If sleep is the new elite status symbol, then how can we all get more of it? Does throwing money and/or technology at the problem help? Lots of brands would like us to believe that the answer is an emphatic yes.
The world of luxury sleep aids is booming. And that’s part of the problem. Just try to make sense of it: every week there are new sleep gadgets to sort through, rediscovered ancient remedies, and new medical research reports – plus there are all those things your parents told you to do when you were a kid (hot milk, anyone?).
Ambient light, noise pollution and humidity can all play a role in the quality of one’s sleep, so there are a multitude of factors to control. It’s bewildering and frustrating – you could be up all night reading about how best to get to sleep.
The New York Times says that sleeplessness is a $32 billion market, once populated mostly by mattress and pharmaceutical companies, but now the province of Silicon Valley. That means that there’s a lot of new product to wade through.
Rest easy, dear reader. We here at Dandelion Chandelier have done the work so that you don’t have to. As part of our ongoing series on luxury sleep, we’ve already assessed the best beds, mattresses, sheets and linens and sleepwear.
We’ve also surveyed the landscape of sleep aids – and sleep advice – and we’re giving you an update on the latest and greatest ways to leverage each of your 5 senses to help you get a great night’s sleep.
We’re not MDs, so you won’t find any pills or medical interventions on our list – these are strictly things you can do on your own without a doctor’s supervision that will speed you along the path to sweet dreams. Plus some cool sleep-tech devices to help you monitor your patterns and identify areas for future improvement.
Sight: Total (or near-total) darkness facilitates the production of melatonin, which naturally alerts your body that its time to sleep; here are a few ways to ease your eyes into sleep mode:
–Napflix is a curated streaming platform full of sleep-inducing videos; the service takes them off of YouTube with the goal of “taking siesta to the next level” – current options include watching a community association meeting, a tutorial on Klingon grammar; a crossword puzzle tournament, and a Swiss chalet’s chicken rotisserie.
–Blackout shades will keep ambient light as low as possible – they run $80-$150 per window.
–The “Good Night” bulb from Lighting Science has a patented filter to remove most of the blue light found in mobile devices and television screens (the presence of blue light suppresses the production of melatonin.) Ideally, you sit near the bulb in a partially open light fixture for two hours before bedtime. Both NASA and the International Space Station use these bulbs to enable healthy astronaut sleep cycles without pills or chemicals – $25
–The Withings Aura (now owned by Nokia and transitioning to the Nokia brand name) is a mattress pad plus alarm clock and ambient lighting system that monitors sleep quality and wakes you up with a personalized light and music program (mimicking the sunrise) that works with Spotify and other web radio stations. The light utilizes red wavelengths that foster melatonin production – $295
–The LIFX Color 1000 is smart LED bulb that interacts with your other smart home devices to set the optimal light level to lull you to sleep – $60
–The Sleep Companion Sleep Enhancing LIght uses an app that also gathers data and makes suggestions on how to improve your sleep – $100
–If you want old-school luxury, Asceno’s Sky Star luxury printed silk eye mask is “dusty blue with an ochre and midnight geometric star print,” crafted from “sand-washed silk to create an off-duty matte finish” – $60
–The Neuroon Open Smart Sleep Mask is the second-generation offering from the company; its latest product analyzes brain waves with sensors and software, and also measures pulse, body temperature and body movement – it also promises lucid dreams – $300
–Re-Timer goggles are fitted with tiny green-blue lights that shine back into your eyes with the aim of resetting your body’s clock; wear them for 60 minutes per day for best results — $299
Sound: Acoustics can enhance the quality of your sleep, and bedtime stories actually work to lull you into the Land of Nod; here are several tactics to achieve optimal aural conditions:
–The DreamPad pillow is an insert that works with any pillow — via an app, it plays 5 different music programs to help you sleep (or it can play the songs of your choice from your smartphone) — the noise is supposed to be low enough to lull you to sleep without disturbing your partner $149-179 depending on the firmness level.
–The Snooz white noise machine mimics the sound of a fan or moving air, and can be adjusted to the desired volume and tone through either a remote control on your smartphone or the built-in buttons – $79.
–Nightingale sound-making units, developed by acoustics experts, come in pairs to create a “blanket” of nature sounds to help block ambient noise; there are 15 “blankets” to choose from, and they also have night-light functionality. They connect to other smart home devices; the company says you’ll asleep 38% faster —$299 per pair.
–The Wall Street Journal reports that new research from a team of scientists at Northwestern shows that “pink noise” – an engineered sound that is more soothing than white noise – is far better at facilitating deep sleep. “Pink noise” is a composite of sounds all with the same frequency, so they’re more balanced, and less disruptive. A patent is pending and researchers plan to develop devices for home use soon. Watch this space for updates.
–“Sleep with Me” is a wildly popular podcast by Drew Ackerman, who tells excruciatingly boring bedtime stories; let him read you to sleep.
–Police the electronic devices in your household with the Circle WiFi Monitor, which wirelessly scouts iPads, internet-connected toys and phones and enforces rules for their use (so you can set daily time limits on apps and popular sites like Facebook, and pause Internet access for individual family members or the whole household at bedtime) — $99
–The Rythm Dreem is a smart headband that claims to improve sleep by interrupting your brain waves – you can pre-order it for $399 – when it’s launched it will list for $499.
–Amazon’s Alexa has skills: the Bedtime Skill can help you go to sleep and wake up at the right times. There’s a Sheep Count Skill, too. Alexa can also read your Kindle book to you for half an hour (or pull something from your Audible library) – the Amazon Echo Dot is $50, the Echo is $180, and the new Echo Show is $230.
–The Sleep Shepherd Blue headband is a nightcap that reads your brain waves and plays calculated tones into both ears using 4 speakers sewn into the ear flaps and a sensor that sits on your forehead; it also seems to enhance the vividness of your dreams – $249.
–The Sonos Play 5 earns top marks from reviewers of wireless speaker systems; it can play music from Internet radio on a pre-programmed time and playlist schedule — $500.
Smell: There is some evidence that certain smells effect sleep; for example, lavender has been shown to decrease heart rate and blood pressure, and those who sniff lavender before bed have more deep sleep and feel more vigorous in the morning; there’s also evidence that that smells (both good and bad) influence our dreams. If you’re up for it, try inhaling these:
–Singapore-based essential oil brand Young Living’s Dewdrop Diffuser, which diffuses aroma and also functions as a humidifier and atomizer, utilizes lemon and lavender essential oils to waft you to sleep — $100
–LA-based apothecary product and fine fragrance creator Provision recently launched Dream Extract, a room and linen spray built around fresh, herbaceous clary sage to foster vivid dreams – $55.
–This Works Sleep+ Pillow Spray contains motion-activated molecules with a calming chamomile, lavender, and vetiver scent that is released when you toss and turn – $29.
–L’OCCITANE’s Aromachologie relaxing pillow mist contains the essential oils of lavender, bergamot, mandarin, sweet orange and geranium and doesn’t leave your linens damp — $20
–Serene House’s Ultrasonic Scentilizer Aromatherapy Diffuser is a bedside device that humidifies and scents the air through ultrasonic vibrations; it also has programmable lights and built-in speakers to create the optimal conditions for sleep — $400
–The Sensorwake Olfactory Alarm uses scent to transition your brain from sleep; there’s a variety of dry-air diffusion capsules from which to choose – seaside, croissant, espresso – and coming soon: bacon – $99.
Taste: Alcohol and caffeine are problematic when you’re seeking deep sleep; so is eating a large amount of food. On the other hand, some foods and beverages seem to aid drifting off to sleep:
–NightFood claims to be a “healthier and more sleep-friendly” snack option than the usual cookies, chips and ice cream. Their initial flavors are “Cookies n’ Dreams” and “Midnight Chocolate Crunch” – a box of 12 is about $30.
–DreamWater sleep shots and sleep powder are said to help you fall asleep or get back to sleep in the middle of the night with a combination of Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid, melatonin, and 5-Hydroxytryptophan. Some 5-star hotels stock these shots in the minibar – a 12-pack of shots is $40, a 12-pack of powder is $60.
–Welleco has introduced Sleep Welle Fortified Calming Tea, a natural sleep-enhancing and anti-anxiety blend that includes lemon balm, passion flower, mango flower, Valerian root, skullcap and hops – $69 for 50 tea bags.
–Les Fleurs de Bach Authentiques Sleep Elixir, available at Ayla Beauty, features a blend of Star of Bethlehem, white chestnut, red chestnut, aspen, and verbena essences mixed with organic brandy; taken before bed, it is said to foster calmer, deeper sleep – $37.
–Doctors agree that chamomile tea helps you sleep; Republic of Tea’s Get Some Zzz’s tea contains chamomile along with other sleep-promoting herbs like passionflower and valerian – 36 tea bags for $11.
Touch: Experts say that temperatures between 60-68 degrees Fahrenheit are optimal for sleep – so staying cool throughout the night is imperative. The right bed linens and sleepwear are important in this effort, because they’re what your skin is touching – here are some other ideas:
–Uma Pure Calm Wellness Oil is an Ayurvedic aromatherapeutic topical treatment for stress and sleeplessness – massage it into temples, wrists and feet, or put some drops in your bath, and it will be absorbed into your blood steam to aid in relaxation and calmness – $85.
–The Kryo Sleep Performance System is a mattress topper that uses water-cooling (circulating water through a thin pad) to keep your side of the bed at optimal temperatures – $399.
–The Dyson Humidifier claims to be the most hygienic and effective room humidifier on the market; it comes in silver and sapphire, and like everything else the company makes, it looks really cool –$500
–The Ghost Pillow by Nature’s Sleep, the “world’s most advanced real-time cooling pillow” has “patent-pending thermo-sensitivity technology” designed to keep your head cool — $85
Monitoring devices. Sleep apps can track your movement, heart rate, and quality of sleep. Here are some of the current options:
–S+ by ResMed Personal Sleep Solution is a no-contact-necessary sensor that tracks breathing, sleep cycle and more from your nightstand, then offers personalized suggestions on how to maximize your sleep. It’s also programmed for guided breathing exercises, and has a smart alarm to gently wake you from your lightest sleep stage, so you rise less groggy—$50.
–The Beddit 3 Sleep Monitor is a wireless sensor that rests on your mattress; it tracks time in bed, time asleep and awake, sleep cycles and other data — $150
–Samsung’s SleepSense is a similar sensor that goes under your mattress — $310
–There are fitness trackers galore — all of these wearables track sleep: Fitbit Charge HR ($42.57); Fitbit One ($93.44); Jawbone Heart Activity Sleep Tracker ($39.94); Microsoft Band 2 ($449); Garmin Vivosmart 2 ($129.99); and the Basis B1 Band ($199)
–Sleep Cycle is a free app; your phone’s microphone picks up your movements as you sleep using sound and vibration analysis, and the app analyzes the data to determine if you are in light sleep, deep sleep, or REM sleep. That allows it to pinpoint the optimal time to wake you up within a 30-minute window that you set.
If all else fails, going all the way back to basics may be the best approach – all of these ideas can be done without spending a penny:
–Sixty-eight percent of people 18-65 sleep with their phone within arm’s reach. The blue light from the screen can inhibit your sleep, so put it in a drawer. In another room.
–Three-quarters of people surveyed by the National Sleep Foundation said they sleep better in a neat room – so tidy up!
–Nancy Rothstein, director of Circadian Corporate Sleep programs and otherwise known as the Sleep Ambassador, teaches a pre-bedtime relaxation ritual that mixes gratitude with body awareness and deep breathing. She recommends saying things like: “Feet, I’m so grateful for all you did today. You carried us everywhere we had to go. You can rest now.”
–Alternatively, saying your bedtime prayers might actually be your salvation.
We’ll continue our nocturnal investigations in the coming weeks. For now, we wish you sweet dreams. And good grades on your sleep report in the morning. Buonanotte.