GET­TING A GOOD NIGHT’S SLEEP

BEST APPS & GEAR FOR

iPhone Life Magazine - - Life+Tech - BY NATE ADCOCK

Sleep de­pri­va­tion in our al­ways-on, so­cial me­dia-sat­u­rated world is a prob­lem that is only grow­ing as we add more tech to our homes. It af­fects our per­for­mance on and off the job and can re­sult in sig­nif­i­cantly ad­verse health ef­fects, par­tic­u­larly as we age. I have dealt with my share of sleep is­sues over the years, due to reg­u­larly trav­el­ing and work­ing dif­fer­ent shifts at my job. Although I don't have any magic-bul­let so­lu­tions, I can of­fer what I've found to be the most help­ful apps, gear, and tips for lulling you to sleep.

USE AP­PLE’S BUILT-IN SLEEP TOOLS

If you're look­ing to get more shut-eye, a great place to start is with Ap­ple's built-in tools on your iPhone. Ap­ple's Bed­time and Night Shift fea­tures have helped me to break out of a cy­cle of sleep­less­ness, make a plan, and gather the willpower to stick to that plan. Blue-hued light—which is what you are star­ing at all day if you use a com­puter, tablet, or smart­phone—af­fects the brain by block­ing the sleep-friendly hor­mone mela­tonin. This is not good for catch­ing Z's. To block out that blue light, Ap­ple has help­fully added a fea­ture called Night Shift that you can eas­ily ac­cess from Con­trol Cen­ter by

swip­ing up from the bot­tom of your screen. You can ac­cess a few ad­vanced Night Shift fea­tures, like ad­just­ing screen hue and set­ting a sched­ule, by go­ing to Set­tings > Dis­play & Bright­ness. I have no­ticed that I do not feel as hy­per when I have Night Shift ac­ti­vated.

Ap­ple's iOS also has a fea­ture that helps you stick to a sched­ule. We all need a cue that it's time to go to bed, whether that's through an app, a sig­nif­i­cant other, or maybe even your dog. My mom used to yell down the stairs when it was time to go to bed. I re­mem­ber re­ply­ing, “Mom, just 10 min­utes more, please?” Turns out, Mom was right; we need our sleep. Start­ing with iOS 10, Ap­ple added a new Bed­time fea­ture to the Clock app. Sim­ply open the Clock app and tap the mid­dle tab la­beled Bed­time. Here, you can set a bed­time re­minder and a gen­tle alarm for wak­ing up.

An app or gad­get alone can't grant you a good night's rest, but some of the bet­ter ones can at least help you un­der­stand your sleep cy­cle.

I've tried sev­eral sleep track­ing apps and have found Sleep­bot (free) to be the sim­plest yet most ro­bust app in the cat­e­gory. While Sleep­bot re­quires you to cre­ate a user ac­count, it off­sets that an­noy­ance by be­ing to­tally free (no in-app pur­chases). I like its abil­ity to graph out my sleep per­for­mance and au­dio record pe­ri­ods of rest­less­ness. Sleep­bot lever­ages your phone's ac­celerom­e­ter to track mo­tion and uses the mi­cro­phone to record sound. The next day you can view the ac­tiv­ity log of your sleep, re­view au­dio of pe­ri­ods of ac­tiv­ity, and rate your sleep qual­ity. It is a great tool for help­ing to di­ag­nose some is­sues with your sleep. Maybe an out­side noise is wak­ing you at a par­tic­u­lar time, or maybe some­thing you tried on a cou­ple of evenings pro­duced a dif­fer­ence. If, like me, you don't like wire­less em­a­na­tions around you when you're try­ing to sleep, you'll also ap­pre­ci­ate that Sleep­bot works even when you've en­abled Air­plane Mode. If you own an Ap­ple Watch, third-party apps like Au­toSleep ($2.99) can also be of help.

“WE ALL NEED A CUE THAT IT’S TIME TO GO TO BED, WHETHER THAT’S THROUGH AN APP, A SIG­NIF­I­CANT OTHER, OR MAYBE EVEN YOUR DOG.”

TRACK YOUR SLEEP TO DIS­COVER PAT­TERNS

If you're not con­cerned about wire­less sig­nals, you'll find that there are many sleep-track­ing gad­gets like the Withings Aura Alarm Clock + Sleep Sen­sor ($299.95) avail­able to you that use sen­sors to track your sleep. Just be care­ful not to get too worried about the process; a re­cent case study in the Jour­nal of Clin­i­cal Sleep Medicine in­di­cated that sleep track­ers can be in­ac­cu­rate and can ac­tu­ally lead to poor sleep by caus­ing ex­tra worry.

LIS­TEN TO RE­LAX­ING MELODIES

To in­duce deep sleep, you need to set up a com­fort­able bed­room en­vi­ron­ment that helps you re­lax. A good sound app can make all the dif­fer­ence. You can use your fa­vorite au­dio player app as long as it has a timer that stops or ramps down play­back to­ward bed­time. Re­lax Melodies (free with ads, $19.99 for ad-free ver­sion) is ar­guably one of the best au­dio play­ers, of­fer­ing a bunch of great mixed sounds, as well as the abil­ity to cre­ate your own mixes and add in med­i­ta­tive con­tent as well. The app also has alarm and timer op­tions sim­i­lar to the iOS Bed­time fea­ture. It's a great app that has an Ap­ple Watch ver­sion (also, the ads are not ob­nox­iously placed). An­other great al­ter­na­tive is Am­bi­ent Art Sound on TuneIn Ra­dio (free), as the looped con­tent in Re­lax Melodies can get a lit­tle stale night af­ter night.

BUY SLEEP GAD­GETS FOR TRAVEL OR SHIFT WORK

The Sound Oa­sis Il­lumy Smart Sleep Mask ($149.99) is a smart­phone-con­trolled eye mask that helps you go to sleep with a warm sun­set light and wake with a cool sun­rise light. I was able to test one of these out while trav­el­ing and can vouch that it def­i­nitely helped to block out dis­tract­ing am­bi­ent light. An­other im­por­tant item for trav­el­ers is a set of com­fort­able, over-ear head­phones that have noise can­celling fea­tures. My per­sonal fa­vorites are the Sony Wire­less MDR ZX Se­ries ($229.99) and the Sennheiser HD 4.50 ($199.95).

PRE­PARE FOR BED­TIME WITH LIGHTING

One of the eas­i­est ways to make your bed­room more sleep-friendly is to set up a smart lighting sys­tem. You can get an alarm clock with dimmable am­bi­ent light fea­tures like the Withings Aura (men­tioned above) or the Philips Wake-Up Light ($169.99). An­other great op­tion is to buy the Homekit-com­pat­i­ble Philips Hue White Starter Kit ($69.95). These pro­duce al­low you to set up lights that au­to­mat­i­cally dim and brighten at the ap­pro­pri­ate times to en­cour­age you to go to sleep and wake up with ease.

What­ever hap­pens, don't give up hope. With the right ap­proach, you can tame the sleep demons and start en­joy­ing a good night's rest.

“ONE OF THE EAS­I­EST WAYS TO MAKE YOUR BED­ROOM MORE SLEEP- FRIENDLY, IS TO SET UP A SMART LIGHTING SYS­TEM.”

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