In this podcast, Biquan Luo, Ph.D., the CEO and Co-Founder of Lumos (https://lumos.tech/) discusses her company’s Lumos Smart Sleep Mask and the mobile app that, together, are helping to end jet lag and chronic fatigue.
Luo holds degrees from Peking University in China and the University of Southern California and was a postdoctoral fellow at the prestigious Stanford University. Luo discusses her extensive scientific background and her motivation for launching Lumos. She recounts how frequent trips to China left her feeling drained all the time. Armed with a wealth of scientific knowledge from her work as a bioscientist, and coupled with her own personal experiences as a sleep clinic patient, Luo set out to eliminate jet lag and chronic fatigue.
Luo talks in-depth about the technology of their sleep mask and she explains how it transmits undetectable pulses of light to prepare us for our coming days. The Lumos light source is less intense than our common natural light source—the sun, and thus our bodies can receive these types of organic indicators without disrupting our sleep. Cues of light assist our bodies as they seek to adjust to new time zones, and this process greatly decreases the time it takes for our bodies to accept the new time zone and feel comfortable.
Luo talks about the many factors that can negatively impact our ability to sleep well, and how we can find methods to improve sleep. Luo discusses melatonin secretion, and she explains why teenagers are ‘night owls’ during their teen years. Luo explains sleep deprivation, and circadian rhythms, and the ways that poor sleep can potentially exacerbate or cause depression.
Richard Jacobs: Hello this is Richard Jacobs with the Future tech and Future tech health podcast. My guest is Biquan Luo. She’s the co-founder of LumosTech and the website is lumos.tech. We’re talking about a sleep mask, a high-tech sleep mask. So Biquan, thank you for coming.
Biquan Luo: Thank you, Richard. Thanks for having me.
Richard Jacob: So tell me what’s the background like how did you get involved in the area of sleep and how did that lead to this mask?
Biquan Luo: I was trained as a bioscientist, so I did my Ph.D. at the University of Southern California and postdoc research at Stanford University. While I was at Stanford, my cofounder and I started this company and we want to translate sleep research in the lab to products that can be used by the general public. How do I got started was some more of a personal view because I come from China and I still travel between China and the United States frequently. I didn’t sleep well because jet lag is a huge problem for me. It usually took me more than a week to get over jet lag when I’m flying between the countries and very few products on the market that are both effective and easy to use to help you get over jet lag.
Richard Jacobs: Well, one quick question. What causes jet lag biologically? Can you talk about it a little bit?
Biquan Luo: That’s a great question. So jet lag is caused by the misalignment between your body clock, what we scientists call circadian rhythm between your body clock and the destination time zone where you’re flying to. So usually if you were flying from this some city to another city cross-time zone. When we travel by plane, our body gets to the destination faster than our body clock because normally we can only adjust our body clock by one hour a day. So if you’re flying to China, that’s like 16 hours away, which is any time I was away. So it usually takes more than a week to get over jet leg completely. But we get there in like 12 hours. That’s why there is a gap between our body clock and the destination.
Richard Jacobs: I mean I’ve heard when you wake up, make sure you’re exposed to bright lights and give your body, I guess they call it zeitgebers, the light signals. At nights don’t have blue lights, etc. Like what can you do to make the shift faster than you normally would?
Biquan Luo: You talk about being exposed to sunlight and then to not have blue light at night. These are all great solutions to help us adjust the body clock faster because it is well established in the lab that your body clock, it’s regulated by light. That’s why when we travel and when we experience circadian within this alignment, it’s the most effective to use light as the environmental cue to help us shift our circadian rhythm, shift our body clock towards the direction we want to go. And the best environmental cue is the sunlight at the destination. So we will make sure that we get enough sunlight in the morning and throughout the day when we arrive at the destination and make sure that we like avoid bright light exposure at night and evening before we go to bed. So this environmental cue of light will help our body adjust to the new time zone faster.
Richard Jacobs: So income is the sleep mask. I mean, what’s the story of how you first conceived the mask?
Biquan Luo: So the technology behind that mask is research at Stanford shows that, well, instead of using the natural sunlight or continuously, you can actually use short flashes of light to shift a person’s body clock. And it’s more effective than continuous light and you don’t wake up the person at night. You don’t require a person to sit in front of bright lights for several hours during the day and they can go to bed at your normal bedtime without doing anything extra. So that’s the principle behind our product.
Richard Jacobs: So to expose’s someone to timed flashes of lights will that moderates their clock a lot faster than just continuous light?
Biquan Luo: Yes. And that’s because of how the neurons in our brain fires in response to the light stimulation. So the light flashes can produce larger shifts and a certain time compared to the continuous lights.
Richard Jacobs: I would think the wavelength of the light that enters our eye is the biggest modulator. Like red light versus blue light have a different frequency. So I would think it would stimulate our optic nerve and ourselves at different speeds and ourselves would probably sense that and pick it up and that’s what modeling going in our body because of the nature of the light itself.
Biquan Luo: Yeah. so generally the full spectrum light have any fact in shifting circadian rhythm and research have shown that the lights with shorter wavelength such as the green line on blue light have more effect in regulating circadian rhythm then the light with other wavelengths. But in our case, because we designed a product to work throughout the night when a person is sleeping, we use white light instead of blue light because we need to consider the light penetration eyelids as well.
Richard Jacobs: You said you need to consider light penetration through what?
Biquan Luo: Through your eyelid when you are sleeping.
Richard Jacobs: Oh, okay. Gotcha. You know that’s interesting. So you’re sitting in the sun, but then you’re sitting under a glass roof, the glass will stop a certain wavelengths of light hitting you. What about the eyelid? Does that filter the light in a certain way and block out a certain wavelength?
Biquan Luo: Yeah, exactly. Your eyelid serves as some sort of color filter of the light because your eyelid has blood vessels. So if you close your eyes and look into the sky, you’re going to see generally like the orange and red color. That’s because your Island is serving as a color filter to filter out the blue light. So it lets most of the red light to get through it.
Richard Jacobs: So your eyelid itself tends to filter out shorter wavelength lights and shift the incoming light to more of the red spectrum.
Biquan Luo: Right.
Richard Jacobs: Interesting.
Biquan Luo: Yeah. It’s very interesting. But the blue light and green light has seemed to have a bigger effect in shifting circadian rhythm. Overall the full spectrum of light can also shift your circadian rhythm. That’s why we chose a balance between light transmission and the effect of shifting circadian rhythm when we design the product.
Richard Jacobs: Have you compared doing pulses of light versus just a continuous color of light? They would have done a monochromatic blue or monochromatic red and didn’t pulse it. Have you compared the efficacy of both?
Biquan Luo: There’s no research directly comparing, using say continuous blue or green light to versus short flashes of a full spectrum of light as far as I know. But there is some research comparing the green light, continuous light versus a continuous white light and our scientific advisor, Dr. Jamie Seizer from Stanford University, in his research, he compared a continuous white light with the white flashes of light in their efficacy of shifting circadian rhythm.
Richard Jacobs: Oh, so what did he notice about continuous when he is flashing?
Biquan Luo: So when he compares continues with his flashing and the same wavelength spectrum, you see bigger shifts pretty used by the light flashes compared to the convenient one.
Richard Jacobs: Okay. So then you get into like the duration of the flashes, the frequency of the flashes. So, I guess you need a bunch of experimentation to find the optimal mix?
Biquan Luo: So all my parameters the wavelength and then the post duration interval, the frequency and most importantly the timing and how these factors all play together in related to a person’s natural sleep pattern and the personal travel or shift schedule. These are all factors to consider when our mobile app designs to program for the user. For example, if you are flying from San Francisco to New York tomorrow, then you will tell the cell phone app saying that I’m flying from San Francisco to New York tomorrow. Then we will take into consideration your normal sleep pattern and your travel schedule and design a set of light program that is personalized to you specifically. Then by tonight before you normally go to bed, let’s say you normally go to bed around midnight and you are trying to go to bed around midnight in New York as well. So tonight when you normally go to bed, you will wear it a mask and throughout the night we will receive that light program that we designed for you to shift your body clock three hours earlier towards the Eastern Time. So by tomorrow morning when you wake up, your body clock has already been shifted three hours earlier. Then you get on a plane, arrive in New York, you can fall asleep at midnight as if you’re still in California.
Richard Jacobs: It’s very cool.
Biquan Luo: Yeah. It’s very cool.
Richard Jacobs: Can’t you do it on the airplane though? What do you have to do during your sleep? Like how long have you been supposed to do you need? Eight hours or three hours or half-hour?
Biquan Luo: So we encourage the users to use it before the flight so we can prepare their body in advance to the trip or the shift or a night shift. So imagine that you are going to New York and you have to fall asleep at midnight and wake up at 7:00 AM for your business needs. You want to hit the ground running and be ready for your work. If we help your body, we help prepare your body so that your body clock is already in New York time that night when you arrive and you can fall asleep with no problem at your normal bedtime, then you can wake up at your normal way time and start working.
Richard Jacobs: Well in traveling myself, I mean there are two phenomena. So if I go to Europe, I get there usually in the morning Europe time and I get to stay up and try to make it so like nine o’clock at night or 10 o’clock and collapse and go to sleep. So I would guess you use the mask one way go East but going West, I’ll tend to come home, then I’ll get home late at night and then just go right to bed. So it was like two different phenomenon behaviors. So how would the mask work better for both behaviors?
Biquan Luo: That’s why the mask takes into consideration of your travel schedule and what your normal stay patters are and gave you sets of programs that specially designed for, you’re going to the East at this particular travel time and you’re going West at this particular travel departure and arrival time. But in general, we will try to help you close the gap in advance before your flight. But if you’re going to somewhere farther than you’re going to use the mask one night before the flight and one or two or three nights after you arrive so we can help you fully overcome the Jet lag. That particular use case when you arrive in the morning and have to stay up the whole day is an extremely difficult case for traveling. That’s a very common schedule. It is a very common schedule going to Europe but it’s extremely difficult and that’s because on top of the circadian with a misalignment that happened during the travel.
During the flight, you are also dealing with what we call travel fatigue caused by lack of sleep because even if you take out the jet lag out of the equation completely, you’re still dealing with having to sleep on the airplane, which most people have difficulties doing. And then staying up the whole day after not being able to get a good night on the airplane. And because most of the time when you get on the plane, you’ll already somewhere in the afternoon or in the evening in San Francisco time that you’ll already be up for like 12 hours since the morning you get up. So you have been staying up for a lot of hours without proper sleep and that’s something even without circadian rhythm misalignment. That’s something that’s really hard. That’s why if you take this flight to arrive in the morning for Europe, you’re not only dealing with circadian rhythm misalignment but also the travel fatigue due to sleep deprivation. Just because you have a long day.
Richard Jacobs: So what are you doing then? Do you try to keep the person awake so they can get through the day and go to sleep normally or do you try to push them so that they’re like even more dead tired that day?
Biquan Luo: So in this case, we’ll design a program to help the person try to sleep as much as possible on the airplane so they can get a reasonable amount of sleep before they have to deal with another long day after they arrive in. There is just so much you can do because it is objectively not comfortable sleeping on the airplane unless you are in the business class over the first class? So there is a limitation of how well you can sleep on the airplane. But from a circadian rhythm standpoint, we try to help the user to fall asleep on the airplane so they can be prepared for a long day when they arrive. Does that make sense?
Richard Jacobs: Yeah, that makes sense. So you’re trying to get him to sleep in the airplane, but is there another way to do it that, I mean, I would guess it’s bad to have their clock go both, let’s say forward and back versus just leaving them alone and having a go forward only or go back only.
Biquan Luo: It’s definitely easier to shift them in one direction today and another direction the next because there’s a limitation of how much you can shift. Does that make sense?
Richard Jacobs: I don’t want to get into proprietary stuff, so at any point that happens, let me know. I’m just really curious about technology. Again, don’t be afraid to say like, I can’t answer that, but how much can you shift someone? Like if someone needs to shift eight hours let’s say, depending to do it all in one shot and whack them the first night or is it better to go like two hours and two hours and two hours and go slower?
Biquan Luo: In theory, it’s definitely better to shift them as fast as possible so we can instead of using a mask for three or four nights. If you’re going for international trips, you can just be done with it in one night of use. But then everybody responds to light differently. So for some people, it’s easier to shift your circadian rhythm, then it’s okay for them to use it for one night and be completely jet leg free going to Europe. But for some other people, it might take them one or two nights or three nights to completely get over jet lag. So it’s kind of individually different and we tried to accommodate that.
Richard Jacobs: If someone’s going like 12-hour difference, you’re trying to shift them all at once and then they may need the mask for a few more nights to like what reinforces the shift. Is that what you’re trying to do or is there something else you do?
Biquan Luo: Right now based on our preliminary test with our tester. One night of using the mask can generally shift people by three to four hours. That’s why going to Europe will take you maybe one or two nights depending on how you respond to light. Sometimes three nights depending on people. We have some people who we’ve talked to like much stronger so they can just use it one night before the flight and arrive in New York with no problem.
Richard Jacobs: All right, so I’ve got like a personal situation I want to ask you about. So I sleep like horribly late. I go to bed like three or four in the morning and I get up at like 11 or noon. I’ve been doing this for 20 years and some stupid reason it’s just very hard for me to sleep quote-unquote normal hours. So could I use the Lumos to like help me shift my clock so it’s easier for me to do it and not lay there awake and get back to normal human hours?
Biquan Luo: Actually everybody has a different circadian rhythm. So some people were naturally early birds and some people are naturally night owls. In your case you are naturally, it sounds like you are naturally a night owl because you go to bed later than most people and waking up late,
Richard Jacobs: My dad does too. Same thing.
Biquan Luo: That’s also an interesting point that the morning and evening preferences have a huge genetic component. So people found a set of genes that regulates body clock, which regulates whether you’re a morning person or you’re a night person, that’s why you see the same pattern usually within your family that you’re like, you have the same preferences in whether you want to get up early or do you want to get up later. And this, what you described is actually what we call the chronic circadian rhythm misalignment, meaning that it’s not that you’re traveling, it’s not that you’re doing night shift, you’re just naturally a night owl, but you want to wake up early to be more synchronized with the society’s schedule.
Richard Jacobs: Here’s the problem I’ve noticed. It’s obvious, but when you sleep late, when you’re a night owl, you know, even with blackout curtains, two, three, four hours of my normal sleep schedule, the sun is up and it’s very difficult to block that to the point where it doesn’t affect you. Like I can feel it affects me even though the room and the light in the room are very low, even with blackout curtains. So I wonder if wearing this mask would help insulate me against that contrasting light signal that’s messing me up.
Biquan Luo: So how we help in this case is we can help you lose your body clock earlier so you can go to bed and fall asleep instead of at 3:00 AM or 4:00 AM you can go to bed and fall asleep around midnight and wake up around seven or 8:00 AM like most people do. It’s the same idea of shifting your circadian rhythm earlier according to your need of having to get up at so-and-so time. Compare it to how you get up when you are just sleeping normally. So in your case, you’ll use the mask and then tell the app, Oh I am normally going to bed around 4:00 AM but now I want to go to bed and fall asleep around midnight and wake up around 8:00 AM then the app will understand, Oh okay. Then we’re dealing with a night owl who wants to get up early by like three or four hours. Then here is the program for you. Then you will just wear the mask throughout the night and we feed the light probe. Then we’ll shift your body clock naturally with the light flashes so you can feel tired and sleepy around midnight and fall asleep.
Richard Jacobs: And this will be good for people with insomnia too?
Biquan Luo: Yeah. This is a very common question that people ask us.
Richard Jacobs: When people ask you what makes you tell them you’ve laid awake many nights thinking about this and the solution as a joke.
Biquan Luo: So there could be a number of different factors contributing to insomnia and circadian rhythm is a big one. And a poor sleep environment is also a possible contributing factor in poor sleep. Like what you described might be if you don’t have the curtain to completely block light, then it could affect your sleep quality. And then sleep-related behavior is also another category that could contribute to poor sleep, especially insomnia. And then there was also disease and health-related complications such as depression, anxiety, and chronic pain. So all of these could potentially contribute to insomnia. As well as the genetic component that we talked about. It’s a huge part of insomnia as well. So depending on different factors that contributed to insomnia, some of ’em we can help some of ’em we cannot help with our current product because if you have like anxiety or depression, then there’s nothing we can do with this but If your insomnia is caused by circadian rhythm misalignment, that we could potentially help you with adjusting your body clock towards your desired sleep time.
Richard Jacobs: I got you. So these experiences you put on the mask and you see anything? Like with your eyes closed, you see flashes of light or you just can’t tell anything’s going on.
Biquan Luo: So we will flash the lights most likely after you fall asleep and after you fall asleep, you don’t sense the light as much as you would do if you’re awake. So most people don’t even see the light flashes. But we do have some people who are more sensitive to the lights, could see one or two light flashes, but will be able to fall back asleep afterward.
Richard Jacobs: Okay. But it doesn’t disturb them through the night?
Biquan Luo: Right. So it’s the light intensity, it’s so low that it doesn’t disrupt your sleep throughout the night and even if it does, you have the ability to lower the intensity so we can find a value that works for you specifically.
Richard Jacobs: Is there a feedback mechanism? What if I have to and get up and feed during the night and turn on the light and I can’t go back to sleep. Can I do something for the math to help me get back to sleep faster if I’m disrupted?
Biquan Luo: Yeah. This is also another commonly asked question. Right now in our first generation of product. Unfortunately, we can’t really help you if you have to get up to feed a baby or if you have to get up because you’re too hungry and you have to get up and eat something and you can’t fall back. This is a very difficult use case to handle because it does not only involve circadian rhythm but also like a sleep environment and it’s just very difficult. But in the future in our company roadmap, we are planning to incorporate some other sleep improving mechanism techniques to help our user to overcome difficult situations such as you have to get up in the middle of the night to see the baby and try to fall back.
Richard Jacobs: Well I think there is a solution in there for you. Well, think about it. I noticed if I get up and if I turn on the lights, if it happens from 10 seconds, then it takes me a long time to get back to sleep. But the good thing is that tells me that I bet you could find a way with an equally short duration, 10, 20 seconds to put me back to sleep. Cause if it can happen so fast one way, why can’t it be modulated to happen very quickly the way in reverse.
Biquan Luo: Yeah. That’s a very good direction of thoughts. We will want to investigate this particular use case. It’s interesting that you mentioned it’s not the fact that you have to get up in the middle of the night to feed a baby, the fact is that you have to turn on the light in order to perform the task. And we see being long light exposure at night, especially during the wrong time, really messed up your circadian rhythm. That’s also another reason why we have to do all this calculation to provide you the light program rather than having you randomly shining flashes of light into your eyes as you sleep. So we could investigate these baby feeding use cases and see how we can help you fall back asleep faster. But in the meantime, it could be nice if you don’t turn on bright lights when you have to get up in the middle of the night to feed a baby. I know there are some like nightlights where it’s mostly red or orange lights that do smaller effects on your circadian rhythm. So you can like to try to turn on those nightlights when you try to feed a baby, which will help you get back to sleep faster without like messing up your circadian rhythms.
Richard Jacobs: Even if your device only helped a little bit, I would feel psychologically better. For instance, if you told me you can do a setting specifically where if you have to wake up at night for whatever reasons, to feed a baby, et cetera, we have a special program. It helps you get back to sleep faster so you don’t lay there awake after you’d been disrupted because again, it’s going to be some placebo effect and there’s going to be some, I know that you can do it. Maybe not 100%, but I know you can help. That’s the one you’re telling me. And again, if I just knew that that’s what was going on, this device was going to help me with that. I would probably fall asleep faster anyway because again, psychologically I’m like, cool, I have something out and I don’t have to fear to be awake for hours.
Biquan Luo: I think that definitely makes sense. And how you perceive sleep is actually a big factor in how we can help you improve sleep. In the sleep clinic, this is called cognitive behavior therapy, my part of the company where we try to shape how your brain perceives sleep and proceeds how you sleep. And I think what you propose is totally possible and a good direction for us to explore for our next generation of products.
Richard Jacobs: I also wanted this too. Your eyes, the only place in your body then reacts to my signals. Has there been any instrumentation you’ve seen where someone’s leg is exposed to the sun but their eyes are not? It wakes them up the back of their knees, their wrists. I wonder if there are other parts of the body then I would think that not just the eyes.
Biquan Luo: Interesting that you mentioned the back of the knees. I think some customers have asked this question and I think there’s probably a product that those like shy to light. As far as we know, the photosensitive receptors that regular circadian rhythm or distributed in your eyes. So it’s kind of hard for us to imagine how shining lights to the back of your knees would help to regulate circadian rhythm.
Richard Jacobs: People do infrared therapy. I have a red light therapy that’s red lights shining all over my body and it’s supposed to do all kinds of stuff to me. So I think it’d be better to go into the assumption that the entire body to varying degrees is light sensitive.
Biquan Luo: Yeah. That’s a very interesting point. I personally don’t know much about red light therapy. I should look into it and see what the latest research shows.
Richard Jacobs: The fact that it affects other parts of the body versus the eyes tells you that there’s probably some mechanism for other wavelengths of lights to affect you. It’s better to be open to the idea then close to it because you’re more likely to find solutions instead of saying, Oh no, it’s just the eyes not look anywhere else.
Biquan Luo: Yeah. Exactly. We have to be open-minded. So it’s a very interesting point. I should look into the research and see what is it. And sometimes it’s circadian rhythm dependent. Sometimes it could be circadian rhythm independent effect that the lights have to your body. So it’s hard to say as you said, we should not make assumptions before we investigate what’s going on.
Richard Jacobs: The reason I’m telling you is I like your product and what I’m hearing. I want to get one. I think it’d be tremendously helpful for a lot of people. So I want to help you. That’s why I’m telling you this. Not just told you, but to think, how can I help you make this better? That’s why I’m telling you.
Biquan Luo: Yeah. I love your ideas, especially how to help people who have to get up in the middle of the night to feed the baby. Because this is one of the main reasons why people don’t get good sleep, especially for young parents. Like they just have their babies and they have to just get up in the middle of the night. There are some ways that we can help young parents to synchronize your body clock to get better feet when they have new babies. But so far like solving the problem of they just have to get up in the middle of this is still a direction that we have. It’s a huge need. There are a lot of people are having those problems.
Richard Jacobs: Well, what if you able to do this with a different form factor? What if you’re able to put a lamp in the room with a bulb that has your programs in it. So the bulb flashes with a certain wavelength and a certain duration. Exactly. Like what the mask does. And you don’t have to wear a mask. Or let’s say you’re a baby and the baby is not sleeping as much as you want it to. Why can’t you have the little lamp in the room by the crib and slashes the same program that helps keep the baby’s clock set however it should be set to keep the baby sleeping better, or kids or again, if I don’t want to wear a mask or if I sleep with my husband or wife and I want both of us to have the effect. So it’s another idea with a similar mechanism.
Biquan Luo: Yeah. Like I could see that you know a lot about the circadian rhythm sleep because these are all the directions that we want to go for our next product. Because right now, the first generation of products is for travelers and shift workers and we design it to be personalizable. So if you are traveling, we’re not going to disturb the sleep of your bed partner by exposing your bed partner to the same light program that you do. If your bed partner doesn’t have the need for traveling or doing night ships. But if you’re sleeping by yourself or if both of you have to get up early to take care of the babies or even like what if you just want to help the baby sleep better, then having a different form factor is totally a reasonable direction to go to. Also, interestingly newborn babies do not have a well-established circadian rhythm. That’s why they like to sleep a few hours a day and awake very long hours because their body has to learn how to be synchronized according to the environment you keep of light. So what we can do is to help accelerate the process for newborn babies to establish their circadian rhythm potentially through lights. That’s one of the directions that we could go into to help to sleep better.
Richard Jacobs: The funny thing is like, we’re affecting everyone’s clocks regardless. Like I go to a store at night, there are lights out of the store and there are streetlights and there are these phones so everyone’s clock is being messed with the radio all the time, probably no harm and try to improve it and fix it.
Biquan Luo: Right. That’s one problem with the modern lifestyle is we have a lot of electricity supply that we can turn on the lights to however late that we want. So we are exposing our body to very late night light exposure. And our goal is to try to restore the natural circadian rhythm for our users and also enable them to quickly shift their circadian rhythm if they just have to be on some special sleep schedules.
Richard Jacobs: It’d be cool too for people if they’re going to use their phones anyway and they shouldn’t, you know, and now they have like a comforting view, that kind of stuff, where you can get it mixed, instead of blue, it makes it reddish. But what if you embed in that comforting view, a program of like flashing light that comes through the screen of the smartphone. So, people that are using it, lying in bed, it makes them really tired and they turn it off sooner and they go to bed sooner instead of keeping them up. Right now again, the red light shifts just stop the blue light from keeping them up. But why not actively help them go to sleep and get up the damn phone and go to bed. I am thinking of this for my kids.
Biquan Luo: How old is your kid?
Richard Jacobs: The one that I see sneaking the phone is 14. I always need to tell her like stop that. And we were starting to take the phone like away when she’s supposed to go to sleep. Sometimes they’ll, you know, all my kids will do it, but then I’m getting up some times in the night it’d be on the phone. I’m like, don’t do that. No, they go, we have it on the comfort as I don’t care. It’s keeping you awake. So I like, I’m programmed to like to flash them and knock them out.
Biquan Luo: This is not an uncommon problem that we heard from talking to our kids. As humans going through puberty their melatonin secretion is actually two or three hours later than the adult’s secretion entirely. That’s why teenagers do not feel sleepy until very late at night because there are just objectively two or three hours later than adults in melatonin secretion.
Richard Jacobs: This sort of help with the school start time problem. If your kid is in a school where they refuse to go to a humane time of like eight or nine starts at the very least, maybe the mask would help them deal with it somehow.
Biquan Luo: Yeah, exactly. Because right now most teenagers have to get up around six or seven to go to school. But they don’t usually fall asleep until past midnight or sometimes one or 2:00 AM. This sleep deprivation has caused a huge problem for students. And there is a national discussion about whether or not we should postpone school start time, but instead of having school start time postpone, that affects a lot of other adult’s schedules. We could potentially shift the body clock of the teenagers earlier so they can feel tired and sleepy earlier at night and go to bed at normal bedtime, say before midnight and wake up at a normal wake time that fits their school schedule. So this could totally be achievable by adjusting, in fact, there’s research showing that if you could do that you could increase the hours of sleep for teenagers and reduce the depression-related symptom.
Richard Jacobs: Well you’ve got a lot of potential. I think it can do a tremendous amount of good in a lot of arenas.
Biquan Luo: Yeah. So, circadian rhythm misalignment is a very common problem and depending on whether it’s acute circadian rhythm misalignment or chronic circadian rhythm misalignment there are different populations in a society that’s affected and these are all the people that we can potentially help with the product.
Richard Jacobs: A couple of more questions. The form factor itself, I know you’ll probably laugh. I put like a sock over my eyes because I don’t like the mask-like pushing on the back of my head or like compressing the mask onto my eyes. So if you guys had to do a lot to make the mask lightweight, without squishing your eyeballs.
Biquan Luo: Oh yeah, definitely. We have interviewed so many people about their preferences in sleep masks and work with manufacturers, quite a lot of manufacturers to figure out the best way, the best fabric and the best processes of making a comfortable sleep mask that fits most people’s faces and most people’s preferences in eye mask use it. We’ve definitely spent a lot of time optimizing the form factors because if you think about it, if you have a poor form factor that just makes people uncomfortable wearing it when they are sleeping, then no matter how good your technology is in shifting your circadian rhythm, you’re going to mess up their sleep. So having a mask to be comfortable is like the very first step of having the people use your product.
Richard Jacobs: Okay. Very good. So where’s the best place for people to get the mask to find out more?
Biquan Luo: They could go on our website which is the lumos.tech to see how the product works and here how our early users say about the product and their experience in using the product. And we read some of the research that has been done at Stanford state lab using this technology and understanding like how life flashes affect our circadian rhythm. Right now we’re focusing on trying to launch within the military because the soldiers also flight across the globe for their mission. Richard Jacobs: Excellent. Biquan thank you for coming on the call. It’s been a really great call.
Biquan Luo: Yeah, thanks Richard. You have asked tons of good questions about circadian rhythm. I can see that you know a lot about it.
Richard Jacobs: Yeah. Unfortunately I’ve had sleep problems for a long time so I’ve had to like pay attention to it, but hopefully, it helps other people with the knowledge.
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