NEW YORK (MainStreet) -- For some people, getting a little shuteye isn't a simple matter of, well, shutting their eyes. Some have trouble falling asleep, some wake up in the middle of the night and others just feel tired all day. Sleep issues can sap your productivity and affect your health, so it goes without saying that poor sleep habits are a problem you need to address.
Sure, you could try drinking a glass or two of wine before heading to bed, or get a prescription for a narcotic sleep aid such as Ambien. But there's no need to develop a drug or alcohol habit just to get some sleep. We're living in the 21st century after all, and there are loads of nifty gizmos and inventions that can help you get a better night's sleep. Here are eight of the coolest we found:
If you're having trouble sleeping there's some cool technology to help you catch some Zs.
Sleep cycle app
Are you getting a solid seven to eight hours of sleep every night, but still go through every day feeling like a zombie? It may have more to do with when you wake up than how much you're sleeping. Over the course of the night we fluctuate between different phases of sleep, sometimes sleeping lightly, sometimes in a deep dream state. If you wake in the middle of the latter phase, you'll spend much of the day feeling like you pulled an all-nighter.
Sleep Cycle app
iPhone takes advantage of the fact you tend to toss and turn more in certain phases than others. Put your iPhone in bed with you, and the app uses the phone's built-in accelerometer to determine which phase of sleep you're in. You set a 30-minute window in which you want to be woken, and once that window is reached in the morning, the app will wait until you've entered a light phase before bringing you out of your slumber. The result? No more getting jarred out of a great dream by your alarm and no more feeling hungover at work.
The downside to the Sleep Cycle app is that you're relying on your phone's accelerometer, which may not be able to detect more subtle movements and can be thrown off by a spouse or pet who also does a lot of tossing and turning. If that's an issue and you've got more money to burn, consider the
system. It's a wristband that connects via BlueTooth to your iPhone,
, and detects subtle movements of your body through a process called Actigraphy. Like the Sleep Cycle app, it maps your sleep cycle and wakes you when you're in a lighter phase of sleep. It costs $59.99 -- steep, but you can't put a price on a good night of sleep.
If your sleep problems go beyond waking up in the middle of dreams, you'll have to look elsewhere. Pzizz, an app for Android or iPhone, plays a set of audio tracks designed to help you relax, fall asleep and stay that way. Rather than playing a single track every night, the app strings tracks together in more than 100 billion different combinations so you never hear the same sequence twice. It can be had for
$5.99 from the Apple app store
-- a bit pricey by app standards, but a lot cheaper than sleeping pills. While we haven't tried it ourselves, it's well-reviewed by users.
You might not need 100 billion different audio tracks to get to sleep; sometimes just a little white noise will do the trick. If you're lucky enough to live on the ocean and have the tides to lull you to sleep, you're all set. The rest of us have to make do with alternative methods.
Some people just run a fan in their room, while others shell out for a white noise generator such as this
$100 model from Brookstone
. But if you have a smartphone, there's a cheap app that offers much of the same functionality for a fraction of the cost. The SimplyNoise app costs just 99 cents in the Apple and Android app stores and provides white noise that sounds like static, the ocean or a rainstorm. And if you don't mind leaving your computer on all night you can skip the app altogether and just get the noise directly from the
Sometimes your sleep problems have more to do with the person lying in bed next to you. If you share a bed with a snorer (or just live in a noisy neighborhood), running a fan or cranking up the white noise generator may not be enough. These earplugs have a built-in white noise generator to virtually guarantee your bedmate's snoring won't keep you up at night, and even comes with a free specially modified pillow that allows you to sleep without pressing the devices uncomfortably into your ear canal. At
, though, you might be better off plugging your earbuds into your phone and turning on the SimplyNoise app.
The special pillow included with the SnoreMasker highlights a common issue: It's uncomfortable to sleep with headphones on. That's why many companies have created pillows with built-in speakers, bringing the sound as close to your ears as possible without actually putting in a pair of earbuds. One option is the Sound Asleep pillow, which sells for
and ships for free. Just hook up your smartphone and put on your favorite album or a white noise app before you go to sleep.
Snore stopper pillow
If the earplugs aren't enough to drown out your partner's snoring, it may be time to attack the source of your problem. Breathing strips may help cut down on your partner's snoring, as would sleep apnea remedies such as a CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) mask. But we're amused by this product from Japan:
, which detects snoring and responds by vibrating. It's customizable to respond to different decibel levels of snoring and can even record the snoring if you want to provide your partner with definitive proof of his or her snoring ways. It costs $402 and another $62 to ship, so you may want to wait until you've exhausted all other options.
Often the biggest enemy of sleep is temperature. In the winter you wake up freezing when the thermostat switches off at night, while in the summer it can get too hot to sleep if you don't want to run the air conditioner. Enter the
, which does away with radiators and air conditioner units to bring the hot and cold right to you. The pad goes under the covers and can be set in 1-degree increments from 46 degrees Fahrenheit to 118 degrees Fahrenheit, and even has two zones so you and your partner can choose ideal sleeping temperatures. The price ranges from $399.99 to $999.99.
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