Sleep gadgets: 19 top technologies to help you nod off
Not all of us have the luxury of sleeping in if we want to feel refreshed when we wake up, so here are some of the best sleep gadgets for getting a good night’s rest.
Jumping into bed after a long day can be a joyous activity, but if you struggle to drift off, it can be a daunting task. Thankfully, there are plenty of sleep gadgets around that aim to lend a helping hand by encouraging a blissful slumber.
Whether you’re in need of a soothing voice to put you to sleep, or bedding that regulates your body temperature, our round up of the best sleep gadgets has something for every kind of sleeper.
For more tech inspiration, take a look at the best car gadgets.
Best gadgets to help you sleep
This Class 1 graded medical device uses gradual and fading light to encourage a regular sleep pattern. The different lighting effects aim to either energise you so you feel alert in the morning, or help you to feel pleasantly drowsy in the evening when it is time to wind down. With a sunset and sunrise feature, you can gently nod off and rise with the help of the authentic pink, orange and red colours and pretend you’re relaxing on a sunny beach rather than watching Netflix in your room.
You can set the low-blue light when you’re heading to bed which aims to help with the negative effect of the glow from your phone or tablet.
As well as a helpful sleep tool, it’s also an alarm clock which has over 20 different sleep and wake-up sounds to choose from. It also works as a radio and night light, so it’s an all-round useful feature for your bedroom.
It’s also worth noting the Lumie Bodyclock Luxe is recommended for those who suffer from SAD, Seasonal Affective Disorder, so if you find the darker months particularly difficult, this multi-functional clock could be a beneficial bedside gadget.
The Morphée sleep aid
If you like the thought of meditation but feel you lack the patience to properly commit, this sleep gadget with its short, guided sessions could be your solution. There are over 200 sessions to choose from so you can easily mix it up each night. This would work well if you like drifting off to sound before you sleep, but find podcasts or audiobooks too lively or gripping.
There are three keys to turn which allow you to put together your own creation. The first one lets you choose a theme, the second one selects the session and then finally, you can choose how long you’d like to listen for, with a range of 8 to 20 minutes. So thanks to the varying keys and their functions, you can discover what works best for you by trying out a range of routines.
With no screens or wires, and a lovely beech finish, this low-maintenance sleep gadget could easily slot into your room and if you find yourself getting attached, you can even take it on your travels due to its neat, portable nature.
One for the kids here, but let’s face it, anything that helps them sleep is a win for the whole household.
This fun, little, almost robot-looking gadget allows children to nod off to their favourite story. Just slot a card into the machine and it’ll start to play their tale of choice.
The cards are bought separately (so that’s an easy birthday and Christmas present sorted) and there is a wide library of podcasts, stories and music to choose from so your kids can put together their very own library.
The unique pixel display is a fun way of informing kids of the time and weather without acting as another screen in their life and you can also set specific times for sleeping and waking, so if your little ones are struggling to get into a steady routine, this handy gadget could help. And what’s more, when it’s not playing the Gruffalo or Paddington, it works as a Bluetooth speaker so everyone in the house can find a reason to use it.
Struggling to stay awake at your desk? Here are the best office gadgets to help liven up your working day.
Finding that ideal temperature when you’re trying to drift off can be quite the challenge, and as much as we’ve all tried the ‘one leg in, one leg out’ strategy, it’s not always a huge success. The Hybrid duvet from Simba aims to help with this annoyance with its temperature controlling features. The duvet uses an astronaut-inspired temperature regulation quality called Stratos which traps the excess heat when you’re too hot, and releases it when you start to feel cold, so you should feel just right.
What’s more, thanks to the square pockets, the filling is evenly spread out which should allow more time for sleep, and less time spent flapping your duvet around in an attempt to smooth out the lumpy bits.
If you’re looking to make greener choices, you’ll be pleased, and perhaps surprised, to hear the filling is made of 100 per cent recycled plastic bottles.
There is a size for everyone, whatever your sleeping arrangement, as you can select from a single, double, king or super king, and if you fancy freshening it up, you can chuck it in the washing machine at 40°C.
Kokoon Relax headphones
The idea of wearing a pair of headphones to bed to help you get to sleep might seem counterintuitive, and it’s true that the weighted sensation does take a bit of getting used to, especially if you don’t naturally sleep on your back. But if it proves too uncomfortable, you can still benefit from the audio experiences offered by the Kokoon Relax headphones and accompanying app as you relax in bed, pulling them off as you begin to notice your eyes close.
And there are plenty of experiences to choose from on the app, from white noise tracks and the typical relaxing sounds of ocean waves or rainfall, to guided body relaxation and breathing exercises. Plus, the app is able to capture sleep tracking data, and recommend audio based on your answers to questions about your sleep.
Of course, the Kokoon headphones can be used outside of the app to listen to music (or your favourite Science Focus Podcast episode). They feature active noise cancellation and passive noise isolation, and look attractive in either black or grey. Although not quite as cushion-like as they suggest, the Kokoon is very light and genuinely comfortable. - Amy Barrett
Philips Hue white & colour starter kit
We know that the Philips Hue smart lights are pretty good for getting the party in full swing with its array of disco colours, but they are also pretty handy for winding down afterwards.
As well as being colourful, the lights also contain a variety of different shades of white, which can mimic the setting of the Sun at night, gradually dimming down as you drift off to sleep. There is also a wake-up routine, which works the other way around to naturally wake you up so you’re not so distressed by your alarm.
Being smart tech, they’ll also hook into many other apps and devices to give you full control of your surroundings.
Casper Glow Light
The stylish Casper Glow Light imitates a sunrise to pull you from your beauty slumber. Using the Casper Glow app you can set a wake-up time, change how long the Glow takes to fully dim from light to night and adjust the peak brightness.
Fairly standard features, but there are two aspects that but the Glow ahead of its competitors: portability and grouping. The Glow sits attractively on its charging plate at night, but pick it up and give it a little shake for a soft accompanying light on your trip to the kitchen for a midnight snack (or a quick dash to the loo.)
Double up on Glows and have control that extends to multiple rooms – perfect for those with children, as ‘lights out’ is at the touch of a button.
Unfortunately, they aren't available in the UK any more as Casper are concentrating on their North American markets.
SNOO smart baby bassinet
Anyone who has ever had a baby will know that a full night’s sleep is something that happens only in your fleeting dreams. So for that reason, anything that can keep your little one asleep for an extra hour or two will give you vital minutes to prepare yourself for another day of stinky nappies and thrown-up milk.
Already a big hit in the US, with celebs like Beyoncé, Mila Kunis and Natalie Portman singing its praises, the SNOO smart bassinet plays white noise while it rocks your baby back and forth, speeding up if they start crying. The claim is that it can soothe your baby back to calmness in around 30 seconds, and has picked up numerous awards, been involved in medical studies into infant sleep, and can help alleviate post-natal depression.
It also looks like the most luxurious bed most of us will ever sleep in.
If you often lie in bed, staring at the ceiling, desperately trying to nod off, or you wake up at 3am with your mind racing at a million miles an hour, Dodow promises to get your sleeping back on track by encouraging deep breathing techniques to help you unwind.
The discreet, wireless device sits on your bedside table and with a tap of your finger, it projects a gentle beam of blue light that contracts and expands for eight minutes. The idea is that you breathe in rhythm with the light: inhaling on the expansion; exhaling on the contraction. Dodow claims that this gradually slows your breathing to six breaths per minute, therefore putting you in a relaxed state, while fixating on the hypnotic blue light helps to calm any mental chatter.
Information is power, and this souped-up alarm clock has reams of the stuff spouting from it.
Developed with the European Sleep Center, the Homni has four integrated sensors to analyse the temperature, sound level, luminosity and humidity of your bedroom, which feed the accompanying app so you can tinker and tweak with your room until it’s just right. Not only that but it comes with a sleep sensor for in-depth analysis of your sleep duration, sleep cycles and body movement.
There are loads more features packed in, like adaptive lighting, a Bluetooth speaker and USB ports for plugging in your phone.
Sound Asleep Pillow
Not everybody wants to join you in being lulled to sleep by Godspeed You! Black Emperor, or staying up until the early morning listening to the Ashes, so do your other half a favour and plug your audio device into a pillow which plays sounds that only you can hear when you’re pressed up all snuggly.
The 1.5-watt Bluetooth speaker can go for 8 hours on a single charge, which should be plenty for most night owls, and the accompanying app also can also analyse your sleep (and snoring patterns).
Fitbit Versa 2 smartwatch
Fitbit creates some of the best fitness trackers out there to keep your heart healthy, but they have now turned their hands toward another type of ticker – smartwatches.
The latest Fitbit Versa 2 has all the bells and whistles you imagine from a premium piece of wearable tech (step counter, 6-day battery, wireless payments among others), but what makes it stand out is the app, which uses the accelerometer and heart-rate monitor to estimate how long you spend in light, deep and REM sleep stages, as well the time you are awake, giving you an overall sleep score.
Fitbit clocked over 10.5 billion nights of logged sleep to develop the app, so expect some pretty solid data out the back of it to tailor your sleep and exercise routine. And they have also recently introduced a premium level, which opens up guided sleep programmes, relaxation tools and deeper insights based on your daily Fitbit data.
Nanu hot & not duvet
You might like your bed cosy and warm at night. Your partner, on the other hand, might prefer something a little cooler. So what do you do? Have an epic tussle throwing off and pulling up the duvet, or just accept that one of you is going to have to spend the night chilly/sweaty?
The Nanu duvet does away with such midnight antics and splits itself in half seamlessly down the middle, giving one of you the cooler end of the duvet spectrum (down to 4.5 tog), leaving the other toastily tucked up under a gloriously warm 15 togs of snuggly goodness.
- From £50
Calm meditation app Sleep Stories
Didn’t you just love being read a bedtime story by grandpa when you were a wee kid? Calm, a meditation app, has developed Sleep Stories to help you unwind from the day you’ve just had with relaxing stories and calming tales read by some of the most soothing and soporific voices out there, like Radio 4 Shipping Forecast presenter Peter Jefferson and national treasure Stephen Fry.
There over 100 different stories to listen to, none of which you’ll reach the end of if the app does what it says.
- £13.49 a month/£63.99 a year and £299 lifetime
Netatmo indoor air quality monitor
Yes, your home might be smart, but is it healthy? There are many different factors that go into getting a good night’s sleep, and the Netatmo Indoor Air Quality measures four of them - air quality, humidity, temperature and noise - and builds a personalised profile letting you know if it’s happy with the current state, and how it can be improved if it’s not.
It’ll connect to Apple HomeKit as well as other smart devices so if anything goes out of whack it can make things more comfortable automatically.
Sleepace Sleep Dot
Tracking your sleep usually involves wearing a smartwatch (can’t get comfortable if you sleep on your arm) or strapping a sensor around your mattress (as if changing the bedsheets wasn’t arduous enough).
A far simpler solution could be at hand with the Sleep Dot, which you simply slot into your pillowcase to track your sleep cycles and body movement, and also wake you up in the morning with soothing sounds and music.
Flare Audio Sleeep
If you want to go for complete sonic shut out, regular foam earplugs won’t cut it. For a start, they’re uncomfortable to wear if you lie on your side, and secondly, they just don’t do a good enough job at blocking the sound.
Sleeep earplugs solve both those problems by having a soft tip at each end, so they don’t hurt when you lie on them, and an aluminium core (or titanium if you get the Sleeep PRO) blocks out any noise trying to get between you and your sweet, sweet dreams.
Simba Hybrid pillow
Yes, this is a pillow, but don’t be fooled by its analogue exterior, this pillow is packed with some “cool” features.
The Simba Hybrid pillow is packed full of removable foam ‘Nanocubes’, which you can add or take away to get the pillow exactly how you want it, and the cover is made from a ‘phase-change fabric’ called Stratos, inspired by the technology that helps regulate the body temperature of astronauts.
It’s not cheap as far as pillows go, but it is vegan-friendly and made from recycled materials.
Barisieur tea and coffee brewing alarm clock
Alarms are rarely a joy, but sometimes having something beautiful to wake up to makes all that effort getting to sleep worth it. Yes, a beautiful alarm clock. One that makes you tea and coffee. Could there be no finer sight first thing?
The Barisieur certainly looks the part, resembling some sort of funky, chemistry kit setup, and is a very upmarket take on your nan’s Teasmade, which brews you a fresh drink for when you are rudely awoken by the alarm.
It can store a week’s worth of tea and coffee, and keeps the milk cool and fresh, but as BBC Science Focus production editor Alice Lipscombe-Southwell pointed out when she got to try one out, it makes a (very tiny) cuppa (and a weak one at that).
It does have an eyewatering price tag, but can you really put a price on works of art like this?
Looking for more sleep gadgets?
Clearly we have but whetted your appetite for sleeping aids, or maybe just new technology in general; if so, be sure to check out our mega list of cool gadgets for some more gizmo inspo. Alternatively, take a look at our round-up of the best camping gadgets or kitchen gadgets.
And finally, if the idea of using sleep gadgets keeps you up at night, we spoke to Dr Michael Mosley about his book Fast Asleep as part of the Science Focus Book Club (which you can sign up for here), where he explained what sleep is, why we need it and gave us his tips on how to get to sleep naturally.
Reader Q&As about sleep: