IBM’s Watson Cloud is to be the foundation for research by the American Sleep Apnea Association (ASAA) into how human sleeping habits affect our health. IBM and ASAA have also jointly created a new SleepHealth app to encourage patients to contribute to the cloud based SleepHealth Mobile Study.
The SleepHealth study uses Apple’s Internet of Things technology and open source ResearchKit, which simplifies tasks and survey compilation and feeds its data into the SleepHealth app. SleepHealth is the first ResearchKit study to run on the Watson Health Cloud.
Though sleep is critical for physical and metal health it remains one of the most overlooked of the basic human needs and one in four Americans experience sleep problems. Chronic insomnia affects 10% of Americans and 25 million suffer from types of obstructive sleep apnoea such as disrupted sleep, snoring and uneven breathing, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This in turn can create heart disease, hypertension, obesity, cancer, depression and fatal accidents.
Researchers and physicians will use Watson to host its surveys and study exercises and interrogate the data to uncover patterns. The Watson Cloud makes crowd-sourcing data possible and creates a system of patient-led research and data-driven discovery, according ASAAs chief science officer Carl Stepnowsky. The SleepHealth app could build the world’s largest longitudinal study to collect data on both healthy and unhealthy sleepers, said Stepnowsky.
The Watson Health Cloud has opened up a diversity of data sources such as medical literature, treatment guidelines, claims data and clinical data, according to Kyu Rhee, chief health officer for Watson Health. Researchers can also opt to apply Watson Analytics for deeper insights from the data. “One of our goals at IBM Watson Health is to eliminate silos that hinder collaboration between researchers, patients and clinicians,” said Rhee.
The study also makes use of IoT technology. The SleepHealth app makes use of multiple Apple Watch sensors, such as the accelerometer, which detects movements, and the gyroscope, which determines orientation in space, to measure and record movements such as shifting positions during sleep. It also uses Apple Watch’s heart rate monitor to detect sleep. Some of the app’s features, such as the Personal Sleep Concierge and the Nap Tracker, were designed specifically to the Apple Watch as a way to improve sleep habits. SleepHealth will be the first ResearchKit app to use Apple’s new Night Shift feature that reduces light exposure before sleep.