Technology and Sleep: Enemies or Friends?
For many people, technology is hurting their sleep. The blue light from the TV, cell phone, and/or tablet tells your brain that it's daytime and you need to get moving. That's why some people lie in bed unable to sleep - they are inadvertently telling their brain that it's time to be active.
But the good news is that technology can also be your friend when it comes to sleep. There are many products that will signal to your brain when it's time to sleep and wake up, which will align you with nature. If you've ever gone camping for a few days (in a tent, not glamping), and if you didn't look at your cell phone, you may have found yourself going to bed not long after it gets dark, and waking up not long after it gets light. The reason is that when you don't see sunlight, and the temperature drops, your body produces melatonin, which will make you feel sleepy. In the morning when the sun comes up and the temperatures rise, your cortisol levels rise, increasing your heart rate and awareness.
Most of our top sleep gadgets control light and temperature. We did include some sleep aides that aren't techy but may help you sleep. They use other methods that some people report have helped them get to sleep faster, sleep deeper with fewer interruptions, and wake up feeling rested.
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The Philips SmartSleep wake up light is a sunrise alarm clock that can help you go to sleep and wake up by simulating sunrise and sunset. You can use it at night to drift off as it will gradually dim while playing relaxing sounds. In the morning it will wake you with a gradual increase in light, and you have the option of 5 different wake up sounds, or FM radio.
The SmartSleep HF3520/60 has a PowerBackUp+ feature that will maintain its internal settings for 8 hours in the case of power failure. It also has a 90-day money-back guarantee.
The Fitbit Versa 2 will track:
- How long you slept.
- How many times you woke up.
- Time in different stages of sleep: deep sleep, light sleep, and REM (rapid eye movement sleep).
- How you slept compared to the last 30 days.
- How you sleep compared to people of your age and gender.
- Estimates of your nightly oxygen levels (important for those with sleep apnea).
You can also set a smart alarm window of 30 minutes so that you wake up during light sleep, which will help you wake up more easily and feel less groggy. The app will also give you recommendations on how to improve your sleep.
It comes in 6 different colors, and has a ton of other functions as a fitness tracker, to use Alexa, check the weather, set alarms, play music, as well as getting calls, text, and more.
Weighted blankets help many people get to sleep and stay asleep. The general rule is to use one that's around 10% of your body weight, and the weight from the glass beads sewn into pockets in the blanket puts pressure on the sleeper, creating the sense of a hug. Weighted blankets are also used for people suffering from anxiety, depression, restless legs syndrome, PTSD, and many other issues.
The Luxome has a bamboo side that's cooler, and a minky side that's warmer. There are 10 different color options and 4 different weights. It uses a 233 thread count, is machine washable, and has a 30-day money-back guarantee.
For more information and options, check out our review, Best Weighted Blankets for Sleep.
Aromatherapy is an excellent way to calm down before you go to bed. Diffusers quietly fill the room with essential oils, some of which might help you sleep.
The Anjou has an auto-shutoff after 1 hour, 4 hours, or 8 hours, and will shut off automatically when empty. It can run in low mode for 10-15 hours when full, or 6-10 hours in high mode. It runs at 30 decibels, which is similar to a quiet rural area. It can serve as white noise as well to help put you to sleep. It also has 7 different light colors and can be turned off as well.
For more information about essential oils, check out our review, Best Essential Oils for Sleep and Insomnia.
Sleep Me Cube
The Cube Sleep System from chilisleep is one of the best solutions for sleeping cool. Our core temperature drops when we sleep, but almost all foam mattresses retain and reflect heat to the sleeper, which reduces the quality of sleep. They may be called a "cooling" mattress, but most of them will still make the sleeper warm.
The Cube solves this problem by circulating water through a pad that you put under your fitted sheet. You choose the temperature of the water on the remote controls or the cube, and wait for a few minutes for you to feel the difference. ChiliSleep sells different sizes to cover just you or you and your partner.
You'll need to add water to the system every 6 or 7 days by unscrewing the top and adding distilled water. If it runs out of water the unit will turn off.
The fan makes noise, which some like because it's a white noise that can help drown out ambient sounds. If the sound is too loud, slide the cube under your bed to reduce the sound.
For more information about the Cube Sleep System, check out our full review, Cube Sleep System Review.
MZOO Sleep Mask
As light can be a signal to your brain to wake up, it's important to sleep in as dark a room as possible. If that's difficult to achieve, an eye mask is a great solution.
This eye mask is one of the highest rated eye masks for several reasons. The first being comfort; the outer layer is lycra with a honeycomb of ventilation holes, and the lining is low-rebound memory sponge. It also ergonomically adapts to your face for the most comfortable fit.
It has a very thin strap that you can adjust to your head so it won't slip but stays in place.
Shades aren't exciting as the other tech we've recommended in this review, but this choice could be one of the most helpful. If you're getting light in your bedroom at night, it may be hurting the quality of your sleep. Many shades and blinds don't block out all the light that comes in through your window, however, blackout curtains will block almost all light. A bonus to blackout shades is that they will reduce noise in your room by absorbing and deflecting sound (and they're especially effective because they have 2 layers), helping make your bedroom both darker and quieter. Due to their thickness, they will insulate your windows, reducing your heating and cooling bill.
These shades come in 9 different sizes and 15 different colors. They're machine washable (though drapes don't need to be washed very often), have no harmful chemical coating, and are eco-friendly.