Technology and Sleep – Strange Bedfellows

April 7, 2016

No doubt that you are familiar with the advice from sleep experts that our devices don’t belong in the bedroom, much less the bed itself. But there are some new and different ways that our technology may actually help us get a better night’s sleep (though you might find a few of them a bit odd!) Here are some that are gaining popularity:

  • Listen to podcasts or radio from your smartphone or tablet: If you are like me and find the fastest way to fall asleep is by watching TV, try listening to a podcast or radio show instead. Better to fall asleep without the bright flickering light, and if you press the lock screen button (which makes the screen go dark) the audio stays on – but without the over-stimulating light. And most podcast and radio apps have sleep timers so you can set it to stop after a certain amount of time.
    • A good one to try is On Being with Krista Tippett. In addition to simply being a really good listen, Tippett’s voice is gentle and soothing.  And if she succeeds in lulling you to sleep, you’ll want to return in the daytime to hear what you missed.
    • On the more eccentric side, there is a small but growing genre of intentionally sleep-inducing podcasts with dialogue that is somewhat non-sensical with the sole purpose of having the listener fall asleep. Search “fall asleep” in your podcast app and see what appeals to you. A few examples: Sleep With Me, is like overhearing snippets of a conversation. And there is the even odder Sleep Station – stories told in a low whispering voice.
  • Sleep Videos – Available on Amazon Prime are a series of videos produced by The Sleepwell Channel that emit only very low light accompanied by white noise. Just the titles might induce sleep: Box Fan, (yes, a video of a box fan) Oscillating Fan (cousin of box fan), and the more appealing Nighttime Beaches (actually quite beautiful and the sound was delightful).
  • Noise Machines – There are many apps available for smartphones and tablets that play all variety of soothing – and not so soothing – noises: rain, thunderstorms, crashing waves, city traffic (for the urbanite), crickets, frogs and even crowd noise. Those that I tried include a sleep timer feature.  Search “noise machine” from your app store or try these:Rain, Rain and Sound Sleeper.
  • Sleep Analysis – You can actually use your smartphone or fitness tracking device (e.g., a Fitbit) to analyze the quality of your sleep. How does it do this? These devices have very sensitive “accelerometers” that detect even the subtle movements. First step for the smartphone is to download an app (try searching “sleep analysis”). I am no expert on as I haven’t tried it, but I’m told it is as easy as putting the device on the bed next to you or under your pillow. (Of course, it doesn’t work if you knock it on the floor in the middle of the night!) It will record your movement and provide statistics in the a.m. More on this in a future newsletter after I’ve tried it. Though not sure I want to know how poorly I am sleeping!

Would love to hear whether any of these worked for you, or other ideas you may have!

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