CORUS: A Dyadic Sleep System for Cohabitating Couples
MDes/MPS Interaction Design Studio, Fall 2016
Team: Meric Dagli, Rossa Kim, Julia Petrich, Nehal Vora
Corus is a dyadic sleep system that consists of a set of holographic candles and an app that help couples go to bed consistently and together.
01 // Project Brief
Most digital sleep solutions, whether they are around monitoring sleep or providing interventions, focus on the sleep quality of a single individual. But in many cases, such as snoring or families, or a family with a newborn, the total sleep quality of the family may be much more relevant to consider. For instance, a family sleep solution may be able to help new parents to decide who gets to sleep in today, who should to go to bed earlier, and who should avoid scary movies before heading to bed. To understand the relevance of sleep in families, we need to understand the scenarios, people, opportunities, and potential product/service landscapes involved in the experience.
Questions to Begin Exploration:
- In what type of family context would a family perspective on sleep be relevant?
- In the case of families with newborns: how could we use a family sleep approach to increase reassurance and confidence?
- How does it fit within existing family dynamics?
- How can we monitor sleep of an entire family?
- What factors/parameters are meaningful to different family members?
- How can we combine different parameters and relay them back to different family members in a insightful/meaningful way?
- When thinking of interventions (or coaching) how can we help embed them in existing family rituals non-obtrusively? Or can we create new rituals (and what do those look like)?
Contexts of Interest:
- Sleep in a family context, including remote or separated families
- Sleep for new parents and their young children
- Multi-user scenario’s for sleep monitoring and optimization
- Supporting family health in the home, of which sleep is an integrated component
- Monitoring and users’ engagement over long periods of time
02 // Initial Client Meeting (8/31)
The class had an initial Skype session with Peter Weeks, Senior People Researcher, and Mark Choi, Interaction Designer. They explained a little about Philips’ goals as a “health tech” company, combining the consumer with healthcare on all parts of the healthcare continuum, from healthy living, through prevention and diagnosis, and onto treatment, recovery, and homecare (see below).
Philips overarching corporate goal is to improve three billion lives by 2025, and they are well on their way. They attempt to do this through meaningful innovations, which are well timed and go beyond just the technology.
Two of the main health concerns Philips (especially the Pittsburgh office) tackles are sleep and respiratory care. These cover health issues that include sleep apnea, sleep optimization, insomnia, restlessness, and COPD. Their goals of promoting healthy sleep requires asking the question as to what that means in the context of people’s lives.
Sleep solutions that exist today currently focus on the individual. What if we focused on sleep solutions that work for whole families? What if sleep could be a family ritual, like getting sharing a meal at the dinner table? This leads to further questions about what affects family life (life transitions, supporting loved ones, role reversals, separated by distance) and what affects sleep (looking at it in both individual and social contexts and problem sleep).
Considering technology and the possibilities it brings for the future of sleep, we can look at technologies that already exist that might be applied to sleep such as wearables, ambient sensors, virtual reality, and augmented reality. We’ll also look into current sleep solutions that exist for the individual, such as sleep.io.
Ultimately, we will be thinking beyond just products and possibly into services to create a whole system. In creating a system, we’ll need to ask ourselves what type of future our solution enables as well as what life looks like in this future. In considering our rationale, we’ll want to be clear as to what the current issue is and how specifically this solution addresses it.
Some metrics for success in this project are as follows:
- creating a tool that empowers people to live healthy lives
- developing a solution that recognizes sleep as a critical pillar of health and as a first step toward leading a healthy life
- thinking beyond medical conditions through the entire healthcare continuum
03 // Exploring the Problem Space (9/6–9/9)
As a team, we began by looking broadly at the family contexts that initially piqued our interest. We also expanded into some of the questions we had about
From this, we consolidated to four areas of interest and listed the thoughts we had on each:
New parents with an infant
- Inability to conjure empathy for this group?
- Strong life transition moment that needs solutions
- Mental health impacts
- Change in routine
- Relationship shift, new important thing
- Really does disrupt sleep
- Predictably unpredictable
- Parents’ needs vs baby’s (but the parent is focused on the baby)
Busy families/two working parents
- Time together is rare
- How are they best utilizing their time?
- How do they feel like a family?
- Different schedules affecting each other
Newly cohabitating couples
- Different schedules/different routines
- Things you anticipated vs things you didn’t
- Life transitions
- “Relationship health”
- Establishing foundation
- What are the possibilities for relationship maintenance?
Transitioning elderly person into their adult child’s home
- What causes it? Culture/money?
- Adults caregiving for parents and still taking care of children
- Grandchildren having to grow up?
We decided that cohabitating couples were of the greatest interest to us, especially because of the interesting push and pull between physical health and needs and relationship health and needs. To start, we created a survey to begin to get to know some of the needs and the pain points of this group.
04 // From Initial Areas of Interest to Extreme Concepts (9/9–9/14)
“…what we need from the start is to increase our awareness of differences and tolerate them. Once we do that, we’ll realize that different sleep schedules are not marriage straining, they’re actually marriage preserving.”
To find areas of interest, we used our survey responses and our literature review/internet research to gather a list of thoughts and “findings” on cohabitating couples and sleep:
- People perceive their sleep as better with their partner, even if it actually isn’t.
- Sleeping together may be better for the health of the relationship, but sleeping apart may be better for the physical health of the individuals.
- Current solutions are for the individual.
- People mostly relate ideal sleep to physical aspects — temperature, lighting, environments, beddings, waking up conditions, nature.
- People make adjustments due to different sleeping/waking-up schedules, morning routines, disturbances at night for the sake of safety, cuddling and living together.
- Some of people say that when they started to cohabitating, they need to reschedule their bedtimes and wake-up times according to other’s sleeping-waking up times so that they can have more concordant sleep.
- Health conditions affects sleep a lot — stress, insomnia, breathing problems, snoring, not only of the individual but of the partner.
- Some people have expectations about their private space, time before the cohabitation and have some concerns about differences in their sleeping behaviors. In early stages of cohabitations, they feel that they’ve lost their private space completely but then cohabitated space has became their private or they simply split the difference. (from survey)
- The Lark-Owl scale vs. dyadic sleep or sleep concordance. Some couples go to sleep and wake up at the same time, while others have different sleep cycles based on personal preference or factors like work.
We were able to cluster these findings into three key problem areas for exploration: (1) incompatible sleep behaviors, (2) divergent sleep cycles and patterns, and (3) balancing privacy and intimacy. For each of these areas, we began imagining dystopic and utopic futures of partner sleep.
- Dystopia — Make incompatibilities invisible
- Utopia — Exposure therapy to your incompatibilities early on
Different Sleep Cycles
- Dystopia — sleep partner surrogates
- Utopia — forcing dyadic sleep cycle
Balancing Privacy and Intimacy
- Dystopia — complete disintegration of the two lives, cohabitators who share responsibilities
- Utopia — complete integration of the two lives
For our purposes, the ideas of dystopia and utopia were tied up in behavior change. A dystopic solution would require no individual to change or adjust and would simply make harmony out of any discordance. A utopic solution would force one or both partners to change, requiring the couple to make a harmonious and synced situation.
Some further considerations we discussed:
- The social and the medical side (conversations about health)
- Competing needs: physical vs. emotional, what’s the opportunity, what’s the problem
- Expectations to reality when establishing rhythms
- Our behavior change model: knowledge, motivation, environment
- Think beyond the night to what’s happening during the day
- Creating your own culture of two
05 // Insights and Implications from Interviews (9/15–9/20)
We conducted more in-depth interviews with eight individuals/couples from our initial survey participants and collected our insights from this research:
- The time before and of moving in together is a period of excitement and stress. Mostly excitement, but stresses come from the unknown and also from all the logistics of living together.
- A lot of couple’s expectations are either very true to reality, or it turns out even better (which is, I guess, why these couples function well together)
- Especially when you move in after having distance between you two (like in a long distance relationship), moving in together is like getting to know that person all over again.
- Moving in together is like a leap of faith in your relationship.
- Discomfort can come from being in such close quarters with another person.
- Problems that arise are not always dealt with quickly and immediately, but more naturally over time. Partners will find ways to adapt to each other’s needs. They learn to accept certain annoying behaviors. They accommodate to each other’s needs because they care about each other.
- A common way of dealing with problems is talking about it, apologizing, and trying not to do it again. Sometimes coming up with new “rules” for the circumstance.
- Quality time is spending time together not doing much of anything.
- Partners who need more alone time find it while their partners are asleep or before they’ve come home or after they’ve left work.
- Another way to find alone time is taking a break from talking while still spending the time in each other’s’ presence.
- Some couples have had to find ways to let the other one know that they need attention. Harder to make the intimacy feel exciting. Which can be hard. Sometimes they can feel roommates.
- A lot of creating accommodation is a “feeling out” process. Making requests over and over again until it’s habit. It’s an adaptation. Not quite organic, but not an unnatural hassle. It’s a give and take. Not one person making all the sacrifices.
- When the couple has known each other for very long, there aren’t many expectations or baggages regarding cohabitating. It’s just a discovery of patterns that were known before.
- Partners influence each others’ sleep cycles, may even lead to change it.
- It’s easier for couples to adjust to different routines if they did not have any expectations.
- People who are very particular about their environment and possessions find it hard to share their space and adjust according to their partner.
- The initial phase of cohabitation is the most tense until they make peace and arrive to a solution.
- Physical environment preferences are one of the biggest points of disagreement.
- Working couples feel they have enough personal time throughout the day, so prefer to spend the rest of the evening together.
- To maintain a healthy relationship, they tend to solve problems even before they become problems.
- It is easy to solve conflict between two if they go to a bed at the same time.
- Often think they have problem during the sleep, but actually the point that they have argument about is getting ready for sleep.
- They value the time right before they fall in a sleep which they can engaged into each other’s conversation.
- If a problem somehow occurs and turns to an argument, they tend to solve it through two-way verbal communication, apologizing.
- Partners are aware that living together depends mutual negotiation on any differences, that they have throughout their co-living.
- One of their most relevant difference is about their sleep schedules ,which they actively trying to find ways, behaviors to adapt this difference.
- Couples, especially very newly cohabitated, are trying to spend their time with each other as much as possible and sometimes give up their private times for their mutual times.
We also created an early rough draft territory map:
06 // Research Presentation (9/21)
We got a lot of interesting and helpful feedback and ideas on next steps from our client visitors:
- Consider the design function. Are we designing to innovate, differentiate, optimize, etc.? Are we designing for behavior change, such as lifestyle changes or increasing motivations? If we are designing for behavior change, what is our theory of change?
- Continue the trend toward digital innovation in our process. Think about new insights and new ways of thinking about interactions and services.
- Think holistically. Consider the whole environment and the entire health continuum. Investigate other analogous parts of a couple’s life together. For example, we pay attention to how our money is organized, but not as much about our health and health data. How might we apply the same technology to different markets, settings, user bases, etc.
- Consider communication. How might a solution connect multiple technologies and offerings together, giving the right info at right moment?
- Be positive in our approach. Think about this from a consumer space, not like from a health space where products are more about preventing discomfort.
- Come as one in our perspective and our beliefs on what sleep should be. Is sleep a necessary evil? Is it something you enjoy doing? Is it something you enjoy doing together? It may be much more powerful if you believe that.
- Frame our design challenge in our beliefs. What is optimal? Thinking about habits and attitudes, belief is powerful.
07 // Broad Brainstorming on Our Problem Space (9/22–9/28)
To explore the solution space, we brainstormed on ideal sleep, on technologies, and how we might mix and match the two.
[IMAGE OF MATRIX]