I remember being in a hotel room in Boston once, and the bedside table included instructions on how to use the mattress for sleeping. It seemed incongruous with the whole idea of slumber: The existence of a manual itself added a touch of stress at a moment when the average person just wants to drift off to dreamland. Why did I need directives? Couldn't I just lie down and close my eyes?
It is in that frame of mind that I bring you news from the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas that you can now improve the quality of your precious 8 hours - or whatever number works for you - by fidgeting around with gadgets and gizmos on your nightstand.
Yes, once you finally, finally put aside the tablet computer after overdosing on screens all day and into the night -- a cause of sleep afflictions -- don't worry. Technology can still be your shepherd, even as you snooze.
The Aura "smart sleep" system that emits LED light at just the right color to enhance the stages of your shuteye, using sensors embedded in a mattress pad and in a bedside gadget. Sleep-inducing red waves bathe you when you need deep rest. Stimulating blue light arrives to wake you. And so on, with yellow and white part of the mix. The intelligent sensors detect your heart rate, breathing pattern, body movements, room temperature and noise and light levels. You control the whole thing with an app (it just wouldn't be modern tech without one!) that also provides feedback in the morning. The $299 Aura comes from French company Withings. Dutch electronics company Philips offers a similar product called Wake-Up Light that mimics changing natural light at sunrise but does not monitor sleep activity, according to the BBC story.
Sleepow, which is a pillow that emits tones at different frequencies for each ear, supposedly promoting relaxation.
Basis, which is a smartwatch that monitors a sleeper's heart rate, perspiration and skin temperature.
But if your sleep problem relates more to the snorer next to you, then USA Today has spotted the Vegas show stopper for you: An $8,000 bed that does all that fancy monitoring plus one other thing: At the push of a button it will elevate the head of your partner, supposedly halting the midnight freight train. It's from a company called Sleep Number, but maybe they should call themselves Gimmick. Rumor has it that next year they'll add an ejector spring.
So, are you going to rush out and buy any one of these things? Well, why don't you sleep on it first.