Sleep

Imagine a Better Bedtime

Better sleep for kids from snuggle to Snorble

Posted Dec 07, 2020

Across the board, research shows that sleep plays a crucial role in our well-being. Young or old, how much sleep we get, as well as the quality of the sleep, is important. One of the ways we can ensure better and longer sleep is by developing good habits, known as sleep hygiene. In most cases, these practices can include a regular bedtime combined with a consistent routine beforehand, a quiet darkened room at an appropriate temperature, and consistent starts to the day as well as daytime exercise.

Like so many other parts of life, the formation of these habits is crucial at an early age. In fact, numerous studies have shown an array of negative consequences from insufficient or poor quality sleep in both infants and young children, including such things as poorer neurobehavioral processes as reported by both mothers and teachers. To address these issues and ensure a healthy foundation for their child’s sleep habits, parents have turned to support from many avenues, including technology.

Unfortunately, many of the available options (commonly known as “sleep companions” or “sleep aids”) focus on only a small number of the issues faced by families, leaving parents with the need to invest in multiple products. Not only that, but parents also have to exercise caution over some of these devices which have been found to be harmful to children, including those that produce white or pink noise. In a study involving numerous auditory devices used for such purposes, safety features to limit the level and duration of exposure were lacking and created an environment that could be harmful.

Along with these concerns, the design of a number of sleep solutions have been created with the parent in mind instead of the child, and an important opportunity is missed. Although a clock that provides visual cues regarding whether or not the child should remain in bed can be helpful, it lacks the ability to act as a transitional object for the child. According to researchers, such things have been found to increase the effectiveness of other behavioral treatments for a number of sleep-related issues. Thanks to these factors, as well as others, it’s not surprising that a series of studies by Sophie Rochette involving semi-structured interviews and participatory design workshops with parents and pediatric experts found that caregivers and children could benefit from a sleep companion that utilized modern science to offer a variety of helpful options for adults while also bringing an emotional aspect for the child.

Image by Daniela Dimitrova from Pixabay
Source: Image by Daniela Dimitrova from Pixabay

As the Provincial Director for Key Assets Newfoundland and Labrador in Canada, a not-for-profit children’s services agency, Heather Modin, Ph. D., knows from experience that the need for innovative solutions still exists. After over 30 years in the sector, Modin believes that new technology could not only benefit families, but it could also play a crucial role in helping children within foster care overcome sleep trauma related to abuse, being removed from families, and other negative situations. Thankfully, she believes the industry is finally showing promise thanks to start-up companies taking a broader approach to the multitude of problems based on sound research and personal experience. For example, Mike Rizkalla, CEO of Snorble Inc. developed his company’s upcoming sleep assistant, Snorble, with this model in mind.

“As a parent myself, I saw the need for a product that reflected the research in numerous fields of child and behavioral psychology and neuroscience while also utilizing advancements in things such as artificial intelligence and gamification to ensure it was engaging to the child and easy to use for the parent,” explains Rizkalla.

Given the breadth of discussion in the behavioral field around the role that technology such as smartphones and computers plays in the disruption of our sleep and other functions, perhaps knowing that the future will involve devices designed to support the development of healthy sleep routines in children will help us all sleep a little better for a change...and if it takes a magical Snorble to do it...nothing wrong with that!