Teenagers know everything — just ask them. They’ll tell you that they can get by on four hours of sleep; all they need in the morning is a Red Bull and a Pop-Tart, and they’re ready for a day of school. Right?
Not quite. It’s true that the older teens get, the later they’ll fall asleep at night. It’s biologically challenging for teens to be able to drift off before 11 PM. But this inevitably means waking up later in the morning, so they’re far from getting their recommended eight to 10 hours of shut-eye, and even farther from being physically and mentally prepared for a day of school.
Aside from petitioning to delay school start times, what can you do to help your teenager get more sleep? Fortunately, the sleep technology business is booming, with new devices and concepts being introduced every year, and your teen is much more likely to be interested in a cool gadget than warm milk and a bedtime story. (Sorry, Mom). Here are six devices that can help any teen — or adult — slumber better:
1. Sleep Shepherd Blue Headband
Sleep Shepherd Blue is a lightweight headband featuring thin speakers and built-in electroencephalograph (EEG) sensors. While the speakers play binaural beats to lull the wearer to sleep, the sensors track sleep at the source (unlike other devices that track sleep through the wrist). A companion smartphone app combines brainwave data with motion and sleep orientation information to help assess the previous night’s sleep and track patterns.
2. Dreampad Music Relaxation Pillow
If simply lying down feels preferable to wearing a headband all night, there’s the Dreampad Music Relaxation Pillow, which emits “sound” without making any actual noise. The pillow gives off gentle vibrations that are felt through the bones, even when there’s no ear on the pillow. Those vibrations produce a sensory-based and deeply calming effect throughout the nervous system and inner ear, which can be more relaxing than just hearing music.
3. LectroFan Micro Wireless Portable Sound Machine
Simplifying sleep sound even further, the LectroFan Micro Wireless Portable Sound Machine produces fan sounds, white noises and ocean ambience to mask nighttime disruptions. The non-looping, electronically-generated sound output helps induce relaxation and sleepiness by creating a brain-pleasing sound wall with no gaps. The LectroFan Micro is portable for travel, and it also works as a Bluetooth speaker.
4. NightWave Sleep Assistant
It might seem too easy, but timing breathing to the light rhythm of the NightWave Sleep Assistant can induce drowsiness in a matter of minutes. The NightWave projects a soft blue light in the bedroom, and the brightness of the light slowly rises and falls, essentially functioning as a “sleep coach.” Almost unconsciously, the light rhythm lowers the breathing rate while also distracting and relaxing the mind with an external cue on which to focus.
5. ChiliPad In-Bed Temperature Control System
Too hot? Too cold? The ChiliPad In-Bed Temperature Control System is a unique bed cooling/heating setup that uses water-based technology to regulate bed temperature. It’s a mattress pad made of a network of soft, medical-grade silicone micro tubes that are woven into the pad, circulating water. The pad itself is connected by a 96-inch cord to the Cube, a water-filled control unit, and can cool a bed to 55 degrees or heat it up to 110 degrees.
6. Ruggie Alarm Clock
As difficult as it can be to get to sleep, waking up without repeatedly reaching for the snooze button can be even harder. The Ruggie Alarm Clock literally forces the sleeper to get up and out of bed with an obnoxiously loud alarm (90-120 decibels). To help put things in perspective, a lawnmower usually runs at about 90 decibels. However, high decibel ranges can be used safely depending on the proximity and duration of exposure.
To turn off the alarm, one has to stand on the Ruggie for at least three seconds — and, if that’s not long enough to shake off the sleep, the time needed to turn it off can be increased to 30 seconds.
Not all sleep tech comes cheap, but think of it this way: You’ll buy your children many gadgets during their teenage years — why not invest in at least one that might benefit their quality of sleep and, in turn, their daily lives? Do be sure to discuss these products with your child's doctor when using to ensure safety for your teen, and reduce the risk of dependency.