Susannah Taylor: Can a gadget help you sleep?
I get to see every slumber-boosting gizmo on the market, trying and testing along the way. This is my latest standout selection
The ultimate sleep app
What Dr Guy Meadows, co-founder of The Sleep School, doesn’t know about zzzs isn’t worth knowing (see his advice here). With a PhD in sleep, he’s helped hundreds of thousands of people get more kip, including a few friends of mine who’d previously tried everything. Meadows has now put his 20 years of first-hand experience into The Sleep School’s new app. Using the clinically backed research of acceptance and commitment therapy, the app encourages us to face our sleep issues rather than bury them. It also teaches us to spend more time getting on with our lives and less worrying about pillow time. The seven-day plan has guided audios, sleep tips and advice on sleep-preventing thoughts. There is also a 30-day programme for more severe sleep issues, with eight audio lessons a day on subjects from ‘brain chatter’ to handling unwanted feelings. £29.99 for a year, from the App Store and Google Play.
The body-clock regulator
Daylight is scarce in winter. Add in a lockdown and many of us are seeing less natural light than ever. This, in turn, disrupts our natural body clock and contributes to sleep problems. One solution is a Lumie Bodyclock Glow 150. A company specialising in light therapy, Lumie creates energy-enhacing lamps used for treating seasonal affective disorder. This one mimics the light and colour of a real sunset and sunrise so you should fall asleep and wake up more naturally. £99, lumie.com.
The screen protector
As any sleep expert will tell you, blue light from screens mimics daylight and confuses our body clocks, causing headaches, lethargy and sleep issues. Enter Ocushield, a medically rated blue-light screen protector for phones and computers, created by an optometrist. From £39.99 for an iPhone, ocushield.com.
The noise blocker
Do your rubbish collectors arrive at 5.30am? Are you living under a flightpath? Does your partner snore? If like me you prefer to immerse yourself in your own soundtrack then the wireless Bose Sleepbuds II could be your new slumber BFF. Designed to fit snugly without digging in, they comfortably block out noise and you can choose from 40 amazing soundscapes to lull you to sleep. With a phone-free mode so you can keep your phone away from your bed, you can also set a timer to turn the sleepbuds off then on again in the morning. £229.95, bose.co.uk.
Bedtime story, anyone?
One app that I go back to time and time again if I’m feeling overwhelmed is Calm. Packed with stressbusting advice and soothing sounds for reducing tension, it also has a series of ‘Sleep Stories’. Think of them as bedtime tales for grown-ups read by famous voices from the likes of Idris Elba, Laura Dern and Stephen Fry. I defy you not to drift away to Wonder, a story about the mysteries of the universe read by Matthew McConaughey. £29.99 for a year, from the App Store and Google Play.
You do need an early night
According to Ayurvedic experts at escapadahealth.com, we should go to bed between 9pm and 11pm. The reason, they claim, is that ‘during sleep, the gall bladder, which [in Ayurvedic belief] controls emotions and judgment, and the liver – responsible for circulation and emotional wellbeing – repair themselves. Going to bed late depletes the energy reserves of these organs which can lead to short-term emotional instability.’ Their advice? Go to bed on time and rise with the sun to keep our bodies in harmony with nature. escapadahealth.com.