Slum­ber in a hi-tech won­der­land

Want cooler sheets, or lights and fre­quen­cies that en­cour­age sleep? There’s a gad­get for that, says Jes­sica Sal­ter

The Daily Telegraph - Saturday - - PROPERTY -

We’re a na­tion ob­sessed with sleep: how much we’re get­ting, and how oth­ers are achiev­ing that mag­i­cal shut­eye. A re­cent sur­vey by the Som­nex Sleep Show found that more than 30 per cent of us slept poorly most nights.

While lack of sleep used to be a sign of ex­treme pro­duc­tiv­ity and ef­fi­ciency – Mar­garet Thatcher, who got by on four hours a night, sup­pos­edly said that “sleep is for wimps” – a healthy night’s sleep is now a marker that you’re suc­cess­ful and in con­trol. Tech ex­ec­u­tives such as Ari­anna Huff­in­g­ton pri­ori­tise sleep, both for them­selves and their em­ploy­ees. Huff­in­g­ton’s of­fices con­tain hi-tech nap pods (as do Google and Face­book’s), while she re­cently hosted a com­pe­ti­tion for some­one to ex­pe­ri­ence the ul­ti­mate night’s sleep in her New York apart­ment.

A new block of ser­viced apart­ments in Shored­itch, Lon­don’s start-up cap­i­tal, claims to have been de­signed to cre­ate the best night’s sleep. The Zed Rooms, by Cuck­ooz and us­ing Simba mat­tresses, has four-poster beds that mimic the shape of a womb, back­ground mu­sic to calm the ner­vous sys­tem, and scents that help you drift off. It even has a menu de­signed by Detox Kitchen to boost sero­tonin, mela­tonin and tryp­to­phan, which help con­trib­ute to a good sleep.

But you don’t have to be a tech boss to turn your own bed­room into a slum­ber par­adise; there are now hi-tech so­lu­tions avail­able for all to try. Here are a few of the best.

SET THE TONE

“The per­fect sleep en­vi­ron­ment should be just the right tem­per­a­ture – be­tween 16 and 18C [61-65F],” says Lisa Ar­tis, an ad­viser at the Sleep Coun­cil. “Feel­ing too hot or too cold in the night can lead to rest­less sleep and wake­ful­ness.” To achieve the per­fect tem­per­a­ture, try a smart ther­mo­stat from Nest (from £199; nest.com).

You also need dark­ness: in March, the Amer­i­can Jour­nal of Epi­demi­ol­ogy found that, if your bed­room has more than five “lux” of light, it in­creases your risk of de­pres­sion (one lux is equiv­a­lent to the level of light that a can­dle shines from 3ft 3in away).

Black­out blinds or thick cur­tains are a must, but to cre­ate a more au­then­tic feel­ing of a ho­tel turn­down ser­vice, in­stall elec­tric blinds that you can con­trol from your phone (somfy.co.uk). To main­tain high pro­duc­tion of mela­tonin (the body’s sleep hor­mone), in­vest in dimmable lights or low-lit bed­side lights: try the Holi Sleep Com­pan­ion bulb, which is based on clin­i­cal re­search and gen­er­ates a spe­cific wave­length to help you ease into sleep and wake up gen­tly the next morn­ing (£79; ama­zon.co.uk).

GET THE TECH

Phones, lap­tops and screens that emit bright light, which can dis­rupt mela­tonin, should be banned from the bed­room. “The blue light that emits from th­ese de­vices messes around with your body’s cir­ca­dian rhythms by sup­press­ing the hor­mone mela­tonin in the brain, which is what we need to feel sleepy,” says Ar­tis.

Re­search by the Sleep Coun­cil found that poor sleep was caused by watch­ing tele­vi­sion (38 per cent), check­ing emails (14 per cent) and us­ing lap­tops or tablets in bed (12 per cent). Switch off your screens and turn to fu­tur­is­tic gad­gets that are de­signed purely to help you sleep bet­ter. The Philip Stein sleep bracelet is based on the idea that nat­u­ral fre­quen­cies help you slum­ber, as op­posed to man-made fre­quen­cies, such as Wi-Fi, which in­ter­rupt the body’s bal­ance; Madonna and Oprah are said to be fans.

An­other ex­am­ple of sleep tech is the Som­nuva, an au­dio sys­tem en­gi­neered to repli­cate a healthy sleep pat­tern us­ing four spe­cific fre­quen­cies through­out the night: deep sleep, easy sleep, fall asleep and power nap. It is also de­signed to wake you up at the per­fect point in your sleep cy­cle to leave you feel­ing re­freshed.

Want some­thing weirder? The Som­nox sleep ro­bot is a moon-shaped pil­low that you hug while it in­flates and de­flates, en­cour­ag­ing you to syn­chro­nise your breath­ing with the de­vice in a slower, more reg­u­lar pat­tern.

KIT OUT THE BED

And the tech­nol­ogy doesn’t stop there; it even ex­tends to your bed. A study by Lough­bor­ough Univer­sity’s clin­i­cal sleep re­search unit found that old, un­com­fort­able beds were the sec­ond most com­mon prob­lem peo­ple re­ported when drift­ing off (af­ter a snor­ing part­ner).

If you suf­fer from tem­per­a­ture changes at night, FreshBed cli­mate-con­trolled beds al­low you to set the bed tem­per­a­ture, while pu­ri­fied air is pumped in (which keeps sheets crisp and dry). The beds have been sci­en­tif­i­cally proven to de­liver up to a 50 per cent im­prove­ment in sleep qual­ity (price on ap­pli­ca­tion: freshbed.com).

All you need then is a mat­tress. The Bet­ter Sleep Coun­cil says con­sumers should think about re­plac­ing their mat­tress every five to seven years. The wildly pop­u­lar brand Eve’s orig­i­nal mat­tress has what it de­scribes as “open-cell tech­nol­ogy”, which it claims makes it 30 times more breath­able than con­ven­tional mem­ory foam (from £349; eve­mat­tress.co.uk).

If you just need a top­per, and want some­thing hi-tech, try the Velloflex mag­netic ther­apy mat­tress top­per. It has a mag­netic layer with 495 mag­netic fields that sup­pos­edly boost blood flow, in­creas­ing the body’s ca­pac­ity to heal and re­cover. The Fi­bromyal­gia As­so­ci­a­tion says that its mem­bers have had pos­i­tive ex­pe­ri­ences from us­ing Velloflex prod­ucts. If you like it, you can get the match­ing pil­low too (from £255 for the top­per; velloflex.uk).

All that’s left is to dress the bed: Sheex sheets use high-per­for­mance fab­rics that trans­fer body heat more ef­fec­tively than tra­di­tional cot­ton (from $69/£55); sheex.com).

DRESS FOR THE OC­CA­SION

Last but not least, think about your out­fit. The py­jama brand Home­body uses its own “Mo­dal-Sens” fab­ric that al­lows for cli­mate con­trol through­out the night, plus it’s all made in the UK (from £89; home­body.co.uk). To top off your noc­tur­nal at­tire, you’ll need an eye mask: stud­ies of hospi­tal in­pa­tients have shown that wear­ing an eye mask re­duces the time taken to fall asleep, in­creases sleep du­ra­tion and im­proves the qual­ity of sleep. Try the Lu­mos sleep mask, which uses short light pulses to ad­just your body clock while you sleep ($229, avail­able in Jan­uary; lu­mos.tech).

PERCHANCE TO DREAMA smart ther­mo­stat by Nest, right; FreshBed’s cli­mate­con­trolled bed, left;Sheex sheets, below; night­clothes by Home­body, bot­tom

PIL­LOW TALK The Som­nox sleep ro­bot, right; the Holi Sleep Com­pan­ion light bulb, above; a FreshBed base, top

A ser­viced flat by Cuck­ooz that has a womb­shaped bed to help you sleep

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