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.
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We love sleep. We also love gadgets. And yet it seems at times that we can never have enough of either. Fortunately, there is more sleep tech out there than you could stuff a duvet with, so we’ve rounded up the gadgets that could help get the best night’s sleep of your life… or at least help you doze off into blissful slumber.
Of course, nothing can guarantee you a night of bliss in the land of Nod, and if you are really struggling you should see your GP, but if you do think technology can help give you those vital extra minutes in restful sleep, these sleeping aids might just work for you.
Best sleep technology gadgets
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
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.
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.
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.
Essential oils are not just for hippies looking to soothe the soul with Mother Nature’s special scents, there is some good science about how effective they are at a number of ailments, including getting a good night’s rest.
One of the best ways to spread the essential oil love is with a diffuser, and what could be better than this adorable 100 per cent wool-felt sheep diffuser for when you’re, erm, counting sheep.
Astronauts need their rest too. To help scientists aboard the ISS maintain a regular sleep cycle in the absence of night and day, NASA uses red and blue light to tell the body when it’s time to switch on and off. This eye mask takes the idea further, beaming red pulses at you when you’re trying to sleep and blue ones in the morning.
Definitely one for those out there who have to sleep in the day and work by night.
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.
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 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.
Mornings are rarely better than when they are punctuated by the smell of fresh coffee, warm croissants or tasty toast, the only downside being you actually have to get out of bed to make them.
The SensorWake Olfactory Alarm Clock recreates these scents using special cartridges that release joy-inducing smells (amongst others, like freshly cut grass, the sea or even chocolate) first thing to wake you from your slumber on a wave of extraordinary odours. The only downside we can see if that you’ll then have to go and make the real thing to curb your hunger.
Not every sleeping aid needs to be high tech, like the Good Night Stop Snoring Ring, which does exactly what you’d imagine, stops you snoring. The clinically-proven ring goes on your little finger and presses specific acupressure points to stop your nocturnal nasal murmurings. It probably won’t make you sleep that much better, but your other half with think it’s dreamy.
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.
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.
If you’re of the opinion that alarm clocks should be heard and not seen, then let the Lumie Bodyclock illuminate you to the possibilities of a significantly less sonorous morning.
The Bodyclock LUXE 750D mimics the colour of sunlight to gently fade out at night to help you doze off and rise like the Sun in the morning to wake you up all refreshed, with a variety of pleasing sounds like birdsong or café chat in the background.
It has a few (quietly) ringing endorsements from Quiet Mark, who hunt out the quietest tech, and the British Swimming team, keen fans of waking up in the dark for early morning training sessions.
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.
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.
Sometimes in the pursuit of sleep, you just have to call it quits and fall back on catching up on Netflix. Benson’s for Beds’ Bergamo headboard has a USB charging point built into each side, so you don’t have to worry about stretching cables or fumbling in the dark for your phone.
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.
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.
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?
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. Or maybe a night under the stars is what you need to get some restful slumber, in which case our roundup of the best camping gadgets should be pitch-perfect.
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.
Alexander is the Online Editor at BBC Science Focus and is the one that keeps sciencefocus.com looking shipshape and Bristol fashion. He has been toying around with news, technology and science on internet for well over a decade, and sports a very fetching beard.