How technology can help you sleep better
You really can’t ignore it – technology is everywhere. From the gadgets on our watches that measure our heartbeat, to all the apps that can do your errands for you, there are a million ways you could use tech to improve your life. Sleep is no exception - sleep improvement is one of the hottest fields right now, and new gadgets are coming out every day to help you get better rest. There are some weird ones out there, but we’ll stick to some that might actually work!
You sleep in your bed, so it makes sense to look there first. Mattresses now can be customized to a specific sleep style, and some even come with tracking so they can tell you how you’re sleeping. It’s all about the data – to make the best use out of something like this, you’ll need to monitor your sleep reports and make changes to see if they impact your sleep. If you’re not into all that, then you’re probably better off getting a new mattress that is comfortable and supportive. It doesn’t help that there’s a pretty hefty price tag on these right now. However, a good quality mattress can make all the difference. If you struggle with sleep, it might be worth at least upgrading away from the cheap memory foam.
Pillows are getting into the game too. Just about everyone has a high-tech version of a pillow with cooling gel or fancy foam. It doesn’t stop there. Pillows are also starting to come with sleep tracking, the ability to play music, and more. They come in different shapes and sizes, to support your neck, back, or a particular position. Is it worth it? Again, it depends. Like with the mattress, the most important thing is that it provides support and is comfortable enough to let you snooze through the night. Some of that is personal preference, but you should also know your sleeping style and consult a guide to see what type is best for you. There may be a specialty pillow to help with your specific sleep issues.
Then there’s what we know best – adjustable beds. They’re not hospital beds anymore! Adjustable bed bases offer more general health benefits that can lead to better sleep. You can tilt the head to open airways to reduce snoring, find relaxing positions to ease aches and pains, get support for lower back pain, and even improve digestion by lifting the upper body. They also let you read or watch TV with plenty of back and neck support. Prices on these are not insignificant, but with the range of features they can solve physical problems that are difficult to address otherwise.
Some adjustable beds can even give you a full spinal stretch.
If you have a smart watch or fitness tracker, chances are it comes with sleep tracking too. If not, they sell sensors that you can put directly on your bed. Trackers monitor how long you’re sleeping, your respiration, your heartbeat, and tell you what your sleep quality is. They might give you tips on how to fix issues. Sleep studies used to be something you could only do with medical supervision, but no more! However, with a tracker you may not get specific enough information, and it’s all up to you how much you use it. At the very least they might help you figure out if something is wrong and solve minor problems.
There IS an app for that. Many, in fact. Some apps are also sleep trackers, while others help you meditate, play soothing sounds, or provide a natural alarm. Since they provide a lot of the same services as other devices you might already have, you may not find added benefit from an app. Also, the blue light from your phone is known to keep you up too!
Do they work? Consumer Reports studied a number of different types of apps and found that it’s still a good idea to consult with a professional. Unless you just want something soothing, your issue could be more serious than an app can diagnosis.
Light and temperature play a big part in how well we sleep. With smart thermostats like Nest, you can automatically have your room set to the perfect sleep temperature (between 60 and 67 degrees F). If you need a more personal touch, you may not be surprised to hear there’s a smart duvet out there that will help you set your sleep temperature.
It’s also best to sleep in complete darkness, and if you enjoy that getting blackout curtains (you can even get some that are remote controlled) might be a worthwhile splurge. Otherwise, there are sleep masks – all kinds of sleep masks. The Consumer Electronics Show released some new ones this year that have all the technology you could want.
If you have to get up at night, or you just don’t like being in complete darkness, then you may want to add some gentle lights to your space. Just don’t make them blue! Red light is actually best. Here are a couple smart lights, and you can always get a warm nightlight and put it on a timer (or control from your phone with something like an Insteon plug).
It’s probably the most commonly cited reason for not getting enough sleep – either you or the person next to you. There have been aides for snoring for probably as long as there has been snoring, so it’s no surprise this is a huge category. Pillows. Chin straps. Mouthpieces. Here’s a good site to learn all about that and see if a solution is right for you. Some things are basic, like a pillow to elevate your head, but some are pretty high tech.
There are even more options out there, but we’ll leave it here for now. Some of these are easy and inexpensive, and might help. Some cost a little more, but have more benefits. If you’ve got serious issues, though, there’s no substitute for seeing a doctor!