This Band-Aid-Like Tracker Could Shed Light on Your Insomnia

There are about 80 different types of sleep disorders, including insomnia, sleep apnea and restless leg syndrome, according to the Cleveland Clinic.

But for doctors to diagnose most of them, patients usually need to go to a clinic and undergo a sleep study. Typically, a technician glues or glues dozens of sensors to the patient’s head and body. The sensors are connected by cables to a computer, which sends data to the technician, who monitors the patient from a nearby room.

Israeli startup X-trodes hopes to change that. Founded in 2020, the company has developed a sleep tracker equipped with tiny sensors that stick to the skin like a Band-Aid and can be worn at home.

While home sleep tests for sleep apnea are relatively common, they usually only measure breathing patterns. X-trodes’ sensors detect electrical activity in the body while you sleep, including muscle activity, eye movement and brain waves, data you can currently only obtain in a clinic, according to the company.

sleep easy

“What we have developed at X-trodes are comfortable, soft, flexible and dry electrodes,” says Ziv Peremen, co-founder and CEO, adding that unlike a typical clinical trial, the tracker is wireless, so ” You can sleep anywhere.” position you like.

The tracker sends the data to a smart device. The X-trodes software analyzes it and generates a report that doctors can use to investigate the patient’s sleep problem.

X-trodes raised $4.5 million in funding in October 2021 and is now seeking approval for the technology from the US Food and Drug Administration. If all goes well, the company hopes to begin selling the device to sleep clinics in 2023.
Patients can use the device at home, by themselves, which can make treatment more accessible and reduce the burden on clinic resources, says Peremen.
The device may also make sleep tests cheaper, says Peremen. The cost of a basic lab-based sleep study in the United States starts at about $5,300, according to FAIR Health, a nonprofit organization that publishes prices for health care claims. By eliminating the need for a technician and an overnight stay, X-trodes’ solution will cost about a tenth of the price, Peremen tells CNN Business.

A home test can also produce more accurate results than one in a clinic, according to Peremen. “You can take into account all the other factors: sometimes it’s your partner, sometimes it’s room temperature, outside noise, etc.”

the science of sleep

Better data could also help scientists understand more about sleep, and the link to brain health, emotional well-being, and chronic conditions. This field of medicine is still relatively new, according to Rebecca Robbins, a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School.

“We’re uncovering some of the long-term implications of sleep,” says Robbins.

Peremen says that X-trodes has already sold a version of his technology to 40 research groups, at a cost of $10,000 per kit, to help them study sleep patterns.

That includes rapid eye movement (REM) sleep behavior disorder (RBD), where patients seem to act out their dreams during REM sleep. RBD is an early predictor of Parkinson’s and other neurodegenerative diseases, but it occurs unpredictably: for some patients, only once a month.

“Once you have a solution like X-trodes, which you can use for several nights in a row, you dramatically increase the chance of detecting this pattern,” says Peremen.

Peremen says the device can identify not only sleep disorders, but also sleep patterns related to other health conditions.

But for many home sleep trackers on the market, including those that measure how long you sleep and how much REM sleep you’re getting, accuracy remains difficult to test, experts say, especially as our understanding of sleep continues to evolve.

“Currently we don’t have a standard to assess and support the level of accuracy that we accept for a device,” says Massimiliano de Zambotti, a neuroscientist at the nonprofit research institute SRI International who leads validation studies of wearable sleep technologies.

A “gold mine”

This hasn’t stopped the demand for tracking devices; the sleep technology market was worth $12 billion in 2020, according to market research company Pitchbook.

Robbins recommends that companies partner with scientists “to make sure their algorithms rate sleep correctly and return accurate information to their consumers.”

X-trodes is currently validating the technology with researchers, says Peremen.

In the long term, the company wants to offer trackers directly to consumers, interpreting their sleep habits over time and recommending ways to improve their sleep.

“Sleep is a gold mine for understanding our health,” says Peremen.

— Rachel Crane contributed to this article.

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