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Wireless sleep tests are almost a thing 

Clinical-grade sleep testing, called polysomnography, requires people to spend a night sleeping (or trying to) in a lab, hooked up to all sorts of sensors and monitors. But a team of researchers from MIT and Massachusetts General Hospital have invented a way to track sleep remotely using AI and radio signals. A touch-free device — similar to a wi-fi router — bounces radio waves off a dozing body to detect subtle movements. Then, using machine-learning algorithms, the device analyzes those subtle movements to collect data about the sleeper's breathing rate and sleep stages, among other brain-and-body processes. To test their wireless system, researchers monitored more than 100 nights of sleep in study volunteers. The system tracked sleep patterns with an 80-ish percent accuracy rate — more or less the same as non-wireless sleep tests. [Science

Sleep to learn and unlearn 

In a new study, French psychologists asked study participants to listen to various clips of white noise interspersed with other sounds and identify distinct patterns. Afterwards, participants went to bed and researchers replayed the sound clips during different stages of their slumber. The next morning, participants had to repeat the pattern-identification task. And, compared to the first time, they did a better job picking out patterns in sound clips to which they'd (unknowingly) been exposed during REM sleep. But they forgot previously identified patterns in clips that had been replayed during non-REM sleep. The results aren't fully understood. But they speak to the stage-dependent way sleep influences memory. Just like the patrons of Hotel California, some (sleep neurons) dance to remember; some dance to forget. [Quartz

Moms-to-be with insomnia are more likely to have preemies  

UCSF researchers analyzed medical records from nearly three million births that took place in California between 2007 and 2012. They found that mothers-to-be with insomnia or sleep apnea were twice as likely as women without sleep disorders to deliver more than six weeks before their due dates. The data revealed that insomnia and sleep apnea increased a woman's risk of having a preterm birth by 30 percent and 40 percent, respectively. It's unlikely, according to the lead study author, that lack of sleep would directly cause a woman to deliver early. But it could indirectly contribute to prematurity through various processes. The study was part of a larger initiative UCSF initiative to study prematurity. [Nature]

A house fit for an insomniac 

A renovated house in Melbourne, Australia won an architectural award for sustainability — not because of its solar panels or Green-certified septic system, but because it was "intrinsically shaped" by the chronic, lifelong insomnia of one of its owners. The architect hired to renovate the house describes the challenge of having to balance aesthetic considerations with the insomniac-owner's need for soundproof, dark spaces. [Life Matters

All aboard: Gov't takes a hard pass on making sure train conductors don't have sleep apnea 

Last week, two federal transportation agencies said they were halting efforts to require train engineers and truck drivers to undergo sleep apnea testing. The pursuit of federally mandated screenings for the sleep-breathing disorder had come in the wake of several deadly rail-and-road accidents in which undiagnosed sleep apnea was thought to play a role. 

The agencies now say it should be up to individual transportation companies to decide whether or not to test employees. The agencies' policy reversal has been condemned by the National Transportation Safety Board and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, who said he will push the agencies to reconsider their choice to let businesses regulate their policies on this matter. [Associated Press]

Red-eye on the road

So many industry-disrupting startups, so little time: A new service called Cabin is trying to make overnight bus rides (aka 8-hour nausea) a trendy "travel experience." The basic idea is: Why spend two hours sitting on a plane when you can spend all night dozing in a private sleep pod on a double-decker bus? Here's what one reporter, intrigued by the prospect of sleeper buses marketed towards the Angeleno influencer crowd, thought of her Cabin ride from LA to SF. [NPR]