Sleep tech can improve your ZZZs
Feeling tired? You're not alone. Forty-nine percent of Americans don't get the recommended eight hours of sleep a night.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has declared insufficient sleep a public health epidemic. Lack of sleep can cause depression, weight gain, difficulty concentrating and a slew of physical and mental ailments. It can also end marriages. One of four married couples sleep in separate beds because of restlessness, snoring, body temperature and the eternal struggle over a shared blanket.
Despite the fact that we spend 33 percent of our lives sleeping, we invest very little in getting a good night's rest.
While the flashing screen of technology is often a nighttime distraction, technology also can help you switch off and get the rest you need. So, instead of catching Pokemon with your phone, you could be catching Zs! Here are some gadgets and gear to help you drift off to dreamland.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, optimum room temperature for sleep is between 60 and 70 degrees. For summer, a fan in the bedroom is a must-have, but fans can be noisy and, worse, blow around dust and allergens that can keep you coughing all night. The Dyson Pure Cool Link provides a solution. The bladeless tower fan cools off the room quickly and quietly. After you fall asleep, the fan adjusts to an automatic nighttime mode, which reduces the sound to a whisper. The fan is controllable via a remote control or a phone-based app. As its name suggests, the fan does more than just cool. It's also a powerful air filter — removing 99.97 percent of pollutants and allergens from the air — improving air quality in the bedroom, or any room of your house, year-round.
Cost: $499 at Dyson.com
The Jawbone Up 3 is a popular fitness tracker. It logs data from your daily exercise activity, monitoring calories burned, heart rate and step count. It also provides personalized insight through its training app. As an activity monitor, it does a great job, but it's also an important tool for tracking inactivity. The Up 3 acts a sleep monitor. Its built-in accelerometer detects light, sound, heart rate, wake phases and REM sleep. The data let you know how long and how well you sleep. The wrist-wearable monitor even learns your optimum wake-up times and gently awakens you with a silent vibrating alarm.
Cost: $129.99 at Best Buy and jawbone.com
Don't be alarmed
Thanks to cellphones, alarm clocks have gone the way of the dodo bird and Blockbuster Video. Beddi returns the alarm clock to its former bedside glory. The Beddi is an app-enabled alarm clock that connects to your cellphone. It offers a new twist on traditional alarm clock features such as FM radio, white-noise generator and ambient lighting. The old-fashioned snooze button is reimagined with three physical-action buttons that can be used to control smart-home devices, or even call an Uber. All of its features are customizable.
Instead of obnoxious ring tones or buzzing, the Beddi can awaken you with your favorite music and keep you updated with weather and traffic reports through its built-in speaker. In the morning, you and your phone will wake up fully charged.
Cost: $99 at store.wittidesign.com
Whether you sleep with your arm underneath, head turned to the side or curled up in the fetal position covering your head to drown out your spouse's snoring, pillows are not one-size-fits-all.
Bedgear personalizes pillow purchasing. Its online “Pillow ID” platform helps you “find your fit” by better understanding how you sleep. The end result is a pillow perfectly picked for you. Its pillows feature climate-control fabric, ventilated panels and special foam that provide “weightless” support.
Bedgear also offers a line of pillows just for kids: The BG-X Kids performance pillows are designed to contour to a child's head, neck and shoulders to provide perfect alignment.
Cost: $49.99 to $199 at Bedgear.com
The sun rises and sets slowly, allowing our bodies time to adjust; our household lighting should do the same. Philips Hue White Ambiance Lighting uses a white light that is similar to daylight. Adjustable routines can emulate the slow rising of the sun in the morning or the setting of the sun as you fade off to sleep.
The lighting patterns can be run from the Hue app or a portable wall switch that requires no wiring. Philips Hue products work well with other smart-home devices, including the Nest thermostat.
Cost: $129.95 at www.store.meethue.com and Home Depot
The simple sleep mask gets a high-tech upgrade with the Neuroon Intelligent Sleep Mask that monitors your sleep through sensors built into the mask. Two small, embedded LEDs are used for a variety of sleep-related tasks, including providing an energy boost through light therapy. For travelers, the mask has a “jet lag blocker” that optimizes your circadian rhythms to help you adjust to new time zones. The mask even helps “reprogram” your biorhythms to adjust your sleep schedule.
Cost: $299 at Neuroon.com
Sleep under the stars
If you are looking for a sleep aid that provides progressive natural lighting, gentle cooling breezes and white noise, then look no further than the great outdoors.
When you are ready to literally “hit the sack,” the Nemo Fusion Hybrid 30 sleeping bag provides the comforts of a warm bed in a lightweight and durable sleeping bag.
Keeping warm is one of its key features. It is rated to provide comfort in temperatures as low as 30 degrees. The design of the sleeping bag incorporates a “hood” to protect your head and face from the cold.
The padding and insulation provide comfort and warmth, and the spoon-shaped design allows for frequently changing sleep positions. The water-repelling nylon outer “shell” protects you from the elements as you gaze at the night sky, watching falling stars as you fall asleep.
Cost: $209.95 at Nemoequipment.com and REI stores
Preschoolers may be on to something with their midday naps. Studies suggest productivity in the workplace can be greatly improved with even a 15-minute power nap.
MetroNaps Energy Pod's sleek futurist design might seem more at home on an episode of “The Jetsons” than in your office. But it may be that MetroNaps is the future of the workplace. The pod's ergonomic design encloses you in privacy and comfort without feeling claustrophobic. It provides pre-programmed, timed naps that use lighting, music and vibrations for optimal dozing. The only thing missing is your teddy bear and little blue blankie.
Cost: $8,000 to $13,000 at MetroNaps.com
The medicinal properties of tea have been recognized for thousands of years in Chinese culture. Pittsburgh has tea gurus of its own in the exotic locale of the Strip District. Prestogeorge Coffee Roasting Co. produces a Sleep Tight Tea with sleep-inducing herbs such as chamomile, valerian root, lavender, spearmint and lemon balm.
Prepare the tea in the DeLonghi Icona Tea Kettle. Though not ancient technology, its 1950s Italian style will take you back to a simpler time. The 57.5-ounce capacity electric teakettle features a detachable base, water gauge indicator and auto shutoff feature — and doesn't require an app to operate.
Cost: Sleep Tight Tea is $5 for 4 ounces at Prestogeorge Coffee Roasting Co., Strip District, and prestogeorge.com. Icona Tea Kettle is $99 at delonghi.com and Wal-Mart.
Joe Wos is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.