Gadgets and Sleep

According to a recent poll by the National Sleep Foundation (NSF), 43 percent of Americans aged 13 to 65 report rarely if ever getting a good night’s sleep during the workweek (or school week).

That result might say a lot about our society and the stress it wreaks on us, but it also prompts individuals who face poor sleep to try anything — including gadgets — to get a proper night’s rejuvenation.

What are these gadgets?

For one, there are the white noise machines that purport to block out any noise that might otherwise interfere with your sleep. This is done by producing the sound of rain, or even horses’ hooves, to block out sleep-wrecking sounds. This works, of course, only if the sound of rain or horsies thumping along induces sleep in you. Otherwise, it could just be another sound interfering with your falling asleep.

These days you can also get cell phone apps to produce the white noise, though you might have to plug your phone in to get it to last through the night.

Earplugs are a time-honored approach, especially if you have a snoring partner or live near a busy street, or have neighbors too close and too loud. Experts recommend silicon earplugs over the foam variety, as they have been shown to work better. (Of course, you want to hope your smoke alarm doesn’t sound off while you have your earplugs in place.)

Music through a variety of devices has been shown to help certain sleepers. Much like the sound of rain drops for some, certain types of music can help induce sleep in others.

Of course, these approaches are really only effective if you don’t have a sleep disorder. And if you’re using earplugs to block out a partner’s snoring, then your partner probably should seek professional help.

When good sleep hygiene practices, and/or the use of the devices and approaches discussed above, don’t do the trick, you need to seek out help. Keep a diary of what’s going on day and night — called a sleep diary, though it also includes your daily activities, including what you eat and drink and when — and discuss the results with your family physician. If he or she has no solid solution for you, then seek out a sleep professional for evaluation, advice and possibly treatment.

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