7 Technologies to Help You Sleep Better

Here are seven technologies, from apps to standalone devices, that can aid us in getting a better night's sleep. 

Numerous studies have shown us how important sleep can be. Not only does it revitalize our bodies, it also gives the brain time to sort through all the information it has received throughout our hectic day. Sleep deprivation, and a lack of quality sleep, can lead to weight problems, high blood pressure, and a weaker immune system (amongst a host of other issues).


With our lives becoming increasingly mobile and multi-task oriented, getting the recommended eight hours can be difficult, and even when we do, the quality of our sleep might not be all that it should be. To combat a very physical and human problem, here are seven humanizing technologies, from apps to standalone devices, that can aid us in getting a better night's sleep. 

Apps:

Proactive Sleep

Proactive Sleep is a multifunction sleep app that includes basics like an alarm clock with snooze feature and ambient music. It also includes a more comprehensive “sleep diary” that lets users track their amount of sleep, difficulty falling asleep, exercise, caffeine consumption and more. The data is averaged and can be viewed in seven day cycles, 30 day cycles, or all days.

Sleep Cycle Alarm Clock

If you’re really committed to learning more about your sleep habits, Sleep Cycle Alarm Clock provides you with a tool for analyzing your sleep habits. By literally placing the iPhone next to you while you sleep, the app will monitor your movement and wake you in your lightest sleep phase so you arise feeling refreshed and well-rested.

Wearable:

Nyx Somnus Sleep Shirt

A nightshirt embedded with fabric electronics to monitor the wearer's breathing patterns. A small chip worn in a pocket of the shirt processes that data to determine the phase of sleep, such as REM sleep (when we dream), light sleep, or deep sleep.

Fitbit

A wireless-enabled wearable device that measures data such as the number of steps walked, quality of sleep, and other personal metrics.

Jawbone Up

A motionX powered GPS enabled health monitoring device which tracks the persons steps, sleep and its quality and food. It also features a "challenges" social feature where anybody using a UP can add challenge to be accepted by other users. 

Standalone Devices:

Zeo

An alarm clock that monitors sleep states (e.g.,REM) and attempts to wake people up in the best stage of sleep. The state of sleep is detected by a headband and a bedside base unit awakens the sleeper during the last light sleep phase before the desired waking time.

BAM Labs Smart Bed Monitoring Device

BAM Labs® Touch-free Life Care™ (TLC) System brings “smart” to the bed. The BAM Labs® TLC under mattress sensor and HIPAA-compliant cloud monitoring platform transforms any bed into a smart bed. The FDA registered TLC System empowers healthcare professionals and caregivers to easily and efficiently monitor essential health information wirelessly anytime and from anywhere – without attaching anything to the patient or resident.

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Originally Poe envisioned a parrot, not a raven

Quoth the parrot — "Nevermore."

The Green Parrot by Vincent van Gogh, 1886
Culture & Religion

By his mid-30s, Edgar Allan Poe was not only weary by the hardships of poverty, but also regularly intoxicated — by more than just macabre visions. Despite this, the Gothic writer lucidly insisted that there was still a method to his madness when it came to devising poems.

In an essay titled "The Philosophy of Composition," published in 1846 in Graham's Magazine, Poe divulged how his creative process worked, particularly in regard to his most famous poem: "No one point in [The Raven's] composition is rerferrible either to accident or intuition… the work proceeded step by step, to its completion with the precision and rigid consequence of a mathematical problem."

That said, contrary to the popular idea that Edgar Allan Poe penned his poems in single bursts of inspiration, The Raven did not pour out from his quivering quill in one fell swoop. Rather it came about through a calculative process — one that included making some pretty notable changes, even to its avian subject.

As an example of how his mind worked, Poe describes in his essay that originally the bird that flew across the dreary scene immortalized in the poem was actually… a parrot.

Poe had pondered ways he could have his one word refrain, "nevermore," continuously repeated throughout the poem. With that aim, he instantly thought of a parrot because it was a creature capable of uttering words. However, as quickly as Poe had found his feathered literary device, he became concerned with the bird's form on top of its important function.

And as it turns out, the parrot, a pretty resplendent bird, did not perch so well in Poe's mind because it didn't fit the mood he was going for—melancholy, "the most legitimate of all the poetical tones." In solving this dilemma in terms of imagery, he made adjustments to its plumage, altogether transforming the parrot — bestowing it with a black raiment.

"Very naturally, a parrot, in the first instance, suggested itself, but was superseded forthwith by a Raven, as equally capable of speech, and infinitely more in keeping with the intended tone," Poe explained in his piece in Graham's. "I had now gone so far as the conception of a Raven — the bird of ill omen — monotonously repeating the one word, 'Nevermore,' at the conclusion of each stanza, in a poem of melancholy tone…"

It was with these aesthetic calculations that Poe ousted the colorful bird that first flew into his mind, and welcomed the darker one that fluttered in:

In there stepped a stately Raven of the saintly days of yore;
Not the least obeisance made he; not a minute stopped or stayed he;
But, with mien of lord or lady, perched above my chamber door—
Perched upon a bust of Pallas just above my chamber door—
Perched, and sat, and nothing more.
Then this ebony bird beguiling my sad fancy into smiling,
By the grave and stern decorum of the countenance it wore…

The details of the poem — including the bird's appearance — needed to all blend together, like a recipe, to bring out the somber concept he was trying to convey: the descent into madness of a bereaved lover, a man lamenting the loss of a beautiful woman named Lenore. With that in mind, quoth the parrot — "nevermore" just doesn't have the same grave effect.

* * *

If you'd like to read more about Edgar Allan Poe, click here to review how his contemporaries tried to defame him in an attempt to thwart his success.

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