It’s easy for strivers to blow off inadequate sleep in pursuit of their goals, but people are paying increased attention to the harmful effects of long-term sleep deprivation. Many wearable devices measure sleep, reporting time spent in various sleep stages and even an overall sleep score in some cases. This year we’ve covered several developments that aim to improve sleep quantity and quality. Philips’ SmartSleep Deep Sleep Headband monitors brainwaves and plays quiet audio tones that are supposed to boost the slow waves the indicate deep sleep. Silicon Valley smart lighting company Orro adapts natural light cycles to personal schedules to improve sleep quality. Dreem’s EEG sensor-equipped headband collects data on your sleep activity for seven days and then uses transducers to transmit audio tones via bone conduction to extend your time in deep sleep.

Researchers at the University of Massachusetts’ WE Lab, led by Professor Trisha L. Andrew are developing smart pajamas that measure more than just sleep. They have used a vapor deposition process to create sensors and other required electronics directly on fabric. The data-generating sleepware incorporates a range of technologies developed by Andrew’s team, including high-energy, garment-integrated micro-supercapacitors, oxidation-resistant cotton electrodes, vapor-printed polymer electrodes, and thermoelectric generators.

The garments have integrated sensors that measure posture as well as a respiratory and cardiac activity while the wearer sleeps. Andrews’ team creates conductive threads and fabric that stand up to sweat, laundering, ironing, stretching, and everyday wear. The smart pajamas project team used reactive vapor deposition to synthesize polymers directly on fabric to form the required sensors and other electronic components.

The WE Lab presented its research on smart pajamas at the American Chemical Society (ACS) Spring 2019 National Meeting & Exposition in early April. Following independent validity testing with volunteers, Andrew’s team is seeking a partnership with a manufacturer to produce the sleepers. The WE Lab is also currently working on gait and fall-detection sensors to incorporate in clothing for seniors.