Skip the Sheep: These Gadgets Will Improve Your Sleeping Habits in No Time

By Kate BoveLast Updated Nov 13, 2020 11:45:25 AM ET
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Photo Courtesy: Donald Iain Smith/Collection/Getty Images

According to the Sleep Health Foundation, "technology use in the evenings may delay bedtime and interfere with sleep." Not only are bright, blue light-emitting devices disruptive to the wind-down process, but, let’s face it, we’ve all gone down those late-night Wikipedia spirals or fallen victim to hours-long YouTube vortices and Twitter doomscrolls.

However, this doesn’t mean that tech and sleep don’t mesh. For example, in a 2012 poll, the National Sleep Foundation found that 5% of Americans sleep with a "sound conditioner" (be it an app or a white-noise machine). In fact, there are plenty of handy gadgets out there that harness the power of technology for good by helping folks clear their minds, create healthy sleep regimens or wake up on time in the morning. Whether you’re looking to create a quieter environment, better understand your sleep patterns or calm your mind, we’ve got the sleep tech for you!

Sound Machines and Wake-Up Lights to Regulate Sleep

Whether you need help falling asleep or a little extra nudge when it comes to waking up in the morning, sound machines and wake-up lights can make a huge difference in creating a healthy sleep routine. Looking for an option that does it all? We can’t recommend anything more than the Hatch Restore, a sound machine, smart light and sunrise alarm all in one.

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Controlled with ease via a smartphone app, the Hatch Restore can be programmed with personalized sleep-wake routines. During the dark winter months, nothing beats Hatch’s Sunrise Alarm Clock, a digital alarm that simulates a sunrise by gradually brightening your room with what feels like natural light. Additionally, customers love the soft-glow reading light and library of soothing sounds, all of which make this handy gadget perfect for both winding down and falling asleep.

Looking for a kid-friendly version? The Hatch Rest+ is a soothing white-noise machine, night-light, baby monitor and alarm clock that can help sleep train young ones. After all, it’s never too early to create healthy sleep habits!

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Noise-Masking SleepBuds to Block Out Environmental Disturbances

Frustrated by all those little house sounds or rowdy neighbors? We recommend the Bose SleepBuds II, comfy earbuds that harness the power of noise-masking technology. As you might expect, these earbuds also come equipped with the ability to play tunes, so if canceling out those noisy nighttime disruptions isn’t enough, you can also tap into Bose’s library of calming sounds.

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Best of all, setup is a cinch: Using the Bose Sleep app, users can access the Sound Library’s 30+ sounds, download favorites and control the volume and alarm settings with ease. It’s like a little sleep machine for your ears — and, unlike other wireless earbuds, these comfy SleepBuds stay in place, even if you toss and turn. (Yes, we’re looking at you, accident-prone Apple AirPods.) On one charge, the Bose SleepBuds II last up to 10 hours, making them reliable all through the night.

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Fitbit Charge 4 to Track Your Sleep Habits

One way to make sure you’re sleeping through the night and beating fatigue is to regulate your sleep schedule. Often, having a consistent routine can do wonders for your overall health, and that’s where fitness trackers come in. Dubbed Fitbit’s "most advanced" tracker, the Fitbit Charge 4 is our favorite option, all things considered. While it may not have all the bells and whistles that Fitbit’s smartwatches offer, it does have a plethora of features that can help you take your health and fitness goals even further.

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This model features 24/7 heart rate tracking, in-depth sleep tracking and a seven-day battery life — meaning you can get a week’s worth of insight out of a single charge. Get in touch with your sleep schedule by learning when you sleep your best and when you’re at your most restless — and adjust where necessary. Bonus: The Charge 4’s sleek, discreet design means it isn’t bothersome to wear while catching those Zzz’s.

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A Tried-and-True White Noise Machine to Lull You to Sleep

Need a little extra help falling asleep at night? Tried-and-true sound machines can make a huge difference when it comes to setting that routine and tackling insomnia. While there are plenty of solid choices out there, we recommend the Letsfit White Noise Machine, a helpful little bedside gadget that features 14 soothing sleep soundtracks.

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Ranging from white noise and fan sounds to all those classic nature sounds (ocean waves, thunder, campfire, crickets and so on), the varied sleep sounds can create a kind of rhythm that lulls even the most restless folks to sleep. Thanks to the device’s built-in timer and memory functions, you can pre-program sound regimens. This one is completely plug and play, making it accessible for adults and kids alike.

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Blue Light-Filtering Glasses to Help You Wind Down Before Bed

Phones, TV screens, computers — you name it, we’re probably staring at it. And, as a result, we’re being exposed to more and more blue light. Of course, most of our blue light exposure comes from daylight and helps us to regulate our circadian rhythms and foster alertness, good recall and cognitive function. On the other hand, even though human-made devices don’t emit as much blue light as daylight, an overexposure to it — a.k.a. excessive screen time at night — can still mess with our health.

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Photo Courtesy: @felixgrays/Twitter

According to researchers at Harvard University, "blue light suppresses melatonin [secretion] for about twice as long as the green light and shifted circadian rhythms by twice as much." Enter: blue light-filtering glasses, like this pair of Felix Gray glasses. Specs like these have a blue light-filtering material embedded inside, which the company says will curb eye strain, headaches and sleep disruption. While you shouldn’t wear them first thing in the morning (we need some blue light to wake up, after all!), wearing them in the evenings can keep your body on track and aid the wind-down process.

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A Metronome to Ensure That You’re Getting Sleepy — Very Sleepy

Looking for something with fewer frills? The Dodow Metronome can take you back to the basics. In addition to being a metronome, this device features a light system that teaches you how to fall asleep naturally. Simply tap the surface of the Dodow once to set an eight-minute "exercise" — the machine will then work its magic, lulling you to sleep and calming your mind by creating a breathing pattern for you to latch onto.

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How does it work? The device projects a soft, blue light onto the ceiling. When the blue light expands, breathe in, and when it retracts, breathe out. Once you’ve synchronized your breathing with the machine, close your eyes and let the Zzz’s come. If you need a longer regimen, simply tap the device’s surface twice to set a 20-minute timer. While not a cure-all for insomnia, the Dodow Metronome certainly creates a distraction from your thoughts and helps you breathe with meditative intention, practices that can lead to lifelong, healthy habits.

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Sleep Headphones and Eye Masks That Help You Create the Perfect Sleep Environment

If you’re like me, you’re sensitive to both light and sound, especially when trying to fall asleep. If the room is too bright or there’s a noise to fixate on, it can lead to hours of tossing and turning. Avoid that restlessness from the onset by investing in simple ways to cut out all those environmental factors. For one, there’s the tried-and-true MZOO Sleep Eye Mask. You don’t just have to be on a plane to use (and benefit from) one of these. Made of low-rebound memory foam, this eye mask is soft and comfy — and doesn’t put any irritating pressure on your eyes.

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If cutting down on environmental noise and turning up the volume on soothing sounds are musts for you, the Sleep Headphones Headband is a must-have gadget. Great for rest and exercise, this Bluetooth-enabled device allows you to listen to music and sleep comfortably, sans bulky headphones. While the headband can be pulled down to shield your eyes from light, sleepers who need that extra level of comfort may want to opt for the Sleep Headphones With Eye Mask, a comfy mask that doesn’t put undue pressure on your eyes because it contours to your face. Bonus: On one charge, this musically inclined eye mask lasts up to 10 hours, making it a perfect travel companion.

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Honorable Mention: A Light Therapy Lamp to Help You Manage Depression This Winter

Most often, light therapy is used as a means to treat seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a type of depression that occurs at a certain time of the year. For most folks living with SAD that time of the year is often autumn or winter — months associated with less daylight and more darkness. By simulating sunlight, light therapy lamps are "thought to affect brain chemicals linked to mood and sleep, easing SAD symptoms" and potentially helping with "other types of depression, sleep disorders and other conditions" (via Mayo Clinic).

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Photo Courtesy: Photo and Co./Images Bank/Getty Images

Interested in trying this out? With over 5,500 five-star reviews, the Miroco Light Therapy Lamp is one of the best devices out there. Featuring a unique, shell-like shape and a sunlight-esque color temperature, this well-designed lamp is also equipped with three brightness levels, allowing you to adjust the light level based on your sensitivity and surrounding environment. Bonus: This portable, compact device can be toted from your couch to your desk and back, free of any hassle.

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