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Headband to Help People Fight Insomnia

Headband to Help People Fight Insomnia

Wednesday, 15 November, 2017 - 06:45
A man sleeps at a park, resting his head on a bag of apples, in Shanghai, China. Photo: Reuters

Almost a third of the population in developed countries suffers from sleep problems, according to UN data, and insomnia has become endemic in Switzerland despite the beauty of its cities and nature.

The University of Zurich in Switzerland has presented the Sleep Loop, a device designed to fight insomnia and ensure calm sleep to restless people. The device has been developed by scientists from the University Medicine Zurich and 16 specialized institutes.

The Sleep Loop consists of a thin band that attaches to the head and connects to a small device. As the head ligament measures the electrical waves in the brain, the device regulates and tunes these waves and emulates them, bringing deep sleep to the insomniac person.

Walter Karlen, head of ETH Zurich’s Mobile Health Systems Laboratory said experiments in sleep laboratories have started since January. Because insomnia is more prevalent among adults, the study included people of both sexes over the age of 65.

Karlen said the device measures the waves that cause deep sleep for each individual, then imitates and keeps them going throughout the evening. The device makes connections between brain cells more consistent, and improves overall sleep quality.

Researchers at sleep laboratories have used large devices in their experiments on insomniac people, but now, they have produced a miniature device that volunteers can take home with them to continue the experience outside the laboratory.

Sleep is associated with many vital functions in the human body, such as metabolism and the immune system. It is also associated with many diseases such as Parkinson, depression and heart problems.

Karlen and his team will, in a later step, use Sleep Loop to treat Parkinson's patients. These patients suffer from insomnia, and deep sleep generated by this device can alleviate the pain and symptoms of the disease.

On the other hand, the device can be used to achieve opposite results; in other words, it can be used to make human sleep less deep. According to Karlen, some doctors treat depression by depriving patients of deep sleep.

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