Technology can sometimes be a distraction when it comes to getting a good night's sleep but it can also be used in a beneficial way, allowing users to hack into their sleep habits.
This week is National Sleep Awareness Week. While it's the perfect excuse to tuck into bed a little early for some extra shuteye (or sleep in!) it's also an ideal time to explore ways technology can be leveraged to help improve a person's sleeping habits.
"The greatest benefit of consumer sleep technologies may be that they make people more aware of the importance of sleep and the negative effect of sleep disorders on overall health," Dr. Nathaniel Watson, president of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, told ABC News. "Despite the widespread prevalence of sleep apps, trackers and wearables, the expertise of a board-certified sleep medicine physician remains essential for anyone who is suffering from an ongoing sleep problem."
There are a number of wearable devices on the market from Fitbit to Jawbone to the Microsoft Band that also include sleep trackers. However, if the thought of wearing something on your wrist while you sleep doesn't sound ideal, here are a few alternatives for hacking into your sleep habits -- and making them better.
Eight is a smart mattress cover equipped with sensors that provide data on more than 15 metrics, including everything from hours slept to heart rate, temperature, humidity and the exact time a person falls asleep.
"Everything started because I have problems sleeping," Eight CEO Matteo Franceschetti told ABC News. "Everything around me was becoming smarter and smarter and I said, 'Why is no one bringing tech to my bed?'"
Working with three other co-founders, Franceschetti developed a $249 non-wearable solution that is always working. The secret: A tiny smart box accompanying the cover allows users to connect to Wi-Fi. Eight connects to smart home devices, including the Nest thermostat to help adjust the temperature during the night.
A person's sleep data is also sent to an accompanying app, allowing them to take a deep dive into their habits and learn what they can do to enhance the quality of their sleep.
Most people learn they snore thanks to feedback from their significant other or roommate. For those who sleep alone or want to learn more about just how loud their snoring is, there's an app for that.
The Quit Snoring app lets users listen to their snoring during the night and upload a recording of their sleep session to a Mac or PC. The app includes a graph of the night showing when a person's snoring was loudest or most prolonged and allows for users to drop pins and leave notes at certain points in the night.
A study published in the Journal of Laryngology and Otology called Quit Snoring the best of the 126 apps researchers reviewed.
"A chronic snorer used the app nightly for one month and tracked medical interventions. Snoring decreased from 200 to 10 snores per hour, and bed partner snoring complaint scores decreased from 9 to 2 (on a 0-10 scale)," the study's abstract said.
Sleep Cycle is an app for iPhone and Android and it analyzes a user's sleep in the night, giving them a graph in the morning showing their sleep stages. Since Sleep Cycle knows what sleep stage a person is in, it wakes them up around their preferred time when they are in their lightest sleep phase, promoting a more relaxed feeling.
While the app is free, Sleep Cycle offers premium services including online backup, analysis of long-term trends and support for Phillips Hue connected lights, which can turn on and simulate a sunrise as a person is gently woken up.
Sleep Cycle previously required users to place their phone next to their pillow so the phone's accelerometer could pick up movements during the night, however the company's latest 5.0 version lets people rest their phone on a nightstand where it can then detect movement through sound.
"You spend a lot of your time alive asleep, actually, so it's fascinating to get insights about what happens during the night," Maciek Drejak, founder of Sleep Cycle, told ABC News last November. "Pretty often you can see your sleep cycles and see when you should go to bed."
Pzizz offers a customizable soundtrack that helps lull users into their nightly slumber or even just a power nap.
A random algorithm creates a new soundtrack every night, offering what Pzizz founders say is more than 100 billion combinations. Soundtracks can be a mix of music, bears, sound effects or even inspiring words to help listeners drift away into dream land.
Users can set a custom time length from ten minutes to 12 hours and also program an alarm so they won't have to worry about missing any important meetings. Pzizz is also available offline, making it ideal for trying to get some rest on the airplane -- or for users who want to avoid the distraction of phone calls and emails during the night.