We spend almost a third of our life sleeping. Yet millions of us suffer from poor sleep and never learn how to manage and control our sleeping patterns properly.
Do you snore so badly that your partner has been known to physically attack you in your grumbling slumber? If so, there are hundreds of well-worn natural remedies and homeopathic hacks to ensure a better night's rest.
However, if you have tried all of that, if you've drank plenty of water throughout the day and taken no stimulants after 6pm and not looked at the internet or email for at least three or four hours before bed and have done everything else you can to make your brain and body relax throughout the evening and yet you still feel tired, then it might be time to look for some technological fixes to your sleepless woes.
As every professional sleep clinician will inform you, the key to getting regular good sleep is regular exercise, good diet and learning to manage stress and be able to 'switch off' at night. This can be particularly difficult for technophiles, what with the proliferation of online-connected smartphones and gadgets around us at all times. But if you can switch your attention from surfing the net and checking your emails obsessively to playing around with some of the following gadgets and new bits of sleep-improving tech, you may find some improvements to your day-to-day emotional and physical well-being and overall productivity.
1.The aXbo alarm clock
The new alarm clock from German company aXbo is a clock which offers the perfect solution to securing the most productive sleep pattern your body is capable of - by telling you exactly the right time to drag your sorry carcass out of your pit, to ensure that you have had the best possible night's kip in line with your sleep pattern.
The new aXbo clock could well help you and your partner wake-up more effectively
We've tested out the aXbo clock and it could well be the ultimate sleep hack, as it does actually appear to help you feel better in the mornings, measuring your sleep pattern via wrist sweatbands and waking you and your partner up at the optimal point in the sleep phase as close as possible to your set alarm times.
Just don't think you can hit snooze! Costs £180 for the couples' version over at www.axbo.com
For those poor souls who really have suffered years of abnormal sleeping patterns the latest medical kit is the SleepTrek3 which is able to identify the exact reasons why you have a problem, measuring your airflow, snoring, respiratory effort, body position, oxygen saturation, and pulse rate.
"SleepTrek3 will make the benefit of sleep study available to many people who would otherwise not have been studied because they would not have met the high criteria to receive a doctor's order for a full-study in a sleep lab," says Everett Pizzuti, President and COO of Astro-Med, Inc.
SleepTrek3 is perhaps the ultimate medical sleep tracking device
Yet while SleepTrek3, supplied with sensors, wearable pouch, home carry case, and rechargeable battery, may well seem to be the ultimate solution to your sleepless woes, there is a catch. It carries a list price of just under $4000 (£2450)!
Still want one?! You can see videos and more detailing how the SleepTrek3 actually works over on the manufacturer's website.
3. iPhone sleep cycle alarm clock
There are hundreds of alarm clocks and sleep aid apps available for iPhone. The only real difficulty is finding one that works for you.
Lexware Labs' Sleep Cycle alarm clock does something very similar to the aforementioned aXbo alarm clock, but this time it measures your sleep cycles via the accelerometer in your iPhone to monitor your movement and thus know which sleep phase you are in.
Pop your iPhone under the sheets to use Lexware's latest Sleep Cycle alarm app
"This isn't really something new. These so called bio-alarm clocks have been around for years and work very well, but they usually come with a hefty $200 price tag," says Maciek Drejak, the programmer behind the application.
This 59p app could well be a god-send for UK iPhone users. For more info check Lexware's website.
4. OnlineClock.net video alarm clock
OnlineClock.net has recently released its new Online Video Alarm Clock, the latest version one of the most popular online wake-up tools, which lets you select YouTube videos as an alarm in your web browser.
Simply enter an (embeddable) YouTube video URL in the OnlineClock.net website to select a video alarm. Or use the Video Alarm Clock Bookmarklet.
Online Video Alarm clock lets you wake up to the glories of YouTube!
The Video Alarm Clock is customisable too so users can change the size of the numbers or the colour of the background. And, best of all, it is completely free. Just be sure to select a nice relaxing video and not the latest Rage Against The Machine remix!
5.iHome iPod docks
Just as with sleep aids and alarm clock apps, there are scores of iPod docks on the market fitted with alarm clock, internet radio and DAB functions. The problem is which one to opt for to ensure you wake up properly. iHome iPod and iPhone docks have been designed to work with a forthcoming app called iHome+Sleep.
iHome's new iPod and iPhone docks will work in tandem with its new sleep-aid apps
These "app-enhanced" alarms can track sleep patterns and gather data about your sleep habits. They are also fully customisable alarms and offer a number of options for you to integrate them with your favourite online social networks. The new iHome iA5 will be available by March and will cost $99 (£60) and the accompanying iPhone and iPod touch app will be free.
No, this is not something out of a Wim Wenders' Sci Fi epic. The Dreamhelmet has been designed specifically for sleep-deprived business travellers and for long-distance drivers as a short-term fix to a major problem on the roads. The US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates there are 100,000 sleep-related crashes per year in the USA and that an estimated 32 million Americans actually fell asleep behind the wheel over the last year.
You might look insane, but the Dreamhelmet is a godsend for truckers and travellers
This combination sleep-mask and sound blocking pillow is a patented sensory deprivation device and, while it may look rather bizarre, if it can help prevent accidents due to lorry drivers dozing off at the wheel, we are all for it. The Dreamhelmet even has two secret 'HiPockets' to hide car keys, credit cards, money, or matches.
It will set you back $30 (a shade over £18) plus shipping costs from the US. For more check out the website at Dreamhelmet.com
7.Oregon Scientific i.Wakeup Sunrise Clock
Controlling the ambient lighting in your bedroom is essential to waking up well. Instead of the blaring blast of the traditional alarm clock, the Oregon Scientific i.Wakeup Sunrise Clock attempts to simulates the dawn in your room, using light to help you wake up in a natural and slightly more gradual way.
Oregon's latest glowing i.Wakeup Sunrise alarm clock
The device will start to increase its illumination half an hour before your designated wake up time. It also offers five5 different built-in nature sounds, or a bog-standard FM radio. The i.Wakeup Sunrise Alarm is launching in February 2010 at a cost of $130 (£79.60).
8.The Philips Wake-Up Light range
From £50 upwards, Philips' Wake-Up range offers what is perhaps the most cost-effective solution to the problem of how best to ease yourself into the day, featuring a soft, gently glowing light and soothing bird noise or wind chime sound effects to raise you from your sleep.
Philips adds an iPod and iPhone dock to its popular Wake-Up Light alarm clock range
As the lamp gets brighter (and the birds sing louder) you slowly slip back into daytime consciousness. More recently, Philips is launching a Wake-Up Light with Dock for iPod that lets you rise to not only soft light, but your favourite tunes.
The Philips Wake-Up with iPod and Dock retails for $200 (£122) in the US with Philips UK sending over details on release plans and UK costs shortly.
9.The Apnex System – banish snoring for ever!
The Apnex System is a new tech that is still under development in medical labs. It is designed to help problem snorers (and their spouses) solve their sleep apnea problems once and for all.
However, this is no mere magic bedside gadget. It is a tiny box about the size of a matchbox that is implanted in the chest that stimulates the muscles responsible for keeping the airways open during sleep.
Apnex is developing new tech to help snorers (and their partners) sleep again
Chronic sleep apnea affects three million Britons, so this latest medical tech could well improve the health of the nation no end when it hits the market sometime soon. For more info on how this new sleep tech works you can check out Apnex Medical's website.
10.The Dreamate Sleep Inducer
If you don't mind the idea of acupressure gadgets (too much!) then the Dreamate Sleep Inducer, an, might be the key to getting off to the land of nod.
Pop on the Dreamate and head to the land of nod...
Dreamate uses accupressure to gently massage what the company refers to as the "sleeping golden triangle" on the left wrist. Pop it on half an hour before bedtime and start to learn how to train your body to relax and sleep.
Dreamate claims that its device calms the body, lowers stress levels, and induces sleep. Beats getting addicted to sleeping pills! The Dreamate is available on Amazon.co.uk for £42.50