Technology and Sleep: What Devices are out There That Can Help You Get Better Sleep?

If you believe you are not getting a good night’s sleep, you can find out for certain by using a smart phone or wearable device to measure or track your sleep patterns.  

Sleep Trackers: Using Technology to Measure Sleep Patterns

Several companies make what they call “sleep trackers.” These are fitness devices that monitor the heart rate, skin temperature, breathing patterns and other signals the body sends out when sleeping. Most of these devices and the apps for them were designed to help people who exercise keep track of their progress and devise better and more efficient workout routines, but the same information they monitor helps people measure their REM and deep sleep patterns.

  • At $199, the Basis Peak is one of the pricer and fancier of these devices, and functions like a smartwatch. 
  • The Microsoft Band also costs $199, and it does everything that the Basis Peak does – but does it through the Microsoft Health network. Its sleep app keeps track of how long the user sleeps and how frequently they wake. 
  • The Runtastic Orbit is about half the price of the Basis Peak and Microsoft Band. Although like the others designed primarily to help runners, bikers, hikers and others with their exercise routines, this wristband device is touted as an advanced sleep tracker.
  • At the lower cost end of the sleep tracking spectrum is a sporty little watch-like monitor called the Misfit Flash. It never needs to be charged and has apps compatible with a iPhone, iPad, iPod, Samsung Galaxy, Android and Bluetooth.

Setting the Sleep & Wake Environment

Sound, light and temperature can impact sleep. People who are too hot or too cold will wake to throw off or pile on the covers. While some people can sleep through a Fourth of July fireworks celebration, others are very light sleepers who can be jarred awake by the slightest noises. Circadian rhythms tell the body that night time is sleep time and day time is wake time, but in the modern world not all people go to bed when the sun goes down or get up when it rises.

While setting the thermostat, wearing ear plugs or putting on a sleep mask can address issues of temperature, sound and light, there are some more advanced devices for those who want to make use of modern technology to help them sleep. The Ecotones Sound + Sleep machine is just one of these modern devices. It uses digital sound technology to introduce soothing sounds into the sleep environment. For those who find it hard to wake up in the mornings, the Philips Wake-Up Light simulates a sunrise that wakes the sleeper up gradually. 

Sleep Apnea Machines 

Sleep apnea is not just about snoring and keeping others in the bedroom awake. It is a serious respiratory disorder that not only interrupts sleep and leaves the sleeper unrested, it can lead to other heart and respiratory problems. Some sleep apnea patients find that a simple mouth insert made by a dentist will solve the problem, but others need more aggressive mechanical solutions, some of which look like the apparatus used by fighter pilots to breathe up where the air is thin. These are commonly called CPAP machines, and a full range of those available can be found here.