Wearables improve sleep health in marginalised populations

  • June 13, 2023
  • Steve Rogerson

Researchers believe wearable sleep devices can improve sleep health among marginalised populations and have identified possible barriers to the acceptance and adoption of wearable technologies.

Researchers found wearable sleep devices hold promise in positively impacting sleep health among marginalised populations. Sleep disorders can lead to many health issues and disproportionately affect marginalised communities, highlighting the importance of monitoring sleep health.

This study, published by JMIR Publications, investigated how participants in a safety net clinic, including those who are racially, ethnically, linguistically and socioeconomically diverse, felt about the wearable sleep monitoring device SomnoRing.

Larissa Purnell, who now works for Galileo Health in Los Angeles, and colleagues recruited 21 English- and Spanish-speaking patients from a multidisciplinary clinic in Redwood, California, that serves publicly insured patients. After testing the SomnoRing device over seven nights, participants shared their perceptions of the device, motivators and barriers to use the device, as well as general experiences with digital health tools in an hour-long qualitative interview. Participants perceived SomnoRing as easy to use, and most found it comfortable to wear during the seven-night experiment.

“This study highlights the importance of conducting usability and acceptability studies with patients from marginalised communities upfront, rather than considering adaptation of wearable devices or apps at a later date,” said Courtney Lyles, associate professor of medicine at University of California San Francisco.

This research highlights the potential for wearables such as SomnoRing to improve sleep health among safety net populations. It also underscores the need for more research on the usability and context of wearable device use, especially within a clinical practice workflow and for patients without extensive experience using wearables in their everyday lives.

Understanding the barriers identified by participants, such as housing status, insurance coverage and clinician support, could be key to integrating these technologies successfully into ongoing sleep intervention models and care operations.