When I’m not wishing I were the type to go out dancing at midnight, I’m setting my alarm for early morning fitness classes I will never know. Because if you can’t be cool, shouldn’t you at least be productive, spinning, juicing, and catching up on world events before 9:00 a.m.? A perpetual need for a full eight hours of sleep and my trusty snooze button keep me failing on both counts. Thankfully there’s always hope for improvement. And so, this month, I am turning to a bevy of new tech accessories that aim to better the quality of my slumber while answering a recurring question: If I learned to sleep more efficiently, could I actually sleep less?
That’s the logic behind the Somneo Sleep Trainer, which takes the Holly Golightly–style sleep mask to the next level. Backed by DARPA, a Defense Department agency looking to make lean, mean, well-rested machines out of its service members, the mask blocks ambient light and noise and warms the face to speed the wearer along to sleep’s most restorative stages. A bit about sleep cycles: Stage one is followed by the light sleep of stage two—critical for alertness—and then the deep sleep of stage three, characterized by large, slow brain waves and the release of growth hormone to heal tissue wear and tear. Only after slow-wave sleep does REM, or dreaming sleep, occur. The trainer, then, is meant to help its wearer pass through the cycles more quickly.
There’s just one drawback: The Somneo is still in development, and likely a few years away from being ready for soldiers, first-class flyers (the maker is in talks with airlines), or the common man. Until then, the biosensing Neuma stress watch, named after the Ancient Greek word for breath, links to your iPad or iPhone and attempts to improve sleep using a different approach—by tracking the autonomic nervous system, during waking and resting hours. It stands to reason that if your adrenal glands are firing throughout the night, grogginess will follow you like a set of dark under-eye shadows. So, what’s a stressed sleeper to do? Neumitra cofounder Robert Goldberg recommends exercise and avoiding screens like those on your laptop before bed.
If you’d rather not part with your Cartier Tank, keep your eye out for Neuma’s next generation model, a soon-to-be-released data chip able to fit into various watches and jewelry pieces. Similarly, Sense, from the San Francisco–based company Hello, comes with a dual accelerometer-gyroscope “sleep pill” that clips onto your pillow. Do you snore or toss and turn? Sleep Pill will know. A second, modish-looking spherical device that lives on your bedside table strives to optimize environmental conditions. And while it’s common knowledge that bedrooms should be kept dark and cool, Sense goes so far as recommending a humidifier or warning of potential allergens. It also functions as a so-called smart alarm, going off between sleep cycles so as not to rudely interrupt its owner mid-REM.
Lark is another wellness program that minds its bedside manners, acting both as cheerleader and coach. Developed by professors from Stanford and Harvard, the app parses motion data gleaned by Apple’s HealthKit and offers graphs and tips via chat. If you’ve been traveling across time zones, for instance, Lark will ping to advise on how best to stave off jet lag. She’s a bit like Siri’s earnest cousin—don’t be surprised if she congratulates you on a five-minute walk or notices you’re up late—but ultimately feels like a friend.
Or maybe robots aren’t your type, and you’d prefer the more low-tech option of bringing a human male (voice) into bed. Consider the app Deep Sleep with Andrew Johnson, a popular hypnotherapist with a lilting Scottish accent—do not listen to this recording “whilst driving or operating machinery,” he cautions—or Jeff Bridges Sleeping Tapes, a curious series of recordings, available for download on Squarespace, that the multitalented Bridges has filled with “intriguing sounds, noises and other things.” On one track, Bridges walks the leaf-strewn floor of Temescal Canyon, at one point directing you to wave to a fellow hiker who might be named Neil. The research here seems especially thin, but if you find yourself wide awake, take comfort in the fact that even 20 minutes of mindfulness with the Dude might prove more productive, spiritually speaking, than any hour at SoulCycle.
The post You Are Getting Very Sleepy: 6 Tech Breakthroughs for a Better Night’s Rest appeared first on Vogue.
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