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All the best new tech, including sleep trackers and bedtime stories narrated by the dishy duke from Bridgerton
It’s getting increasing harder to attain a good night’s sleep as we transition from the lockdown mandated work-from-home arrangement to the post-pandemic office life that requires us to sleep and wake up earlier. Apart from making time to relax and decompress after work, cutting down on screen time and caffeine; bedtime rituals are key to falling and staying asleep comfortably through the night. As we reclaim our bedrooms as sacred spaces for slumber, we present a curation of the latest tech-driven sleep accessories for the home that will help you set the right mood, the optimal temperature and even help you set the perfect soundtrack to your dreams.
The lyrics “harder, faster, better, stronger” may as well be the mantra at Apple for their smart watches. But it’s not the larger screen, longer-lasting battery life or the sturdier crack-, dust- and water-resistant nature of the latest iteration of the nifty gadget that makes it a worthwhile investment. Unlike other fitness trackers, the Apple Watch Series 7 goes beyond the call of duty as it is designed as a holistic wellness tool with a single “Health” app that allows users to measure blood oxygen levels, generate ECGs apart from calculating metrics like calorie burn, resting heart rate and more.
Two major improvements on the wearable make it a dreamy delight for the sleep-deprived. First, the Sleep app helps you set realistic sleep goals by allowing you to schedule a daily bedtime and wake time with a haptic alarm that gently vibrates rather than the loud sirens and threatening snooze calls of mobile phone alarm clocks.
The “Wind Down” feature activates a Sleep Screen to eliminate distractions like fitness and heart rate tracking, email, message and app notifications a few minutes or a couple of hours even before you hit the bed. The device also tracks the respiratory rate during sleep apart from monitoring actual sleep patterns and behaviours but it’s really the parent-like nudging that will ease you into an essential, habit-forming sleep routine.
Secondly, an in-built Mindfulness app eliminates the need for an external speaker or mobile device with its guided meditations and two ingenious sessions to relax and unwind before bedtime—the Breathe session does exactly what it says to guide you through slow inhalations and exhalations while the Reflect session is designed to focus the mind on a single positive trail of thought with unique and thoughtful prompts like “Remind yourself of a recent challenge you’ve overcome. Think about the traits you have that helped” or ““Think of something you did that was fun. Remember why you liked it.”
A slightly more out-there addition to health and fitness tracking wearables is the Oura Ring that claims to track all your daytime and night-time activities with body temperature sensors and a heart rate monitor in order to paint a clear picture of your health and fitness, help you sleep better and even predict your next period. Unlike bulky, sporty watches and wrist bands, the Oura Ring is a sleek and stylish addition to your jewel box. Its mobile app is designed to decipher sleep patterns and help you sleep train with guided meditations. It offers instant feedback to let you know exactly how your body responds to each guided audio session—whether a particular session helps you fall asleep faster or calms you down so you can add it to your daily routine.
Optimal room temperature can quite literally make or break not just one’s sleep patterns but also affect deep slumber. A sleeping environment that’s too hot or too cold can lead to increased wakefulness, decreased REM sleep and general bouts of tossing and turning. As we begin to sleep, our body temperature naturally dips a little below the average core temperature so the pineal gland can continually release melatonin, the crucial hormone that controls the sleep-wake cycle. It’s essential to keep this slightly low body temperature from climbing back up for a good night’s rest.
While ACs set to 18 degrees or so can do the trick, the Dyson Pure Cool Me is ideal for small homes and rentals that simply can’t be installed with window, split or centralised machines. It’s also the cheapest and smallest air purifier by electronic giant Dyson.
It offers focussed, personal cooling with precise airflow control and a smooth, quiet operation as well as a sleep timer to help you stay asleep soundly through the night. It’s small enough to sit on the bedstand and it can even pass off as a slightly quirky décor accent.
Designed almost like a modern-day lava lamp, the Dr. Trust calming aroma oil diffuser and humidifier is a perfect bedside addition for a spa-like, bedtime ritual. It’s quiet, easy to charge and switches between pink, violet and orange light.
In contrast, the Renpho Eye Massager gently warms and massages the eyes for a quick pampering session before bedtime. Slightly bulky and noisy, it takes a bit of warming up to this device that also boasts of an in-built Bluetooth speaker that can be used to play relaxing sleep sounds.
Gone are the days of clunky, odd-looking white noise machines that were strictly reserved for the lightest of sleepers in need of dire sleep-aid. These days, a smart speaker is an all-in-one bedroom godsend that can narrate sleep stories, play soothing soundscapes, conduct mindful meditation and do some good old alarm-ringing. The fourth-generation Amazon Echo is a pretty little orb that can make its way into bedrooms of all sizes and styles.
The sound quality powered by Dolby is excellent so you can use it to listen to music via Bluetooth for leisure through the day. With the all-mighty Alexa on your nightstand, you can control more than just dreamy sleep sounds: The Echo has a built-in smart home hub for smart home accessories like Philips Hue lights as well as ACs, TVs and other electronics around the house.
Myriads of guided meditations and soothing soundscapes, its new mindfulness-adjacent feature “Sleep Stories” is exactly what you think it is—bedtime stories for grown-ups, a natural progression from other nostalgia-driven products like adult colouring books.
In an interview with The Guardian, sleep stories writer Phoebe Smith says these bedtime tales are “written in such a way that the listener should never make it to the end. They are full of descriptive prose and, crucially for my stories, a journey that’s interesting enough to capture the imagination and make someone want to hear it, yet soothing enough to make them nod off. The idea harks back to when we were kids and an adult would read to us to make us fall asleep.” Her stories as well as many others are narrated by celebrities like Stephen Fry, Mathew McConaughey and even Regé-Jean Page, the dishy duke from Bridgerton.
Earphones aren’t exactly ideal bedroom accessories but for those suffering from partners that snore too loud, neighbours that refuse to lower their volume or locales that are simply noisy by nature, a good set of in-ear sonic systems offer a last-ditch attempt at the comfort and solace of a quiet, restful sleep.
The new Bose Sleepbuds claim to stay in place through the night with proprietary silicone eartips and “pliable fins” that fit into the natural ridges of the ear. The wireless earbuds only offer passive sound reduction and are better suited to play noise-masking sounds, soothing music and naturescapes as well as gentle, personal alarms. They are also distraction-free, meaning they can’t be used to play or stream regular music or podcasts. The downside is that the Bose Soundbuds II are designed to only play limited content on from the Bose Sleep App.
An all-in-one sleep monitor, sleep tracker and a meditation and sleep training tool, the Muse S Headband is the perfect companion to earphones made for sleeping. The super lightweight sleep aid monitors your heart rate (through PPG), breathing, movement (with an in-built gyroscope and accelerometer) and even brain activity (using EEG) and matches it to meditative soundscapes that will help you relax and drift off to sleep as well as ensure you stay asleep through the night.
Like temperature, disruptive lights in the bedroom can play havoc with the pineal gland that regulates the release of melatonin, causing irregularities in our delicate sleep rhythms. While there is a lot we can do to block off the many disturbances caused by unnecessary light in the bedroom—install black-out curtains and conceal devices, switches and gadgets that emit tiny, flickering lights—there are no easy interventions to regulate our exposure to natural light.
Enter the Philips Hue smart lighting systems that are designed to mimic sunrise and sunset so you can wake up and fall asleep more instinctively and in tune with your natural circadian cycle. The Wake Up mode is configured like an alarm clock to start your day with lights that brighten gradually for a gentle awakening. Similarly, warm white lights begin to dim once you activate the Go To Sleep setting, eventually fading out for a restful slumber
Philips Hue bulbs and light strips come with a hefty price tag and they are meant to be connected with a Hue Bridge or a smart home hub in order to be controlled by smart phones, voice assistants and other smart accessories like the Amazon Echo. A handful of elegant table lamps and a rechargeable, portable plastic light are perfect for your nightstand.
The Dodow is a small, battery-operated sleep aid that projects pulsing blue light on to your bedroom ceiling to help you pace your breath in order to calm yourself to sleep. As the light slowly expands, you inhale, and as it contracts, you exhale to eventually relax your muscles and lower your heart rate. You can choose to do this breathing exercise in the pre-set 8-minute or 20-minute sessions.
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