21-Year-Old's Genius App Could Prevent Night Terrors For Veterans Everywhere

Incredible.

Tyler Skluzacek, 21, says in a video for USA Today that he and his team "won't sleep until the veterans can."

Tyler refers to the fact that many veterans return home with post-traumatic stress disorder, which can cause night terrors and disrupted sleep. 

PTSD, as explained by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, can develop from an array of combat-related traumas, and can affect both the veterans and their families. 

Skluzacek's father, Sergeant First Class Patrick Skluzacek, tells USA Today that after spending a year in Iraq, he returned home with night terrors. All of a sudden, in the middle of the night, he'll wake up in a startle.

So Tyler and his team developed a code for a smartwatch app, myBivy, as part of a computer programming competition.

And they won.

Tyler and his team members Damola Adediran, Sarah Kirby, and Sravya Kalva were awarded the title "Best Mobile Application for Clinicians" at the HackDC competition. 

"We are trying to exploit the science of the sleep cycles in order to prevent these night terrors. We found that certain physiological factors have contributed to night terrors and you can actually see when it's going to happen right before it's going to happen," Tyler explains in a video launched alongside a Kickstarter campaign for the program.

Tyler compares this to hearing your alarm clock go off while you're in a deep sleep. The alarm in your dream will either trigger you to wake up or to enter a more shallow dream. 

Thus, they applied this same concept to the app. The vibration sensor acts as an alarm clock to take a veteran's brain out of a deep sleep, where the panic attack is happening, and enter a lighter, less vulnerable sleep.

Additionally, the app tracks heartbeats and movements involved in one's night terrors and uses the info to prevent future attacks. "Post-sleep, the veteran can see how they slept the previous night while also having the option to submit a statistical report to their VA doctor or clinician."

The Kickstarter campaign has already raised nearly $15,000, well beyond its initial goal. The team plans to launch myBivy sometime in the spring of next year.

And as for Sergeant Skluzacek?

He's "actually wearing his to bed," Tyler tells NBC News.


Be sure to watch the full videos below for more information: