What's New in Sleep Technology? A HealthCentral Explainer

ATsai Editor December 04, 2012
  • As technology advances, so do the treatment options for medical conditions--particularly non-drug options. Conditions such as  insomnia or depression do not always respond predictably to traditional methods of treatment, which is why devices and studies that use music and light as non-invasive approaches could offer new hope.

     

    Can green light glasses prevent jet lag?

    Green-light glasses worn at specific times of the day could reset the body clock, according to researchers from Australia. The product, called the Re-Timer, is a set of glasses that emits soft green light onto the eyes. And that can counteract the effects of jet lag or keep shift workers more alert, according to the inventor. Our eyes have photoreceptors that detect light and signal the brain that we should be awake and alert. But this cycle can become out of sync due to jet lag, shift work, and not enough exposure to sunlight. The green light supposedly is capable of tweaking this response, and manipulating  the body clock.

     

    In order to wake up earlier, researchers recommend wearing the device for 50 minutes for three consecutive days after getting up in the morning.  To wake up later, they suggest wearing it for 50 minutes for three consecutive days before bed. The product is being manufactured by SMR components.

     

                    [SLIDESHOW: 8 Facts About Insomnia]

     

    What about LED headphones?

    Finnair is trialing an LED headset, which claims to combat jet lag, on passengers flying business class between Helsinki and Shanghai, according to SmartPlanet. The earbuds blast light into the photosensitive regions of the brain through the ear canal, which is supposed to stimulate the brain, elevate mood and prevent jet lag.  Passengers traveling to Helsinki are asked to use the earbuds halfway through the flight, when it’s morning in Europe, while those traveling towards Shanghai use them near the end of the flight--during the morning in Shanghai. Passengers are then asked for their feedback. If the LED earbuds prove successful, they will be rolled out on more Finnair flights. The device was developed by Finnish company Valkee, and costs $240.

                  

                [SLIDESHOW: 5 Ways Sleep and Weight Are Connected]

     

    Can music treat insomnia?

    Researchers from Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center are studying a new technology that can balance brain frequencies and improve symptoms of insomnia. Typically, when a person experiences some kind of stress or trauma, the two brain hemispheres become unbalanced, which can lead to insomnia.  The technology used to correct this imbalance is called high-resolution, relational, resonance-based, electroencephalic mirroring (HIRREM), or Brainwave Optimization. It works by playing the brain’s frequency back to itself using musical tones. Resonance between the musical tones and the brain’s electrical energy can supposedly bring balance between the two hemispheres.

     

    Researchers looked at 20 participants with moderate-to-severe insomnia, based on the Insomnia Severity Index, which measures insomnia on a zero to 28 point scale. The participants all scored between 18.7 and 18.9 on the scale. For the study, 10 people were randomized to receive the HIRREM. The other 10 were the wait-list control group. After completing 8 to 12 HIRREM sessions that lasted between 60 to 90 minutes, researchers saw a 10.3 drop in the participants’ insomnia score.  The control group showed no change in their insomnia score, but when given HIRREM, they showed the same improvements as the initial group.

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    Sources:

    n.p. (2012, November 23). "Green-Light Glasses Could Cure Jet Lag And Reset Your Body Clock." Medical News Today. Retrieved from http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/253141.php

     

    Osborne, Charlie. (2012, March 19). “Airline tests LED travel kits to combat jetlag.” SmartPlanet. Retrieved from http://www.smartplanet.com/blog/smart-takes/airline-tests-led-travel-kits-to-combat-jetlag/24434

     

    n.p. (2012, November 23). "New Therapy For Insomnia." Medical News Today. Retrieved from http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/253074.php

     

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