MICHAEL LARSON: I thinkcreativity is at the very heartof what it means to be human,and we are most in touchwith our humanitywhen we are creating.My middle child, Jessica, shewas very high achiever,first-chair flutistin a local youth symphony,played the piano beautifully,all A's in school.All of that suddenly changedwhen it became clear that hersleep during the daywas getting uncontrollablefor her.I'm Dr. Michael Larson,and I'm a professor by dayand an inventor by dayand night.And my daughter has narcolepsy.When my daughter finally gota diagnosis of narcolepsy,I had never heard of the diseasebefore.So I began to learn all I couldabout sleepand how to help people getbetter sleep.
Jessica does dealwith excessive daytimesleepiness from the body's lackof regulating sleep cyclesproperly.She also has cataplexy, whichis a sudden loss of muscle tone,and typically someone willcrumple to the ground.
JESSICA LARSON: I was exhaustednot sleeping well.For a while I didn't know if Iwas going to be able to goto college the way I had plannedoriginally.You know, there were just a lotof things that I kind of startedto wonder if I needed to give upon.
MICHAEL LARSON: It becomes veryhard for someoneto advocate for themselves.There are many, many peoplesuffering from narcolepsy.Many of those peopleare not getting any help,so I took it upon myself to turnto technology to see if we can'tdevelop a solution that wouldwork naturally with someone'sbody instead of alteringthe biochemistry.
I earned my PhD from MITin mechanical engineering,and really had my eyes openedto the idea that if solutionsdon't already exist then goahead and create one.People have been using what wecall binaural tonesfor a long time.2000 years ago, Tibetan monkswere using singing bowls, whichhave a very interesting effecton the brain in a natural way,to encourage meditationand calming effect.
I have optimized that for sleepusing actual brainwavemeasurements in real timeto adjust these tonesin a customized way.I have inventeda comfortable headbandthat people wear while they'resleeping,and it hassome built-in speakers that playbinaural tones designedboth to help people go to sleepbut also to help people stayasleep.
I think the technology is justbeginning to scratch the surfaceon how we can havethe first real technologicalsolution for sleep.I'm hoping more inventors willjoin me in a quest to helppeople sleep better, because wecan help a lot of peoplein the process.
I am clear that the device isnot a magic solution or a curefor the condition.I find that I am able to shareimportant thingsfrom my own research,but mostly from dealingwith Jessicaand watching how she dealswith narcolepsy in her own life.
JESSICA LARSON: Honestly, it haschanged my life.I went from barely functioningand being really sickall the time,and I'm about to graduatefrom college now.So it has madea huge difference.
MICHAEL LARSON: I getmy greatest motivationfrom thinking about how I canhelp people live better lives.I can't tell you whata great feeling that is for meas a dad,to know that I've done somethingto help my daughter.