Friday, August 20

Sleep aid gadgets: Do they work?

Sleep aid devices

Do gadgets to help you sleep better work?

For many individuals, sleeping is a challenging journey, even at night. While 10% of adults suffer chronic insomnia, a third of all adults — including 30% to 48% of older people — have difficulty sleeping or staying asleep at some point. Given that so many technologies promise to help you get more Z's (sleep), it is not surprising that they are so diverse due to the high rate of insomnia people suffer.  Do they help you sleep?

To verify this, Dr Lawrence Epstein, a Boston-area doctor and an academic editor for Harvard University's Harvard Special Health Report, who specializes in sleep issues was consulted. Take a look at what he has to say about gadgets that encourage sleep.

What are the best devices to help sleep?

  • Sound machines and "white noise" generators

These are small devices that can be kept at your bedside. They play sounds from nature such as rain, forest breeze, birds, waterfall city noises. These devices help especially when you have environmental noises disturbing your sleep. The goal is to block out the noise that is disrupting your sleep.

  • Earbuds for sleep

These earphones are specifically designed for sleeping and are not intended for listening to music. They are soft enough to be used as a sleeping surface on your side. Set on specific frequencies they are used to cancel noise.  Reducing noise is a great way to help you get a better night's sleep," says Dr Epsten.

The cost is around $100.

  • A sunrise alarm

A sunrise alarm schedules the time of the first light you see to mimic the appearance of dawn. Waking up and going to sleep at the same time every day is crucial for maintaining circadian rhythm (sleep-wake) health, thus a dawn alarm is a useful tool for persons with circadian rhythm (sleep-wake) problems; light has the strongest effect on the circadian clock, according to Dr Epstein.

However, make sure the alarm is set appropriately. If it wakes you up before your desired time, your sleep will be affected.

You may expect to pay $25 and above for a sunrise alarm

  • A weighted blanket or duvet

Plastic or glass beads are added to weighted blankets to increase their weight. Blanket weights vary and are between  12 to 25 pounds which are intended to stimulate a comforting feeling of cosiness, comforting hug and swaddling.  It is difficult to determine the efficacy of the blankets because of the little available data, but it suggests that the blankets can be beneficial in reducing anxiety. 

Prices range for regular blanket costs from $50 to $60.

Duvet can cost from $50-$2000 depending on the fabric type.

  • Smartphone apps

Applications, or apps, are programs you install on your smartphone. Apps for inducing sleep include white noise generators, sleep activity trackers, relaxation and meditation aids, and even online CBT sleep therapy programs (Cognitive behavioural therapy ). Apps for inducing sleep include white noise generators, sleep activity trackers, relaxation and meditation aids, and even online CBT sleep therapy programs (CBTi).

  • Cooling systems

Heat throughout the night interferes with getting a good night's rest. There is a water-cooled system for your mattress or pillow.  Ebb Cool Drift Versa Sleep System is a fresh, innovative gadget Dr Epstein advises. It is FDA-approved for cooling the forehead. 

You should expect to pay between $25 and $35 for pillows with heat-wicking fabric. The price of the Ebb gadget is $300.

Other proven techniques to assist improve sleep and encourage better sleep include receiving CBT from a therapist and practising good sleep hygiene, which includes avoiding bright displays, meals, exercise, and any electronic devices for two hours before going to bed.

No content on this site, regardless of date, should be used to replace direct medical advice from your doctor or another trained practitioner.
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