Closed loop acoustic stimulation, a wearable technology, has the potential to improve sleep quality and productivity

Closed loop acoustic stimulation, a wearable technology, has the potential to improve sleep quality  ...

New research shows that closed loop acoustic stimulation improves sleep quality as well as work outcomes. The findings, published in the Journal of Applied Psychology, illustrate some of the use cases of a wearable sleep aid.

Closed loop acoustic stimulation is a sleep aid technique that is used to enhance slow brain wave patterns. It involves the use of an algorithm that takes electroencephalography (EEG) data from a sleeping person and plans precisely timed auditory tones, which are then replayed back to the person in a feedback loop to deepen sleep.

'I've been interested in the relationship between sleep and work for a long time,' said study author Christopher M. Barnes, a professor of organizational behavior at the University of Washington's Michael G. Foster School of Business.

“As this study developed, my interest shifted from simply highlighting the issues of sleep deprivation and poor sleep quality to investigating partial solutions.”

To evaluate the effect of closed loop acoustic stimulation on sleep quality and daytime job performance, researchers conducted a longitudinal, inside-person field study with 81 full-time employees from two organizations, a large university and a big data analytics organization.

Researchers randomly assigned participants to one of two conditions: treatment-first or control-first. Researchers turned on (treatment) or turned off (control) the acoustic stimulation function in the headband, while keeping everything else about the experiment unchanged.

Participants completed two daily surveys during the data collection: the daily morning surveys at 6 a.m., which included items to assess participants' compliance with the guidelines and measures of sleep duration and quality, and the daily afternoon surveys at 4 p.m.

Closed loop acoustic stimulation improved sleep and had a positive impact on engagement, performance, and citizenship behaviors (such as helping a coworker) at work the following day.

Barnes told PsyPost that wearable devices, such as these closed loop acoustic stimulation headbands, may be able to improve individuals' sleep quality. "This can be beneficial not only for their sleep quality, but also for certain important work outcomes."

Closed loop acoustic stimulation was found to be beneficial for younger employees, but rather ineffective for older employees. This indicates that age is an important consideration when attempting to assist individuals in sleeping better using this technique.

Barnes stated, "These headbands do not work for older adults." "The main concern would be what we can do to improve sleep quality for those older adults." Hopefully future versions of devices like these will eventually work on older adults as well.

Chris M. Barnes, Cristiano Guarana, Jaewook Lee, and Ekonkar Kaur contributed to the research "Using Wearable Technology (Closed Loop Acoustic Stimulation) to Improve Sleep Quality and Work Outcomes."

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