About Dr. Dan Gartenberg, Sleep Scientist
Founder and CEO of SleepSpace
Hello! My name is Dr. Dan Gartenberg (aka Dr. Snooze), Founder of SleepSpace. I am also an adjunct assistant professor at Penn State and have a PhD in applied psychology. I’ve been invested in sleep research for the past 15 years, after hearing about sleeps role in memory, cognition, and almost every chronic health disease. I then delved deep into the world of sleep science and invented one of the first alarm clocks that could also track sleep. That alarm clock app had some great success back in 2010, ranking in the top 5 in health and fitness. However, I soon realized that I needed to learn more to get to the bottom of how to improve every human's sleep. To me, studying sleep is fascinating because it’s so interdisciplinary. It bridges psychology, neuroscience, and computer science, while remaining a critical part of people’s health. Sleep is also mysterious. Scientists have made great strides in understanding sleep, but there is still a ton we don’t know about when we close our eyes for the night.
Taken together, sleep, diet, and exercise are the “Big Three” that keep us healthy. A great deal of attention is given to diet and exercise, but less importance is placed on sleep. I want to change this conception, since sleep is quite possibly the most important component of overall wellbeing. Afterall, when we are sleep deprived, we are more likely to snack on fatty foods and less likely to exercise. Sleep also impacts our productivity, our mood, and our ability to make healthy choices. I've been fascinated by the idea of not just getting enough sleep, but improving sleep quality with naturalistic solutions instead of a sleeping pill. In the next 10 years, I believe every human will be sleeping very differently. This is one of the main things that drives my passion in sleep science: using sound, light, temperature and vibration to enhance sleep during sleep.
Check out SleepSpace CEO, Dr. Gartenberg's TED talk entitled, “The brain benefits of deep sleep – and how to get more of it,” with more than 5 million views. Dr. Gartenberg's work has been featured on NPR, Reuters, Quartz, the Today Show, the New York Times, and more!
As I began to study sleep, I became increasingly interested in how sleep affects cognition. I decided to pursue a PhD focusing on the theories behind fatigue and alertness. My doctoral studies led me to create a test for the U.S. Navy that assesses pilots’ vigilance levels to determine whether they are fit to fly. Through my PhD program I learned valuable skills like the scientific method and software development. Perhaps more importantly, I figured out exactly how I can best help people achieve their optimal sleep.
Helping people sleep has been my main goal since before my PhD, but I haven’t always succeeded in doing so. When I was still in college, I developed an App called Proactive Sleep, which was meant to wake you up during the lightest part of your sleep cycle, so you wouldn’t be groggy in the morning. This App didn’t work quite right – I realized that people are busy, and no one wants to enter detail after detail about ourselves every day. This realization led me to investigate how I could get the necessary data about a person’s sleep habits in the most minimally invasive way possible. Around this time, I launched our previous app Sonic Sleep Coach, when wearable technology first started to hit the market. Wearable tech, like Fitbit and smart watches, are useful because they provide accurate information about the wearer’s sleep. But these technologies don’t help people sleep better. After all, even if your Fitbit tells you that you wake up ten times during the night, it’s difficult to figure out what’s going wrong and how to fix the issue. As more and more wearable tech options kept hitting the market, I realized that combining the information that these products provide with expert sleep coaching is the most effective and accurate way to address sleep problems. This is when SleepSpace was born, which is now available on the Apple App Store and Google Play Store.
I decided that I could use my background in psychology, cognitive science, and software engineering to create a science-backed coaching service that is completely customized to each individual client. But before I could start accepting clients, I still needed more precise ways to analyze sleep patterns. To accomplish this, I applied for and received a grant from the National Science Foundation and the National Institute of Health to develop an algorithm that ascertains sleep stages based on easily accessible data – i.e., information from wearable technology. I soon realized that a large proportion of people don't like to wear a device while they sleep, especially people who have insomnia, and who we were trying to help. That's when invented the SleepSpace Smart Bed that can monitor your sleep patterns without touching you while targeting our proprietary deep sleep stimulation sounds to enhance your cognition. Our current randomized clinical trial on people with insomnia is investigating whether our technology can be used to improve the treatment of insomnia, which would then mediate enhanced cognitive performance on tasks associated with mild cognitive impairment (see more here). This work is conducted with our collaborators at Penn State and the University of Arizona.
With my PhD and grant research behind me, I’m thrilled to launch my professional sleep coaching service. I hope that our team of expert coaches in almost every discipline of sleep health can find the root of your sleep issues and provides you with clear, customized approaches that fit into your life. If you have any questions, shoot me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dan Gartenberg, PhD of Psychology (Human Factors and Applied Cognition)