Innovative Withings Aura Smart Sleep System
According to the National Institutes of Health, 50 to 70 million Americans have sleep problems ranging from intermittent trouble sleeping to chronic sleep disorders. Sleep problems diminish health, safety, alertness and productivity. The Withings Aura tracks not only your sleep movements but also your environment and uses programmed sound and light combinations to help you wake up and fall asleep. It pairs with an iPhone app to chart your sleep data in user-friendly graph format.
The Smart Sleep System monitors your sleep experience and actively works to improve it. It uses the science of light and sound to work with your body clock and circadian rhythms and improve sleep. Scientist have known about the effect of light on sleep and well-being as evidenced by the use of special lights to treat Seasonal Affective Disorder, according to the Mayo Clinic.
The Withings Aura uses LED lights and a flat, comfortable under-mattress motion sensor mat to track your sleep, plus a bedside unit to monitor environmental variables. The bedside unit also has an alarm clock and Bluetooth. It is supposed to let users know if their sleep cycles are not working properly, and help them sleep and wake up better.
The sleep sensor is a highly sensitive pad that slips under your mattress or mattress cover. It monitors sleep patterns and patterns including body movement, heart rate and breathing. Withings claims it can monitor this data even from underneath a standard-thickness mattress. It uses these measurements to calculate your sleep rhythms from waking to REM sleep and lighter sleep. Users specify a wake-up time range, and the Aura sensor determines when you are in the right sleep state to wake up best within that time frame.
The bedside device, which looks a little like a cruise ship’s vent horn, records the sleep environment of your room, including noise levels, temperature and light levels. It uses its multicolored LED dimming-light technology and special wavelengths of light to maximize user’s own sleep cycles. Certain light wavelengths stimulate melatonin, the body’s natural sleep hormone.
The sound programs contained in the bedside unit replicate the body’s natural circadian rhythm frequency and pattern to relax you as you fall asleep and stimulate you as you awaken. The sensors in the bedside unit correlate with the under-mattress sensor mat to determine what conditions existed when you woke up overnight. You can then use this information to try and eliminate sources of sleep disturbance. The changing light colors are designed to reinforce hormonal cycles that tell the body when to sleep or stay awake.
The Withings Aura System includes the HealthMate iPhone app, which puts together all the collected data and displays it in graphic form. Users compare their recorded sleep stages and disturbances with their sleep environment and their personal sleep-wake cycles. The app combined with the Aura equipment creates a 360-degree well being experience, according to Withings.
Compared to wearable sleep tracking gadgets like the Jawbone UP and FitBit Force, the Withings Aura collects much more detailed information. It works automatically and is always present in your sleep environment. The Aura is also 100 percent dedicated to sleep without the activity tracker capabilities in the FitBit and Jawbone.
The early verdict, according to reviewers at Forbes, Trusted Reviews and tech gurus C-Net, the device shows promise in addressing insomnia. It doesn’t just track sleep; it actively works to increase your rest every night using light and sound. Withings claims users will notice better sleep within days or a few weeks of starting use.
CES 2014 attendees certainly found it very interesting. The Withings Aura received a CES Innovations Design and Engineering Award at the 2014 show. Due for release in Spring 2014, the Withings Aura will cost $299, with a second mattress sensor for your partner costing $129. It sounds like a gadget that needs to be used and tested before making a final judgment on its usefulness.
As a lifelong insomniac, I say “Challenge Accepted!”