How Technology Can Help You Sleep Better
Thinking about tech to help with your sleep? These options could boost your bedtime experience.
Getting the sleep you need is important to your health and feeling well during the day. If you find yourself wanting something more to help you fall asleep or stay asleep, you may benefit from using smart technology and sleep devices. These tools are designed to help improve your sleep experience, so adding them to your bedtime (or daytime!) routine may provide solutions to your sleep challenges. Here are just a few of the product areas you may want to consider to help you understand your sleep better and improve your comfort in a sleep-friendly space that’s dark, quiet, and cool.
There are many different types of sleep trackers offering a broad range of features. These wearable and “nearable” tech devices can measure your heart rate, breathing patterns, and body movement to provide feedback that may improve your sleep. Depending on the device, you will typically strap one to your wrist, wear it on your finger, or place it on your nightstand. Some trackers can also monitor sleep duration, sleep quality, sleep phases, and environmental factors like room temperature and light exposure. Many of these devices or applications give you a “sleep score,” with each one sharing different types of sleep data that make up the score. Consider this: the total score can be a high-level view of how well you slept, so think about the healthy sleep behaviors you did (or didn’t!) use before you went to sleep and got that score!
In addition, some track lifestyle factors that can influence your sleep by allowing you to input information about how much caffeine you drank before bed and whether you are feeling stressed. You can sync these gadgets to your phone or computer to track your data. Based on the data gathered, sleep trackers can identify patterns in your sleep habits and suggest tips that may improve sleep quantity and quality. Some devices even offer expert sleep content to help improve users’ understanding of their sleep. As an example, National Sleep Foundation sleep health education, tips and personal sleep insights are available to millions of Samsung Health app users through their Galaxy products.
Sleep headbands are another way to monitor and potentially improve your sleep. These headbands can generate audio tones aimed at enhancing the quality of deep sleep. Some even come with mobile apps that track your sleep patterns over time and measure key metrics.
A smart mattress is typically designed to track aspects of your sleep and monitor the temperature and firmness of your bed to provide a personalized sleep experience. A grid of sensors embedded in the mattress can automatically adjust the amount of support the mattress provides, increasing or decreasing the bed’s firmness based on the distribution of your weight and your sleep position. Smart mattresses are a growing category and one way to invest in your sleep, and there are multiple options available to suit your specific needs.
One type of smart mattress combines sensors and silent air pumps to inflate or deflate the mattress according to personal preference and gives you the option to choose manual or automatic pressure adjustments. Another type uses sensors to detect your sleeping position and modify pressure for support and comfort. Some smart mattresses have additional features, such as pre-warming the bed to your preferred temperature and customizing the firmness on each side of the bed to suit a couple’s different sleeping preferences. As smart mattress technology continues to develop, these products get better at “knowing” more about your individual sleep style and preferences, so they can be part of a more consistent, personalized sleep experience for you.
Top of the Bed
Smart pillows are designed to enhance comfort while monitoring and tracking things like breathing patterns and sleep habits. Some smart pillows include built-in speakers with the ability to stream podcasts, music, and audiobooks that only you can hear, helping you drift off to sleep faster. Other devices regulate your pillow’s temperature while you sleep and keep your pillow consistently cool through a thermo-regulation system.
You can also attach bed sensor pads to your mattress to identify your sleep habits. These high-tech pads connect with activity trackers to assess whether lifestyle habits such as eating patterns or physical activity may impact your sleep. In addition, bed sensor pads can communicate with other smart devices in your home to adjust your thermostat, lighting, and noise levels and set your alarm clock to ensure you wake up on time.
Light is a very important factor for our sleep, linked to our natural circadian biology. Getting sunlight or equivalent indoor brightness early in the morning is a good thing, but light during the night can cause problems for sleep. Different types of light can affect your quality of sleep. Recent innovations in sleep lighting technology can help you create a living and bedroom environment that is more conducive to sleep, such as electronically controlled window shades and blinds, or smart bulbs that gradually fade when it’s near your bedtime and slowly brighten your room in the morning (some bulbs even mimic the color of sunrise). You can also purchase bulbs that shift from warm red hues to cool blue ones, depending on the time of day.
Other lighting innovations include operation through smartphone apps or voice-assisted tech devices–like Amazon’s Alexa, Samsung’s Bixby, Apple’s Siri, or Google Home–that let you control the bedroom lights wirelessly, so you don’t have to get up to shut them off when you’re ready to sleep. If you are reading on your tablet or watching TV at night, try using blue light filters to reduce your exposure to the blue hues that the devices emit, which can affect your natural sleep/wake cycle.
Certain devices can help you create a sleep-friendly environment to improve your bedtime experience, and may even help to promote sleep. Sound conditioners are designed to reduce external noises that interfere with your sleep. These can be white noise machines, which combine all noise frequencies to create a steady background hum that masks distractions. They may also be pink noise machines, which aim to improve sleep by releasing high and low frequencies to slow and regulate brain waves. Sound conditioners often produce calming and relaxing sounds, such as waterfalls, nature, soothing music, ocean waves, and rain.
Even home appliances like dishwashers, clothes washers, and dryers that are being designed to be quieter (and meet “quiet” standards) may help keep noise down in the connected living space, for people who run them close to bedtime.
Another way to improve your sleep environment: give the air quality in your bedroom an upgrade with an air purifier. Air purifiers remove harmful contaminants, such as pollen and dust. Poor air quality can affect the soundness of your sleep, which in turn can affect your sleep satisfaction. Keeping your bedroom air clean may help you sleep better throughout the night.
Let’s not forget about temperature. National Sleep Foundation generally recommends a sleep environment of around 67 degrees Fahrenheit, though individual needs can vary. Some “high-tech” sheets and mattress toppers are designed with specialized fabrics and materials, keeping heat regulation and cooling in mind. Technology in apps and climate control devices (i.e., fans, air conditioners, heaters) can coordinate and help manage the temperature in your bedroom and other rooms of your living space. Smart home technology is an evolving area that can help maintain a sleep-friendly environment.