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05/20/2016 06:55 am ET Updated May 22, 2016

This Device Doesn't Just Track Your Sleep, It Induces It

An Israeli company has combined the ancient wisdom about breathing with a smart tech device.
OcusFocus via Getty Images

Think of 2breathe Technologies as the adult version of Mom singing you a lullaby each night to get you to fall asleep.

2breathe is the patented technology of Erez Gavish, co-founder and CEO of the company whose slogan is "Ancient Wisdom. New Technology." It combines ancient wisdom about the power of our breathing with the new technology of a mobile app and a smart device. A small sensor is worn outside your clothing when you go to sleep and the app detects your breathing and, through personalized musical tones, induces sleep. That's right: It doesn't just track or monitor your sleeping patterns but actually induces your body to sleep without sleep-aiding drugs.

Sleep remains elusive for many. Lack of sleep has been called the "silent killer." According to Harvard Medical School studies, sleeping less than five hours a night increases the risk of death from all causes by about 15 percent.

Gavish and his father, Dr. Benjamin Gavish, are pioneers in the digital therapeutic device field, first in hypertension and now in sleep. The elder Gavish invented the technology.

The company's original product, RESPeRATE, is the world’s only FDA-cleared, non-invasive hypertension treatment device. Used by hundreds of thousands of patients, RESPeRATE is featured by its brand name in the American Heart Association statement about non-pharmacological treatments for high blood pressure.

RESPeRATE begot 2Breathe, said the younger Gavish, on a visit to The Huffington Post's office in Los Angeles. As he explained, RESPeRATE was having terrific results since 2001 in lowering people's blood pressure. But it had one unintended side effect: Users reported that they were falling asleep as they used the device. Clinical trials were held and the device was found to lower neural sympathetic activity, reduce chronic stress and lower anxiety -- all prominent components of inducing sleep.

"When 90 percent of users reported that beyond lowering their blood pressure, it also improved their sleep," said Gavish, "we decided to turn the side effect into a feature and adapt the technology to help the millions who suffer from sleeplessness."

They went back to the drawing board and redesigned the device-guided breathing technology into a smartphone-powered product. It is easy to use, you don't need to empty your mind or know how to meditate, Gavish said. You follow the tones and you start to get drowsy. The device shuts itself off when it detects from your exhalation patterns that you have fallen asleep.

"Therapeutically, you are prolonging exhalation. This technology makes it easy. You wear a sensor that sends your breathing patterns to the free downloadable app. It creates tones from your breathing -- so your breathing is essentially creating the music. The music plays back slower on exhalation. Humans inherently are attuned to follow tones ... dancing, marching," he said. As it slows, you drift off to sleep.

Gavish, who understands those who would ban all electronic devices from the bedroom -- including Arianna Huffington who has written a book on the importance of sleep called "The Sleep Revolution: Transforming Your Life One Night At A Time" -- suggests "making your enemy your friend." He notes that this app is dimly lit, doesn't stimulate the brain the way playing a video game or checking emails might, and instead turns a smart phone into a sleep aid. 2breathe already is enjoying brisk sales in Japan and was just released for sale in the United States. It sells for $180 with a 60-day money-back guarantee.

As we age, a good night's sleep becomes more elusive, according to the National Sleep Foundation. Older people often can fall asleep, but struggle to stay asleep. The problem is fueling the use of prescription sleep aids, often medications that can be addictive and lethal when taken with alcohol. If a 2breathe user wakes up in the middle of the night they can turn on 2breathe to do another session (it’s not automatic). "Experienced 2breathe users will sometime simply recall 2breathe and perform an unaided breathing exercise. It’s not as powerful as using the device but, in many cases, will do the trick in the middle of the night," said Gavish.

"Tracking and measuring are wonderful. But isn't it better to actually induce sleep?" Gavish asks. And what does he hope his tombstone will say: "Here lies the breathing man," he jokes.

HuffPost

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