Seeking a better night’s sleep? Drift off with hi-tech eye masks and intuitively relaxing devices.
Tossing and turning at night may be expected for those who have a lot on their mind, but a pattern of poor sleep can do more lasting damage than just rumpled sheets and a bad coffee habit. Women in particular are hit hard. According to Dr Olivier Staneczek, a specialist in sleep medicine at the Swiss wellness retreat Clinique La Prairie, sleep patterns are genetically programmed, with women more likely to suffer from insomnia and to struggle with getting seven to nine hours of shut-eye. “Sleep follows a circadian rhythm” – the brain’s recognition of day and night, which contributes to you feeling tired at the right time – “and so do the many hormones and neurotransmitters in our brain,” he explains. When its natural equilibrium is out of balance, the body produces physiological stress hormones in increased quantities and at inappropriate times. With work pressures, emotional stress, or even a hormone-fluctuating menstrual cycle weighing on a woman’s mind, it can be difficult to block out the day’s stressors and focus on falling asleep.
The consequences of troubled sleep can be far-reaching, says Claudine Gillard, a Dubai-based sleep consultant at Sweet Dreams Sleep Coaching. Women will feel the results physically and mentally, with the most obvious side-effects including feeling drowsy and unable to focus, as well as becoming short tempered and emotional. Less widely known is how a lack of sleep will prevent your body from regenerating at full capacity. “The skin is the biggest organ of the body. If you’re not sleeping properly, your organs aren’t as healthy as they would be on a night when you’ve had a decent rest,” explains Gillard. “Hair and nails don’t grow as well either, and skin dehydration could lead to more pronounced lines.” Poor sleep can negatively impact the complexion, agrees Dr Staneczek, acknowledging a downturn in downtime as a leading cause of the early appearance of aging. “Skin texture and especially the areas around the eyes are often affected by sleep deprivation,” he shares. “Muscle contraction that can occur due to lack of sleep can cause wrinkles.”
While experts say that excessive screen time contributes to restlessness, technology can also guide the overtired to a better night’s sleep. To escape the outside world, the humble eye mask has now been elevated into a multi-sensory experience. Replicating that natural rhythm, the app-controlled Illumy Smart Sleep Mask uses lights to mimic the brain’s responses to sleep, with technology developed by Nasa to relax astronauts. Calming blue hues lull you into a deep sleep while subdued red lights gently rouse. “As opposed to traditional white or yellow lighting from lamps or overhead lights, red lights help you to regulate your circadian rhythm,” explains Gillard. “We evolved as a species spending our days in daylight and when it came to sunset, preparing ourselves for sleep.” In addition to blocking out even a hint of light, another innovative eye mask, the Breo iSee4, treats tired eyes like an overworked muscle, massaging eyelids with pulses of warm air to relieve strain, puffiness, and sinus pressure, and gently ease you into a deep slumber. Flat-edged and padded, it’s comfortable enough to drift off in, even for side sleepers. If sounds are keeping you up at night or if you’re a sensitive sleeper who tosses and turns at the slightest nocturnal noise, you can block it out with Bose’s Sleepbuds. Developed to completely subdue outside noises while being comfortable to sleep in, they can mute noise or play soothing tracks and white noise. Or tune into a hi-tech pillow for audio relaxation: the Soundasleep pillow emits soothing playlists through state-of-the-art speakers, while also analyzing your sleep patterns and setting an alarm – all without rousing the rest of the household.
While technology can counter many minor sleep issues, there is no single device that can help for all, says Dr Staneczek. He advises to seek help when you show concentration problems, daytime sleepiness, and lethargy, or if you have issues that directly affect your relationships, work, or social life. When suffering from ongoing and severe sleep concerns, seeing a specialist for a tailor-made solution is always recommended. Make an appointment with a sleep expert, who will monitor your sleep patterns and triggers to map out an improved nighttime routine. For an all-in treatment, Clinique La Prairie’s Better Sleep Program (from CHF 13 300/AED 53 000, Cliniquelaprairie.com) addresses sleep depression while avoiding medication dependency, offering a holistic approach to getting a full forty winks.
Read Next: Why An Old-School Alarm Clock – Not A Smartphone – Is The Secret To A Better Night’s Sleep
Originally published in the May 2021 issue of Vogue Arabia