LAS VEGAS—Is there any creature more pitiful than the sleep-deprived journalist at CES? Between staring down multiple deadlines, blackouts, inclement weather, sprawling exhibit halls, and the oh-so-famous Vegas nightlife, it's no wonder that journalists guzzle coffee by the gallons.
But this year, sleep carved out its own corner on the showroom floor. Smart mattresses abounded, as did sleep-related peripherals. Think lamps with aromatherapy, headbands, headphones—you name it. Sleep is also playing a greater role among fitness trackers, with a greater number prioritizing it as a metric.
Why now? According to Pete Bils, Vice President of Sleep Science & Research at Sleep Number, inadequate sleep is to today's generation what smoking was to those in the 90s. Given how awful I feel physically, and how I've averaged a paltry 5 hours and 2 minutes of sleep for all of CES, according to my Fitbit Alta HR, I'm inclined to agree.
Thankfully, I also care about the greater good and decided to tackle the grueling work of lying down on every smart mattress I could find on the showroom floor.
First off was a quick jaunt to Sleep Number's booth. While I'm well-acquainted with the Sleep Number 360 from last year, there have been some new developments since 2017. Namely, integration with Google Assistant is on the horizon. The company also laid out an interesting roadmap for the future of sleep tech. For example, if your bed can track your heart rate and respiration, it could potentially alert emergency services when it detects irregular heart beats. Not too shabby for a mattress.
I also felt obligated to check out the Magni Smartech bed by Magniflex, which costs a whopping $20,000. Given my meager existence as a writer, I think I can safely say—barring a sudden proposal from a millennial Warren Buffet—I will never be able to afford one for myself. So reader, I seized the day and flopped onto that $20,000 mattress.
Was it worth it? Sort of. It was comfortable, and like the Sleep Number 360, it can record real-time data. It's also capable of full-body massage and "chromatherapy," which is a fancy way of saying the bottom of the bed lights up. But for $20,000, I want to feel like I'm melting into the firm yet loving arms of a benevolent angel. While comfortable, the Magni Smartech bed fell a bit short.
Real Life. Real News. Real Voices
Help us tell more of the stories that matterBecome a founding member
But if you want to sleep better, you don't have to shell out thousands of dollars. Nokia also launched its $99 Sleep pad. Small and thin, you place it under your mattress and it tracks movement, respiration, and heart rate while you sleep. It'll then give you a sleep score in the Nokia Health Mate application. The only potential downside is you'll have to place it under the direct side where you sleep, and you might get false data if someone sneaks into your bed for a nap. You can edit any erroneous data, and it's a minor hassle considering the price.
There were plenty of other, slightly more unorthodox devices on the floor as well. Dreem, for instance, is a futuristic-looking headband with built-in EEG sensors to monitor your brain waves. It can also measure your respiration, heart rate, and breathing. Notably, it also uses bone conduction to play soothing sounds to help you sleep.
One issue going forward will be how well all these devices can contextualize sleep data. You don't need fancy charts or graphs to know if you slept terribly—you'll feel it in the morning. Plus, plenty of wearables already measure sleep as one of many health metrics. In general, consumers aren't necessarily lacking in sleep data. What they are missing, however, is easy-to-digest insight into how their lifestyle impacts their sleep quality. Many devices I saw assigned a "sleep score" indicating how well a person slept. But many of these scores seem relatively arbitrary.
So while CES has left me longing for my bed, at least I got a glimpse of how technology is help us sleep better, and catch a few power naps on the floor.
For more, check out How to Stop Blue Light From Disturbing Your Sleep.
Subscribe to the newsletter news
We hate SPAM and promise to keep your email address safe