Remember the fairy tale about the princess with the pea under her mattress? In the story, the pea ended up in a museum – and that is where it belongs, as its place in the bed can now be taken by a measurement sensor developed by the Finnish company Emfit hoping to slip one under every mattress by the late 2020s.
These sleep fairies are not just daydreamers: their sensors are already sold across the globe.
While the Emfit QS sensor may not reveal a princess like the pea did, its numerous features can help people sleep their way to feeling like kings and queens, bed size aside.
“Using it is easy: you place the sensor crosswise under your mattress, under the area where your heart is whilst sleeping,” says Emfit CEO Heikki Räisänen. “The sensor registers things such as your breathing, heart rate and even heart-rate-variability in real-time as well as your motion in bed.”
The data is also transmitted to the cloud for further use, and with the Wi-Fi or mobile data connectivity, users such as elderly persons do not need any certain terminal device on them.
Tackling sleep apnea and other health risks
Physiological sleep research has attracted major interest over the past years. Emfit has been involved since 1991 by developing purpose-specific technology.
“Our bed sensors have been commercially available for over 15 years, and more and more people globally are finding Emfit’s solutions helpful in improving the quality of their life through measured sleep data”, Räisänen states.
Some findings can be crucial, as in the case of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), the most common type of sleep apnea typically resulting in excessive daytime sleepiness plus functionality and memory problems. The most serious consequence of untreated OSA is to the heart. Persons with sleep apnea have a 30 per cent higher risk of heart attack or death than those unaffected.
“OSA is a serious matter and an underdiagnosed one as well,” Räisänen explains. “We at Emfit currently put in a lot of work related to OSA as well as IRR, Increased Respiratory Resistance. Our unique sensor is in the pipeline for official registration under the Medical Device Directive to be used by doctors making OSA diagnoses, expected in the second half of 2017.
This seeks to facilitate a quicker and easier discovery of OSA than before, which can translate into prevention of many other ailments such as strokes in OSA patients.
Athletes waking up to a rest day knowing why
Sports-minded people also benefit from Emfit QS. A good number of top athletes globally already rely on it.
“With our algorithms, we can calculate heart rate variability (HRV) from sensor signal,” Räisänen says.
Emfit QS-based HRV measurements during sleep provide athletes and coaches with information on recovery and recent physical strain, to assist in the planning of training.
“For example, close to 400 NFL players are currently using our sensors through a specialist sleep coaching company, RiseScience,” Räisänen says. “Triathletes, bicyclists ,as well as exercise-minded laypersons are exploiting Emfit QS data gathered during sleep to know when they can go all out and when to rest.”
A future in the know
Räisänen practices what he preaches. “There was a time when I sacrificed sleep on account of work for too long, until my body couldn’t take it anymore,” he says. “I learned the vital importance of sleep the hard way. Today, with our own products, I am able to maintain better resting habits.”
By way of collaboration with mattress makers, Emfit wants their sensor in connection with every decent mattress sold in the future. Then more of us would get a better idea of our sleep just by turning in.