Here are some statistics on sleep for you: according to the UK Sleep Council, nearly half of us are getting just six hours sleep or less a night, and four out of five people think they aren't getting enough. That's alarming considering how important sleep is to our overall health.
As well as affecting our energy levels throughout the day, a lack of sleep has been linked to problems with obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular health. If you want to get your sleeping habits back on track, here are some of the latest tech innovations that can help.
Most fitness trackers on the market today monitor your sleep - or at least try to - so we're not going to pick out a particular model here (see our recent round-up for a more in-depth guide). From slimline wristbands from the likes of Jawbone and Fitbit, to fully fledged smartwatches such as the Apple Watch and the Withings Activité, there's plenty of choice. Each tracker comes with an app that logs your deep sleep and light sleep, enabling you to see where you can improve and adjust the factors that make a difference (like setting your alarm for period of light sleep).
1. Withings Aura
The Withings Aura is a comprehensive, funnel-shaped sleep system that combines app, light and sensor array to help you wake up every morning feeling ready to face the day.
The lamp is actually a smart alarm clock: it combines a gradually brightening light (designed to simulate a sunrise) with some customised audio (Spotify is supported) to get you up at the right time.
The optional under-mattress sensor pad is a rather unattractive thing, and means you have wires trailing from your bed to the Aura but for those who are serious about tracking their sleep, it could be a godsend.
It'll track your movements during the night, how long you slept, and also the temperature and noise levels in your room.
Arguably its main actual use, however, is to send you off to sleep, however, with some soothing ocean-like white noise.
Please note that Withings has now been bought out by Nokia, and the Aura has been discontinued. However, we are assured that Nokia's app will continue to support Aura, and there is plenty of stock left.
2. Fitbit Alta HR
Most fitness trackers will measure your sleep to some degree, but the Alta HR makes a better fist of it.
Its Sleep Stages feature tracks your movement patterns and heart rate to determine whether you’re in light, deep or REM sleep, and displays it in Fitbit’s ever-slick app.
What you get is at least comparable to a mattress-based sleep tracker, but much easier to set up and – since it's also an activity and fitness tracker – more useful overall.
The Alta also learns your sleep patterns over time and flags up personalised tips to help you get more shut-eye, which is a nice touch. Sleep Stages is also built into Fitbit’s excellent Charge 2 and Blaze models, but its slimmer, lighter design makes it more suited specifically to sleep tracking. It's a bit cheaper too.
3. ResMed S+
The S+ sits on your bedside table firing out ultra-low power radio waves and listening back to the echo from your body as you sleep. Using this method ResMed claims it can detect your movement and breathing rate and plot your sleep cycles. It also tracks the light levels, temperature and noise in your room.
The accompanying iOS and Android app has some nice extras alongside the usual sleep graphs: it will ask you questions about your day before you doze – such as how much caffeine you’ve had – to help you search for correlations in your sleep patterns over time. The Mind Clear feature encourages you to jot down pre-sleep thoughts, and its built-in coach will analyse your data and give you personalised tips.
You’ll have to set S+ to track your sleep manually and it’s quite bulky, but if you can deal with that, it’s a good alternative to the (technically discontinued) Withings Aura.
4. Philips Hue
Philips Hue leads the pack when it comes to smart lighting, and that includes finding ways to address the fact that light plays a particularly important role in your sleep patterns.
There are all kinds of Hue bulbs available so you can create your own customised sleep and waking environments, with lights gradually fading up and down at set times, in colours that either stimulate or soothe.
For a simpler solution, the Hue Go combines with a smart alarm app, and gets gradually brighter in the mornings to fill your room with 'natural' light.
5. Jawbone UP 3
It's hard to believe, but this band originally cost £130. Now Jawbone has pulled out of the hardware business and the UP3 is a bona fide bargain, and the best solution for sleep tracking on a budget.
For less than £40 you get a middling fitness band that also happens to sport better sleep tracking than products 2 or 3 times the price.
It tracks your heart rate and temperature and uses 'bioimpedance' sensors to determine what stage of sleep you’re in.
It’s all displayed in Jawbone's colourful app so you can see clearly when you were in deep sleep, or how many times you woke up in the night. It also offers handy hints like, "Feeling tired? Try going to bed earlier tonight!" So that's nice.
As a fitness tracker it always was fairly mediocre, but the UP3's sleep measurement is really great for the price you can now pick it up at.
6. Zeeq Smart Pillow
Zeeq’s £200 anti-snoring pillow is undeniably smart. It boasts a 3-axis accelerometer to record your tosses and turns in the night as well as a microphone to catch any snores. And, if you are snoring, it’ll give you a vibrating nudge so that you change head position.
Its tracking information is all displayed in an app and it integrates with Alexa and IFTTT, so you can ask your Amazon Dot how well you slept last night and how often you snored. Or, if you want to be really flashy, you can link the pillow’s ‘Stop Sleep’ button to turn on your smart lights.
Away from tracking, its built-in Bluetooth speaker will play soothing music or podcasts wirelessly to help you nod off and wake you up with a gentle alarm when you’re in light sleep.
It's a pretty ridiculous device, to be honest, but if you snore, and/or you want the absolute cutting edge in pillows with tech in them, Zeeq is your baby.