Maggie Li, MSE; Nafisa Mostofa, BS; Mihir Patil, BS; Shrey Patel, BS | Carle Illinois College of Medicine
Competition Sponsor: US National Academy of Medicine
Awardee Year: 2023
Insufficient sleep is associated with obesity, hypertension, metabolic syndrome, immune suppression and impaired cognitive functioning. Despite this, approximately one-third of adults report sleeping less than seven hours on most nights. This becomes a vicious cycle: sleep deficits can worsen the very health conditions that lead to poor sleep. An example of this is dementia, which is associated with decreased slow wave sleep leading to impaired memory consolidation. The World Health Organization expects that dementia diagnoses will triple by 2050. Alzheimer’s disease, a subtype of dementia, is already the most costly disease in America, outpacing cardiac disease and cancer. With a rapidly aging population creating a growing patient pool, the healthcare costs of dementia will increase dramatically.
Slow wave sleep (SWS) is a sleep stage that is crucial for many physiological processes. There is a growing body of literature supporting the idea that providing auditory stimulation during sleep increases the slow wave sleep an individual experiences, leading to better physical and mental health outcomes. Current studies emphasize that improvements in SWS require using electroencephalogram (EEG) technology to monitor brainwave activity in real-time during sleep, and providing auditory stimulation at the optimal time. We propose a wearable home-use device that measures brainwaves via a closed-loop EEG system and delivers noise during SWS to enhance SWS in a personalized manner. We aim to provide a non-invasive solution to increase sleep quality and quantity which improves overall health and well-being, thus contributing to healthy aging.