Development of a prototype sleep monitoring device for use in the commercial fishing environment

Author(s): Cheryl Blanchard

Mentor(s): Dr. Leigh McCue, Mechanical Engineering

Abstract

Sleep deprivation occurs when a person gets insufficient sleep or experiences poor-quality sleep. Although the amount of sleep needed varies among individuals, the effects of sleep deprivation are similar and range from impaired cognitive function to increased risk for accidents, illnesses, and chronic diseases. While some of these effects are reversible, sleep deprivation has been linked to brain function impairment and Alzheimer’s disease. Commercial fishermen are known to encounter long periods of little to no sleep while at sea, but the extent fishermen experience sleep deprivation is not well known. This project seeks to fill this knowledge gap by developing a prototype sleep monitoring device suitable for use in the commercial fishing environment. This prototype device uses a 3-axis accelerometer and pulse oximetry sensor from TinyCircuits¬© to capture physical activity and heart rate. A TinyCircuits TinyScreen+ microprocessor and lithium-ion battery are used to power and control the device. All components are then placed inside a clear, thin plastic pouch and sealed with waterproof tape to prevent water damage. The device is then inserted into a mesh pocket of an arm band and worn around the forearm or ankle. When completed, this device will differ from commercially available sleep monitors as it is intended to be non-invasive, capture all sleep events including short naps and allows raw data to be extracted and analyzed to permit filtering to differentiate human motion from boat motion. Furthermore, development of a custom product will allow the future addition of sensors to identify other workplace hazards, such as volatile organic compounds. Analysis of the design concept indicates that the device is compatible with the commercial fishing environment and is unlikely to present a snagging hazard. In addition, preliminary testing of the sensors demonstrates that the device can provide accurate accelerometer and heart rate readings.

Video Transcript

Hello, this is the presentation for the project titled: development of a prototype sleep monitoring device or use the commercial fishing environment. My name is Cheryl Blanchard and my mentor is Dr. Leigh McCue. We have all experienced sleep deprivation at some point in our lives. Sleep deprivation occurs when a person does not get enough sleep or experiences poor-sleep quality. Although the amount of sleep needed varies among individuals, the effects of sleep deprivation are similar and range from impaired cognitive function to increased risk for accidents, illnesses, and chronic diseases. While some of these effects are reversible, sleep deprivation has been linked to brain function impairment and Alzheimer’s disease. Although commercial fishermen are known to encounter periods of little to no sleep while at sea, the extent to which fishermen experience sleep deprivation is not well known or documented. This project looks to fill this knowledge gap by developing a sleep monitoring device that is suitable for use within the commercial fishing environment. To do so, this device aims to correlate the wear’s physical activity and heart rate to one of four sleep categories: awake, light sleep, deep sleep, and rapid eye movement, better known as REM. There are sleep monitoring devices commercially available, such as FitBit, Actigraph and Whoop, and some you may be less familiar with such as the DREEM and Oura ring. However, wear of these devices, their limited ability to store and extract raw data and their limited ability to capture and record naps, makes them less suitable for use within the commercial fishing environment. So what do I mean by that? Well, there are several design requirements and assumptions that must be addressed: 1) All periods of sleep may not occur in the same location. For example, a fisherman may take a nap (sleep less than 20 minutes) in the breakroom and then another nap later on in the day somewhere else on the boat so the device will need to be worn consistently throughout the day. 2) Wear of the device may not impair the fishermen’s ability to do their job or pose a safety or snagging hazard such as rings, watches or necklaces. 3) Also, WiFi is not guaranteed while out at sea, so the device must have the ability to capture, record, and store raw data 4) Finally, the device must be water-resistant to waterproof. Sleep Monitoring Prototype Device: Components. To meet these requirements, the device uses sensors, boards and a microprocess from TinyCircuits. A 3-axis accelerometer is used to record physical activity A pulse oximetry sensor is used to record heart rate by measuring the intensity change of light transmitted through tissue A microSD card is used to record and store the data And a TinyScreen+ microprocessor is used operate the various sensors and components. These components are then placed inside a thin, clear plastic pouch and sealed. This sealed pouch is then inserted into the arm band’s mesh pocket but leaving the sensors visible. This is important since the pulse oximetry sensor needs to be in contact with the skin in order to record heart rate. The device is then worn on the forearm or around the ankle. Sleep Monitoring Prototype Device: Preliminary testing indicates the prototype device can provide accurate heart rate and physical activity data. Accuracy of this data is based upon a comparison of similar data retrieved from a Whoop. In conclusion, this device show promise. Further refinement of the build and code will likely increase the device’s reliability. Once completed, the device may be used as a tool to help researchers better understand the health risks commercial fisherman face from sleep deprivation. This concludes my presentation and I want to thank you for your time and attention.

4 replies on “Development of a prototype sleep monitoring device for use in the commercial fishing environment”

Hello Dr. Lee,

No timetable yet. The code needs a little more refining. Once that is complete, the device would be ready for testing on a boat.

I found your research to be very thorough and informative. It provided me a greater understanding of the need for a device to monitor sleep patterns of person’s in this profession. Awesome presentation and great effective slides coupled with a strong oratorial delivery.

Do you know of any sleep monitor devices that are in production or any literature that mentions any near future plans to create one for person’s in this profession?

Hi Cheryl,

This is such an interesting project, glad to see that preliminary data looks promising. Looking forward to seeing your results!

-Anastasiya

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