I never thought to use a sleep tracker until I woke up early this morning to a series of alarms. I’m not one of those people that can set one alarm and run off into the sunrise; each morning I have to go to war with my body and my warm bed.
And this morning, that war involved hitting the snooze button ten times and punching my pillow because ugh.
As it turns out, slapping that snooze button is one of the worst things we can do to our bodies when we’re trying to wake up in the morning. Waking up and going back to sleep messes with the body’s internal clock, confusing it out of its normal mechanisms to wake up and get moving. But if I had been using one of these crazy-cool sleep trackers, I would have known this all along. In fact, tracking your sleep can help you wake up feeling more well-rested and — dare I say it — a little superhuman. Here, we’ll take a look at four of the most exciting sleep recorders in development today, and we’ll see exactly how they can help make your sleep extraordinary.
1. Sleep Shepherd Blue
In 2012, Dr. Michael Larson had a problem: his daughter had been diagnosed with a debilitating sleep disorder, and her only prescription was GHB — the date rape drug. Instead of putting her on a harsh medication, Larson pulled together a team of engineers to create Sleep Shepherd Blue — which hit its Kickstarter goal this February in under nine hours.
Sleep Shepherd Blue is a headband that uses brainwave sensors to track a person's sleep stages and brain activity. This is a big deal because sleep recorders like the Fitbit can only track sleep through wrist movement, which can generate inaccurate results. Sleep quality and trends are easily accessible through the headband’s companion app — but that isn’t Sleep Shepherd Blue’s most exciting feature. Far from it, in fact.
Binaural Beats For Smarter Sleeping
Binaural beats are tones that have been proven to impact brain frequencies. Sleep Shepherd Blue uses those beats in a biofeedback system to help you fall asleep by lulling your brain into a meditative state and, eventually, deep sleep.
Have you ever woken up in the middle of the night and doubted your life choices? The headband’s biofeedback system means that the headband will recognize when your brain is starting to wake up, and it will actually use binaural beats to keep you asleep. And when you use the app’s Smart Alarm function, those same beats can help gently wake you up in time for your alarm to ring — so you’ll wake up without having to hit snooze. Genius.
What do Nikola Tesla, Leonardo Da Vinci, and Benjamin Franklin have in common? According to NeuroOn’s Kickstarter, they all used polyphasic sleep cycles to sleep less and rest more. Polyphasic sleep refers to the practice of sleeping multiple times in a 24-hour period.
While you may have heard of uber-geniuses like Tesla changing the world on only two hours of sleep, the practice is more realistic in terms of napping — according to the National Sleep Foundation, a short nap of 20 to 30 minutes can help improve mood and alertness. NeuroOn is a smart mask that lets you use polyphasic sleep to your advantage — and as an added bonus, it incorporates a number of other features to get you through any sleep-deprived situation.
From Jet Lag To Personal Pauses
One of the most notable benefits of NeuroOn is its suite of sleep features. Similar to the Sleep Shepherd Blue, the sleep mask uses brainwaves to record your sleep quality, which generates more accurate readings than the movement-based sleep recorders found in fitness wearables. But the NeuroOn also tracks eye movement, which is used in the following sleep features:
- Personal Pause: NeuroOn analyzes your sleep data and recommends the best time of day for your nap. You can customize your nap length, slip on the mask, and rest for 20 to 90 minutes. The mask will gently wake you up using soft light, vibrations, and an audio alarm on your smartphone.
- Jet Lag Blocker: Working with NeuroOn’s companion app, the sleep mask can actually help you prepare to adjust to new timezones by recommending personalized sleep therapy advice based on your current location and destination.
- Sleep Analytics: NeuroOn can measure your brainwaves, pulse, temperature, motion, heart rate, and the amount of time you spent in each sleep stage. Plus, the app provides recommendations to improve your sleep based on your data.
Put all of these features and data together, and you’ll have the ability to nap more intelligently, wake up feeling refreshed, and tackle your day way more efficiently. That sounds pretty superhuman to me!
Have you ever wanted to LoJack your baby? Now you can! Sproutling is a wearable baby monitor that helps you learn your baby’s sleep habits. For parents who are sleep-deprived themselves, this information is invaluable because it can help them ensure that their bouncing bundle of screams is sleeping as restfully as possible.
When you strap Sproutling around your baby’s ankle, its sensors detect their heart rate, skin temperature, motion, and position. That data is then transmitted to the Sproutling app on your smartphone, which lets you know the following things:
- If your baby is sleeping soundly
- When they’ll wake up
- What their mood is
- Whether their sleeping environment is too loud
While it may seem like a stretch to be able to tell what mood your baby will be in when they wake up, Sproutling’s most important feature for worrisome parents is this: it will alert you if your baby’s heart rate changes significantly, or if they roll over while sleeping. And clearly, that type of data is worth putting an ankle monitor on your child because Sproutling is currently sold out; interested parents can join a waitlist for updates.
Do you have more than one kid? No worries — the app can show insights from multiple monitors, so you can outfit your twins (or triplets!) with their own Sproutlings.
“Lucid dreaming” is a divisive phrase. Some people discount it as hocus-pocus nonsense, and others believe it’s the next big thing in sleep science. Either way, lucid dreaming refers to the ability to recognize that you’re dreaming, and then do whatever you want in Dreamland — and the Aurora headband promises to help you get there.
Aurora uses brainwaves to track your sleep and provides cues when you’re in deep sleep. Specifically, the headband is fitted with LED lights that you can customize through its companion app. The headband uses lights and sounds to gently let you know you’re dreaming — which the Kickstarter claims will help you take control of your dreams and fight fire-breathing dragons (or whatever else you want to do).
Aurora’s Smart Alarm Feature
The headband doesn’t just use that brainwave and eye movement activity to help you lucid dream — it can also help you wake up feeling refreshed, too. Humans naturally go through several cycles of light and deep throughout the night, and we feel groggy and gross when we wake up in the middle of deep sleep.
By tracking your sleep data, the app knows when you wake up during a light sleep cycle, which will help you tackle the day after tackling dragons during all of your lucid dreams. This all goes back to keeping your finger off the snooze button — waking up feeling well-rested means that you’re more likely to get out of bed because you, like a true superhuman, have mastered the art of sleeping.
How To Sleep Smarter
There are a few simple things you can do you improve your sleep quality, as recommended by the National Sleep Foundation:
- Avoid caffeine and alcohol close to bedtime
- Exercise in the morning or late afternoon
- Don’t eat huge meals before bedtime
- Expose yourself to natural light throughout the day
- Keep your sleep environment cool and pleasant
If you’re trying to improve your sleep quality, the most important thing you can do is to establish a regular nighttime routine. One to two hours before your regular bedtime, limit your exposure to screens (phones, TV screens, and laptops — I’m looking at you, Netflix). Try to wake up at consistent times throughout the week, too; learn from my mistake and avoid hitting snooze.
What do you think about these futuristic wearables? Would you ever wear one of these sleep recorders to bed? Let us know in the comments!