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How the Internet of Things promotes better sleep

Clients in health care tend to recover faster when they sleep better. Thanks to smart technology, it is increasingly easy to monitor sleeping patterns and, consequently, to improve sleep quality. The Internet of Things (IoT) strongly contributes to improvements in sleep therapy.

More and more devices are connected to the internet. Not only computers and smartphones, but also smaller everyday objects are now equipped with sensors. Intelligently combining these devices has resulted in the Internet of Things (IoT). There are all manner of IoT applications that make life easier.

According to the Gartner research firm, a total of 8.4 billion IoT devices and sensors were active by the end of 2017. This explosive growth will continue in the years to come[1].

IoT is improving health care

IoT also plays a vital role in health care. Devices connected via the IoT can record and transmit highly accurate, current information to a central platform. Using this information, care providers can uncover trends in the client's health or illness. There are all kinds of IoT applications that improve the quality of life and even save lives. Some examples:

  • A refrigerator that tracks the storage and distribution of life-saving vaccines.[2]
  • A heart monitor that records possible irregularities and remotely transmits them.[3]
  • A wheelchair or mobility scooter with sensors that monitors the sitting position to prevent decubitus.[4]
  • A smart chain with built-in loudspeaker and GPS that can provide a warning when a client has fallen.[5]
  • A smart bed that can measure vital functions, such as temperature, amount of perspiration and when a client moves or stands up.

What can IoT monitor during sleep?

One of the most important areas in which IoT has a role to play in health care is improving the sleep of clients. monitoring health becomes all the more important when people cannot easily track their own data: such as while sleeping.

A variety of smartphone and smartwatch apps are already available on the consumer market. These apps generate sleep behaviour graphs based on the movements of the user. Some of these apps can awaken the user at a pre-set period, but during the light phase of sleep rather than a fixed time. The user, therefore, feels fitter upon waking.
These products, however, are designed for the masses and mainly target ease of use. They do not provide the most accurate medical data.

More advanced IoT applications can accurately measure a range of variables. Examples include: brain activity, eye movements, muscle activity, heart rate and the blood's oxygen level. In addition, quality medical applications comply with medical certifications and privacy guidelines, like the GDPR.

Sleep therapy and IoT

Sleep therapy is expected to be one of the fastest growing segments of the IoT care market. Many people suffer from structurally poor sleep.
Some examples of how IoT can assist sleep therapy.

  • Combating sleep apnoea. Often, people who suffer from sleep apnoea are unaware of the short interruptions of breathing that can occur hundreds of times a night. One of the consequences is that the brain and the rest of the body receive insufficient oxygen. Sleep apnoea can lead to serious complaints such as headache, fatigue and even heart failure. A device with an air pump reads and records data, such as sleep interruptions, breathing pauses and other details to improve the person's quality of sleep.
  • Learning better sleep behaviour. With the aid of exercises, clients can learn to modify their sleep behaviour. For example, lying in bed for a shorter time, doing relaxation exercises before bedtime or exercising more during the day to promote sleep at night. Smartphone or smartwatch apps or special fitness trackers can help.
  • Recording the sleeping position. Other IoT applications for sleep therapy include smart mattresses or beds that can register the patient's position during sleep. For example, a carer can determine remotely whether or not a client who is at risk for bedsores has been in the same position for too long. Clients with dementia symptoms can wander at night. This can also be recorded by a smart mattress.

Read more about the importance of sleeping well

Read more about the use of IoT in health care.



[1] Gartner Says 8.4 Billion Connected "Things" Will Be in Use in 2017, Up 31 Percent From 2016

[2] Microsoft Internet of Things - IoT-enabled Smart Fridge helps manage vaccines and saves lives

[3]Diakonessenhuis implanteert eerste hartmonitor met smartphone-app (Diakonessenhuis Hospital implants first heart monitor with smartphone app)

[4] SAP - Developing a Smart Wheelchair

[5] Philips GoSafe 



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