Improve the Quality of Your Sleep with a ‘Smart Pillow’

Chrona + App

(DGIwire) How important is sleep when it comes to your health? As the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes on its website, sleep insufficiency has been linked to a myriad of motor vehicle crashes, industrial disasters, and medical and other occupational errors. Just as potentially harmful is poor-quality sleep; a study that appeared in late 2014 in the journal Neurology concluded that sleep disturbances are linked to brain changes that can potentially lead to dementia later in life.

Thanks to our increasingly busy lifestyles, we often don’t have time to get a full eight hours of shuteye. But technological advances may come to our rescue. Consider Chrona, for example. Created by biomedical researchers at Washington University in St. Louis, and now being developed by a startup named Ultradia, Chrona is a sleep optimization system that helps people get more effective sleep without spending more time in bed.

Chrona is a rectangular piece of memory foam, about a half-inch thick, that users insert between their pillow and pillowcase. The device turns the pillow into a “smart pillow” by tracking your sleep patterns and optimizing your sleep quality using sound. Like Fitbit and other wearable trackers, Chrona tracks sleep based on movement—but in this case, the movements of your head and torso, using an accelerometer. Chrona sends this data to your smartphone via Bluetooth. Using the data, the Chrona app determines where you are in your sleep cycle, and then tells Chrona how to optimize your sleep. You can also use Chrona as a smart alarm to wake you up with gentle vibrations. Because the device is operated completely via smartphone, you can optimize your sleep easily. Chrona’s minimalist speakers lay on top of pressure sensors, so the volume of the acoustic sleep optimization won’t ever be too loud, no matter how much you roll around.

Chrona’s innovation comes from using sounds to actively improve the quality of sleep. One feature, “Deep Sleep Boost,” uses low-frequency sounds to help you sleep more deeply. Sounds in the so-called “delta range” can synchronize and boost deep sleep, which ongoing studies show to have benefits for memory and cognition. Meanwhile, Chrona’s “Perfect Wake-Up” feature uses higher frequencies to help you enter a lighter state of sleep. When you’re relaxed with your eyes closed (e.g., during meditation), your brain expresses the highest activity in the so-called “alpha range.” Perfect Wake-Up uses sound in the same frequency to prepare your mind to wake up.

“With Chrona, regardless of how long you sleep, you can wake up feeling refreshed and ready to go,” says Ben Bronsther, co-founder and vice president of Ultradia. “Over the past few years, sleep tracking devices have taught us a lot about sleep. Chrona takes this one step further using sleep optimization technology that actively improves your sleep, rather than passively tracking it. We think Chrona is the ideal complement to today’s high-performance, sleep-deprived lifestyles.”  To learn more about this development of Chrona check out this Kickstarter campaign page:   https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/ultradia/chrona-sleep-smarter-not-longer

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