6 Essential Gadgets That Could Help You Catch More Z’s
Sleep is the one thing we chase every night but seldom get. If you suffer from lack of sleep or poor sleep quality, you’re definitely not alone. One in three Americans has at least mild insomnia, and this is a serious public health concern because lack of sleep has been linked to an increased risk of serious health problems like heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure. Sleep deprivation can also lead to premature aging, unwanted weight gain and a decreased ability to concentrate.
Common causes of insomnia include anxiety, stress, depression, taking pain medications like Midol and Excedrin, and certain illnesses and medical problems like sleep apnea and restless leg syndrome. Unfortunately, turning to sleeping pills to catch more Z’s isn’t always the best solution, since many of the most effective brands are habit-forming and can lead to a dependency that will make it even harder for you to fall asleep without them in the future.
So, before asking your doctor to prescribe a pill, here are six gadgets that could help you get better sleep naturally.
1. Sound Machines
If you live on a busy street (or, in one of our editor’s cases, next to a 24-hour loading dock), it can be almost impossible to fall and stay asleep in the midst of all the beeping and honking. Studies have shown that noise pollution (the presence of disruptive environmental noises) can affect your sleep cycles even if you don’t wake up completely. Repeated exposure to these nighttime noises could increase your risk of developing cardiovascular disease.
Luckily, white noise, or any type of ambient sound that emits constant noise of a consistent frequency, has been shown to mask the difference between background sounds and “peak” sounds that usually wake you from your slumber. If noise is a constant issue for you when you’re trying to get much-needed shut-eye, consider investing in a sound machine. Whether you dream of falling asleep to the sound of crashing waves or prefer simple white noise, chances are that there’s a sound machine out there perfectly suited to your taste.
2. A High-Quality Eye Mask
Well-lit rooms have great mood-boosting effects during the day, but they’re not so great when you’re trying to fall asleep. For those with less-than-ideal window-curtain situations, it’s time to invest in a quality eye mask. The free eye mask that you got from your recent flight to Europe doesn’t count. (Sorry, Delta).
When choosing a quality eye mask, it’s important to take into consideration what position you typically sleep in. If you usually fall asleep on your stomach or on your side, you’ll want a lightweight, extra-soft and flexible eye mask that won’t dig into your skin when you’re trying to go to sleep. In these instances, it’s best to steer clear of any eye mask that doesn’t lie flat against your face. If you’re one of those rare (and lucky) individuals who can fall asleep on their backs, you’ll want to make sure that you get an eye mask with a soft closure on the back of your head that won’t feel uncomfortable to sleep on. We recommend checking out Dream Essentials for quality eye masks that won’t break the bank.
3. A Sleep-Inducing App
Using tech isn’t usually viewed as a good way to get a better night’s sleep — it’s quite the opposite, actually. But there are some apps out there that could help you fall asleep faster.
Apps like Sleep Well Hypnosis offer guided meditations along with soothing background sounds that will help you drift off into dreamland sooner and stay there longer. This particular app is meant to reduce the anxiety and stress that often keeps individuals from falling asleep. If used daily, creators of the app say that it will quell your anxious thoughts and improve your quality of sleep within three weeks. Other sleep-generating apps worth mentioning include Glenn Harold’s Relax & Sleep Well app, Pzizz and Sleepio.
4. Earplugs That Don’t Fall Out
If a noisy apartment or street corner is keeping you from falling and staying asleep but you don’t want to spend the money on a sound machine, consider investing in a pair of earplugs. Mack’s Pillow Soft Silicone Earplugs are ideal for sleeping because they are designed to mold to your ear shape so you won’t have to deal with them falling out during the night (a definite no-no when you’re trying to get quality sleep). You can get a six-pack of these on Amazon for $8.09.
If you’re feeling like splurging a little more on some tech stuff, check out these smarty-pants wireless earbuds that have a noise cancellation feature designed to tune out sleep-disrupting noises throughout the night.
5. This High-Tech Headband That Senses Your Brainwave Activity
Tech really has come a long way, and this smart, sleep-enhancing headband proves it. Sleep Shepherd Blue‘s headband monitors your brainwave activity while you sleep with brainwave sensors, motion detection and sleep position recognition. If you download the Sleep Shepherd Blue app, you’ll be able to view all of your sleep data tracked by the headband in the morning. To enhance your sleep quality, the headband plays binaural tones (a specific sound frequency that is designed to coach certain brain rhythms) customized to your brainwave activity. These binaural tones are intended to soothe your brainwave activity into a frequency that is most conducive to sleep.
The headband also has a built-in optional alarm clock that will wake you up gradually during a pre-set time window (once again using binaural tones). At $149.99, this headband is a little bit of a splurge, but it is worth checking out if you feel like restlessness or anxious thoughts are keeping you from much-needed rest.
6. Sleep-Promoting Light Bulbs
Most of us know by now that using smartphones or laptops right before bed makes it harder for us to fall asleep. But did you know that the same bright, bluish light emitted by your personal tech is also often used in popular incandescent light bulbs?
Luckily, some companies like Lighting Science have created light bulbs that produce warmer light that’s less likely to interfere with our internal clocks before bed. The company’s GoodNight Led light bulb is intended to prepare your body for sleep and even promotes the production of melatonin (a sleep-inducing hormone), according to the company. For optimal results, Lighting Science recommends using the light bulb for an hour before going to bed while avoiding the use of any other artificial lighting. Make sure to turn all lights off before drifting off to sleep, too, since a dark room is crucial for high-quality slumber.
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