FRANCESCA COLUBRIALE 99141638
Humans have the biological tendency to go to sleep and wake up, however these propensities are frequently overridden by the human behaviour that our lifestyle dictates. It is very common in our current society to sacrifice sleep for work or leisure. When our bodies tell us we are tired, however, , we drink compounds like coffee to keep us alert or even take medicines that effect sleep in an attempt to override our biological systems. However, in this age of technology there are many technological devices that have been created to aid our sleep in order to meet the requirements of society’s increasingly demanding lifestyle.
Don Ihde identifies one of the key definers of technology in his book ‘Philosophy of Technology’ as needing “a relation between the technologies and the humans who use, design, make, or modify the technologies in question.” It is over the past few years, therefore, that scientists and designers have developed smartphone applications that are easily downloaded and high tech watches to monitor individuals sleep patterns and measure the time spent in sleep stages. These ‘on the body’ technologies integrate seamlessly into one’s lifestyle, though their accuracy is questionable.
More recently, technologies such as the Withings Aura is a much more integrated device that considers the many factors that contribute to sleep. Melatonin production is stimulated through the shades of light that are emitted from the device which is placed on the bedside table. Sleep is further induced by the sleep sound options that relax the mind. The high accuracy of this device in monitoring and measuring stages of sleep is in part due to the Sleep Sensor accessory. Placed under the mattress, this additional feature provides heart rate and breathing measurements, recognising the moment an individual actually falls asleep, not just lying in bed and also when an individual is dreaming. It also accounts for absences such as when one wakes up from bed in the middle of the night.
The technological devices produced thus far have aided and monitored sleep. To increase the ability for humans to function on less sleep, gene technology is a primary technological consideration. Each human is genetically different, therefore there is ultimately a variation in individuals need for sleep. This concept was researched in a study where individuals were restricted to sleep for only six hours per night. Those who were genuinely unaffected, physically and cognitively, were found to have a specific gene mutation. Scientists proceeded to use this study to experiment with the possibility of mice of genetically engineer mice to possess this gene. The results showed the mice were able to stay awake for an extra 1.2 hours. It is extremely possible that in the near future this type of science can be applied to humans so that life can be fully utilised. However, it is inevitable that these sort of advancements would be abused by those who wish to capitalise on the human necessity for sleep. But there is also the potential sleep technology to widen the social division between rich and poor, those who can afford this technology and those who cannot.
AsapSCIENCE (2014), How Much Sleep Do You Actually Need?, video recording, Youtube, viewed 27 Ausgust 2016, < https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SVQlcxiQlzI>
iBioEducation (2014), Bench to Bedside: Genetics of Circadian Rhythms, Part 1 – Louis Ptáček, video recording, YouTube, viewed 10 September 2016, <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FRj8jbpYT9M>
Ihde, D. 1993, ‘Technology,’Philosophy of Technology: An introduction, New York: Paragon House, pp.47-64
Sung, D. 2016, Wareable big test: 5 Sleep trackers go head-to-head, Wearable.com, viewed 2 September 2016, < https://www.wareable.com/fitness-trackers/big-test-sleep-tracker-test-2016>