It’s no secret that Americans have a little trouble sleeping. In a 2010 poll by the National Sleep Foundation, only 42 percent of us said we get a good night’s sleep every night (or almost every night), and nearly a quarter of us fessed up to using some type of sleep medication in the course of a year.
What gives? We could, perhaps, partly blame the technology that keeps us plugged in and connected around the clock. But here, we bring you technology that might help you do just the opposite: unplug and unwind.
CLOSE YOUR EYES
How do you “turn off” your day when you barely made a dent in the to-do list? Instead of popping a pill, opt for a device that can help you relax naturally.
Veteran gadget retailer Brookstone offers the Tranquil Moments Sleep Sound Therapy System. Available in both home and travel sizes, this clean-lined machine will lull you to sleep with one of 12 digitally recorded nature sounds (crickets or rain, anyone?).
Or coax all of your senses into relaxation with Gaiam’s Aroma Diffuser Elite. The fragrance of natural essential oils (released by an aromatherapy diffuser), calming light and nature sounds all help you tune out pressing thoughts.
Maybe your struggle isn’t going to sleep—it’s staying asleep. Factors such as noise, light or room temperature can disrupt sleep patterns, as can lifestyle choices like diet and exercise.
If you require a pitch-black room for dreamy sleep, invest in room-darkening shades or curtains, perfect for those who must sleep during the day (Motorized Shades Denver has extensive options). Or go simple and stylish with a sleep mask from Lafayette-based Bona Notti, made of washable silk and hypoallergenic cotton and available in more than 45 designs.
To really uncover how you’re sleeping, try this slick little gadget: the Sleeptracker by Gaiam. It looks like a wristwatch, but uses biofeedback technology and downloadable software to monitor your sleep quality and patterns. And when the Sleeptracker recognizes you’re in a light sleep state—the best time to rise refreshed—it gently wakes you up.
RISE AND SHINE
Trade in your loud, jolting alarm clock for one that uses softer, less jarring sounds to rouse you (and looks a lot better, too).
Leave it to Danish retailer Bang & Olufsen to develop one of the sleekest, least intrusive alarm clocks on the market. The BeoTime Alarm Clock, designed by Steffen Schmelling, not only looks chic and delivers what you’d expect from an alarm clock, but it syncs with other Bang & Olufsen products in your home, turning off the television or stereo after you’ve fallen asleep.
Don’t want to get tripped up by something too high-tech? Boulder-based Now & Zen offers a line of Asian-inspired clocks that use gentle acoustics. The Zen Alarm Clock features a subtle Tibetan bell-like chime that strikes with increasing frequency over a 10-minute period, while the Zen Timepiece sounds off using a brass bowl gong.
Apple junkies will love the TimeCommand Alarm Dock from Stem Innovation. Just download a free app on your iPod, iPhone or iPad, load your device into the dock, and watch its screen display a customizable alarm clock that can even dim your bedside lamp in the evening and turn it back up in the morning. Find it at any Apple store or at apple.com.
TIPS FOR A GOOD NIGHT'S SLEEP:
• Set a schedule
• Avoid caffeine, nicotine and alcohol
• Relax before bed
• Sleep until sunlight
• Don't lie in bed awake
• Control your room temperature
• See a doctor if your sleeping problem continues
Adapted from "When You Can't Sleep: The ABCs of ZZZs," by the National Sleep Foundation.