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High Tech Answers to a Low Tech Problem

Sleep is one of our most basic functions – we’ve been doing it since we crawled out of the primordial ooze, and we can do it anywhere (though it’s certainly more comfortable to do it on a comfy bed with high thread count sheets). Despite the fact that we’ve been practicing our sleep techniques since we’ve been in the womb, many of us still struggle with insomnia, tossing and turning and staring at the ceiling instead of getting the restoration and recovery that we need. But the world of high tech gadgets has come up with a bevy of answers to our problem. Here are some of the top answers that science has provided to help us fall asleep more easily.

Gadgets That Record Our Sleep And Give Us Feedback

One of the biggest trends these days is wearable technology – there are wristbands that measure our heart rate, the number of steps that we take each day, and even log and track the calories that we consume, so it should come as no surprise that there’s also a whole business dedicated to keeping track of the way that we sleep, as well as what we can do to improve upon it. The gadgets are so in demand that sleep trackers alone are expected to bring in revenues of more than $125 million by the year 2017.

There is a range of these available, and their price tags are varied as well. The Sense is probably the most beautiful of all the trackers available. It was designed to resemble the Birdcage Arena at the Seoul Olympics, and as it sits on your nightstand it also measures the amount of light, noise and air particles in your room. It also monitors your respiration and the temperature so that in the morning it can compile all of the information that it has gathered and give you a sleep score, as well as an idea of what you can do to improve it. Other similar items include the Beddit, which tracks heart rate and respiration, and SleepRate, which comes with a wearable heart rate sensor. The most advanced offering that is currently available for consumers is the Withings Aura, which sells or $300 and not only monitors your sleep but can also adjust its wake-up alarm and the lighting in your room in response to the sleep cycle that you are in in order to assure you the most optimized sleep possible.

Apps that record your sleep

If you don’t feel like investing money in some new gadget that will hook onto your pillow case or sit on your nightstand, you can always take advantage of the technology that you’ve already invested in. Assuming that you own a smartphone, you are already fully equipped with sensors that can listen to you and sense your movement. All you need to do is download one of the many sleep apps that are available and then leave your phone near you in your room as you sleep (we’ll ignore all of the advice that sleep experts dole out about keeping electronics out of the bedroom entirely.)

One important thing that you must take note of: though the apps work best when the phone is in close proximity to you, it is essential that you never put it under your pillow or take it under the blankets with you. There have been numerous instances of consumers being injured when their phones have overheated and fires have broken out.

There are many apps to  aid in our quality of sleep. There are many apps to aid in our quality of sleep.

There are a number of sleep apps that have been rated highly by consumers, and many of them are free. Some of the most popular are Sleep Better (free), SleepBot (free), and Sleep Cycle Alarm ($1). All of them track movement, and some come with electronic journals so that you can make notes about your daily activities and track whether or not they seem to have an impact on your sleep quantity or quality. You can also use your smart phone to download any of a number of YouTube videos by sleep whisperers, or to help you through a guided meditation to help you relax.

High-tech Mattresses

Perhaps the biggest breakthrough in sleep technology has come with the incorporation of smart technology into the actual beds that we’re sleeping on. The Sleep IQ is one of the most high tech offerings currently on the market. Brought to the consumer market by Sleep Number, which has long been know for allowing sleepers to personalize their sleep experience by adjusting firmness, elevation and other variables, the Sleep IQ actually is built with sensors that monitor respiration and heart rate as well as how often you move during the course of the night. The next day you can open up an app that provides you with immediate feedback on how you slept, as well as a journal where you can track other variables such as what you ate, how much caffeine or alcohol you consumed, and whether or not you exercised during the day. Just as the Sleep Number beds come with dual zones for the comfort of both sleep partners, the sensors are ale to separate out the data for two different sleep partners.

The Sleep Number IQ is not an inexpensive bed, The queen mattress version starts at over $1,000and that is for a stripped-down model – to get one with all of the bells and whistles you will end up investing far more than that. The good news is that a company called Luna is offering a mattress cover that does essentially the same thing at a fraction of the price. The Luna can adjust temperature once it learns your sleep habits to ensure that you don’t get too cold or too hot, and the unit can also be controlled using your smartphone The price is expected to be just over $200.

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