Royal Philips’s SmartSleep Deep Sleep Headband will be used in research funded by the Translational Research Institute for Space Health (TRISH), a virtual institute empowered by the NASA Human Research Program, for two studies evaluating the relationship between sleep and cognitive performance for behavioral health. The two-year initiative will use the Deep Sleep 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 honored to have the SmartSleep Deep Sleep 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,” says John Frank, business leader, Sleep and Respiratory Care at Philips, in a release. “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.”

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. TRISH, in collaboration with researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, has begun the following studies:

  • Optimizing Auditory Stimulation to improve cognitive performance (OASIS): For two months, 24 subjects will use the Deep Sleep Headband at home, performing a comprehensive NASA-validated cognitive test battery daily. The study will explore how auditory stimulation positively affects specific cognitive domains, as well as if an individual’s sleep patterns can predict cognitive performance throughout the following day. The optimal pattern and frequency of tone application will also be assessed.
  • Improving Efficiency and Restorative Quality of Sleep: A 7-day lab trial replicating the challenging sleep conditions experienced during spaceflight will study 12 subjects wearing the Deep Sleep Headband. TRISH will look at whether the technology benefits daytime cognitive performance during a period of chronic sleep restriction and reduces performance deficits induced by sleep inertia after an abrupt or emergent awakening.

“At TRISH, we’re always looking for emerging technologies that can reduce risks to human health and performance—especially during deep space missions,” says Dorit Donoviel, PhD, 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 behavioral health.”

The Deep Sleep Headband, made available for purchase in the United States in the fall of 2018, is clinically proven to both enhance the quality of deep sleep through 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. Philips will support TRISH’s studies by providing this technology, in addition to offering the technical expertise necessary to program the devices to deliver multiple forms of stimulation, and to extract the data assessing slow-wave sleep.