Good sleep is a particularly important component of human longevity. During sleep, your body repairs itself and produces various substances that increase health and longevity, such as melatonin.
We provide many tips to help you sleep better here. In this post, we dig into some interesting devices that can be used to further track and improve your sleep. Continue reading for the most intriguing ones!
Note that all links and devices mentioned are not sponsored, which enables us to give you impartial advice.
1. Oura Ring
We like the Oura ring. It tracks your sleep and helps you to better understand your sleep patterns.
The Oura ring provides an overview of your sleep stages throughout the night (light sleep, deep sleep, REM sleep, movement, and periods of wakefulness).
It also shows your heart rate variability (HRV), which is an interesting global measurement of your health, which correlates with your stress levels versus recovery (accounting for both physical and psychological stress), and even has been linked to mortality risk (R).
And, of course it tracks how many hours you slept, when you went to bed and got up, and how efficient your sleep was.
The Oura ring also measures your body temperature, which at times has been known to alert people a day or so before they start to feel sick, as it picks up an increase in body temperature, prior to symptoms.
It’s a great way to improve your sleep habits, help you stick to a regular sleep schedule, and track how different interventions and lifestyle changes impact your sleep.
2. Blue-light blocking glasses
These glasses block blue light and are fantastic to hack your sleep.
Light activates the brain, keeping it awake, and suppresses the production of melatonin, an important substance that makes you feel sleepy. Specifically, blue light is the worst to be exposed to at night (and red the best), but the brightness (less bright is better) and positioning (overhead is the worst) also contribute to the quality of your sleep.
If you find yourself in a setting with lights or screens on, start wearing blue-light blocking glasses at least 30 minutes before you go to bed. After 20 minutes or so, you will feel more tired and more ready to go to sleep.
Blue-light blocking glasses work much better than the blue light blocking filters you can install on your computer or smartphone screen, because glasses you wear block all blue light, including the light from your environment such as lamps and other screens.
Blue-light blocking glasses are very inexpensive. You can find an example of one here.
Make sure you buy glasses that bend a bit around the outer parts of your face, so no blue light from the side of your face can reach your eyes.
3. Blue-light emitting glasses (light therapy)
If you find yourself unable to get outdoors to expose yourself to sunlight within the first hours of your day, you may want to invest in blue-light emitting glasses.
These glasses shine blue light into your eyes and are a great way to wake up and reset your circadian right in the morning.
Studies have shown that sufficient exposure to bright light during the day significantly improves sleep efficiency (R). Older people who were exposed to bright light for two hours a day stayed, on average, almost two hours less awake at night (R).
Examples of glasses that emit blue light are Luminette, Ayo, Propeaq, Sula Glasses, Re-Timer, Pocket Sky. We tried out the Luminette and we liked it, and it was nice to find that they published scientific studies (R).
You can also buy blue-light-emitting lamps you can put in front of you during breakfast, for example, but the advantage of glasses is that you can move around freely while being continuously exposed to the light.
This is a little device you put on your nightstand that shines a large circle on your bedroom ceiling. When you lie in bed on your back, you watch the circle expanding and contracting. When it slowly expands, you breathe slowly in, and when it contracts, you breathe out.
It helps to activate your parasympathetic nervous system, distracts from worrying thoughts, and can help you to feel more relaxed and prone to fall asleep.
5. Sleep EEG headbands
These devices measure your brain waves (EEG signals) to more accurately track your sleep and provide you with feedback. An example is the Dreem headband.
Muse is another headband that plays music while tracking your brain waves to see how relaxed you are. The app can change the music according to your relaxation/stress levels to further promote relaxation.
6. Vibration relaxation devices
These are little devices you put on your body that vibrate, which stimulates specific nerves, calming you down and improving relaxation and sleep.
Examples are Cove (update: Feelmore Labs / Cove went out-of-business in Aug 2022), a little device you wear around the back of your neck that gently vibrates and induces feelings of relaxation by activating the posterior insular cortex. It has been co-developed with scientists from Harvard Medical School and Brown University.
Something similar is the Calm Device.
There are vibrating wristbands that can help you to calm down, like Doppel, which published research in Nature, and Apollo or Dreamon. Or little devices you can place on your chest, like Sensate.
7. Cooling headbands
To fall asleep, the body needs to cool down. That’s why even keeping one leg hanging out of bed or being uncovered can make you fall asleep faster because it cools the body down (R).
However, you can also cool down specific brain regions to fall asleep faster–especially the brain region that often keeps us awake, namely the prefrontal cortex, which has a propensity for ruminating thoughts about the past and future.
The Ebb Cooldrift Versa is a headband you put on your forehead to cool down the prefrontal cortex. It has been researched via clinical trials involving hundreds of people.
8. Electrical stimulators
The Fisher Wallace stimulator is an FDA-cleared headband to treat insomnia with various scientific studies backing its effectiveness.
It produces gentle electrical pulses that stimulate the brain to produce more serotonin and other substances that can improve sleep and mood.
A somewhat similar device is the DeltaSleeper, which is a small device you place on your chest, right above the brachial plexus (a large bundle of nerves), that produces a gentle electrical current. It has been FDA-approved, and various scientific studies have been done with the device.
The Welltiss device uses magnetic fields to improve sleep, and there are some placebo-controlled clinical studies demonstrating it could help some people (R,R).
9. Sleep apps & audio
Various apps focus on improving relaxation and sleep, like Calm, Insight Timer, HeadSpace and Buddhify.
You can also find many videos on Youtube for free that help you to fall asleep (you can even make your own sleep meditation playlist).
There are also meditation experts with websites that can guide you toward better sleep. One example is Tara Brach; on her website, you can find various free meditation videos and audio recordings you can listen to while in bed.
Sleep Cycle is an app that tracks your sleep patterns, movements during sleep (via motion sensors in your smartphone), and sounds, including snoring (via the microphone in your smartphone).
One of the best, science-based methods to improve sleep is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). CBT apps exist that focus on improving your sleep, like Sleepio, CBT-I Coach and Somryst. They can work especially well for people with insomnia, sleep-time procrastination, and other physiological problems leading to disturbed sleep.
10. Smart sleep mattresses
A good mattress is of course important for good sleep. It’s better for your mattress to be more on the soft side than too hard; you need to feel as comfortable and cozy as possible.
To further improve your sleep, there are smart mattresses that monitor your sleep and other biomarkers (like your heart rate variability) and/or that can cool your body and adjust the temperature of your bed, like Eight Sleep or BedJet.
A proper temperature is important for good sleep. Your body needs to cool down a little bit to fall asleep. Often, people wake up because they are too cold or hot.
Furthermore, make sure you have a good pillow that supports your neck properly.
11. Wake-up light & sunrise alarm clocks
Suddenly waking up by the screeching sound of your alarm clock in a dark room in the morning is not an ideal, gentle way to start the day.
Get a wake-up light alarm clock that slowly starts to emit light so you can wake up more gently and naturally, like you would be woken up by the first morning rays of a sunrise shining through your still closed eyes (activating various brain regions and preparing you to wake up).
Examples of wake-up light clocks are Philips and Lumie.
12. Sleep robots
There are sleep robots, like Somnox, which can help some people to fall asleep faster. You can cuddle it, and it senses your breathing patterns and pulses gently accordingly, guiding your breathing into a slower breathing pattern, making you feel more relaxed. It can also play music and track your sleep.
13. Isochronic sounds and binaural beats
Banala is a smart clock that you can put on your nightstand to emit isochronic sounds that can help you to relax.
There are also apps that can play binaural sounds, which can help you to relax. These are sound tracks with two different frequencies, one for each ear. For example, the frequency for the left ear is 170 Hz and the one for the right ear is 160 Hz. The way the brain processes these sounds can lead to relaxation and calmness (R,R).
You can find binaural tracks on YouTube or Spotify, for example. To listen to binaural sounds, you need headphones so that each ear can hear its specific frequency. Apps that offer binaural sounds are Atmosphere (Apple / Android) or Brainwaves (Apple).
14. Aroma diffusers
An aroma diffuser can spread scents in your room that promote sleep, such as lavender and chamomile. These scents activate alpha brain waves that enable relaxation and can help people to fall asleep faster (R,R).
The scent molecules in lavender and chamomile are inhaled and enter the bloodstream through the lungs. They then reach the brain, where they can exert relaxing effects.
A low-tech solution is to mix some drops of essential oil with water and sprinkle it on your pillow or place the mixture in a little jar on your bedside table.
15. Eye massage devices
You can buy various devices online that gently massage your eyes, like this one. Such devices can help people to relax and fall asleep better (and in some cases improve eye bags, too).
Check back on this post, as we will make sure to update this list with the most interesting and effective devices to improve your sleep, and consequently, your longevity.
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