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Why Samsung's Sleep Apnea Feature Might Be a Big Deal

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Your smartwatch is with you while you eat, while you work, while you exercise and — importantly — while you sleep. It would make sense, then, for smartwatches or smart rings to come with a feature to detect sleep apnea, a common condition in which someone's airways become blocked during sleep, which not only interferes with how rested they feel, but also has trickle-down effects on their overall health.

But as of now, Samsung Galaxy Watch is the only smartwatch equipped to detect it. Samsung's sleep apnea feature was authorized earlier this year by the US Food and Drug Administration for detecting moderate or severe cases of obstructive sleep apnea, which is the type of sleep apnea most people have. At the Samsung Unpacked event Wednesday, Samsung announced its Galaxy Watch Ultra which comes with the sleep apnea feature as well as other health upgrades through its updated bioactive sensor. As Samsung continues to ramp up its health initiatives, it's important to call out that its sleep apnea feature may be one that actually gets people into a doctor's office to receive the care they need — the ultimate goal of tracking your wellness with a wearable. 

Why it's important to notice and treat sleep apnea  

Though as many as 25% of men and 10% of women may have sleep apnea, a meager 1 in 5 may actually be diagnosed with it, according to the American Medical Association. If you're unaware you have sleep apnea, that's a big deal because the condition may start off gradually and worsen with time. If your symptoms stay under the radar, untreated sleep apnea can increase the risk of cardiovascular or metabolic health problems, such as Type 2 diabetes and heart disease. 

Offering you the ability to detect sleep apnea at home with a smartwatch may give you a chance to catch the condition earlier and improve your overall health, through medical treatment, lifestyle changes or both. 

Watch this: Samsung Galaxy Watch Ultra and Watch 7: Big Watch, Big Price

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Sleep truly is a pillar of health, and living with a condition that keeps you from getting enough rest can have rippling effects on health that may lead to depression, mood swings and stress on the cardiovascular system, and even influence how the body metabolizes blood sugar. People having more options at their disposal is one way toward better rest. 

What Samsung's sleep apnea feature can (and can't) do 

Samsung's sleep apnea detection runs through the Samsung Health Monitor App. 

It'll be able to detect signs of moderate or severe obstructive sleep apnea, so milder cases of the condition may still go undetected even with the watch feature. To use it, you should be at least 22 years old and not have an existing diagnosis of sleep apnea. You'll need to track your sleep for two nights with at least four hours of sleep over a 10-day period for the feature to work. 

If the feature detects signs of sleep apnea, that isn't a diagnosis. Rather, the information should prompt you to make an appointment with a doctor so you can confirm your sleeping patterns and find a way to address any health concerns. Sleep apnea can be managed or treated by way of medical devices, daily lifestyle changes or both, with symptoms considerably reduced and in some cases reversed. 

Samsung's sleep apnea detection feature relies on sensors in the watch that look for potential signs of breathing disruptions. Other popular wearables used for sleep tracking, such as the Oura Ring and Apple Watch, can measure blood oxygen, but neither has a specific feature for sleep apnea. It's been reported that the next Apple Watch may include sleep apnea detection. 

For more on Samsung's health initiatives, read about how the company is using AI for wellness. Also, follow CNET's live Unpacked updates and find out what Samsung is announcing at the event, including foldable phones and more. 

Source: cnet.com

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