Three sleep aids for insomniacs

From “bedphones” to body-clock adjustors

From top: Night Shift, £286. SleepPhones, £40. Bodyclock Luxe 700, £170
From top: Night Shift, £286. SleepPhones, £40. Bodyclock Luxe 700, £170 | Image: Hugh Threlfall

Sleep-promoting headphones The idea of listening to anything from educational material to get-you-to-sleep music using headphones is nothing new, but the wireless technology to ensure you don’t end up semi-strangling yourself with the connecting wire is relatively so. SleepPhones’ “pyjamas for your ears”, as its label describes them, are a practical and slick execution of this concept. They use a flexible Bluetooth module, which slips in and out of the soft and comfortable washable headband. The band also houses some clever, flat mini-speakers, which are just loud enough to hear clearly whatever your phone or tablet is playing wirelessly, but not so loud you’ll be kept awake at night. £40, from amazon.co.uk and see sleepphones.com for other stockists.

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Sleep apnoea monitor At best, snoring ruins your sleep and other people’s; at worst, when it is full-on apnoea, it can cause subtle deterioration in your brain function and even shorten life. This “sleep positioner” from respectable California company Advanced Brain Monitoring seeks to help mild-to-moderate sleep-apnoea sufferers self-correct their sleeping position. It gives a gentle but gradually increasing vibrating warning as soon as you assume the offending supine position, encouraging you to move onto your side or front. The Night Shift also monitors snoring with its microphone, so when you connect the device to a web portal your sleep is illuminatingly analysed. The Night Shift is well designed to go round your neck, with a clever magnetic clasp. I’ve certainly been sleeping much better while using it. The UK supplier, GDS Medtech, requires a medical professional’s note before selling it. £286, from gds-medtech.com and see nightshifttherapy.com for info.

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Body-clock reset device For years, I failed to arise to the daylight-simulating wake-up bedside lamps by Cambridge-based light therapy specialist Lumie. The idea has seemed too alternative, plus I am a fairly sound sleeper and easy waker. But over the winter, I thought I would try out Lumie’s Bodyclock Luxe 700 — and lo, I’m a convert. As I discovered, light therapy is not a fringe thing. These products are certified medical devices, and there’s proper science behind the principle that being woken at an appropriate time by a dawn simulator boosts cortisol, and hence alertness, during the ensuing day. Over a few weeks, I found my winter sleep pattern – and, accordingly, my daytime energy levels – improved perceptibly thanks to the bedroom filling with golden light around 5am, while it was still dark outside. The Bodyclock Luxe 700 is also good for falling asleep to: variable colour LED bulbs, which didn’t exist when Lumie was set up in 1991, mean the company has been able to fine-tune the light output. So at bedtime it can be set to an option with low levels of the sleep-destructive blue light we get too much of these days from phone and computer screens. It has decent speakers too, so you can Bluetooth music or talk radio to it. And it has a variety of onboard wake-up and sleep sounds, including white noise. £170, from lumie.com.

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