Everyone needs a good night’s sleep to feel refreshed in the mornings, plus there are many health benefits of regular, restful sleep. The quality of sleep is just as important as the quantity (about 7-8 hours a night for adults). Sleep allows your body to repair itself, your brain to process what you’ve learned that day — turning short-term memories into long-term memories — and boosts your immune system.
With the documented need for sleep as well as an increasing number of people who aren’t getting the correct amount of healthy sleep, it’s little wonder the business of sleep is booming. In fact, innovations to help people sleep are a multimillion-dollar industry.
The rise of sleep innovation includes “soft” (better beds, sleep masks, aromatics, etc.) and “hard” (prescription medications and supplements) sleep solutions. Plus, there’s a whole host of lifestyle changes that can help you naturally fall asleep faster and get better rest. If you aren’t getting the Z’s you need, give some of these solutions a try.
The Sleep Industry
There has been a significant rise in patents, especially by companies in China and the U.S., for soft sleep solutions over the last decade. Philips, is one such company, focusing on healthy sleep innovations, including lighting technology to help people wake more naturally to follow their bodies’ circadian rhythms (sleep and wakefulness cycles).
Other technological advances to support sleep make use of artificial intelligence, speech recognition and advanced analytics about an individual’s sleep cycles and the length of time spent in each.
The rise of different nonconsumable sleep solutions may come as a relief for those who don’t want to take medicine to get a better night’s sleep.
Soft Sleep Innovations
There are growing numbers of investors that are exploring soft sleep solutions, and with this influx of cash, more and better products are entering the market. Soft sleep solutions refer to anything that isn’t ingested by the user.
High-tech mattresses offer adjustments in softness and firmness, promising to deliver customized comfort for a better night’s sleep. Mattresses with dual controls let couples experience their personalized mattress firmness while still allowing them to sleep in the same bed.
Innovations in bedding design and analyses of comfort levels for users all help contribute to beds that invite sleep and allow the sleeper to wake more refreshed.
Many people have sleep apnea, a disorder in which the airway partially collapses during sleep, making breathing difficult. This condition can be aided by using a CPAP machine, which forces more air into the lungs, helping patients remain asleep. Without these devices, people can wake up dozens of times during the night, unable to breathe. To obtain a CPAP machine, a patient must be diagnosed in a sleep center, which monitors them overnight.
Other devices include those that reduce snoring, which can help the snorer feel better in the morning (sore throats and stuffed noses are common for those who snore), as well as anyone else sharing a bed or room with the snorer.
Other Soft Solutions
Technological soft sleep solutions include wearable devices, such as smartwatches and fitness trackers that also monitor your sleep during the night. Using this data, owners of these devices may be able to track patterns in their sleep, including seeing if certain days or situations result in better sleep or higher instances of sleep disruptions.
Hard Sleep Solutions
Hard solutions include prescription medication and over-the-counter medicinal products and supplements that improve the quality of sleep. Melatonin is an over-the-counter sleep aid, commonly used by travelers and those with sleep anxiety. Hard solutions essentially include anything that can be ingested to aid sleep, such as pills, powders, drinks, concentrates or emulsions.
Advances in medicine have led to better hard sleep solutions with fewer side effects. This, plus reducing the addictive nature of some sleep medications, has given consumers more options — and safer ones.
Making Lifestyle Changes for Better Sleep
If you don’t wish to spend money on a better night’s sleep, there are quite a few lifestyle changes you can make as well. These changes are free and just take a little bit of consistency on your part.
- Reduce screen time before bed. Studies show that the blue light from cell phones and tablets can have a disruptive effect on your ability to fall asleep. Reducing and eliminating screen time right before bed also includes watching TV.
- Change your workout time. Doing cardio within a couple of hours of bedtime can cue your body that it’s time to wake up, instead of time to relax for sleep. Exercise raises your core temperature, makes you more alert and cues the release of endorphins, all of which indicate to your brain and body that it’s time to wake up, not sleep.
- Use your bed for sleep and sex only. Associating the bed with other things, including work, eating or watching TV, can make it hard to switch gears from wakeful activities to sleep.
- Reduce the caffeine you consume, especially after midday. Caffeine dependence can cause a cycle in which you need it for wakefulness but have difficulty sleepingdue to caffeine, as well as sugar, overload later in the day.
Sleep Innovations Benefit Everyone
Better sleep can help you be more alert during the day, which can improve your performance at work or school. For athletes, and even those who simply enjoy exercise, the impact of restful sleep on their physical performance can’t be understated. If you feel you aren’t getting the sleep you need, experiment with some of these new sleep solutions and start waking refreshed.