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Good nights sleep

Nothing has changed since our last blog post about getting a good night’s sleep – the quality and quantity of our forty winks is still as important as ever. A lack of sleep can increase our risk of things like heart disease and mental health issues, while just enough can increase our sense of wellbeing and boost our energy levels. The only question is: how can we ensure that we get a peaceful night’s sleep in this day and age?

We aren’t being dramatic when we say that modern life is hectic. Balancing things like work, parental duties and finances with your social life and me-time can prove exhausting, and eat into the hours you should be spending under the covers. Because of this, we also know that it isn’t always possible to get the recommended seven to eight hours of sleep per night. What you can do, however, is improve the actual quality of your sleep, especially with so many shiny new gadgets gracing the market. Here are five of our favourites:

1. Sleep Cycle

Sleep Cycle is a nifty iOS app marketed as ‘an intelligent alarm clock’, which analyses your sleep so that it can wake you during your lightest sleep phase. Waking up during too deep a sleep is what makes us feel so groggy when the alarm goes off, so the logic behind this clever app is spot on.

All you need to do is place your iPhone in the corner of the mattress closest to your pillow, and Sleep Cycle will use your phone’s accelerometer to sense your movement as you slumber. Each movement is specific to each phase of sleep (from light, to deep, to waking), so the app will analyse these to determine when to wake you. Don’t worry though, it does take into account your desired alarm time, running a thirty minute wake-up phase that wakes you up as close to your desired alarm time as possible. They really aren’t lying when they say, “There’s an app for that!”

2. A wake-up light

They say that the best way to wake up is naturally, using the sun as your alarm clock rather than a blaring noise that jolts you out of sleep. The thing is – how can we guarantee that we’ll wake up at the right time? What if you have to rise before the sun does? Luckily, manufacturers the world over are way ahead of us…

Anybody wanting to sleep-savvy now has a whole host of wake up lights to choose from, like the Philips Wake-up Light. These alternative alarm clocks forego sound for a gradual increase in light that starts thirty minutes before your desired wake-up time. The light changes from a soft, red dawn colour through to warm orange, bright yellow and, finally, white, signalling to your body that it’s time to rise and shine.

3. A white noise machine

According to the National Sleep Foundation, noises as low as forty to seventy decibels can interrupt our sleep, meaning a dripping tap can be just as disruptive as a neighbour’s noisy television. While old faithful ‘gadgets’ like ear plugs can prove useful, not everybody is comfortable wearing them, which is why an alternative has been developed – white noise machines.

These machines, like the Dohm white noise machine, emit a sound similar to that of wind blowing through trees at a consistent level. Once you become accustomed to this new noise, it masks any other sounds that could cut through your sleep and wake you up prematurely.

4. NightWave

Developed by Harvard Medical School professor, Dr Herbert Benson, NightWave is a unique light machine designed to calm your mind and send you off into a peaceful slumber. Emitting a pulsing, blue LED that isn’t strong enough to disrupt the production of melatonin (the chemical that sends you off to sleep); the device is based upon relaxation techniques used in cognitive behavioural therapy.

You are meant to breathe in time with the slowly pulsing light, which guides you into a relaxed state so close to sleep that you can then drift off within minutes. Think of it like counting sheep for the modern age.

5. Wearable technology

Wearable technology isn’t always a costly gimmick, especially when it comes to products like the FitBit range.

They are designed to monitor things like your daily physical activity and calories burned, but most importantly, they also monitor your sleep. The FitBit One (an unobtrusive wristband) is particularly nifty, measuring your sleep quality throughout the night before waking you with a silent alarm that emits a gentle vibration. You can even view your sleep quality data on your FitBit dashboard, from how long you slept to how many times you woke up, and at what times.

The quality of our sleep can make a huge difference to our daily lives and state of mind, so trying out gadgets like these, or even just turning your bedroom into a more sleep-friendly environment is a great way to improve your wellbeing.

Do you have any of your own tips for getting a more peaceful night’s sleep?

Main Photo by Mel Copyright

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