Are you tired of not being able to sleep? Then you've come to the right place. Of course, there are plenty of tricks people swear by to help you sleep better at night: having a routine, investing in one of the best mattresses, and eating healthily are the best recipe for a good night's rest (and you should seek medical advice if sleeplessness persists). But tech can also help you power up your power naps and boost your bedtime.
Yes, you should avoid glowing screens at night. But a sleep tracker's data-driven insights are more accurate than keeping a sleep diary. Smart bulbs can dim as the evening goes on to trigger your circadian rhythms (and soothing wake-up lights can create a calmer morning routine, too). While a high-tech thermostat can make sure you never get too hot or too cold in bed.
Meanwhile, specialist sleep tech is a growing trend in Silicon Valley. The biggest names and brightest startups all want to innovate an answer for insomnia. Read on to discover the stuff that dreams are made of.
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1. Withings ScanWatch
There are all sorts of sleep trackers out there. They can range from pocket-money prices up to much pricier propositions, depending on how sophisticated you want them to be. Withings' new ScanWatch falls into the latter camp. Like most Withings watches, it has a luxurious design. This includes an analogue watch face, stainless steel and sapphire casing, plus optional leather strap. Only a small inset digital display hints at the smarts inside.
You only have to wear it overnight to make the most of its advanced sleep tracking. It awards you a Sleep Score based on your heart rate, sleep duration and phases, quality, wake-ups and breathing disturbances. It's also the first smartwatch to boast an SPO2 sensor, which measures blood oxygen saturation. The maker has a clinical study awaiting validation that this feature can be used to detect sleep apnoea for the first time.
The newly-announced Apple Watch Series 6 comes with blood oxygen saturation monitoring too. This works in the same – ahem – vein, as part of WatchOS 7's new sleep features. We'll have to wait for the first reviews to see how they compare, though the ScanWatch a fair chunk less.
2. Kookon Noise-Cancelling Headphones
With 40mm drivers, 13-hour battery life and Bluetooth support, these cans are great in the streets. But they're fully featured in the sheets. The Kookon noise-cancelling headphones feature flexible cushions that mould to your head for added comfort. They're better ventilated so you don't overheat wearing them in bed. Though still have a rigged over-ear frame – where other sleep headphones are often built into a headband – which isn't ideal if you're a side sleeper. But it means you look less peculiar using them every day or wear them on when traveling on a long journey.
Built-in sensors also detect when you're nodding off and automatically start playing white noise. This combines with active noise cancelling and passive noise isolation, so you can sleep soundly without hearing a sound.
The headphones monitor your movement, heart rate and environment when you wear them. So you can track your sleeping performance in great detail with the companion app. This also includes an impressive range of sleep sounds and guided CBT techniques.
3. Somnox Sleep Robot
Cuddling can help you snooze. Science says it makes your brain release oxytocin, a hormone that can make you sleepy and also reduces stress. But what are you supposed to do if you lack a big spoon/little spoon (delete as appropriate) in your life?
Enter Somnox, the first-ever ‘sleep robot'. You can tell from its kidney shape, thick cushioning and reassuring 2.3kg weight that it's designed to snuggle. What's more, it breathes. That is, it lightly expands and deflates to imitate breathing. The idea is that you'll unconsciously copy this relaxed wheeze as you hug, helping you to gently drift off. Its maker says users fall asleep up to 21 minutes faster.
The droid has CO2 sensors in its head to help it adapt to your breathing to help slow it down. But you can also set your breathing rate using a companion app. You can also choose for Somnox to play a medley of meditative songs if you're not already suitably soothed. Please let us know if cuddling a robot at night leads to you dreaming of electric sheep.
4. Philips Snoring Sleep Relief Band
Can't sleep because you have a partner who snores – or your partner keeps waking you because you snore? Sleeping on your sides rather than on your back can help, as this doesn't restrict your airway as much. But that's easier said than done if it's not your natural sleeping pose.
The Snoring Sleep Relief Band detects when you're laying on your back then buzzes just enough to make you turn onto your side. But it's more than just a vibration motor that goes off when it's at the wrong angle. The gadget gives you 30 minutes each night to drop off in any position you're comfortable in before it goes to work. Smarter still, it adjusts its vibration level over time, depending on how well you respond – vibrating more if you often ignore it.
Despite its name, the brains of the Relief Band are housed in a pebble-sized device. This also displays how many times you turned in the night, the number of hours you were asleep and the number of hours laid on your back. This then fits into a a soft, machine-washable strap.
5. Ebb Cool Drift Luxe
Stressed about work? Overstimulated from scrolling social media? Or did you just recall your most embarrassing moment? Ebb's Cool Drift Luxe calms these racing thoughts that keep you up at night.
This fluid-filled wearable cools your forehead. The maker says this ‘reduces metabolic activity in the frontal cortex'. There's evidence to back this up – and while experts disagree whether lower brain activity actually improves sleep, Ebb has many positive customer reviews to suggest there's something in it.
The Cool Drift Luxe sleep tech smarts don't end there either. It monitors your changing body heat throughout the night and adapts its temperature accordingly. The downside is that the headband connects to a chunky unit that circulates the fluid. This comes with a dial so you can manually adjust the temperature and the display doubles up as a clock. But it takes up a lot of your nightstand.
Luxe by name, luxury by nature – this gadget isn't cheap. Plus, Ebb recommends you replace the fluid cartridge every four months. So you'll have to decide what price you can put on a quiet night's sleep.
6. AYO Light Therapy Glasses
Blue light gets a bad rep. It's emitted by all the electronic screens we stare at all day. Too much exposure before bed can fool your brain into thinking it's still daytime. So you stay awake for hours. But a bolt of the blue can also be good for you.
Light boxes have been using it for years to treat Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). But like Fitbit, AirPods and Snap Spectacles, light therapy has gone wearable. Unfortunately, AYO's primary colour smart shades look as if Oral-B had designed Google Glass.. But what they lack in style, they make up for in tech. Not only can they help treat SAD, but they work all year round to help tackle insomnia and jet lag. With just a tap of an app, you can select the right programme for you and bring balance back to your body clock.
7. 4Moms MamaRoo sleep bassinet
Smart beds are a tech trend to watch. A mattress that can talk to the rest of your connected home to adjust the lights and heating is a great idea. And there are now several models that do that, but we've yet to find one that can justify price tags that are often in the thousands. However, smart bassinets are a different story.
The MamaRoo Sleep is designed to help solve the biggest challenge new parents face: getting their little ones off to sleep. It does that by gently rocking the bassinet from side to side and up and down. You get a choice of five different motion settings with names like car ride and tree swing. Each one of these has five speeds, which tots up to 25 different customisation settings to meet your newborn's needs.
You can also play a selection of white noise lullabies. And set a timer to create a consistent bedtime router. It sounds so soothing, we wish they made an adult model.
8. SensorWake Olfactory Alarm Clock
If you find yourself hitting the 'snooze' button far too often in the mornings, try the SensorWake Olfactory Alarm Clock. Rather than trying to shake you awake with a booming alarm, it coaxes you out of bed with the tantalising smells of breakfast.
Whether you prefer toast, bacon or chocolate brioche to start your day, this gadget can recreate their scents. Plug in a special cartridge and an ultra-quiet fan will waft the odours in your face when it's time for you to get up. To stimulate all your senses, after a minute SensorWake triggers a warm light that imitates sunrise. Then if you've still not got up, a sweet melody softly plays after another minute. The downside to these breakfast flavours is that you'll then have to go and make the real thing to sate your hunger. Not sold? Try our guide to the best alarm clock for some alternatives.