Like most things in our tech-savvy time, it’s become possible to break sleep into measurable parts to maximize results. Whether you’re a sometimes-insomniac hunting for elusive zzz’s, a high-achiever sleeper interested in honing your skills, or maybe just a curious technophile getting up to speed on the latest trends, there are innovative new ways to optimize your sleep schedule, fall asleep faster and sleep better going forward. From downloadable apps to slumber-tracking wearable technology, there’s tons of gadgets designed to tap into the science of sleep. We explore a few options and their uses below.
If you’ve seen the lifestyle-inspired ads launched for Apple Watch, you may already be aware of wearable tech’s popularity. Wearable sleep trackers have been around for some time and have gotten even smarter in recent years.
Here’s the gist: Wear your device to bed (in most cases on your wrist or arm), and built-in sensors monitor sleep stats throughout the night. This information gets translated into charts sent to your personal computer or smartphone. From there you can analyze the data to improve your sleep skills. Notice a trend of night awakenings? Not spending as long as you’d like in the REM stage? Determine what’s causing it—light leaking in from a window, an over-snuggly pet, an ambient sound in the bedroom—and address the culprit.
Worn like a bracelet, the Jawbone Up3 has sensors that measure heart and respiration rate, body temperature and more. It uses an accelerometer to track how long you spent in each phase of sleep. The band can also be worn throughout the day to help you track things like steps taken and foods consumed.
Like the Jawbone Up3 band, the Fitbit Charge is worn around the wrist. The Charge tracks hours slept to help you better understand the quantity and quality of your sleep. The Charge also boasts the ability to track steps, distance, active minutes and calories burned.
Lark in the Dark
Lark in the Dark is a combination silent alarm clock and sleep tracker. The wristband tracks your movements through the night and generates a report based on factors like sleep quality, number of awakenings and how long it took to fall asleep. It wakes you in the morning with a gentle vibration designed not to disturb your sleep partner or roommates—perfect for early risers.
Wake up at the right time
Being roused during deep sleep can leave you feeling groggy, disoriented and all-around crummy. This in mind, Jawbone, Fitbit and Lark are also designed to wake you at the optimal point in your sleep cycle. Here’s how it works: Strap on the device and indicate the latest possible time you’d like to wake up. Sensors track your movements throughout the night to determine which sleep phase you’re in. Come morning, an alarm will sound when you’re in the lightest phase of your cycle.
Apps like Sleep Cycle for iOS and Sleep as Android provide a similar service at a lower cost—download the app on your phone, set an alarm and stash your phone under your pillow. The app tracks your movements to determine sleep phase and uses that information to wake you at an optimal point in your cycle.
Prefer falling asleep to a little white noise? Some people leave their TV on low or drift off with a DVD, but sleep-oriented apps like aSleep, Pzizz Sleep and Relax Melodies provide a more carefully curated mix of snooze-worthy sounds.
Developed for astronauts by a team of neuroscientists, the Sleep Genius app takes lullaby tech a step further, emitting a sound pattern designed to simulate the sensation of being rocked to sleep.
Stand-alone sleep devices live near the sleep space and can help you fall asleep faster and wake up more gracefully. Unlike wearables, they don’t need to be touching your body in order to work.
The Aura is designed to record your sleep environment, including everything from noise pollution to room temperature. Sensors positioned under your mattress monitor your sleep patterns, body movements, breathing cycles and heart rate. The accompanying app allows you to see how your nights compare side by side.
Having a hard time relaxing? Deep breathing can help. The NightWave is designed to guide you through a deep breathing session with the help of a pulsing LED (the light is dim enough not to interfere with your circadian rhythm).
Trouble waking up in the morning? Clocky, the roving alarm by Nanda Home, refuses to be silenced with the flick of a wrist. When it’s time to wake you, the clock hops off your night stand and spins around the room, requiring you to chase it down if you want to snooze for a few.