The SmartSleep headband was designed for people who have difficulties with their deep sleep. But now, research is being done to find out if the device that was developed by Philips can also be of use in space. The research is funded by the Translational Research Institute for Space Health (TRISH), a virtual institute empowered by the NASA Human Research Program, and contains two studies evaluating the relationship between sleep and cognitive performance for behavioural health. The two-year initiative will use the headband to determine if sleep can be improved during deep space exploration by utilizing a variety of auditory stimulation protocols, thereby maximizing cognitive function.

“We’re honoured to have the SmartSleep Headband selected for these studies that will be important not only for space exploration but also for the millions of people who have difficulty obtaining adequate sleep”, said John Frank, Business Leader, Sleep and Respiratory Care at Philips. “Deeper understanding of the connection between sleep and cognitive performance builds on the decades of clinically-guided research that drive our sleep solutions, and will contribute to future Philips innovations making better sleep and its benefits accessible to everyone.”

Earlier research has demonstrated that the beneficial effects of sleep on restoring brain function occur, at least in part, during slow-wave sleep, resulting in increased energy and alertness during times of wakefulness. The benefits of enhanced slow wave sleep are especially pertinent to astronauts, who must maintain peak cognitive and operational performance while working in extremely challenging sleeping environments.

“At TRISH, we’re always looking for emerging technologies that can reduce risks to human health and performance – especially during deep space missions”, said Dorit Donoviel, director of the Translational Research Institute for Space Health. “We are interested in optimizing performance without medication and identifying solutions that can improve the efficiency and restorative quality of sleep. With Philips SmartSleep technology, we’re aiming to use a consumer-facing device for spaceflight that can evaluate the correlation between sleep and performance, and how that connects back to astronaut behavioural health.”

The Deep Sleep Headband sends out customized tones that provide a boost to an individual’s natural slow-wave activity and to improve cognitive function in a number of domains during wakefulness. “Sleep deprivation affects the health and livelihood of millions of people. Using nearly 40 years of deep clinical expertise in sleep technology, Philips aims to ultimately address 80 per cent of all sleep issues with its technologies”, a spokesperson for Philips said.

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