New device measures quality of sleep

September 19, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
A new device is promising to help people get more rest by analyzing their sleep patterns. The LARK is the brainchild of a Palo Alto entrepreneur. Besides tracking your sleep, it also gives you advice on how to get the most out of your shuteye.

Between caring for his young children and running his own business, gym owner Tim Dymmel often feels more than a little sleep deprived.

"If I don't sleep well I can make it through the next day, but day after that might be a downward slide," said Dymmel.

But he's recently begun wearing a device that promises to help him get the most out of the hours he does spend sleeping.

"It shows the level of sleep, maybe if I'm restless," said Dymmel.

The device, known as the LARK is worn on the wrist. As the users sleep, sensors record even the tiniest increments of motion.

"LARK is a sleep sensor, which tracks actigraphy, which is basically the science of using tiny little types of motion and using a lot of algorithms to translate that into sleep patterns," said Julia Hu, inventor and CEO of LARK Technologies.

Hu says those sleep patterns can then be displayed on a smartphone or computer screen.

"Most people have no idea of how they sleep. So it's really amazing the first day, they turn off the alarm, they get to see how they sleep. You get to see how quickly you fell asleep, how many times you woke up during the night, how efficient your sleep is, how healthy of a sleeper you actually are," said Hu.

The company offers companion software developed by a Bay Area sleep coach. It uses the information from the LARK to generate a sleep assessment for users, including advice for improving their sleep. Dymmel said the device has already helped him to better focus on how much rest he needs

"Something over six is feeling pretty good, and gets a good rating from the device," said Dymmel.

The LARK currently works via an app for the iPhone and iPad, but a version for the Android phone is expected soon. The cost of the basic system is about $100.

Written and produced by Tim Didion


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