According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a third of us don’t get nearly enough shut-eye. Our collective bleariness has spurred a $41 billion market for gadgets and accessories promising more—and higher-quality—sleep. In my eternal quest for downtime, I tested some of the most promising ones. Here’s how they stacked up.
Eight Sleep Tracker ($299)
This mattress topper fits under a sheet and “turns any bed into a smart bed,” according to Eight. While I dozed, the sensor-studded pad gathered data like heart rate, periods of deepest slumber, and number of tosses and turns. It was easy to use, and I liked the warming feature, which let me set each side of the bed to a different temperature.
REM Score: 8 (out of 10)
Dreampad Pillow ($149 and up)
The Dreampad uses mellow soundscapes to help you power down. Connect the device to your phone via Bluetooth or USB, and the pillow emits soft music, audible only to you as you lay your head down. There are ten tracks on offer, ranging from the New Agey “Harmonic Continuum” to “Seaside Strings” (ocean waves plus viola). I didn’t drift off any faster with the Dreampad, but it did help me fall back asleep when I woke up at night.
REM Score: 6
Smart Nora Wireless Snoring Solution ($299)
My eight hours of restful bliss are frequently interrupted by my husband’s snoring. The Smart Nora relieves me of the need to nudge him. When the bedside audio sensor detects a respiratory disturbance, it slowly inflates the culprit’s pillow, gently shifting them into a freer-breathing position. My husband sometimes woke up briefly but was soon asleep again. For me it was heaven: one night I even checked to make sure he was still conscious.
REM Score: 8
Nightingale Smart Home Sleep System ($149)
The Nightingale is next-level knockout tech. Two app-enabled units wrap the room in a blanket of warm ambient sound. You can also program the system to provide weather and traffic information when you wake up. The only downside: in standby mode, it emits a faint hum.
REM Score: 9
Tomorrow Sleeptracker ($89)
Roughly the size of an iPhone, this slim monitor slips neatly under your mattress to analyze REM cycles and breathing patterns. When it’s getting near time to rise, a smart alarm will wake you during a light stage of sleep. It will also e-mail you a daily log and tailored tips. After one night of restive slumber, my recap chided me to cut that out: “If you’re not asleep in twenty minutes, get out of bed, go to another room, and do something relaxing.” I was soon obsessed with my performance (“Well done! Last night you went to bed 20 minutes earlier than usual”) and even competitive with other sleepers (“People similar to you sleep an average of seven hours five minutes”).
REM Score: 7
2Breathe Sleep Inducer ($180)
This sensor looks flimsy, but it was the most effective aid I tested. It pairs with an app and guides your inhalations and exhalations with somewhat cheesy but nonetheless soothing music. When the gadget and I fell out of sync, a soft voice discreetly corrected me. It took a week to get used to the comically deep breaths, but it worked: once my breathing was aligned, I was out in minutes. And shortly after it senses that you’re fast asleep, the app shuts down.
REM Score: 9