Pain Management Nursing (2022). DOI: 10.1016/j.pmn.2022.08.011″ width=”678″ height=”198″/>

(Left) The CASAS Smart Home in a Box (SHiB) contains (middle) passive infrared (PIR) motion detectors combined with ambient light sensors and (right) magnetic door use detectors combined with ambient temperature sensors. When the state changes, the sensors indicate the new state in a text message sent to the central Raspberry Pi. This machine tags the message with the appropriate date, time and sensor ID. credit: Care of the sick (2022). DOI: 10.1016/j.pmn.2022.08.011

Some smart home technologies can help stop opioid overdoses. A Washington State University pilot study found that a set of noninvasive home sensors could provide accurate information about nighttime restlessness and sleep problems for people recovering from opioid use disorders.

Sleep disturbance is a major complaint among people trying to quit using highly addictive opioids. Although methadone is effective in reducing cravings and withdrawal, it is often prescribed once a day, and it can take time to adjust the appropriate dosage. At the same time, the treatment can end during the night, returning withdrawal symptoms and pain—which increases the risk of drug relapse and accidental overdose.

In a study detailed in the journal Care of the sickWSU researchers found that home sensors matched other methods of monitoring sleep disorders about 89 percent of the time.

“One day when people go home from addiction treatmentwe could send them into a smart home sensor environment so we can remotely know if they’re having trouble sleeping and getting up and down a lot,” said lead author Marian Wilson, WSU professor of nursing. “We know that poor sleep is a trigger for the use of psychoactive substances and can lead to an unintended overdose.”

Wilson and her colleagues designed the study to see if they could create a system that could detect problems such as sleep apnea and other breathing problems, as well as physical movements that indicate an inability to sleep well. This information can then potentially help alert healthcare providers to problems and promptly change medications or supportive interventions. The findings also confirmed patient concerns.

“Our study confirms what people with opioid use disorder have been saying, that their sleep can be restless and disturbing. We need to understand that people can suffer,” Wilson said. “There is a misconception that the use of psychoactive substances is associated with a euphoric “high”. By the time people get into a methadone treatment program, they’re usually just trying to feel normal.”

For the study, conducted at WSU’s Center for Sleep and Performance, researchers collected about 16 hours of data over two nights for four people participating in methadone treatment programs. Sensors were placed on the wall, overhead and on the door to monitor movements.

They compared data collected by unattached, camera-less sensors with information collected by observers using video and polysomnography, the most common sleep study method. Polysomnography involves attaching monitoring wires and equipment to the patient to collect measurements such as oxygen saturation and leg movement.

Researchers have found that home sensors capture much of the same information as wired and camera systems.

“This tells us that maybe in the future we won’t need a human to log in to sleep a laboratory to be monitored,” Wilson said. “Home sensors would be a very unobtrusive way to monitor someone with no cameras, no video, just sensors that tell us their movements.”

The next step of this research will be to test the concept of the sensor in home environment instead of a laboratory, which involves placing sensors in the homes of patients who are being discharged from an inpatient treatment program or starting an outpatient drug treatment program.

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Additional information:
Marian Wilson et al., Piloting Smart Home Sensors to Detect Nocturnal Respiratory and Withdrawal Symptoms in Adults Prescribed Opioids, Care of the sick (2022). DOI: 10.1016/j.pmn.2022.08.011

Citation: Home sensors may detect signs of opioid withdrawal at night (2022, October 10) Retrieved October 10, 2022, from

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