The rise of virtual reality has led to a wide array of surprisingly useful technologies that extend beyond the world of gaming. One of the lesser-known applications of VR has to do with your sleep health. Believe it or not, it can help you sleep better at night.
Can Virtual Reality Improve Sleep?
Sleep is important, but it is very elusive. Many studies have shown that one of the culprits for your lack of sleep is your smartphone. The light from your electronic devices suppresses the production of melatonin, which is a natural hormone that encourages sleep. So, what makes VR different? How can it improve sleep?
Playing video games in VR will certainly not make you sleep any easier. However, using VR to transport yourself to a calm and peaceful digital environment might just help you relax and de-stress.
Research shows that virtual reality, when used along with relaxation techniques, can encourage sleep and improve sleep quality. One study showed that VR helped teens with insomnia symptoms get better sleep. It also improved the sleep quality of teens without sleeping problems.
In Korea, another study, which explored the effects of VR on intensive care patients, found that VR meditation positively affects the sleep quality of patients.
The researchers gave the experimental group head-mounted displays for VR meditation. Compared to the control group, they had better sleep quality. At the same time, they were able to fall asleep faster at night.
Virtual Reality as a Sleeping Aid
At the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology University, researchers have made a VR tool called Inter-Dream. It is essentially a virtual lullaby machine. It is a media art installation, which uses a mix of ambient music and dynamic kaleidoscopic visuals to induce sleepiness.
To experience Inter-Dream, a person has to wear an EEG headset along with a VR headset. This enables their brainwaves to control all the experiences in the digital space. That includes sound, sight, smell, taste, and haptic feedback.
By studying the sleep quality of Inter-Dream users, researchers found that the immersive technology significantly reduces cognitive arousal before bed. Their results also show that Inter-Dream promotes restorative restfulness, as well as cognitive stillness.
Although this art installation seems pretty cool, it’s not the most accessible to the average user. There is a growing number of applications that you can use from the comfort of your home. The mindZense Sleep app is one example. It is also a VR meditation app. It uses relaxing music and Binaural Theta beats to lull you to sleep.
World Sleep Day
Poor sleep is a global health concern, affecting all age groups. However, it is no longer an unrecognized issue. This year, for World Sleep Day, the World Sleep Society recognizes that regular sleep leads to a healthy future. They are encouraging sleep professionals to educate about the importance of sleep.
If you’re tired of feeling tired all the time, you might want to grab your VR headset and meditate. It can drown out the thoughts in your head and give you a better night of sleep.