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Monday
Nov072011

Gadgets to Help You Get a Better Night's Sleep

GettyImages(WASHINGTON) -- More than one-third of Americans aren't getting enough sleep, and one-fifth of us may have major sleep disorders, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. No matter what our fast-paced culture says, this is a serious health problem, and marketers are taking note.

The Basics:  Your body's natural sleep rhythms are related to the amount of light in the room. So make sure to turn out the lights, cover the windows, and even use an eye shade or sleep mask, if necessary. Also, don't drink anything for at least two hours before bedtime if you can help it. Those bathroom breaks can interrupt your deepest, most restful sleep. Having trouble with noise in your sleeping area? Try earplugs; the cheap silicone variety for swimmers are the best at blocking out noise and staying in your ears all night.

Light-Based Alarm Clock:  If you hate being jolted awake by a loud alarm, the Phillips Wake-up Light can help. Half an hour before your alarm goes off, a light turns on low and gradually gets brighter. The light stimuli transitions you from deep sleep to light sleep, making your wake-up less jarring.

Sheex:  Whether it's a hot flash or just irregular temperature regulation, for many, waking in the middle of the night is integrally tied to getting hot. Sheex are bed sheets made of the same performance fabric used in athletic clothing. They are intended to wick away moisture, breathe better than cotton, and help you stay cooler.

Smartphone sleep disruptions:  According to a Pew Research study, 65 percent of us sleep with our cellphones next to the bed, and that number goes up to 90 percent for people aged 18 to 29. It's true that phones make good alarm clocks, but they can wake you up when someone sends you a text, and they present a temptation to check your email and social networks. Engaging in work email or using Facebook can stimulate you just as you are falling asleep, and set your mind racing when you should be quieting it. If you must keep your cellphone or smartphone nearby, try leaving it where you can't reach it. That way you'll have to get up to turn off the alarm, anyway.

BedPhones:  Many of us need white noise or music to block out ambient noise, but white noise machines are expensive and maybe your partner wants silence. Bedphones are earphones that lie flat on your ears and connect to a music player or your phone. They'll even reduce the volume over time to eventually leave you sleeping in silence.

Laptop-induced insomnia:  Even worse than keeping a smartphone nearby are those late-night computer sessions. Again, your circadian rhythms are based on light, and the blue light that's put out by computer screens makes your body think it's still daytime. That keeps it from producing melatonin -- the sleep-inducing antioxidant that the tart cherry juice contains.

The scientific method:  Finally, perhaps the most thorough way to fix your personal sleep problems: The Zeo Personal Sleep Coach. It's an alarm clock and wireless headband that monitors and records your sleep patterns. It tells you how much sleep you're getting, including deep, light and REM sleep. Then its online apps and email coaching help you analyze your lifestyle to find out what helps you sleep better, and what's keeping you up at night.  

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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