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Wearable device leads charge against insomnia

22 September 2016

The lightweight, tracking ring is worn on a finger and re-teaches people how to develop a longer, deeper sleep pattern.

Insomnia buster (Credit: Thim/The Lead)

The ring was developed by tech company Thim, the makers of the popular Re-Timer jet lag busting headgear, in collaboration with researchers from Flinders University in South Australia.

The Bluetooth ring trains a person to fall asleep by repeatedly waking them from a light sleep.

The ring is connected wirelessly to a user’s smartphone and wakes the person through a gentle vibration during their lightest sleep stage – a process that is repeated continually.

Chief Scientist Leon Lack said research showed a situation where people repeatedly dozed off helped the body learn to fall asleep again faster and also increased sleep duration by an hour.

“We’ve re-invented the wearable for sleep. This device has the potential to benefit so many people around the world and from our own research we know that it works,” he said.

The ring also serves as a “power-nap” trainer to help people achieve optimum benefit from having a daytime nap.

“The secret of the perfect power nap is to sleep for exactly 10 minutes. Sleeping for more than 20 minutes will leave you feeling groggy upon waking, and sleeping for five will provide no benefit,” Professor Lack said.

“Because Thim knows when you’ve fallen into the first and lightest stage of sleep to the minute, it knows when to begin timing your perfect 10-minute power nap. The best option you have now is setting your alarm, which doesn't know when you fall asleep.”

According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine about 30-35 percent of adults in the United States have brief bouts of insomnia and almost 10 percent have a chronic insomnia disorder, which occurs at least three times per week for at least three months.

Thim’s Lead Engineer Vera Townsend said the idea was to develop something people forgot they were wearing.

Thim CEO Ben Olsen with the insomnia buster (Credit: Thim/The Lead)

“We’ve gone through hundreds of iterations – we’ve given our 3D printer a serious workout,” Townsend said.

“With every iteration we have definitely learned something knew and it has improved our design.”

A Kickstarter campaign to raise $120,000 over the next 30 days was launched to help fast track the commercial production of the device, which could be available as early as December if successful.

Each Thim wearable will then cost £77 upon commercialisation and the app will be available via Google Play and the App Store.

Thim also designed the Re-Timer headgear that used a soft, UV-free green light onto the eyes to stimulate the part of the brain responsible for regulating the 24-hour body clock, making it easier to fall asleep at night.

There have been more than 30,000 Re-Timer units sold worldwide since its launch in 2012.

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