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Technology for the Sleep Obsessed

Finds your best waking moment.

Finds your best waking moment.

I have become my Grandmother. She was the one that spent  a bulk of each day pleasantly sleeping in front of the television. The instant she’d wake she’d fret about the fact  that she never slept.  As we age sleep problems do increase, but so does fretting about them. While I’m not my Grandma yet,  I’m now a card carrying member of the generation who can’t sleep at night. Just one more thing that technology proposes to remedy for me.

My first foray into managing sleeplessness was the SleepTracker,  a plastic, oversized, digital stopwatch type device that sells for around $170. The watch tracks your sleep patterns and serves as your alarm clock (both vibration and ringing), but with a high tech twist.

The watch can track small body movements and determine whether you are in REM sleep (the deepeet of the sleep cycles) or a lighter sleep. Because REM sleep is the deepest, most restful sleep, you’ll feel better if you’re awakened during the lighter part of your sleep cycle. When you set the SleepTracker alarm you set it for a window of wake-up opportunity. The alarm will wake you at a time during that window when you are in a lighter sleep. Theoretically you’ll wake more refreshed. 
After trying it for a week I learned that wearing a big plastic watch on my wrist at bedtime drove me nuts. I also found that monitoring obscure terms and obscure push buttons for Data 1 and Data 2 was too much to think about. Finally my sleep patterns were irregular, too irregular to provide much of a baseline. Ultimately I found myself worrying  about the  gadget enough to be losing sleep over it. 

A power nap at your PCNext up is Pzizz, a software for power napping (or getting a restful night’s sleep). According to its creators, Pzizz combines Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP), music, sound effects and a binaural beat that puts you into a relaxed state of mind. Very new-agey. I really did feel more awake and energized after listening to a pzizz session, but I’m not sure I wouldn’t have felt  equally as rested if I’d just allowed myself a quick catnap minus the pzzizz and I’m to my mind computers and resting are a bit of an oxymoronic mix. The good thing about pzizz is that it gently wakes you after a specified nap time. Try the free download of pzizz soundtracks at http://pzizz.com 

The emWave Personal Stress Reliever  from HeartMath can help you sleep more restfully or do just about anything else that calls for lowering stress levels. Based on biofeedback principles that monitor your pulse, breath rate and other autonomic body indicators, , the unit sense your stress level and then you concentrate on lowering it.  It costs $199.

A power nap at your PC

Light has also been known to play a big part in sleep. Back in the pre-electricity days, people went to sleep when it got dark and woke up when it wasn’t. These circadian rhythms create a natural pattern for sleeping and waking.  Most lightning solutions try to mimic circadian rhythms. There are many lighting devices designed to gently wake you by simulating daylight, but the Lamborghini of sleep devices is The Starry Night Bed  http://www.starrynightbed.com/ . This bed would feel right at home in the honeymoon suite at a hotel. It adjusts lighting and positioning depending on whether you want to read, romance or just get some shut-eye. You can program the bed’s temperature, monitor your sleeping and breathing patterns, or just entertain yourself with the bed’s  built-in  iPod docking station and Microsoft Media Center.  The bed sells for upwards of $20k; the price of a  good night’s sleep?  Priceless.

Late Breaking Update:  Here I am playing around with stopwatches while David Pogue played with his Zeo Alarm Clock as reviewed in the New York Times. His clock sits on his nightable (not his wrist) and the monitor gets stuck to his head where it measures brainwaves as he sleeps.  $400 — and lots of data to analyze if you’re really sleep obsessed.