Can’t Sleep? Seven Devices That Might Solve Your Coronasomnia
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Can’t Sleep? Seven Devices That Might Solve Your Coronasomnia

We tested a lulling light display, a wearable sleep lab and a robot that trains you to breathe your way to slumber.

By KELSEY OGLETREE
Tue, Apr 12, 2022 10:15amGrey Clock 5 min

IT’S BEEN A MONTH since we sprang forward, but if you’re still slugging down extra coffee to cope, you’re not alone. Daylight savings is always hard on our bodies, said Dr. Nicole Avena, associate professor of neuroscience at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, but Covid-19 has made the shift more difficult than usual. Dr. Abhinav Singh, a physician at Indiana Sleep Center, says about 40% of people have experienced sleep problems, what he calls “coronosomnia,” during the pandemic. Working from home has disrupted our circadian cues for maintaining what Dr. Singh calls a healthy sleep-wake rhythm (think: irregular meal and exercise times, reduced sunlight exposure).

For those looking to get things back on track, several companies are offering products that promise to get you to sleep faster, stay asleep more consistently and wake up easier, improving overall sleep health. Seattle area surgery scheduler Genny Coleman, 46, who’s struggled with insomnia since contracting Covid-19 last summer, recently tried one such product on the urging of a friend with a newborn: the Hatch Restore. Released in May 2020, it doubles as a white-noise machine to help you sleep and a sunrise alarm clock to wake you up with gentle light and sound. “There are still some nights [I] may not sleep perfectly, but the Hatch definitely helps [me] to get better rest,” said Ms. Coleman. Other new sleep solutions range from wearable patches to breathable robots. We tested the following seven.

1. Casper Glow Light

Claim to Fame: This rechargeable LED light is designed to help you create a nightly routine. Once you’ve used the app to dial in some settings, it’s easy to use. When you’re ready for bed, flip the light over to turn it on. Depending on the “dimming time” you’ve selected, the light will slowly fade over a period between 15 and 90 minutes. The beacon serves as a helpful nudge, reminding you it’s time to put away your phone (and its sleep-compromising blue light) and wind down.

Test Results: This became a staple on my nightstand. I crawled into bed and read until the decrescendo alerted me it was time to close my eyes. This might not help much if you have serious insomnia, but for the mildly sleep-challenged, it’s enough.

Best For: Page-turners who stay up late and regret it in the morning. approx. $175, Casper.com

2. OneClock Analog Waking Clock

Claim to Fame: Using your phone as an alarm clock is a bad idea—picking it up before bed is certain to induce scrolling. This minimalist clock, introduced in 2021, will gently nudge you awake in the morning. Waking songs currently include exclusive compositions by Jon Natchez from rock band the War on Drugs. The company bets that you’ll appreciate waking up to these atmospheric, invigorating pieces more than some of the cacophonies your iPhone spews.

Test Results: The modern equivalent of waking up to soft AM radio: comforting, calming, familiar. It was nice to start my day with music without needing to grab my phone to find the right Spotify playlist. A fair warning: The device’s many buttons lack labels. That makes setup tricky, but ultimately, learnable. Just don’t skip the online FAQ.

Best For: Melophiles ready to break up with bedtime blue light for good. approx. $4o0, OneClock.co

3. Somnox 2 Sleep Robot

Claim to Fame: Dutch inventor Julian Jagtenberg began creating the Sleep Robot in 2015 with a team of other sleep-deprived engineers to help his mother overcome insomnia without medication. As you hold the 1.3kg rechargeable jelly bean to your chest, like a teddy bear, its soft in-and-out movement and sounds are designed to encourage deeper breathing.

Test Results: Cuddling a robot is weird, yet effective. It reminded me of holding a delicate baby, but more relaxing. Downloading its app enables nearly two dozen sounds (or you can stream your own audio through Bluetooth) and lets you set your own breathing program. When you’re awake, Somnox also works as the best stress ball ever: Just hold it in your lap at your desk. One downside: Given the price, it was disappointing that the washable cover pilled quickly.

Best For: Anxious adults who wish their bed was still covered in a menagerie of stuffed animals. approx. $807, Somnox.com

4. Wesper Sleep Kit

Claim to Fame: This system turns your bedroom into a sleep lab, providing granular data you can’t get from most wearables. After snoozing for at least three nights with its crescent-shaped patches stuck to your chest and stomach, you schedule an initial video consultation with a sleep specialist on the app. He or she analyzes your results to pinpoint problems like sleep apnea.

Test Results: While my report didn’t find any issues, it helped me tweak my schedule to complete full sleep cycles. Impressive results, given I’d never heard of “sleep cycles” before trying the Wesper.

Best For: Anyone with serious sleep challenges or biohackers. approx. $270 plus $13/month after first month, Wesper.co

5. Dodow Sleep Aid

Claim to Fame: Measuring a little over 3 inches in diameter, this flat, white puck uses a pulsating light to coach your breathing at night. Tap the top as you climb into bed, and the battery-operated device projects a blue circle onto your ceiling. You inhale when it expands and exhale when it retracts, a breathing technique that relies on a mind-body therapy called cardiac coherence to control heart rate variability and help you fall asleep faster.

Test Results: Promising, but many will find the Dodow a bit awkward to use. It’s difficult to see the blue light unless your room is pitch black. And since the light appears on the ceiling, it’s hard to see unless you sleep on your back. You trigger the device through a series of taps, but I had to reread the instructions a few times and practice just to get the right “touch.” That said, watching a pulsing light is so boring that it’s bound to make you drift off eventually.

Best For: Back sleepers who’ve tried everything else, $80, mydodow.com

6. Loftie Clock

Claim to Fame: Loftie believes its three-in-one digital alarm clock, white noise machine and nightlight will finally convince you to stop sleeping with your phone on your nightstand. You can use buttons on the Loftie to set alarms and launch breathwork, meditation and sound-bath sessions without pulling out your phone and saturating your eyes with blue light. Alarms are two-phased: a soft “wake-up” chime plays for 30 seconds until a slightly faster (and louder) “get-up” tune signals that, well, it’s time to get up.

Test Results: We were impressed with the sheer volume of content stuffed inside this small device. Its bedtime stories are oddly soothing, like the grown-up version of having parents tuck you in at night. We also liked the clock’s “Bed Signal,” which cues a lullaby and a nightlight at the same time every night.

Best For: Perpetual snooze-button hitters who need a schedule. approx.  $200, ByLoftie.com

7. Flare Audio Sleep Pro

Claim to Fame: These sleek plugs have memory-foam ball tips (each set comes with two sizes), connected by a titanium stem, that are designed to mould to your ear canal. They’re intended to reduce all variety of sleep-precluding noises, from sirens to snoring, by an average of 32 decibels.

Test Results: At this price, the earbuds disappointed. They look great, but I found that the design was hard to wear for a whole night, especially when I slept on my side, since they stick out. They do a great job cancelling noise, but you might get similar performance in a more comfortable package from the sort of standard buds you could buy at a hardware store.

Best For: Back sleepers and frequent fliers. approx. $72, FlareAudio.com

 

Reprinted by permission of The Wall Street Journal, Copyright 2021 Dow Jones & Company. Inc. All Rights Reserved Worldwide. Original date of publication: April 11, 2022.



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Should AI Have Access to Your Medical Records? What if It Can Save Many Lives?

We asked readers: Is it worth giving up some potential privacy if the public benefit could be great? Here’s what they said.

By DEMETRIA GALLEGOS
Tue, May 28, 2024 4 min

We’re constantly told that one of the potentially biggest benefits of artificial intelligence is in the area of health. By collecting large amounts of data, AI can create all sorts of drugs for diseases that have been resistant to treatment.

But the price of that could be that we have to share more of our medical information. After all, researchers can’t collect large amounts of data if people aren’t willing to part with that data.

We wanted to see where our readers stand on the balance of privacy versus public-health gains as part of our series on ethical dilemmas created by the advent of AI.

Here are the questions we posed…

AI may be able to discover new medical treatments if it can scan large volumes of health records. Should our personal health records be made available for this purpose, if it has the potential to improve or save millions of lives? How would we guard privacy in that case?

…and some of the answers we received. undefined

Rely on nonpartisan overseers

While my own recent experience with a data breach highlights the importance of robust data security, I recognise the potential for AI to revolutionise healthcare. To ensure privacy, I would be more comfortable if an independent, nonpartisan body—overseen by medical professionals, data-security experts, and citizen representatives—managed a secure database.

Anonymity cuts both ways

Yes. Simply sanitise the health records of any identifying information, which is quite doable. Although there is an argument to be made that AI may discover something that an individual needs or wants to know.

Executive-level oversight

I think we can make AI scanning of health records available with strict privacy controls. Create an AI-CEO position at medical facilities with extreme vetting of that individual before hiring them.

Well worth it

This actually sounds like a very GOOD use of AI. There are several methods for anonymising data which would allow for studies over massive cross-sections of the population without compromising individuals’ privacy. The AI would just be doing the same things meta-studies do now, only faster and maybe better.

Human touch

My concern is that the next generations of doctors will rely more heavily, maybe exclusively, on AI and lose the ability or even the desire to respect the art of medicine which demands one-on-one interaction with a patient for discussion and examination (already a dying skill).

Postmortem

People should be able to sign over rights to their complete “anonymised” health record upon death just as they can sign over rights to their organs. Waiting for death for such access does temporarily slow down the pace of such research, but ultimately will make the research better. Data sets will be more complete, too. Before signing over such rights, however, a person would have to be fully informed on how their relatives’ privacy may also be affected.

Pay me or make it free for all

As long as this is open-source and free, they can use my records. I have a problem with people using my data to make a profit without compensation.

Privacy above all

As a free society, we value freedoms and privacy, often over greater utilitarian benefits that could come. AI does not get any greater right to infringe on that liberty than anything else does.

Opt-in only

You should be able to opt in and choose a plan that protects your privacy.

Privacy doesn’t exist anyway

If it is decided to extend human lives indefinitely, then by all means, scan all health records. As for privacy, there is no such thing. All databases, once established, will eventually, if not immediately, be accessed or hacked by both the good and bad guys.

The data’s already out there

I think it should be made available. We already sign our rights for information over to large insurance companies. Making health records in the aggregate available for helping AI spot potential ways to improve medical care makes sense to me.

Overarching benefit

Of course they should be made available. Privacy is no serious concern when the benefits are so huge for so many.

Compensation for breakthroughs

We should be given the choice to release our records and compensated if our particular genome creates a pathway to treatment and medications.

Too risky

I like the idea of improving healthcare by accessing health records. However, as great as that potential is, the risks outweigh it. Access to the information would not be controlled. Too many would see personal opportunity in it for personal gain.

Nothing personal

The personal info should never be available to anyone who is not specifically authorised by the patient to have it. Medical information can be used to deny people employment or licenses!

No guarantee, but go ahead

This should be allowed on an anonymous basis, without question. But how to provide that anonymity?

Anonymously isolating the information is probably easy, but that information probably contains enough information to identify you if someone had access to the data and was strongly motivated. So the answer lies in restricting access to the raw data to trusted individuals.

Take my records, please

As a person with multiple medical conditions taking 28 medications a day, I highly endorse the use of my records. It is an area where I have found AI particularly valuable. With no medical educational background, I find it very helpful when AI describes in layman’s terms both my conditions and medications. In one instance, while interpreting a CT scan, AI noted a growth on my kidney that looked suspiciously like cancer and had not been disclosed to me by any of the four doctors examining the chart.

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