But for doctors to diagnose most of them, patients usually have to go to a clinic and undergo a sleep study. Typically, a technician glues or glues dozens of sensors to the patient’s head and body. The sensors are connected by wires to a computer, which sends data to the technician, who monitors the patient from a nearby room.
Although home sleep tests for sleep apnea are relatively common, they usually only measure breathing patterns. The sensors in the X-trodes pick up electrical activity in the body while you sleep, including muscle activity, eye movements and brain waves – data you can currently only get at a clinic, the company says. .
“What we have developed at X-trodes are comfortable, soft, flexible and dry electrodes,” says co-founder and CEO Ziv Peremen, adding that unlike a typical clinical trial, the tracker is wireless, so “you can sleep in any position you like.”
The tracker sends the data to a smart device. X-trodes’ software analyzes it and generates a report that doctors can use to investigate the patient’s sleep problem.
A home test may also lead to more accurate results than a clinic test, according to Peremen. “You can take all the other factors into consideration – sometimes it’s your partner, sometimes it’s ambient temperature, outside noise, etc.”
The science of sleep
Better data could also help scientists better understand sleep, and the link to brain health, emotional well-being and chronic disease. This area of medicine is still relatively new, according to Rebecca Robbins, a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School.
“We’re discovering some of the longer-term implications of sleep,” says Robbins.
Peremen says X-trodes has already sold a version of his technology to 40 research groups – at a cost of $10,000 per kit – to help them study sleep patterns.
“Once you have a solution like X-trodes, which you can wear multiple nights in a row, you greatly increase the chances of catching this pattern,” says Peremen.
But for many home sleep trackers on the market, including those that measure your sleep duration and REM sleep duration, accuracy remains hard to prove, experts say, especially since our understanding of the sleep continues to evolve.
“We don’t currently have a standard to assess and approve the level of accuracy we accept for a device,” says Massimiliano de Zambotti, a neuroscientist at the nonprofit research institute SRI International who leads validation studies of wearable sleep technologies.
A gold mine”
Robbins recommends that companies partner with scientists “to ensure that their algorithms correctly assess sleep and provide accurate information to their consumers.”
X-trodes is currently validating the technology with researchers, Peremen says.
Long term, the company wants to bring trackers directly to consumers, interpreting their sleep patterns over time and recommending ways to improve their sleep.
“Sleep is a gold mine for understanding our health,” says Peremen.
— Rachel Crane contributed to this article.