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Using Wearables and Apps to Study Human Sleep and Circadian (Daily) Rhythms

DECEMBER 14, 2018

Daniel B. Forger, PhD
Department of Mathematics
University of Michigan

About the Presentation: Nearly every physiological process in our body is under the control of our daily (circadian) clock. We spend 1/3 of our lives asleep. The discovery of the physiology of sleep and circadian timekeeping have received much attention (including the 2017 Nobel Prize). We have developed mathematical tools and models to translate this knowledge into smartphone and wearable applications. This work is included in an open access project to deliver the first real-time estimates of the state of one’s circadian clock and improved methods for scoring sleep. In particular, our smartphone app, ENTRAIN (, which has been installed in phones over 200,000 times in over 100 countries, simulates models and employs optimized schedules to help workers and transmeridian travelers overcome jetlag. The app resulted in one of the largest studies of human sleep yet conducted. I will highlight current applications of this work including projects to: 1) reduce depression and stress in thousands of medical interns, 2) time chemotherapy so that it is maximally effective and has minimal side effects, 3) understand gender and racial disparities in sleep, 4) improve the performance of student athletes and 5) understand mood dynamics in individuals with Bipolar Disorder.

About the Presenter: Daniel Forger is a Professor of Mathematics and Research Professor of Computational Medicine and Bioinformatics at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. His widely acclaimed book, “Biological Clocks, Rhythms and Oscillations: The Theory of Biological Timekeeping” was recently released open access by the MIT Press. Many alumni from his group have gone on to faculty positions. Funded by most major scientific funding organizations, Dr. Forger is a leader of team science and has been the PI of two Human Frontier Science Project Grants. He also is the CSO of Arcascope.