How did you sleep last night? I'm not just asking to be polite. In today's fast-paced world, it's important to catch enough z's to be at the top of your game.
Tech is often blamed as one of the big factors that's hurting your sleep. While it's true that blue light from TVs and monitors can mess up your sleep cycle and text notifications can wake you up in the middle of the night, I don't think that gadgets should take all of the blame.
In fact, smartphones and apps have helped thousands of people get their sleep patterns back on track.
Don't believe me? Try it for yourself. I've gathered a list of apps and tools that will get you a great night of sleep - and then some.
1. Develop a routine
I mentioned this above, but I'm going to expand on it. Our bodies just aren't wired to understand the difference between natural and artificial light.
The comforting glow of your computer or TV can fool your body into thinking that it's daytime. This mostly comes from the blue light.
If you have to use your computer at night, you can get a program like F.lux that adjusts the monitor tint to red at night. This matches the setting sun and standard indoor lights. Smartphones and tablets can invert their screen colors to reduce the light, which helps.
2. Shut down long before you shut eyes
No matter what you have gotten used to (or think you have), I still say it is critical to shut off your computer and TV at least an hour before you hit the hay.
Though, I do not think that reading on an e-reader with E-ink display is really a problem.
When it comes to sleep, the old ways are always best. Keep your bedtime routine and time consistent.
And again, definitely avoid using your computer, smartphone or tablet in bed. Watching TV is also a no-no. Really, you should avoid any activity in bed that isn't sleeping ... or sex.
3. Gather your sleepy-time arsenal
While the jury is still out on the neurological effectiveness of sleep apps, many users are finding success with these tools. Apps like Sleep Time, for example, use your smartphone's accelerometers to track your sleep cycle.
That way, it can wake you up at the best time in one of your many nightly sleep cycles. Then, you're alert instead of groggy - even without your morning cup of coffee.
4. Do away with noisy thoughts
If you're having trouble keeping your brain from distracting thoughts about your day, you aren't alone. White noise websites like soundsleeping or apps like SimplyNoise will give you something else to focus on.
Important: If you're going to keep your smartphone in your bedroom, be sure to put it in airplane mode so late night texts, app update notifications or other sounds don't wake you up too soon.
Of course, you might already have something to focus on that you don't want. Is your sleep partner a serial snorer? Build your case against them with apps like Sleep Talk Recorder.
Many snorers don't understand how terrifyingly loud their noses can become. Recorded evidence will be undeniable, and you can negotiate using breathing strips or whatever else your doctor recommends.
Is nothing working? Check out my headphone guide for some noise-canceling snore relief.
5. Your mileage may vary
There's no one-size-fits-all solution to a good night's sleep. Some people will find solace in tech, others only sleep peacefully in a log cabin disconnected from the world.
You have to find what works best for you and stick with it. What works for you? Let me know in the comments.
You aren't the only thing in your house that might benefit from a good night sleep. Find out if you should be shutting down your computer at night.
And what about your smartphone or tablet? Find out if they need some shut-eye as well.