Personal and Ubiquitous Computing

, Volume 22, Issue 2, pp 227–243 | Cite as

Sleep behavior assessment via smartwatch and stigmergic receptive fields

  • Antonio L. Alfeo
  • Paolo Barsocchi
  • Mario G. C. A. CiminoEmail author
  • Davide La Rosa
  • Filippo Palumbo
  • Gigliola Vaglini
Original Article


Sleep behavior is a key factor in maintaining good physiological and psychological health. A well-known approach to monitor sleep is polysomnography. However, it is costly and intrusive, which may disturb sleep. Consequently, polysomnography is not suitable for sleep behavior analysis. Other approaches are based on actigraphy and sleep diary. Although being a good source of information for sleep quality assessment, sleep diaries can be affected by cognitive bias related to subject’s sleep perception, while actigraphy overestimates sleep periods and night-time disturbance compared to sleep diaries. Machine learning techniques can improve the objectivity and reliability of the observations. However, since signal morphology vary widely between people, conventional machine learning is complex to set up. In this regard, we present an adaptive, reliable, and innovative computational approach to provide per-night assessment of sleep behavior to the end-user. We exploit heartbeat rate and wrist acceleration data, gathered via smartwatch, in order to identify subject’s sleep behavioral pattern. More specifically, heartbeat rate and wrist motion samples are processed via computational stigmergy, a bio-inspired scalar and temporal aggregation of samples. Stigmergy associates each sample to a digital pheromone deposit (mark) defined in a mono-dimensional space and characterized by evaporation over time. As a consequence, samples close in terms of time and intensity are aggregated into functional structures called trails. The stigmergic trails allow to compute the similarity between time series on different temporal scales, to support classification or clustering processes. The overall computing schema includes a parametric optimization for adapting the structural parameters to individual sleep dynamics. The outcome is a similarity between sleep nights of the same subject, to generate clusters of nights with different quality levels. Experimental results are shown for three real-world subjects. The resulting similarity is also compared with the dynamic time warping, a popular similarity measure for time series.


Sleep monitoring Smartwatch Stigmergy Neural receptive field 



This work was carried out in the framework of the INTESA project, co-funded by the Tuscany Region (Italy) under the Regional Implementation Programme for Underutilized Areas Fund (PAR FAS 2007-2013) and the Research Facilitation Fund (FAR) of the Ministry of Education, University and Research (MIUR). The authors thank Giovanni Pollina, Silvio Bacci, and Silvia Volpe for their work on the subject during their thesis.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag London Ltd. 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Antonio L. Alfeo
    • 1
  • Paolo Barsocchi
    • 2
  • Mario G. C. A. Cimino
    • 1
    Email author
  • Davide La Rosa
    • 2
  • Filippo Palumbo
    • 2
  • Gigliola Vaglini
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Information EngineeringUniversity of PisaPisaItaly
  2. 2.National Research CouncilInstitute of Information Science and TechnologiesPisaItaly

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