Treatments to combat sleep deprivation have become big business.
Americans spent more than $40 billion last year searching for that elusive good night’s sleep. The marketplace has exploded with plenty of options to help you get your zzzz’s on. But are they really great gadgets or just sleep gimmicks? Consumer Reports takes a look under the covers.
The $60 My Pillow promises “deeper, longer REM sleep.” But there are no clinical studies to support that.
How about the $150 Sleep Shepherd? It’s basically a beanie with built-in speakers. It claims to monitor brain waves and drown out distractions. The evidence that it accurately monitors brain activity is pretty thin, but hearing the rhythmic sounds can be soothing.
In fact, white-noise machines like the $50 Marpac Dohm DS help most people who try them sleep better, according to a Consumer Reports survey. And apps like White Noise and My Noise let you get soothing sounds on your smartphone free.
You should also think about why you can’t sleep. Electronics devices like smartphones and laptops emit blue light, which slows the production of the sleep hormone melatonin and keeps you awake.
There’s a pricey pair of glasses that promise to block blue light, and they do block some. But when Consumer Reports tested glasses in a special light-measuring sphere, the ones that actually blocked out the most blue light were the Uvex Skyper Safety Glasses—with orange lenses—which cost just $8.
Although you might be craving a simple chemical solution to sleeplessness, the Consumer Reports Best Buy Drugs team –– which evaluates the safety and effectiveness of medications –– reviewed the research on sleep drugs and found them to be limited in their effectiveness. And they pose some serious risks of side effects, like next-day drowsiness.
What’s the best way to beat insomnia? Quit smoking, cut back on caffeine and alcohol, and turn off screens long before you head to bed.