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Brief Published: 21 Dec 2020

New Wearable Helps Soothe PTSD Night Terrors


The US’s Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently approved NightWare, a smartwatch application to treat consumers suffering from traumatic nightmares. The device’s market clearance reflects the accelerating demand for tech tools that help ease symptoms of mental illness.

NightWare relies on existing Apple Watch technology, using the device’s integrated gyroscope, accelerometer and heart rate monitor to track biometric inputs while the wearer is asleep. After a few days of wearing, the NightWare app’s artificial intelligence (AI) ‘learns’ the wearer’s sleep pattern. When a potential nightmare is identified –through detection of an abnormally elevated heart rate and physical movement – the watch vibrates. The haptic feedback is enough to interrupt the nightmare, but does not wake the wearer. 

The technology is based on post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) service dogs that nudge owners awake when they are experiencing night terrors. The wearer benefits from the watch’s technology as it provides them with undisturbed sleep, which is proven to boost overall mental health. The prototype was developed in 2015 for the HackDC hackathon by Tyler Skluzacek, a then college student whose father suffered from PTSD after serving in the Iraq war. It has since been developed by Minnesota-based start-up NightWare.

In November, the device was cleared for the US market by the FDA as a Breakthrough Device. This designation is awarded to products that potentially provide more effective treatments than those on the market for debilitating conditions, and allows for a quicker clinical review. It will be available for free via prescription in early 2021 for American military and veterans.

As seen in our CES 2020: Personal Electronics coverage, many brands are turning to tech applications to help boost mental wellness. Check out our CES 2021 reports, publishing on January 25, for more innovative devices.