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Tech Tools to Improve Your Sleep

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Sleep has been around longer than people have, and it isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. Though sleep is an ancient necessity, we are constantly trying to improve or enhance it with technology. Here we’ll take a look at some of the gadgets designed to help people get better sleep.  


There are several different types of slumber-aiding devices currently on the market. Some try to make users more comfortable, and others try to keep users informed on their sleeping habits so they can make changes to improve their sleep. Let’s take a look at some of the tech tools getting people more from their rest.  


Sleep Tracking Devices  

There are quite a few sleep tracking devices, and they come in many shapes and sizes. Each has different sensors and tools on board to provide the user with data and feedback. Here are some of the sleep trackers available:  


Sense – This little sphere created by Hello received a $2.4 million start on Kickstarter not long ago. While most trackers are wearable, Sense Orb rests on your bedside table, and the Sleep Pill attaches to your pillow. The two devices are packed with sensors and communicate with each other. Data can be retrieved via an Android or iOS app. Sense has an alarm and gives you a sleep score when you wake.  


Beddit – This gadget, too, came from a crowdfunded effort on Indiegogo. Beddit is a device with a thin strip you put under your sheets to monitor your heart rate, breathing, and sleep quality. Data is downloaded to an iOS or Android device. Beddit’s Smart Alarm will wake you at your most restful state within 30 minutes of the time of your choosing.  


Lark – Developed by a Harvard sleep expert and a pro-athlete sleep coach, this sleep monitoring and alarm device connects to an iPhone via Bluetooth. Data is automatically backed up to Lark.com, where you can access your data. Lark fits into a wristband and is worn by the user throughout their sleep. The alarm vibrates so as only to wake the wearer.  


Sleep Apps  

Sleep applications for smartphones are prevalent, too. These programs use the sensors already present in your phone and often just cost a few dollars.  


Sleep Genius – Using technology tested and used by NASA astronauts, this application for iPhone or iPad provides relaxing sounds, an alarm, and a “revive cycle” for power naps. Sleep Genius also gives a personal sleep report based on data collected.  


Sleepbot – This app is available for Android and iOS devices. It has a smart alarm like Beddit and tracks your movements and sounds to provide a detailed sleep history on your device.  


Sleep Cycle –  You can turn your Android or iOS device into a sleep cycle monitor with this application. It will wake you at a suitable time according to where you are in your sleep cycle. It also provides detailed short and long term information on your patterns.  


You can spend as much or as little as you want on these new devices and programs. Having more knowledge about your sleeping and waking life can give you a better ability to affect positive change. If you’re worried about spending too much, start small with a free or cheap application and see if you want to go further down the sleep tech rabbit hole.  


Sleep-Enhancing Beds and Accessories  

Aside from monitoring your surroundings and vitals, technology has provided some other tools to help people get to sleep faster and stay asleep longer.  


Adjustable Beds – Adjustable beds have been around for a long time, but recently they have been making their way into more and more people’s bedrooms. These bed frames are not just for ailing and infirm. At a minimum, they provide people with customizable comfort with adjustable head and feet angles. Luxury models have massage features, built-in speakers, wifi compatibility, and a host of other features that can turn mattress into a marvelous place to spend some time.  


Temperature Control – If you have trouble finding the right temperature to sleep in or your partner likes a different temperature from you, the ChiliPad Cube is for you. This device will heat or cool to your desired preset temperature and hold it throughout the night, and both partners can have unique settings. There is nothing but water flowing through the ChiliPad, with no wires or electricity. The water is heated or cooled by a box-shaped attached unit.  


The Future of Sleep Tech  

Sleep tech has advanced more in the last ten years than it did in the previous 100. Things are changing faster than ever, and new materials and innovations continue to propel the field forward. The next ten years are likely to be filled with surprises and new insights.  


In anticipation of this, the National Sleep Foundation recently announced the creation of its new Sleep Technology Council, which will meet for the first time in late 2015. Their mission will be to support and enable advancements in consumer sleep technology. They hope to help consumers sort out fact from fiction amongst all the product retailer claims and to help proliferate solid new sleep technologies.  


Limiting Sleep Technology  

Much hubbub has been made recently about keeping smartphones out of the bedroom, or at least out of your view prior to sleeping. There is evidence that has linked exposure to blue light emitted by electronics and light bulbs is linked to health problems and poor sleep quality. Artificial light is relatively new in the grand scheme of things, and we are just starting to learn of the implications of its use.  


If you are using a sleep app or device, make sure you don’t have the screen too bright before you try to sleep and try not to look at the screen much for 2-3 hours before bed. Blue-blocking glasses are also helpful if you must use electronics at night. If you expose yourself to bright lights plenty of sun during the day, the effects of light at night should be diminished, also.  


Sleep technology is here to stay. If you are having trouble sleeping, or just want to get better sleep, find the best way to integrate some of it into your life. You don’t have to spend a lot of time or money, and you might find some very useful information. 


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