"The groundwork of all happiness is health." - Leigh Hunt

Can smart technology really improve your sleep?

February 2, 2024 – Andisheh Nouraee had trouble sleeping.

“I woke up a lot at night, so I tried to optimize things in my life to improve my sleep,” said Nouraee, who initially tried tracking his sleep sleep with a wearable band, but was skeptical in regards to the accuracy.

When he woke up at night to go to the lavatory or due to a noise, this was not at all times reflected in the following day's sleep report. He now wears a smartwatch in bed, which he says is more precise.

Nouraee, who lives in a suburb of Atlanta, made some changes that sometimes lead to higher sleep — she didn't eat near bedtime, drank less alcohol, and reduced screen time within the evening. He also reduced caffeine consumption and switched from black to decaffeinated tea. And he sets his watch to vibrate quarter-hour before bed to remind him to start out relaxing.

“I have absolutely changed my behavior. It worked,” he said. He sleeps more deeply now.

Nouraee is one in every of many who at the moment are using various high-tech devices to watch their sleep to higher understand how well we sleep. What matters most, nonetheless, is what we do with this information.

More details about sleep is great, nevertheless it's more useful if it changes sleep patterns, Dr. Nitun Verma, member and speaker of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine.

If all of this data doesn't result in long-term changes in sleep patterns, it will not be value tracking. In late 2019, Bret Brantley tried out a wearable band that tracked physical activity, heart rate and sleep. Every morning, he answered a couple of dozen questions via an app about caffeine consumption, alcohol consumption, exercise and more from the day gone by.

The app generated a red, yellow or green indicator showing whether he had enough sleep to recuperate from the day gone by's activities. “I was completely fascinated by the technology,” he said.

Based on this feedback, Brantley briefly modified his behavior. For example, if he knew he had an enormous day at work coming up, he would in the reduction of on anything which may interfere with sleep, similar to alcohol or caffeine.

But three years later, he stopped using the portable device. “I didn't change my behavior in the long term, even though I had the data to do so. What good is it if you don’t act on it?”

Brantley now not tracks his sleep. But as a New Year's resolution for 2024, he gave up caffeine entirely. “I slept incredibly all month. I sleep through the night and wake up feeling refreshed.”

According to a recent Consumer Reports Survey, Nouraee and Brantley are in good company. Only 9% of the two,207 adults surveyed in December said their sleep quality was “very good.” Another 38% said their sleep quality was fair, with 34% answering “good,” 15% saying “poor,” and 9% saying “very bad.”

The importance of fine sleep

An excellent night's sleep not only makes us feel higher the following day. Research has shown that an absence of fine sleep can have an effect on our mental health, heart and weight.

While you sleep, your Blood pressure drops and provides your heart and blood vessels a bit of rest. The less sleep you get, the longer your blood pressure stays high during a 24-hour cycle. High blood pressure can result in heart disease, including stroke.

A chronic one lack of sleep may increase the chance of a mood disorder. A big study has shown that those with insomnia are five times more more likely to develop depression and are much more more likely to develop anxiety or panic disorders.

When you're rested, you're less hungry. Sleep deprivation messes with the hormones leptin and ghrelin in your brain, which control appetite.

When these are out of balance, your resistance to the temptation of unhealthy food goes way down. And if you're drained, you're less more likely to wish to rise up and move your body. Taken together, it's a recipe for packing on kilos.

The time you spend in bed goes hand in hand with the time you spend on the table and within the gym trying to manage your weight.

Do Smart Mattresses Make You Smarter (Sleep-Related)?

If you don't wish to wear a tool in bed, a “smart mattress” is likely to be an option to contemplate. These beds reveal every morning how well you slept the night before. But how reliable are the outcomes, are these devices value investing in, and do they lead people to vary their sleep habits to get well sleep?

Turns out it is determined by who you ask.

“Smart beds come with a number of additional features that we think are probably a nice addition, but that the average person shouldn't feel like they have to pay extra for,” said Tanya Christian, home and appliance author on the Independent , non-profit organization Consumer Reports.

The organization tests tons of of mattresses and has found “that you can get a quality mattress with the right balance of support and pressure relief without any additional bells and whistles,” she said.

The biggest gain from sleep technologies is information, Verma said. Historically, people went to bed and slept at night, and it was a “big black box.” “Your only real chance of knowing whether you slept well or not was how you felt when you woke up or how alert you were during the day.”

In contrast, we now have technology “that's getting better and better on the consumer side,” said Verma, a physician trained in sleep medicine who describes himself as “absolutely super interested in technology.”

But what can a consumer with sleep problems do when there are such a lot of options and little conclusive evidence that one technology is superior to a different?

More options than answers

Search “smart mattress” or “sleep tracker” online and also you’ll likely be inundated with sponsored ads from corporations promoting their products. Therefore, researching smart sleep options will be as confusing because the moment you walk right into a mattress store and have a look at the 50 mattresses in front of you.

The cost of wearable sleep trackers also varies widely, starting from around $100 to several hundred dollars. Smart mattresses typically cost several thousand dollars.

Even no two smart mattresses are designed the identical. There could also be an air bubble in the center to detect movement or position changes, or technology to detect and adjust mattress temperature. Other smart mattresses have a snoring detection microphone that may vibrate or change the angle of the mattress to encourage the snorer to vary position without waking them up.

“In a perfect world, you would lie down on a smart mattress with electrodes attached to your head that could monitor your brain wave patterns to know what stages you are in,” Verma said. “Of course that would be quite inconvenient.”

A helpful strategy is to avoid specializing in a single night of poor sleep. Instead, use these home monitors to discover general sleep patterns and trends over time. “For example, if you slept really well for three weeks in September, what was going on? Can you understand that now? Or if you’ve had really bad sleep these weeks, can you avoid what’s behind it?”

Try Before You Buy

According to experts, it's essential to check out a mattress before buying it. “Go to the showroom and thoroughly inspect a mattress. “Spend at least ten minutes on each mattress you’re considering and try out each position you sleep in,” Christian said.

In the case of a sensible bed, “consider taking advantage of a risk-free trial that allows you to use the bed at home for a specified period of time and return it if it doesn't meet your expectations,” she advised. Make sure the return policy covers each the frame and the mattress.

Verma agreed. “My advice here may sound pretty general, but it's great to try the mattress out over a longer period of time.” Try it in your own home or “go to a mattress store on a Tuesday morning with your magazine or phone, lay down “Just sit down and spend a while with it.” More time will make for a safer decision, he said.

Consumer Reports does not evaluate smart bed features in its mattress tests. “But certainly things like adjustable firmness, temperature balancing, head and foot adjustability, and other customizable sleep experiences might be attractive to some sleepers,” Christian said.

Healthy skepticism

“Ultimately it’s about reliability,” Verma said. “There are concerns about some consumer devices where the evidence is not yet known. It’s great to take this all with a grain of salt – unless we get compelling evidence or some sort of government approval process.”

“If you will have concerns about sleep tracking devices, it's good to only meet along with your doctor or a sleep specialist if you will have one in your area to debate sleep usually,” he said.