WE ALL know the awful hangover from a bad night’s sleep: tiredness, crotchetiness, poor concentration and sluggish reactions. Thankfully, these can all be fixed by catching up on your zzz’s the following day, but if sleep continues to evade you, trouble is coming. Chronic insomnia can lead to severe health problems, including obesity, type 2 diabetes and depression.
Such a lack of rest is a major issue. The amount of sleep people need varies, with most adults requiring between 7 and 9 hours each night. But a lot of us fail to hit that target on a regular basis. According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about a third of US adults don’t get enough every day, and around 20 per cent have chronic sleep conditions.
“Sleep is such a problem,” says Mark George at the Medical University of South Carolina. “It would be great if we had some kind of device that would help people.”
Of course, there is no shortage of apps and gadgets that claim to monitor and analyse your sleep, but after decades of mixed results, recent breakthroughs in brain stimulation are about to take things a step further. A range of products that directly interact with your brainwaves are promising to help hack your sleep for a better night’s rest. But can they really live up to their potential?
The first stirrings of “consumer sleep technology” arrived in 2005, when a company called Zeo launched a headband that purported to record and analyse sleep and give advice on how to improve it. Zeo was ahead of its time and folded around 2012, but, by then, …