The new flagship project SleepLoop from the University Medicine Zurich research network aims to tackle one of the most widespread health challenges of our times: a lack of restful sleep, writes the Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) in Zurich. It is a member of the research network, together with the University of Zurich (UZH) and the university hospitals.

SleepLoop will measure the brainwaves of a person during sleep and use this information to send signals to the brain, thus deepening sleep and improving sleep quality. Other signals could stimulate lighter sleep to target depression, for instance. The researchers aim to design a user-friendly device that can even be worn at home, which would facilitate clinical research and could also be used by many older people.

“Older people in particular often complain that they have trouble sleeping,” said Walter Karlen, head of ETH Zurich’s Mobile Health Systems Laboratory. “So we want to find out whether auditory stimulation will benefit them too.” 

The headband could also be used to treat neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s. More deep sleep could alleviate the motor symptoms typically associated with the disease and improve the quality of life of those suffering from it. 

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