Can Technology help improve our sleep?
You have likely heard about the scientific research that suggests staring at our screens before bed is a very bad idea. Chances are you haven’t given up your technology yet?
Here is the good news: Contrary to what we have been told… technology is not necessarily the enemy when it comes to our shut eye. Whether marathon watching relaxing episodes of Game of Thrones or publishing a post on Facebook about your exciting imaginary life … curling up with a laptop just before turning off the lights becomes (for many of us) our unwinding time at the end of the day.
So if we can’t Beat it lets make it Work for us
If you take nothing else away from this article please make this the one thing you will do… DOWNLOAD F.lux to your laptop now! This can be the one solution that be your sleep game changer!
F.lux is a free app for Mac and Windows computers that make the colour “temperature” of you display adapt to the time of day… this is essential for us screen addicts. That spooky blue light coming from our computers and phones mimics daylight and tells our brains that it is still daytime and tells us to “Stay awake!”.
Our brain then stops producing that wonderful sleep hormone called melatonin and screws up our circadian rhythm. With F.lux your computer’s screen automatically adjusts its colour temperature based on the time of day and your location. Also, it can be adjusted to suit you if your work schedule happens to different than the 9 to 5 ers.
But how about those who reach out for their smart phones at night?
F.lux is not yet available for smart phones but Apple has stepped up to the plate and introduce the “Night Shift Mode”. The blue light from our phones rivals any from a laptop, which is easy to demonstrate. I can always see my phone screen even in the sunniest of days… not so with my laptop. Imagine what that is doing to your melatonin production! The recent iOS 9.3 update enables a new mode called Night Shift that you can set starting at whatever time you choose in the evening. When Night Shift kicks in, your phone automatically adjusts the display so that it gives off warmer, less blue light.
Here’s How: Simply go to your settings, click on Display & Brightness and you have the options of setting it to sunset and sunrise or a custom setting to fit your personal schedule. Done.
Apps to Lull you to Sleep
So now that we have the melatonin working in our favour by blocking out that nasty blue light … that won’t be enough to block out that last email we received that has our minds racing. We know the minute we shut off the lights our minds will go into full throttle.
Time for some App technology to clear our minds and lull us into the slumber we need.
Here are my personal favourites for creating that “mindfulness”.. or as I prefer to call it “mindlessness”.
Calm is a downloadable app which offers a free edition or you can put out the money for only pennies a night. The app is actually designed to guide the user to mediate during the day but I guarantee it is a beautiful lead into blissful sleep.
The soothing voice of Tamara Levitt as she strolls you into thinking of nothing but your deep breathing in and out is perfect for putting the day’s stresses behind you. And every night is a new 10 minute session which keeps it fresh. They are always updating sleep stories with guest bedtime story tellers such as Matthew McConaughey, LeBron James, Nick Offerman etc.
Sonic Sleep is another favourite app I use in and is designed to improve your very important “deep sleep” and making it “deeper”. Using 10 years of research it was found that if you are stimulated during deep sleep with brief tones between 0.8 and 2 Hz this slowed down our slow wave sleep cycle giving us super deep sleep. The app also uses a gentle wake up mode and allows for power naps as well.
Power naps are good for you according to the Mayo Clinic. *Keep in mind Naps should be no longer than 30 minutes, ideally be between 2 p.m. and 3 p.m., and take place in a relaxed space. Health benefits of naps include decreased fatigue, heightened alertness and increased memory.
White Noise vs Pink Noise
Part of my personal night time routine requirements. Can’t sleep without running a fan. In a hotel I have to have the Air / Fan on. So what’s with that? The simple answer is white noise is better noise… for many of us.
“White Noise” is basically a consistent noise that crosses all audible frequencies. Instead of sudden changes or inconsistencies in noises that jar us awake, white noise creates a masking effect that blocks out those sudden noise changes in the back ground… such as a crying baby. This is also the reason we prefer the white noise of a CPAP machine over the spouse’s unpredictable snoring and gasping for air beside us in bed. Simply defined…if you find TV static or light rain soothing for sleep… this is the noise for you. Here is an example of white noise…
But some people find this noise harsh and prefer the alternative of “Pink Noise” (White noise, only prettier) or “Brown Noise” which includes noise from the entire spectrum or octaves. Usually a fuller sound like rushing water, heavy rain or strong wind through leaves it offers the blocking benefits of white noise but is more relaxing for many of us. Here is an example of pink noise…
My preferred app is called White Noise by TMSOFT which offers white noise, pink and brown noise options specifically or you can choose your own preferred sounds from clothes dryers, vacuuming , crowded rooms, camp fires to airplane travel. This is my go to app for home and away. It will get you through college dorm sleeping or that noisy rave next door every night.
Don’t Forget Ground Zero.. our pillow
With all these great uses of technology to help us get our much needed Zzzz we still need the support and comfort at ground zero…. the pillow we sleep on. We need a pillow designed using medical technology . The sleep specialists endorsed enVy pillow has recently launched the enVy Copper Pillows which have Copper infused into the liner under the luxurious pillowcase (Bamboo or SILK) and on top of the Canadian Made Unforgettable Memory foam. The enVy™ Pillow has a Class 1 Medical device designation from Health Canada and meets FDA standards as a medical device in USA . Copper has been called the newest wonder ingredient for its anti-microbial and antioxidant properties. The enVy pillow creates a level of sleep comfort beyond any pillow on the market.
Let us know how you have used technology to your beauty sleep advantage.