New and Emerging Tech To Support Sleep
The importance of sleep cannot be understated. The National Sleep Foundation recommends most adults get between seven and nine hours of sleep a night, and that children get even more. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) indicates that healthy sleep is not only associated with cognitive functioning, mood, and mental as well as physical health, but that chronic insufficient sleep is associated with an increased risk of mortality, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity, and cancer.
The good news is that emerging sleep technologies, from sleep-enhancing wearables to temperature-regulating bedding, offer a way to optimize sleep patterns and can play a vital role in enhancing overall well-being. Here are six such technologies, as well as several other points to remember about getting the best sleep you can.
1. Smart Sleep Trackers
Smart sleep trackers include headbands, under-mattress sleep trackers, and watches. While many different types of smart devices track sleep, most will gather a multitude of data that includes heart rate, time asleep, how much you toss and turn, and how much you snore. More specialized trackers may also dip into fitness tracking, especially if they are wearable trackers.
2. Sleep-Enhancing Wearables
Sleep-enhancing wearables might include earbuds, rings, or smartwatches that track sleep cycles and help you achieve sleep goals. The Oura Ring, for example, is a sleep and recovery tracker that fits comfortably on your finger and measures heart rate, blood oxygen, and fitness metrics and creates a report that tells you how your sleep is impacting you. Wearables should be comfortable, so watches and rings tend to be popular choices.
3. Adjustable Smart Beds
Adjustable smart beds are similar to smart apps and sleep trackers in that they can monitor your sleep. However, they can also adjust their temperature and contour, and even come with built-in alarms. Some will even make you a cup of coffee. Smart beds are a relatively new type of technology, so do your own research before making a purchase.
4. Temperature-Regulating Bedding
If you live in a hot climate, are prone to night sweats, or sleep with a partner that prefers a different temperature setting than you, temperature-regulated bedding might be just what you are looking for. These sheets might cool or heat the person using them and should be selected based on feel, thread count, breathability, and individual preference in design and color.
5. Smart Sleep Masks
Smart sleep masks can help those with sleep discomfort, insomnia, and stress-related headaches. The best smart sleeping masks include features like stereo speakers, massage technology, heat, and sometimes just provide a little extra weight — like a weighted blanket for your face.
6. Sleep-Enhancing Apps
There are many different kinds of sleep apps, but the Sleep Foundation recommends choosing one based on a few select features. These include sleep tracking abilities, the inclusion of an alarm clock, relaxing music, sounds, and sleep stories, access to meditation and guided breathing, and sleep advice and coaching.
Lifestyle Modifications for Better Sleep
While sleep tech is great and should be lauded, a holistic approach to health that includes a mix of natural treatments and sleep tech is usually the best. In conjunction with tech solutions, lifestyle modifications can also help promote better sleep. These include:
- Sleep hygiene practices: The CDC’s tips for good sleep habits, otherwise known as sleep hygiene, include avoiding large meals, caffeine, and alcohol before bedtime, as well as getting regular exercise during the day so you are tired at night.
- Relaxation techniques: Certain relaxation techniques can make falling asleep easier. Sleepfoundation.org recommends breathing exercises, visualization exercises, and progressive muscle relaxation.
- Creating a sleep-friendly bedroom environment: A sleep-friendly environment in the bedroom means making sure the room is dark and removing technology with screens. Smartphones and TVs, for example, emit blue light which can disrupt sleep.
- Establishing consistent sleep-wake schedules and bedtime routines: The bedrock of good sleep hygiene is consistency with sleep-wake schedules; make sure you’re waking up and going to sleep at the same time when you can. Also, create a bedtime routine like washing your face and brushing your teeth. Your body will recognize that it’s almost time to sleep and start winding down.
Many conditions can be resolved with the right lifestyle modifications. However, sometimes you need to get creative with the ways you manage conditions that affect sleep.
Managing Conditions that Affect Sleep
There are myriad conditions that may cause interrupted sleep including sleep apnea, poor diet or exercise, and poor sleep hygiene. Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), however, is a great example. Typical GERD symptoms include heartburn, excessive salivation, gas, and bloating, and, unfortunately, GERD can often interrupt a good night’s sleep, as symptoms can be amplified by lying down.
Fortunately, most conditions that interrupt sleep can be managed via lifestyle modifications, sleep aids, or in special cases, medication, and procedural operations. Lifestyle modifications for GERD, for example, might include changing your sleeping position, quitting smoking, and rigorously timed meals. If this doesn’t work, medical therapy might include antacids, H2RAs, PPIs, and in special cases, the TIF procedure.
Every condition will require its own solution. Be sure to speak with your physician or a sleep therapist to develop a holistic approach to managing sleep conditions.
Seeking Professional Help for Sleep Conditions
Even with the above techniques and technology, sleep issues may still be a problem. If you’re struggling with sleep issues yourself, you’ll want to determine whether the issue is worth consulting with healthcare professionals for diagnosis and treatment.
According to Dr. Marjorie Soltis, a sleep specialist at Duke University, it’s time to see a specialist if your sleep problems have been persisting for more than three months and are affecting your daily life. GERD might have you waking up inexplicably in the middle of the night, or perhaps you’re suffering from sleep apnea. To determine the issue, patients often participate in sleep studies conducted by sleep specialists.
Upon proper diagnosis, your sleep specialist will likely recommend or prescribe some type of treatment or therapy. Medications like sleeping aids are usually not prescribed because they can make sleep disorders worse, though issues like GERD reflux sometimes do require these prescriptions. Instead, your sleep specialist will likely recommend solutions such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) for insomnia, for example, or a CPAP machine for sleep apnea.
Whatever the root of your sleep issues, a sleep specialist can help you pinpoint the culprit and determine a solution. Try new and emerging tech to support your sleep, and if the problems persist and disrupt your daily life, notify your physician. You deserve a good night’s rest and can achieve it with the right help.
Posted by: The GERDHelp Team