Thursday, January 31, 2008

How to Stay Online, Even in Your Sleep

Jan. 31, 2008 -- The next thing in your life to go wired could be your bedroom.

Meet the Starry Night Bed: It has sensors, temperature controls, Internet connectivity, and a home theater option.

"No one in the bedding industry has ever put so much technology into a bed or sleep system. It's a first for us, and a first for the industry," said Mark Quinn, group executive vice president of sales and marketing at Leggett and Platt in Carthage, Mo.

Vibration sensors in the mattress are designed to pick up a number of things, including snoring, tossing and turning, and breathing patterns. If it catches you snoring, the bed will automatically elevate your head seven degrees to open airwaves. When the snoring stops, the bed returns to its original position.

For the first 30 days, the bed tracks a sleeper's habits, learning the sleep pattern. If it senses unusual restlessness on a given night, it will flag the event and in the morning, offer recommendations for a better night's sleep. For example, it may suggest using the bed's massage unit to get the body in a more relaxed state before sleep.

Water circulating through small channels in the mattress can also be warmed or cooled to a sleeper's preference.

The bed's computer, Internet connection, and sound system can be used for Web surfing, music, or downloading and watching movies (a projector displays them on the wall).

The electronics can also be programmed with individual preferences. For example, if a person typically goes to bed at 11 p.m. and reads for 30 or 40 minutes, the mattress can be programmed to rise to the desired angle for reading.

"I think it's a phenomenal step forward combing the best technology with some in-depth psychological principals," said Rubin Naiman, author and sleep specialist as well as a clinical assistant professor of medicine at the University of Arizona's program in integrative medicine.

"As the technology becomes more refined and economical, it can set a new standard for bringing sleep monitoring into the home," he said.

But too much technology can be a bad thing, too.

"One concern is that people would overdo the entertainment piece," said Naiman. Watching news or over stimulating action or horror films right before bed can disrupt the sleep, as can the light emanating from television or computer displays.

"It's the blue end of the spectrum that suppresses melatonin," said Naiman, referring to a natural hormone closely associated with sleep patterns.

Cost may also be a problem, initially hindering the bed from making its way into the average home. The company hopes to bring the bed to market by 2009 and plans to sell it for between $20,000 and $50,000.

Courtesy: Discovery News (

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