Are you getting enough sleep? According to a 2016 report by the Centers for Disease Control, more than a third of Americans aren’t, with sleep-related disorders affecting an estimated 50 million to 70 million Americans — and that is a problem. Lack of sleep doesn’t just make people cranky; it can lead to a variety of health problems, increasing the risks of diabetes, obesity, and even heart disease, among other things. In the modern world, there are a lot of things that can interfere with your sleep, whether it be loud roommates, bright street lights outside your window, or merely the unrelenting urge to pick up your smartphone, desperately searching for one more mildly funny Reddit post.
Just as modern technology interferes with our sleep, it can also help you get your eight hours’ shut-eye. Here are some useful gadgets that can help you get to sleep easily and stay asleep without interruptions.
If you or your partner snore like a freight train, chances are neither of you are sleeping very well.
The majority of these products are designed to provide actionable feedback on the duration and/or quality of your slumber. And while you may not need a bracelet to tell you that you’re tired, smart sleep technology can let you know just how much sleep you’re losing out on.
Going to the mattresses
Any conversation about sleep should begin with the foundation of a good night’s rest: Your mattress. These days, however, mattresses offer more than comfort and support; they can deliver data-driven insights about your sleep.
There are a number of “smart” mattresses on the market today. In 2018, Digital Trend senior editor Matt Smith got a chance to test the Sleep Number 360 p5, which allows you to adjust either side of the bed to however soft or firm the person sleeping there prefers, as well as tracking data to inform users how much they moved around in the night and so on.
Of course, a mattress needs to be comfortable, and Smith described the 360 p5 like this:
“The foam structure gives it a pleasant, consistent structure without the lumps or bumps you might find in a spring mattress. Sleepers who prefer a pillowtop might be disappointed because even the softest setting lacks the fluffy feel of a pillowtop, but I think most sleepers will be instantly pleased by the bed’s feel.”
If you find you’re often too hot — or too cold — in bed, then the Pod bed from Eight Sleep is worth a try. The bed learns your temperature preferences, warming and cooling the mattress to suit — and all this is controlled from an app on your phone.
Stop with the blue light, start with the red
The human body is a machine, and it runs on a schedule; specifically, a roughly 24-hour cycle called a circadian rhythm. The human body evolved to take advantage of daylight and rest at night, so when it gets dark, the body produces melatonin to begin the process of falling asleep. Before the advent of electricity, it was easy to stick to the schedule, but these days light is easy to come by, especially given all the various screens people like to look at. Watching Netflix on your tablet before bed, or maybe just browsing Instagram on your phone, may seem like harmless fun, but those screens emit blue light that tricks your body into thinking it’s still daytime, suppressing melatonin.
The surest way to prevent light from screwing with your circadian rhythm is to simply avoid it altogether — no more Reddit before bed! — but that can be a tall order for a lot of people. There are a few items that can help, though. If you absolutely need to be on your computer in the hours before you go to bed, blue light blocker glasses can reduce the impact of LED screens on the body’s circadian rhythm, as shown in a 2015 study by the Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine.
Although blue light can hurt your ability to sleep, studies have shown that red light may improve it. Consider adding red night lights to your bedroom so that if you need to get up in the night, you’ll find it easier to get back to sleep.
Snore no more
A study by the Sleep Foundation discovered 57% of men and 40% of women in the U.S. are affected by snoring. If you or your partner can snore like a freight train, chances are neither of you are sleeping very well. You owe it to yourself and your relationship to quiet those Z’s. There are all kinds of products that promise to help, but Nora, a smart snoring solution, claims to be a cut above the rest. (At the very least, it doesn’t include funny-looking tubes and masks.)
The system includes a wireless mic, which sits on the snorer’s nightstand, an air pump, and an inflatable device that goes under the pillow. When you start snoring, Nora gently moves your head so you stop before your partner wakes up. The slight movement in your head stimulates your neck and throat muscles and opens the airway so you can breathe again.
White noise and sleepy sounds
Few things ruin sleep quite like noise. Whether it’s a neighbor blasting music as they drive past or crows cawing for whatever reasons crows caw in the morning, random noises intruding on your sleep can cost you precious hours of rest. Many people use white noise machines, which produce a consistent noise across all hearable frequencies. This constant sound is not only easy to tune out after a while but masks other noises. A white noise machine, such as this one from Adaptive Sound Technologies, can help you drown out annoying sounds and secure a better night’s sleep.
Some people enjoy a little noise before bed, however; specifically, relaxing sounds like the churning of the ocean or distant hooting of owls. If you prefer to doze off to gentle ambient noise, there are a number of apps that can get you in a relaxed state. Popular meditation app Headspace, for example, includes “sleepcasts,” which feature ambient sound and soothing voiceovers to lull listeners to sleep; themes include rainy weather, a night on the beach, and “Midnight Launderette,” among others. Besides Headspace, there are plenty of other apps for bedtime ambiance, including Sleepa and Relax Melodies.
Keeping the temperature just right
Some people like to stay warm in bed. Others spend the whole night wandering to whichever part of the bed is cool at the moment. The temperature you sleep at isn’t just a matter of comfort; it’s important for your body, as your temperature naturally drops while you’re asleep. The human body sleeps best when the temperature is between 60 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit, according to the Cleveland Clinic, but aside from checking the thermostat before you go to bed, what can you do? You could try replacing your old-fashioned comforter with a smart duvet. Specifically, the Smartduvet. Nestled between the duvet and the cover is a thin layer through which air can flow. The Smartduvet pumps air through this layer to achieve whatever temperature the user sets, as well as, amazingly enough, restoring the duvet to a flat state so you don’t need to make the bed after you get up.
The big sleep-tracking finish
No longer is sleep tracking just a secondary feature on your fitness tracking device; it’s become a business all its own. These products collect a wide variety of data on your sleep (duration, quality, respiration, and heart rates), as well as your sleeping environment (noise, light, temperature, etc.) Here are some of the best sleep trackers out there:
An in-bed sensor so small you’ll forget it’s there.tracks loads of data, including sleep duration, quality, respiration rate, and even your heart rate, and the device automatically knows when you’re asleep so you don’t have to bother with anything. You can view the results on the iOS app.
Sleep Number SleepIQ Kids K2 Bed
This bed features a “monster detector” that illuminates space under the bed — making it a win-win for kids and parents who want to track their children’s sleep patterns. Another helpful feature is a night light parents can turn off remotely when their child falls asleep. The app for iOS and Android lets you track all the important data.
With a sensor that fits under your mattress and a separate device for your nightstand, thetracks everything from sleep cycles to heart and breathing rate, and time spent asleep.
Lumie Bodyclock Glow 150
The Lumie range can help you fall asleep more quickly and wake up naturally, feeling well-rested. The Bodyclock Glow 150 features a gradual fading sunset that helps encourage sleep, with a 20,30, 0r 45-minute sunrise that helps you wake up gently. There’s an optional wake sound too, for those who need a little extra encouragement getting out of bed. The light-sensitive auto-dimming display and realistic sunrise/sunset colors make this a relaxing way to doze off and wake up, and there are also 10 sleep/wake sounds including tropical birds and white noise.