If you find yourself tossing and turning all night, or hitting snooze a few too many times each morning, you’re not alone. More than 50 million Americans suffer from sleep disorders, and these sleep issues can get worse in individuals with Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease.
Researchers from MIT and Mass General recently unveiled a wireless, portable system for monitoring individuals during sleep that could provide new insights into sleep disorders and reduce the need for time and cost-intensive overnight sleep studies in a clinical sleep lab.
Here are five things to know:
- Sleep disorders are typically diagnosed by bringing a patient into an overnight sleep lab, hooking them up to electrodes, and monitoring their brain activity while they sleep. While this process is effective, it is also limiting. Individuals with sleep disorders may have even more difficulty sleeping when they are hooked up to wires and in the artificial setting of a sleep lab.
- To make it easier to diagnose and study sleep problems at home, researchers at MIT and Mass General have created a new system for measuring sleep that is wireless, portable and powered by artificial intelligence.
- The system consists of a laptop-sized device that emits low frequency radio waves while an individual is sleeping. The device then measures changes in those waves that are caused by shifts in movement and breathing patterns in sleeping individuals. The device then uses an advanced algorithm—powered by artificial intelligence—to translate these changes into the different stages of sleep, including light, deep and rapid eye movement (REM).
- In a test of 25 healthy volunteers, the new system proved to be 80 percent accurate in identifying sleep stages, which is comparable to the accuracy of a sleep specialist reading EEG measurements, according to the research team
- The team is now planning to use their system to investigate how Parkinson’s disease affects sleep. Future research projects could look into common sleep disorders such as insomnia and sleep apnea, investigating how sleep is affected by Alzheimer’s disease, and detecting epileptic seizures that occur during sleep.
Researchers involved in this work are Dina Katabi, the Andrew and Erna Viterbi Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at MIT, Matt Bianchi, chief of the Division of Sleep Medicine at Mass General, and Tommi Jaakkola, the Thomas Siebel Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at MIT. Mingmin Zhao, an MIT graduate student, is the paper’s first author, and Shichao Yue, another MIT graduate student, is also a co-author.
Image credit: Christine Daniloff/MIT