A good night's rest has often been called the ultimate luxury. And yet, according to a survey released in March by YouGov and health insurance firm Bupa Global, only 12 per cent of people in the UAE are getting eight hours' sleep every night – while 60 per cent report that they suffer from poor sleep quality. This is reflects a larger, global epidemic. Studies conducted last year show that 40 per cent people in the United States, 63 per cent in the United Kingdom and 45 per cent in Australia are not getting the right amount, or quality, of sleep. So it's little surprise that technology companies are constantly experimenting with smart solutions to improve our sleep patterns – which are, somewhat ironically, probably compromised by the digital age we live, work and socialise in. It's no coincidence that the UAE-centric survey revealed that 82 per cent of respondents regularly check their work emails just before going to bed, with 60 per cent saying they do that every night.
From self-adjusting mattresses and tracking pillows to soothing eye masks and noise-cancellation devices, there is a range of gadgets that aim to promote a more effective slumber. This month, the United States-based Sleep Number won top honours at the 2017 Tekne Awards for what the company deems is its most advanced innovation to date: the 360 Smart Bed, powered by SleepIQ technology. The bed not only adjusts the firmness levels of the mattress but also has a live pressure map that detects which parts of your resting body need more support.
Once you are asleep, the bed uses Responsive Air technology to sense your movements, and automatically modifies the firmness and support levels of its FlexFit adjustable base, sending a sleep report to the smartphone it has already been synched to. It also monitors the quality of your sleep, including tossing and turning patterns, and then regulates the variables by itself the following night, to try to troubleshoot any issues. The endgame is to chart a full night's rest and a perfect 100 on your SleepIQ app score. The 360 series can also be teamed with the company's DualTemp individual layer, which can cool or warm each half of the bed by up to 35 per cent, while the Snore Tracker gently raises the pillow to alleviate your partner's mild snoring, to ensure they don't disturb you.
For light sleepers, snoring – their own or that of their partners – can wreak havoc on sleep cycles. While there are a handful of anti-snoring arm bands on the market, Smart Nora is a contact-free solution. The pillow insert is paired with a pebble-like device that is affixed to the headboard and a box-like case that's placed next to the bed. The device detects the sound of snoring and will vibrate gently, so that it doesn't wake the sleeper but does shift their position, which opens up the airways and helps to stop the snoring.
When it comes to pillow talk, Sunrise is a name to keep in mind. This smart pillow tracks your sleep and wakes you naturally, using gentle light and the sounds of nature. Waking up organically is said to trigger a chain reaction in the body's circadian rhythm, causing it to stop the production of the sleep hormone melatonin, to ensure a more refreshed, less groggy morning. You can personalise the light that falls on to your eyelids, and choose for the sun-like rays to gradually increase in intensity for between five and 30 minutes, eliminating the harsh sounds and hit-or-miss snooze mode feature of an alarm clock. The portable device can be paired with the Sunrise Pillow app, which monitors and displays sleep patterns and history. Embedded Bluetooth speakers can be customised to play pre-recorded, soothing tracks, such as Enchanted Forest, Pink Noise, Ocean and Mystical Rain, or your favourite tunes. The pillow comes in two shapes – classic and contoured – both constructed from aerated memory foam, making for a comfortable resting spot for your head and neck. The pillowcase itself is made from a soft and breathable diamond-quilt fabric.
For those who are happy with their choice of bedding but reside in particularly lively areas and are disturbed by loud, sudden or generally unwanted noise, Nightingale, a smart home sleep solution by Cambridge Sound Management, could be the answer. The white-noise-producing gadget is designed to detect and mask common indoor and outdoor sounds. It creates a "blanket" that extends across your bedroom and blocks sound waves of between 20 and 80 decibels, including trucks and lighter traffic, dripping water and human voices outside of the bedroom. The device can be plugged into a socket and can be positioned behind furniture without adversely affecting its sonic effects. Nightingale pairs with an eponymous app, which allows sleepers to choose from 15 types of soothing sounds – Lakeshore, Cricket, Whale Songs, Rainstorm or simply Adult/Kids Bedroom White Noise; these will then be evenly distributed in the background to promote restful sleep. Larger bedrooms can be fitted with the Nightingale premium edition, which includes two plugs that should be inserted into sockets on opposite walls for a totally enveloping effect.
Often, despite setting up optimum sleeping conditions, the actual act might not be quite so simple. Those who find it difficult to fall asleep in the first place, or indeed those who benefit from day-time catnaps, can check out a range of products by NuCalm, which was unveiled at the 2017 Consumer Electronics Show. The company specialises in stress-relief technology and aims to bring the brain and body to a relaxed pre-sleep stage. Its latest sleep solution is a four-part kit that includes a topical cream designed to relax you by counteracting adrenalin and microcurrent stimulation patches, to be placed behind each ear, to facilitate the relaxation response. The third component, the NuCalm eye mask, blocks light to the optic nerve, which spurs a 30 per cent increase in alpha wave production to maintain feelings of idleness and deep relaxation. The mask is used in conjunction with noise-dampening headphones, which are equipped with a neuroacoustic audio software that's designed to synchronise brain waves to match the pace of a pre-sleep state. Earlier this year, the company also released the ReNu sleep-music app, which uses binaural beats to put users in an idleness-promoting theta brainwave state. The app has been lauded for its use on long flights and as an aid for jet lag.
Finally, for those of us who are sleep-greedy and will do anything to get a few extra minutes of shut-eye in the mornings, Smart Duvet offers a neat solution. The system consists of a simple, lightweight, inflatable sheet that’s positioned between your duvet and duvet cover. This, in turn, is connected to an air blower that can be concealed under your bed. When you activate the Smart Duvet, the sheet’s air chamber is filled – miraculously shifting your duvet back into place.
The gadget synchs to an app that allows you to preset a different bed-making time each day, allowing you to factor in those precious extra hours of weekend sleep.