Sleep monitoring gets a smart pillow aid

A new self-powering smart pillow that tracks the position of the head assumes much significance.

Do you sleep well? Or let’s put it this way. Do you get enough sleep every night? If you do, that’s a great thing. But if you find yourself unable to sleep well, then that could be due to issues linked to your health.

It is common knowledge that getting enough hours of sleep is very important for the human body. Able to sleep well is akin to getting enough food and water. But there are many among us who find it difficult to get enough sleep. Lack of sleep could bring stress to your mind and body.

This is indeed why healthcare professionals advise monitoring of sleep. However, in the current scenario systems that aid sleep monitoring are limited in number. In this context, a new self-powering smart pillow that tracks the position of the head assumes much significance.

Lack of sleep tied to health issues

The new system is the result of study, which has been seen in the ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces. There have been many studies before that dropped information pertaining to physical ailments being the cause of chronic lack of sleep. People with conditions such as diabetes and heart disease, and also mental health issues are prone to lack of sleep.

Normally, such patients get a sleep test conducted in a medical facility, or monitor their sleep using a smartphone or smartwatch app. These ways of monitoring sleep could be seen as easy ones, but they need not be perfectly accurate.

It is here the need for new sleep monitoring systems that use triboelectric nanogenerators, or TENGs, were thought of. TENGS are self-powering systems, and can assume the forms of eye masks, belts, patches or bed sheets so as to gauge how much sleep a person manages to get. Going beyond these already used systems, researchers Ding Li, Zhong Lin Wang and team looked at an approach that could be less restrictive, and more comfortable.

Smart pillow tracks position, motion of head during sleep

They wanted the new system to have as its focus the movement of the head while a person is sleeping. That brought up the idea of making a self-powering smart pillow which can be used to track the position and motion of the head during sleep.

They then went to create such a smart pillow with a flexible, porous polymer triboelectric layer. As the head moves while the person sleeps, the movement between the head and the polymer triboelectric layer alters the electric field around nearby electrodes, generating a current.

The researchers actually tied together the self-powering sensors to create a flexible and breathable TENG, or what is called an FB-TENG, line up, which could be placed on top of an ordinary pillow.

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