Sleep disorders, such as delayed sleep phase syndrome, can inhibit a person’s ability to function effectively throughout the day. A large percentage of older adults are affected by fragmented and lower-quality sleep due to age-related conditions like insomnia and cognitive disorders. This can make it difficult for seniors to live independently without the help of a caregiver, and can increase the negative symptoms of conditions such as dementia. Additionally, elderly individuals with cognitive impairments can suffer from a condition called sundowning where their confusion increases once the sun goes down. The goal of this project is to develop a system to encourage healthier and more consistent sleep schedules for elderly individuals with conditions that are causing fragmented sleep patterns.
The design is a light-based sleep alignment system that encourages its user to maintain healthy sleep habits throughout the day. The system needs to be non-intrusive and easy to set up with minimal effort on the part of the user so that it does not disrupt individuals’ existing routines and living arrangements. The design consists of three components: a bright LED panel, a pressure-sensitive bath mat, and a combination desk lamp and alarm clock. In the morning, the lamp unit’s alarm is turned off by stepping on the bath mat. The mat sends a Bluetooth signal to the lamp unit to confirm that the user has gotten out of bed. Until the user steps on the mat, the LED panel and desk lamp increase in brightness while an audio alarm plays. In the evening, the LED panel turns on again to prevent the user from going to sleep too early and help combat the effects of sundowning. Finally, a low-frequency bulb in the lamp turns on when it is time to go to bed. Using our system will help elderly individuals maintain a regular sleep schedule and support a more independent lifestyle in those with sleep disorders.