It seems like you can’t even wink 40 times in 2019 without another article about the value of sleep. A sterling seven to eight hours between the sheets has been credited as a low mood alleviator, brain cell repairer, pain reliever, blood pressure reducer, clarity giver and just about any other benefit you can dream up. Why, then, when the positives are this obvious, are we still not taking our sleep seriously? For many, we simply don’t know how to rest, replenish and refresh effectively.
We all know that quality sleep starts with a good mattress – we’re particularly fond of natural fibre mattresses and for us, they’ve got to be medium-firm. We also know that we’re not meant to consume caffeine late in the day. However, for many of us, sleeping well is a daily struggle. Fortunately, technology is helping to change that, offering education, information and guidance on getting those zeds. We’ve tested out the best gadgets and gizmos out there for aiding a serene slumber, and with that in a very well rested mind, here are 5 IDEAL tech solutions to help you sleep more soundly.
BANISH BLUE LIGHT FROM THE BEDROOM
Conversely, in an article about harnessing the power of tech to hack your sleep, we’re going to start here. Perhaps the single most effective path to a better night’s rest is by reducing your phone or laptop use, especially in the immediate one or two hours before you get into bed. Countless studies have shown the link between your screen’s blue light and a difficulty in nodding off, as well as its hand in a disrupted, disruptive sleep pattern. Couple this with the fact that checking emails and social networking late at night will have your brain distracted and not properly prepared for some down time, and it’s clear that something’s got to give.
A few simple steps can make a big difference. Start by imposing a ban on screen time before bed. If self-discipline is difficult, IOS and Android have free ‘screen time’ features which allow you to lock apps after a certain hour. Personally we bristle at having to pay for an app which makes you use your deliberately addictive phone less, made by the same company which got you hooked in the first place, but there are plenty available on the market which encourage less screen time.
It’s also a good idea to utilise the night mode feature on all your devices, which automatically tones down that pesky, moreish blue light in favour of something all the more murky and less appealing. Finally, it’s crucial (although yes, a bit difficult) to make your bed a ‘no screen zone’, so your brain begins to dissociate your place of rest with screen based stimulation.
The temperature of your bedroom plays a huge role in the quality of your sleep; the optimum is surprisingly cool, at between 16 and 18°C. Anything significantly warmer will lead to a restless night, with consistency being key if you want an undisturbed slumber. A fan, then, at the very least, is necessary to keep the environment mild and free from stuffiness. A smart thermostat system with accurate temperature controls and reactive adjusting is ideal.
We’ve already mentioned apps which help you to reduce your screen time. But a more holistic approach to better sleep through tech will not only have you in a deeper, more proficient slumber, but also bring improvement to other aspects of your life, too. We all know that excessive drinking messes with our sleep, both its quality and quantity, in a profound way. There are some great apps out there offering guidance on cutting down or out the booze, which in turn will help you sleep better.
Apps which offer meditation sessions will also help soothe your mind, relax you before bed, and hopefully bring about a higher quality of sleep. ‘Calm’ is particularly useful, as there are endless guided meditations found here as well as an extensive library of bedtime stories to help you nod off. And of course, there are apps specifically designed for sleep improvement, mainly in the form of recording, analysis and advice…
Knowledge is power, as they say, and this is particularly pertinent regarding how, when and where you spend your seven to eight hours each night. Sleep trackers, both in app form and as wearable accessories, have surged in popularity recently, as they offer a thorough breakdown of where you’re going wrong with your sleep and remedies to fix it. Perhaps most useful are those which serve as an alarm clock, assessing when you’re in a lighter period of sleep and stirring you out of your slumber accordingly. Through detailed analysis, most sleep trackers also suggest the best time for you hit the sack. Some can also recommended dietary and routine changes to hack your sleep to the hills.
Blue light before bed is the devil, we’ve already established. But during the day, a controlled version can become a useful tool in the fight against disrupted sleep patterns. Of course, an S.A.D light’s primary function is to alleviate low mood in sufferers of seasonal affective disorder, but you can also use one to help your brain regulate melatonin production when you feel drowsy in the day time. Preventing random, impromptu naps can bring a deeper, fuller sleep at night time.