One of the most difficult things about being in your thirties is that you need to take care of yourself in order to function as a human being. This means that a good night’s sleep is important because a two-liter pack of energy drinks is no longer working. To make significant progress, however, you must first ask yourself the right questions – such as why am I so tired in the beginning, and how do I sleep better?
What I quickly learned over the past few weeks is that there is an endless number of gadgets out there that offer magical solutions to significantly improve your sleep. But the fact is that your habits and activities before bed play a very important role. The technology – and any other help you use – is commendable.
Bedtime we read
I recommend that you start your relaxing journey by studying science after bedtime. Specifically, I found Nick Littlehales’ book Sleep helpful in eliminating sleep disorders while giving practical advice. The Littlehales also happen to advise top athletes in football clubs such as Real Madrid, Liverpool, Manchester City, and many other players in various sports. So you have a right. If you have signed up for the Masterclass – and I recommend you get it – Matthew Walker’s science course is also excellent. It’s best to read the whole book, but there’s some key take I found to be helpful over the years.
Turn off the lights in the evening and protect the screens where possible.
Have a regular bedtime and keep to it – don’t sleep even on weekends.
Do not overuse caffeine, especially during the day.
Have fun during the day hours, but don’t sleep too long (Littlehales lifts 90 minutes, otherwise known as the “sleep cycle”).
Give yourself time to relax and reflect on the day in the evening, so you don’t take emails to bed.
Take regular breaks throughout the day and consider using meditation apps.
Proper night breathing helps because your sleep can be interrupted by sneezing or coughing – so a hypoallergenic bed is needed.
Completely dark and cool rooms help you fall asleep faster.
There is so much in the book about exercise, diet, mattresses, and more. But, with these goals in mind, what tech can help your sleep? Your first step is to know how you sleep, and you will need a tool to measure that.
Three weeks ago I had a new Google Noli Hub 2 sitting next to my bed constantly checking my sneezing, coughing, and nightmares as a stubborn, helicopter parent. The good thing about the Nest Hub 2 is that it doesn’t have to be worn on your body to work, it uses radar technology — with its Soli radar chip, microphones, and nerves close to temperature — to measure your sleep.
This then spits out data about how much you coughed, sniffed, and threw at night that could be viewed on a device or with the Google Fit app. I found that the interference details come with my Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 and Skagen Hybrid HR, so it’s very accurate. There’s also a nice feature that can explain the difference between being in bed (which Nest Hub calls “at bedtime”) and actually sleeping, so the data hasn’t changed.
However, what is missing is data on REM light, depth, and sleep. Smartwatches can record this by using heart rate monitors. If you want to get some rest, this is important. A Google device cannot – and may not – provide you with that information. With that additional data, I was using Skagen’s new Hybrid HR watch, which proved to be accurate and reliable. Those who read my stories will know that I had some problems with the sleep data posted by the Samsung Galaxy Watch 3. It contradicts the Fitbit data I tested earlier and now with the Skagen reading.
This problem is caused by how little sleep I get. Samsung’s wear will last 20 minutes of deep sleep, with Skagen and Fitbit devices recording for three hours. I can’t explain the contradiction, but waking up and feeling well during the test tells me that the Skagen and Fitbit clocks are more accurate.
Skagen also has a useful feature in addition to the Samsung and Nest Hub 2 clock: e-ink screen. That means no circadian rhythm removes blue light that disturbs your kip when you check your watch at night or wake you up hard in the morning. The e-ink display also means it works better on batteries than LED or OLED watches and will last for two weeks, so you don’t miss out on sleep data.
Relieving the nerves
The Nest Hub 2 has LED, not OLED, which means that even in sleep mode the illuminated screen emits some disturbing light. To combat this, I use a sleeping mask. Littlehales advised sleeping in the darkest bedroom best. That’s not possible for me because of the excessive street lighting, so this Sysrion Sleep Eye Mask is very effective. It is a simple, inexpensive solution to this article but the fact is that a comfortable sleeping mask has greatly improved the kip.
It is very competitive because it is large enough to cover half of my face, including my ears, which provides very easy sound cancellation. It has a large velcro strap that connects to the back of your head, there is a small soft strap that can cut into your ears. And it’s a beautiful, soft, breathable thing.
The sound effects of the sleep mask aren’t bright, but every little bit helps. Earplugs are a way for those who are sensitive to sudden noises, but I have found that they do not relax or fall easily at night. Instead, white noise is a way to stop other distractions. Nest Hub 2 can do this, with your phone, but the more expensive air cleaner solution has the added bonus of air purification. Coughing, sneezing, or unexplained breathing may interfere with your sleep, which is why Littlehales recommends using hypoallergenic beds.