Veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder can be tortured by their nightmares. NightWare running on Apple Watch can pull the wearer out of their horrible dream without waking them up.
It’s the first product developed specifically to treat nightmares to be cleared by the FDA.
NightWare uses Apple tech to help disrupt nightmares
After serving in Iraq and Afghanistan as part of 20 years in the Army, Robert Guithue suffered from vivid nightmares. “At my worst point after I got back from Afghanistan, I didn’t sleep for three months,” said the vet.
Then he discovered NightWare. On the second night using it, he slept for nine hours, something he hadn’t accomplished in more than a decade.
The prototype was first created by Tyler Skluzacek in 2015. He was trying to help his father who had developed PTSD after decades in the military. He based it on service dogs that nudge their owners to stop nightmares without waking them. Skluzacek and Grady Hannah, who is now NightWare’s CEO, spent seven years bringing the product to market.
Brian Robertson, the company’s chief medical officer, is the former head of the sleep disorder clinic at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. “Before NightWare, we didn’t really have any great solution for nightmares, and that’s a huge problem because for so many active-duty and retired service members, they are debilitating,” says Robertson.
The product is now prescribed to 400 patients in the US, 98% of whom are active-duty military or veterans. A recent study shows it provides “significantly better improvement in perceived sleep quality.”
By prescription only
The user wears their Apple Watch while sleeping, and the anti-nightmare software monitors the wearable’s heart rate sensor, accelerometer and gyroscope. If a nightmare is detected, the Watch vibrates to disrupt it. It starts with gentle pulses on the wrist that gradually increase until the user is roused from the nightmare, but not from sleep.
NightWare isn’t an Apple Watch app just anyone can install – it’s available by prescription only. The kit includes an Apple Watch and iPhone with the necessary software ready to go.
The nonprofit Semper Fi & America’s Fund helps to subsidize NightWare prescriptions for veterans without insurance coverage.