Technology in the bedroom is a double-edged sword, according to Jerald H. Simmons, MD, triple board certified in neurology, epilepsy and sleep medicine and founding director of Comprehensive Sleep Medicine Associates. Using devices or watching television right before bed can lead to insomnia, limit your total sleep time and play havoc on your sleep cycle. On the other hand, certain tech can create a soothing environment and help transition you into a better night's sleep.
Here are some items you may want to add and subtract from your bedroom to get better sleep in 2018.
Martha Cortés, a doctor of dental surgery and diplomat for the American Board of Sleep Breathing, recommends shutting off electric devices like your phone, tablet or television, and replacing them with calming activities at least one hour before going to bed.
Devices like tablets, phones and televisions emit a blue light that can stop the production of a hormone called melatonin. This hormone is what signals your brain that it's time to go to sleep. Without it, sleeping becomes much more difficult.
If you're one of those people who would rather have their phones pried from their cold, dead hands than put away an hour before bed, there's a solution. See if your phone has a blue light filter. If it does, switch it on. For example, Android and newer Apple phones have a blue light filter in the settings called Night Mode.
If the computer is your gadget of choice, an app such as F.lux can add an orange-red filter to your screen when the sun sets. This filter won't disturb your melatonin production. During the day, the app will turn back on the blue light so you can stay alert.
Windows 10 has a blue light filter built-in. Just go to Settings > System > Display Option and toggle the Night Light option to On. Then, click on the Night Light Settings option. From there, you can choose the darkness of the filter and when the filter comes on each day.
Since you can't walk around in the dark for the hour before bed, choose the right lighting for your bedroom. The best option is to dim the lights in your room. No dimmer? Dr. Cortés recommends a Good Night LED light bulb because it is designed to promote melatonin production.
If you're feeling adventurous, try a high-tech version of the sleep mask. The Sound Oasis Illumy is controlled with an app and puts you to sleep with a simulated sunset and pulsating LEDs. It also has a simulated sunrise to wake you up instead of an alarm. I gave it a try and it does seem to help me fall asleep.
Cortés also recommends trying a Muse Headband. "On the nights my mind is overactive, I wear my Muse Headband to redirect my energy toward peace and relaxation. It's a great tool for stress management," said Cortés.
Somnox is a smart pillow that, well, breaths as you hold it to lull you to sleep. It also has a carbon dioxide sensor that can monitor when you fall asleep so that it can shut itself off. The Somnox will be available for purchase Fall 2018.
Your monitoring devices such as the Fitbit, Motiv ring or the new Lenovo Vital Moto Mod can give you insight into how well you sleep. "Although the accuracy may be somewhat lacking, the trend is that these devices are improving and should provide insight into how well we sleep in years to come," said Dr. Simmons.
Nokia's Sleep sensor pad slips under your mattress and can record your sleep habits and send them Nokia's Health Mate app on your phone. The pad can also give you suggestions on how to improve your sleep.