New app helps track, analyze sleeping habits

August 23, 2010 6:09:10 AM PDT
Not getting enough sleep? Now, there's an app for that. Researchers at UCSF are driving to discover a home version of the medical sleep clinic.

About half of us don't get the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep.

"Society is probably more sleep deprived, on average, than people appreciate," says Dr. David Claman.

As Director of the UCSF Sleep Disorders Center, Claman oversaw the transition from bulky wires and printers to polysomnograms that gather 32 channels of information complete with video, even infrared lights, so as not to disturb the patient.

They're highly accurate, but the patient is in this unfamiliar environment. So, the clinic offers home testing too. This brings us to Eric Shashoua, co-founder of a company called Zeo.

"We were sleep-deprived students at Brown University. We were extremely tired, waking up all the time."

So, Eric and his partners spent five years developing Zeo, an alarm clock that collects your brain waves through a wireless headband. In the morning, it reveals how much deep sleep you got, and light sleep, and REM, the number of times you woke up, all summarized in a number called your "ZQ."

Pop out the SD memory card and you can upload weeks worth of data to a Web app called MyZeo. It's not a medical device, but based on your data and your diary, it coaches you with personal recommendations.

If it isn't a medical device and it can't cure insomnia, what good is it?

The idea is to associate your sleep patterns with those things during your day that affect your sleep. The data goes from the headband to the display, to the Internet and to your iPhone. A free Zeo app delivers all the Web coaching and data right to your smartphone, where you can keep your waking diary.

The company has also just opened up a programming interface so that any of us can now tinker with our sleep data.

"I'm no longer sleep deprived," Shashoua says. "Although, I get an average ZQ of 77."

"You don't need a sleep monitor to tell you that you're sleep deprived," Dr. Claman points out. "You just have to figure out what are your priorities."


Load Comments