How digital health technology—including apps, wristbands, and sheets can change the way you sleep at night.
How many of us take our smartphone, laptop or tablet to bed with us to read up on the latest Facebook post instead of catching up on the next chapter of our paperback book? You are not alone. The National Sleep Foundation found 95% of those surveyed use some type of electronic device within an hour before bed at least a few times per week. It seems the more infused technology becomes as a pertinent part of our daily lives, the tougher it is to get the recommended eight hours of sleep per night.
A study conducted by The University of Maryland Medical Center reports 65% of people get less than the recommended amount and 50% of us blame it on having difficulties sleeping. This new trending routine of taking our mobile devices to bed is not only disrupting our sleep but causing a negative ripple effect on our health.
Sleep deprivation has been associated with a variety of different health complications, including:
- Cardiovascular disease
- Depression and other mood disorders
- Memory and cognitive impairment
- Automobile and occupational injuries
- Increased susceptibility to illness
Although advancements in technology may be disrupting our sleep, they also can serve as an excellent resource to tapping into the latest methods of increasing our Z’s. Check out these top 5 ways to scientifically improve your slumber:
1. Smartphone apps
There are a multitude of apps available for download to track your sleep cycle and wake you up peacefully. Many of them are even free.
If falling asleep is your issue, try these top-rated free apps of 2014 that will help you relax and peacefully drift off:
2. Smart wristbands
Smartbands are becoming an increasingly popular way to monitor your sleep. They use the same technology as the smartphone apps but are more accurate. Best of all, these wristbands stay on all the time, so you don’t have to worry about remembering to click an app before bed or wake up to a dead cellphone battery the next day. The Jawbone Up24 is the most popular smart wristband, but the Fitbit Flex is another great option.
3. Sleep IQ
If you’re not the biggest fan of using a smartphone or smartband for a better night’s sleep, Sleep Number has you covered. The Sleep Number x12 has advanced Sleep IQ technology that can put you on the fast track to improving your health. It measures the quality and length of your sleep, restful time in bed, your average heart and breathing rates, motion, and even the number of times you get up.
The data this device allows you to collect will come in handy during your next doctor’s visit and help to pinpoint disruptions in your sleep that may be contributing to some of your health complications.
4. Wicking Sheets & Sleepwear
If you wake up in the middle of the night lying in a puddle of sweat, look no further. Many of us use our sets of bed sheets for as long as we own the mattress, so why not invest in some linens made specifically to create the ultimate sleep experience?
DrSnooze says that the sheets we use can have just as much impact as the mattress. Wicking sheets and sleepwear are designed to pull excess moisture away from our bodies during sleep. They provide a more breathable and cooler performance fabric than ordinary sheets. A fan favorite is Sheex. They lead in innovation focusing on the science of sleep. Best of all, in addition to their sheets they offer sleepwear for added comfort.
5. Customized Pillows
Anything that supports your head, neck and spine for seven hours or more better withstand the challenge. “Your pillow might be the reason you’re not sleeping well,” says Dr. Paul Salinas of Park Avenue Spine. “Pillows are not one-size-fits-all, it really comes down to preference and comfort.” There are a variety of pillows tailored to any type of sleeper.
You first want to consider what type of sleeper you are. Do you prefer sleeping on your back, stomach or side? Even though side-sleeping is preferred, it’s not always an easy switch to make, so luckily there is a pillow designed for no matter what your preference may be.
Back sleepers want to seek out pillows made of memory foam. Side sleepers slumber best with a medium-firm pillow. Stomach sleepers want to try using a giant body pillow to relieve the added stress placed on your back.
To get a little more technical, if you have an identified sleep disturbance issue such as hyperhidrosis, snoring or mild sleep apnea, there is a pillow scientifically developed for you to.
For hot heads, the Chillow is the perfect choice. It has a water bag stored inside for a consistence cooling effect. For snorers and those individuals experiencing mild sleep apnea, the SONA is recommended. This FDA-approved device is contoured to support the head and neck to allow optimal breathing alignment.
There’s no reason to put your health at serious risk any further by missing out on catching your Z’s. A good night’s sleep is now possible through advances in technology. For more sound physical and mental health, make the investment today for a more refreshed tomorrow.
Scott Huntington is a writer and health enthusiast from central Pennsylvania. Follow him on Twitter @SMHuntington.