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Your Sleep Tracker Can Detect COVID-19 a Week Before Tests

Yes, you read that headline right. 

How is that possible? A study by Mount Sinai researchers has the answers. And this type of tracking may end up in adjustable beds. 

The Warrior Watch Study required participants to use an Apple Watch app for collecting health data and to fill out a survey about their potential COVID symptoms. Enlisting the help of hundreds of healthcare workers to collect data over a five-month period, the main metric researchers were watching was the heart rate variability. 

This is a key indicator of a strain on a person’s nervous system, which is how the sleep trackers can detect COVID. Combined with information about reported symptoms—like fever, aches, dry cough, loss of smell, etc—the study was able to predict infections up to a week before nose swab tests.

And Mount Sinai plans to continue the study to see what wearables and their features can tell us about other impacts of COVID-19 on health, like how sleep and activity are affecting and affected by the virus.

It may not seem like it at first, but that’s a big win for the sleep industry. Most wearable hardware includes a sleep tracker function built-in, which offers retailers the opportunity to promote their business and the idea of better sleep while encouraging safety. 

As we find out how factors like sleep affect the disease, wearables may offer a safer way to test remotely, meaning potentially less spread of the virus. And if wearables are found to be effective for COVID-19 testing across the board, their popularity could skyrocket. 

This is a perfect opportunity for mattress retailers to start carrying wearables in your stores and tying them in with the idea of a better night’s sleep. You can even talk to them about this very Mount Sinai study and explain to them how wearables can help them stay tuned in to their physical and mental health. But your sales associates need to be ready to answer questions about how sleep trackers can predict COVID, so make sure to equip them with the information they need to sell.

And if sleep trackers can tell us about COVID, what else could they help with down the road? Will your smart bed be able to alert you of a stroke or heart attack? 

Gui Peres, vice president of sales at Ergomotion, has some ideas. 

Ergomotion’s beds have built-in wellness trackers that monitor your heart rate, breathing rate, and the number of times you toss and turn during the night. However, unlike wearables, Peres says that tracking your health while sleeping—referred to as passive monitoring—offers less interference. 

“When you wear fitness trackers, you’re walking and eating and working, so it’s not as pure as data you get in your bed when there’s no movement,” Peres explains. “That makes it a very clean environment without any interference.”

In fact, because of that, Ergomotion is working hard to expand its beds’ capabilities by conducting studies, especially with senior citizens, to detect early signs of a heart attack, the flu, and other illnesses.

“You can’t improve on what you don’t measure,” Peres adds. “But the key is: what are people going to do with this information? I think this will change how people take care of themselves and that beds with built-in health trackers will become more prevalent in the future.”

We’re looking forward to seeing how everything plays out, but for now, just remember that you’re not selling mattresses and bedding accessories, you’re selling better sleep. If you can do that while also educating customers on ways to stay in tune with their health, it’s a win for everyone.

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