenient sleep monitoring systems, taking the forms of eye masks, patches, belts, and bed sheets.
This is where Ding Li, Zhong Lin Wang, and their colleagues come in with their innovative solution of a self-powered smart pillow that can track the sleep of its user. The invention uses the movement of the user’s head during the night to monitor their sleep, allowing for a less restrictive and more comfortable version of these previous efforts. Details of the invention have recently been published in ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces.
The smart pillow was constructed of a novel flexible, porous, polymer triboelectric layer, which monitors changes in electric fields over the material to act as a sensor. Applying pressure to the material is what turns the pillow on, cleverly creating a self-powered system.
The potential uses of the pillow don’t stop here, with the technology also being able to track multiple diseases that affect the movement of the head. This includes the degenerative neck disorder cervical spondylosis, where the breakdown of cartilage and bone in the region results in pain and stiffness. The team also explained how it could be recruited in offering an early warning system for those at risk of falling out of bed.
Source study: ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces – Smart Pillow Based on Flexible and Breathable Triboelectric Nanogenerator Arrays for Head Movement Monitoring during Sleep