To counter sleeplessness first-of-its-kind wearable sleep device
Chronic insomnia or sleeplessness is defined as a condition in which individuals have difficulties falling asleep or staying asleep at least three nights a week for three months or more. It affects about 10 to 15 per cent of adults and is linked to health problems including depression, difficulties in functioning, and large reductions in work productivity.
A new innovation in the field of management of sleeplessness is a wearable sleep device with proprietary technology that targets the root cause of sleeplessness: a racing, or overactive, mind. The technology is being brought to fore by Ebb Therapeutics.
Founder and Chief Medical Officer Dr Eric Nofzinger spent 35 years studying the brain mechanisms of healthy sleep. Studies suggest that reduction in metabolic activity in the frontal cortex (the thinking part of the brain) is key to the restorative properties of sleep. Meanwhile, higher-than-normal activity when the body is at rest leads to hyperarousal, which is often associated with clinical complaints of not being able to turn off one's mind when trying to sleep. While Director of the Sleep Neuroimaging Research Program at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Dr Nofzinger discovered that when the forehead is cooled, brain activity decreases and the mind can relax. This finding inspired Ebb.
"Sleeplessness is an epidemic. More than ever, people are struggling with being able to 'turn off' their minds in order to get to sleep," said Dr. Nofzinger. "Lack of sleep can have a dire effect on one's ability to function mentally, emotionally and physically, so it is critical that we keep innovating in this space in order to offer safe, drug-free solutions that work."
Ebb is the first and only sleep solution that uses precise cooling, called PrecisionCool™ Technology, to reduce metabolic activity in the frontal cortex. A scientifically-engineered, fluid-filled headband softly wraps around the head and cools the forehead using an intelligent cooling algorithm in order to maintain an optimal temperature range over the course of the night. As brain activity declines, the mind calms and the user is able to fall into a deeper, more restorative sleep.
The device hits the consumer market after several years of research and fundraising. At the end of 2016, the company closed a $38 million Series B round led by KKR & Co. LP. (Other investors included Versant Ventures, Arboretum Ventures, and Partner Ventures.) These investments allowed the company to conduct the type of studies and clinical tests needed to perfect the technology, and build a first-class team, which includes former executives from Respironics, a leader in sleep and respiratory markets that was acquired by Philips in 2008 for $5 billion.