Let’s talk about sleep.
It’s one element in our lives that we’re likely not getting enough of. In Australia, 4 out of every 10 adults is suffering from sleep deprivation. This has serious consequences, impacting one’s quality of life, health, and emotional state. Not only that, but sleep disorders have their own effect. 1.5 million Australians (or roughly 9% of the population) have been diagnosed with sleep-related disorders. Of course, there are likely many more people whose conditions go undiagnosed. Sleep disorders, according to research by The Sleep Health Foundation, cost Australia $5.1 billion per year. The $5+billion relates to health care and indirect costs, while the associated quality of life issues cost an additional $31.4 billion per year. Not only that, but sleep deprivation can result in accidents on the road or in other situations that claim human lives. Clearly, there’s a high cost for lost sleep.
On the individual level, it’s fairly easy to see why we need to improve our sleep. Solid nightly rest provides many benefits:
Helping to regulate your appetite and prevent obesity
Improving athletic performance
Strengthening your memory
Increasing insulin sensitivity and potentially helping to prevent prediabetes
Strengthening your immune system
Repairing muscles, organs, and tissue
Elevating your mood
Lowering blood pressure, and possible reducing inflammation
Supporting growth and development in children and teens
Sources: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/10-reasons-why-good-sleep-is-important#section3, https://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/ss/slideshow-sleep-body-effects, https://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/discomfort-15/better-sleep/healing-power-sleep?page=2
Today, there’s more available to us than ever before to help us achieve our sleep goals. Sure, we can try melatonin, lavender essential oils, and soothing sound machines, but what about technology’s latest tools? It turns out there is a surprising number of tech-driven items that are designed specifically to provide users with better sleep.
Could tracking your sleep with a sleep app make a difference? What about a smart bed, or a wearable gadget? Could tech be the solution for our lost sleep?
Why Track Your Sleep
It’s fairly easy to tell when you’re not getting enough sleep. You’re exhausted throughout the day, you regularly find yourself in a grouchy mood, and you lack energy for the most basic of tasks. Other signs are there too: intense cravings for carbs and sugar, increased levels of depression, difficulty remembering information or learning new concepts, and more.
Sometimes, the key to getting enough sleep is understanding where the problem lies. This is where tracking comes in.
Sleep tracking utilises the power of science to determine your unique sleep issues. By studying and observing your sleep patterns, certain conclusions can then be made that will help you get on the way to more restful sleep.
Apps for Tracking Your Sleep
There are several apps on the market that are geared specifically towards enhancing your sleep. One of these is Sleep Cycle, which works by monitoring your sleep patterns. As you move through the various sleep stages overnight, the app tracks your movements via sound analysis, to see which step of the sleep cycle you’re in. By getting to know your patterns, the app can then adjust to help you achieve the best possible sleep. Sleep Cycle’s alarm will sound at the precise moment you are in a light state of sleep. In this way, you wake up feeling refreshed and energised, rather than groggy and lethargic.
SleepScore is another sleep tracking app that has a lot of good reviews. Unfortunately, at the moment it doesn’t work with most Android devices, but for iPhone users, this could be a good choice. And developers intend to expand the app to other Android devices in the near future. SleepScore works in much the same way as Sleep Cycle, but it provides greater detail in its sleep analysis. It also lets you set specific sleep goals and then offers actionable steps for achieving them. This could give you a bit more control in your sleep progress.
Sleep Better (which you can use on both Android and iOS) is yet another option. During the night, your sleep is monitored using your device’s accelerometer. This studies your sleep quality so you can track your various sleep phases. There are extras, too, such as a caffeine log (so you can track how your daily cuppa is impacting your sleep), as well as a dream diary and a moon phase tracker.
If you’ve got a smartwatch, you can use some of these apps via this device, or choose from others. The Apple Watch doesn’t have its own sleep-tracking abilities, so a third-party app is necessary. Overall, such an approach is roughly the same as using a smartphone app for sleep tracking, but you have the ease of controlling it from your wearable device. Conversely, smart wearables that are more geared towards fitness (like the Fitbit Versa) seem to do a better job when it comes to sleep monitoring. The in-built sensors, such as heart monitor, can provide more accuracy for your sleep patterns.
Smart Beds/Smart Mattresses for Better Sleep
Getting a good night’s sleep isn’t just about tracking your patterns. It also has heaps to do with your environment and having the right mattress can be key. Modern technology has created not only amazing mattresses that promote better rest, but smart beds are out there, too, using science and sensors to get you the best sleep possible.
The Sleep Number 360® i10 Smart Bed is one such option. Sleep Number beds are already pretty fancy, letting you adjust the mattress to your precise degree of firmness (aka your Sleep Number). You can even adjust each side separately, so sleeping partners can each find their preferred settings. But with the 360® smart beds, now the mattress can also read your sleep movements and adjust your support automatically. That’s pretty smart. Plus it can massage you, warm up your feet, and track your sleep patterns. In bed sensors using SleepIQ® technology monitor things like movement, breathing, and heart rate, so you can track the quality of your sleep.
The Saturn, the Jupiter, and the Mars, make up the catalogue of Eight Sleep Smart Mattresses. The 3 styles are made slightly differently, designed to suit various sleep preferences with layers of memory foam and other materials. But the mattresses themselves are not smart. Rather, it is the included Eight Smart Cover that makes these smart beds. (In fact, you can purchase the cover all on its own to turn any mattress into a smart bed!)
This cover has sensors that monitor various aspects of your nightly rest. It works with any Wi-Fi compatible device to monitor your sleep patterns (and track the data to find trends), change the bedding temperature as needed (set your preferences), and schedule alarms for your morning wake-up call. Perhaps most unique is the way that the Eight Smart Cover can work with other smart devices too. Using Alexa, you can create commands for adjusting your smart bed. With IFTTT, you can generate new recipes for your smart devices, such as brewing coffee when your smart bed alarm goes off.
If serious nighttime customisation is what you’re after, check out ReST Bed. With specialised cooling and pressure devices, the bed can adjust the temperature and support for each individual region of your body. There are 5 key zones that are managed, but the ReSt bed actually monitors around 2000 pressure points! You can input your desired sleep settings before bed, or allow ReST Bed to adjust to your needs throughout the night, responding to all changes in movement and pressure. . This smart bed is also compatible with other smart home products, so you can really have an incredibly smart system in place as you sleep and awaken.
Other Gadgets for Sleep
Maybe an entire smart bed or smart mattress isn’t what you’re looking for. Or maybe you want a sleep tracking device that costs a bit less. (These smart beds cost a pretty penny). You also might want something that could be more accurate than an app on your smartphone or smartwatch might be. In this case, you’ll want to seek out smart tech that has been specifically designed for sleep. Often, these items provide greater detail for your sleep data, and have more accurate, advanced tracking mechanisms.
Some smart sleep gadgets aren’t built for tracking at all, but have other ways (smart ones) of enhancing and improving your sleep. Still others have an impact on sleep, but aren’t necessarily sleep-related. Let’s take a look at some of these.
The ResMed S+ Sleep Tracker says it will help “improve your sleep from the very first night.” This device does not come into contact with your body, but tracks your nightly sleeping patterns as well as your environment: noise, temperature, and light in your bedroom. Connecting with an app on your smartphone, the S+ will offer incredibly detailed suggestions for improving your sleep. It’s great because it gives you actionable steps to take for a happier night’s rest.
If you don’t mind wearing something extra while you sleep, you might find Sleep Shepherd to be beneficial. This is a headband that tracks not just your movements during sleep, but actually monitors your brainwaves, tracking “sleep at its source.” At the same time, the headband generates binaural beats that cause your brain to slow down and relax. That means the Shepherd doesn’t just track your sleep, but it influences it.
Like other apps and tools, the Sleep Shepherd has a smart alarm designed to wake you at the most ideal moment in your sleep cycle. This should help you get up feeling ready to take on the world. Also like other smart sleep gadgets, the Sleep Shepherd pairs with an app that keeps track of all your sleep data.
Sometimes you just need a little boost to achieve better sleep. The Somnox Slep Robot could help. This is a huggable, kidney-shaped smart pillow that “breathes” with you while you’re falling asleep at night. As you cuddle with it, your breathing will sync up with the robot’s slow, rythmic breath, and this will lull you into a gentle state of restfulness.
Some of us have very specific sleep problems that plague our nights. Snoring is one of the major culprits, whether it is our own or our bed-mates’! The Smart Nora offers a solution for the snoring-prone. Rather than resorting to wearable items like nose strips and other discomfrts, the device sits near to your bed (not on you) and it knows when you’ve snored, through its various intelligent sensors. When the microphone hears you snoring, it sends a message and inflates a quiet, subtle pillow insert with air. This gently moves your head, helping to shift your position and cease your snoring. The product has tons of great reviews, and many report having amazing, uninterrupted sleep after getting the Smart Nora.
Other Ways to Use Tech for Healthy Sleep Habits
Sometimes, issues in our environment are what impact our sleep. If you’re too cold, for instance, your body will sense this in your sleep, and shivering is no recipe for a good night’s rest. Air quality problems can also be to blame. Luckily, there are several smart home devices that could solve these problems.
Awair is all about managing the air you breathe in your home. According to their website, the company states that indoor air can actually contain 5X the pollutants of outdoor air. This is concerning, especially for those who suffer from asthma or allergies. Awair constantly tracks the state of the air within your home, monitoring levels of fine dust, chemicals, carbon dioxide, temperature, and humidity, and calculating an overall Awair score. With it’s connected app, Awair offers suggestions and steps you can take to improve your air quality. Over time, the device and app track changes, so you can see how your home air (and perhaps your sleep) is getting better. Awair pairs with other smart home devices, too, making it super easy and efficient to use.
Your home’s temperature is really important when it comes to having better sleep. Smart AC control such as tado gives you the ability to control your in-home temps via your smartphone. It can also detect and make temperature changes automatically, or work with IFTTT or smart speakers for total customisation. This makes it super easy to ensure you are warm and cosy (or cool and relaxed) when it comes time to go to bed.
There are a lot of other ways that smart tech (and modern technology in general) can positively affect our sleep.
For instance, many smartphones now offer a blue light filter. Blue light is said to impact our sleep and prevent our brain/body from getting ready for bed. By filtering this blue-hued light, we can reduce how it affects us, hopefully leading to easier sleep.
There are also smart bulbs that can help set the mood as bedtime approaches. These light bulbs can sense when it is time to dim, and can even do so gradually, helping your body to slowly become accustomed to an environmental shift, and gently preparing you for bed.
If you don’t have smart light bulbs, you can still get sleep benefits from some basic bulbs. There are certain bulbs that emit the ideal spectrum of light to help you produce melatonin in your body, and return to your body’s most natural circadian rhythm.
Noise machines and sleep-friendly apps are also useful. Many people enjoy listening to meditation apps on their smartphones that help them fall asleep more easily. Other apps or noise machines provide a wide range of soothing sounds, such as crashing waves on a beach, rainfall, or simple white noise. It’s great to have so many choices, as every person is likely to find something that helps them catch their Z’s with ease. Whether you have trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, or sleeping comfortably, there’s bound to be a smart device on the market that’s right for you. And if there isn’t, stay tuned----new smart sleep gadgets appear almost every day.
How do you ensure you get a great night’s sleep?