'GMA' Tries Before You Buy: Gadgets to Help You Get a Better Night's Sleep

PHOTO: Becky Worley tries out the latest in sleep gadgets and gear.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than one-third of Americans aren't getting enough sleep, and one-fifth of us may have major sleep disorders. No matter what our fast-paced culture says, this is a serious health problem, and marketers are taking note.

The Basics

Your body's natural sleep rhythms are related to the amount of light in the room. So make sure to turn out the lights, cover the windows, and even use an eye shade or sleep mask (about $5 for a pack of 12), if necessary. Also, don't drink anything for at least two hours before bedtime if you can help it. Those bathroom breaks can interrupt your deepest, most restful sleep.

Having trouble with noise in your sleeping area? Try earplugs; the cheap silicone variety for swimmers are the best at blocking out noise and staying in your ears all night. Mack's AquaBlock brand sells for $3.50 per two pairs.

Light-Based Alarm Clock

If you hate being jolted awake by a loud alarm, the Phillips Wake-up Light can help. Half an hour before your alarm goes off, a light turns on low and gradually gets brighter. The light stimuli transitions you from deep sleep to light sleep, making your wake-up less jarring.


Whether it's a hot flash or just irregular temperature regulation, for many, waking in the middle of the night is integrally tied to getting hot. Sheex are bed sheets made of the same performance fabric used in athletic clothing. They are intended to wick away moisture, breathe better than cotton, and help you stay cooler. I tried a set and liked the way they felt; silky smooth and so soft. They did catch a little on the rough parts of my feet, but I got used to that quickly.

I slept with Sheex for a few weeks and didn't notice significantly cooler bed temperatures, but I enjoyed how comfy they were. I didn't, however enjoy the price tag for Sheex. A queen set (including pillowcases) cost $199. The company that makes the product said the quality of the fabric accounts for most of the steep price and that many high-thread count sheets can cost almost as much. http://www.sheex.com/

Smartphone sleep disruptions

According to a Pew Research study, 65 percent of us sleep with our cellphones next to the bed, and that number goes up to 90 percent for people aged 18 to 29. It's true that phones make good alarm clocks, but they can wake you up when someone sends you a text, and they present a temptation to check your email and social networks. Engaging in work email or using Facebook can stimulate you just as you are falling asleep, and set your mind racing when you should be quieting it.

If you must keep your cellphone or smartphone nearby, try leaving it where you can't reach it. That way you'll have to get up to turn off the alarm, anyway. And an app like the free Lightning Bug for Android phones (or the 99 cent aSleep 3 for iPhone and iPod Touch) can help you get to sleep by playing relaxing sounds.


Many of us need white noise or music to block out ambient noise, but white noise machines are expensive and maybe your partner wants silence. Bedphones are earphones that lie flat on your ears and connect to a music player or your phone. They'll even reduce the volume over time to eventually leave you sleeping in silence. http://www.bedphones.com/ And an FYI- you can download white noise tracks from the Internet.

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