For anyone who struggles with developing or maintaining healthy sleep habits, there are a handful of effective solutions. Experts suggest strategies that include everything from cutting back on caffeine and staying away from your smartphone to creating bedtime rituals and reducing stress, and the following gadgets, tools and apps were all designed to help aid and supplement those types of practices.
Put simply: Versus helps to improve your sleep by regulating your brain activity. It was designed as a tool to help train the brain to better manage stress, maintain focus and improve performance in sports, work and other areas of life. Many athletes who have used the headset and app combo say that it has not only improved their performance through better focus, but also through better sleep quality. “[It] allowed me to turn off my mind after being stimulated from performance,” said Carlos Quentin, an All-Star MLB player who participated in a case study with Versus and logged more than 50 varying sessions with the headset and app. “It has allowed for better sleep, deeper sleep and better dream states. It has increased the quality of my sleep tremendously.”
According to the National Sleep Foundation, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a safe and effective treatment for chronic insomnia. However it typically involves weekly visits to a clinician, which can be costly and time consuming. To help overcome these obstacles, ex-insomnia-sufferer Peter Hames and world sleep expert Professor Colin Espie created Sleepio: an online and mobile “sleep improvement program” that incorporates CBT to help users defeat insomnia and sleep better. Users first answer a short questionnaire about their current sleep habits and are then introduced to “The Prof” who will talk you through personalized exercises and help to evaluate your sleep habits. A clinical, peer-reviewed, randomized controlled trial published in the journal Sleep found that Sleepio helped users fall asleep 50 percent faster, spend 60 percent less time awake during the night and overall, boosted their daytime mood and energy and concentration levels.
This intuitive software system is designed to help users prioritize activities that promote good health, including sleep. Owaves creator Royan Kamyar, M.D. says that a consistent bedtime and exposure to natural light right after waking up are two of the most important things someone can do to improve sleep quality. The Owaves app, which also helps you organize aspects of healthy living like exercise and nutrition, can help improve your sleep habits by allowing you to better plan your day so that nightly bedtime rituals and getting the proper amount of sleep become almost like second nature to you.
Runtastic’s Sleep Better app includes features that go beyond your typical sleep-tracking tool. Users are provided with analytics that highlight the duration, cycles and efficiency of their sleep and also have the ability to use functions like the Smart Alarm & Wake-Up Window (which wakes you up at the most ideal time based on your sleep cycle) and Moon Phase Tracking. The app also allows for the tracking of habits that may affect sleep, like caffeine and alcohol consumption, exercise and stress. In an online review, one user emphasized the effectiveness of the Smart Alarm & Wake-Up Window noting that it truly helped to wake them up at the right time. “I've been using [it] for a month and feeling much more rested when I wake up and more energetic during the day,” they added.
Kids can’t sleep? It could be because of allergies or poor air quality. For parents who can’t get sleep not because of insomnia, but because of little ones who can’t seem to get enough shuteye, the Air Angel, designed using NASA technology which works to purify and sanitize the surrounding air and surfaces, was designed to help keep kids healthy and get a better night sleep by eliminating allergens, odors and germs from the air in nurseries, bedrooms, playrooms, hotels, cars and even on planes.
Remember being rocked to sleep as a child? This innovative hat worn while you sleep essentially recreates that comforting rocking sensation, but in your brain. The Sleep Shepherd uses what’s been dubbed by its creators as “Virtual Hammock® Technology” to create specific tones designed to induce a rhythmic, side-to-side swaying sensation through the brain’s auditory center. Instead of simply monitoring your sleep cycles and providing feedback, the hat is designed to monitor your brainwaves and then guide them to a lower frequency, which its creators say can help lead you to a sleepier state.
Light plays a significant role in our natural sleep habits. The Rise & Shine sleep system is designed to align with your natural circadian rhythm by simulating the natural light of the sunrise and sunset. The light will gradually lessen as you fall asleep and then incrementally increase as you wake naturally. Plus, the device also features built-in spa soundscapes (like morning birds, oceans and streams), which can also be set to decrease and increase progressively if desired.
Some research has shown that music may help to improve sleep quality. For those who find that a relaxing audio clip (whether it be music or a podcast) can help them fall asleep more easily, SleepPhones provide a bedtime-friendly option to traditional headphones or earbuds. Described as “pajamas for your ears” they plug into almost any media device and eliminate the annoyance of unfitting earbuds or traditional, clunky over-the-head earphones.
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According to the creators of bedgear, a company that creates performance bedding apparel for a better night’s sleep, knowledge of advanced fabric technologies has allowed for the incorporation of materials that wick heat and moisture into comfy bed dressings like sheets, pillows, blankets and more. The Vertex Performance Pillow (made for back-, side- and stomach-sleepers) features strategic ventilation that allows for heat diffusion and contouring that promotes spinal support and alignment, a comfort factor that’s often overlooked when it comes to ensuring a good night’s sleep.
Several studies have shown that the blue light emitted from devices like laptops, smartphones, TVs and tablets may negatively affect our sleeping habits and overall health. Most experts recommend shutting down and disconnecting at least an hour before bedtime, but for times when you can’t avoid technology late at night, the SleepShield was designed to help reduce the amount of blue light that reaches your eyes.
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