You’ve likely tried these tips for better sleep before: foregoing caffeine after lunch, turning off your mobile phone an hour before bed, or listening to a meditation app just before dozing off. But between your routine and morning alarm, there are also plenty of other methods that aid in restorative slumber — and they’re automated.
Think mattresses that can detect when you’re snoring, thermostats that make winter mornings tolerable, and light dimmers that mimic daylight. Automated functionality in wellness design isn’t just a trend, it’s part of a home that supports healthy sleep.
“There are specific wellness features that support healthy sleep,” says Jamie Gold, CKD, CAPS, MCCWC, a Mayo Clinic Certified Wellness Coach and the author of Wellness by Design: A Room-by-Room Guide to Optimizing Your Home for Health, Fitness and Happiness.
“These include room-darkening window coverings, elimination of blue light sources, noise reduction, and climate control, which can be achieved with a layered approach to bedding for easy added or reduced warmth, thermostat presets, ceiling fan and, if necessary, a humidifier.”
Here are some tips to upgrade your sleep routine so you won’t have to wonder your bedroom is optimized for perfect sleep each night. With these automations making sure the fine details are just right, it likely is.
Sleep On a Smart Bed that Knows Your Needs
It seems obvious to say what you’re resting on affects your sleep, but with modern times comes many more modern solutions. In the past, a mattress came down to firmness.
Today it’s about adjustable-base beds, or bed frames that can change configuration on command. Not only can these aid in sleep quality by allowing you to change its position to your comfort level — instructed via Alexa or Google Home even! — but you can also have your own mattress preference while your partner has theirs.
An especially interesting feature that come with some beds is the anti-snore mode, which some beds offer. Built-in sensors can detect snoring and adjust the position or angle of the bed when snoring commences. Another function is the massage feature that provides gentle kneading for those with aches and pains.
Let There Be Lights that Mimic Daylight
You turn down a toddler’s lights when it’s story time before bed, since bright light can keep them up. That mentality holds true for adults too.
“Circadian lighting is another smart home feature,” says Gold. “To set up a whole system can be pricey, but there are lightbulbs that can do the job for nightstand and bathroom lights much more affordably.”
Setting up your lights to dim automatically through smart bulbs or your Google home device can help mimic natural light as the day progresses and evening sets in. If you don’t have a central lighting system, some smart bulbs come with Bluetooth apps that allow you to alter their hue and intensity.
The impact on sleep and next-day energy can be remarkable. One study looked at tuned lighting, which mimicked natural light during night and day, in a nursing home. Researchers found that being exposed to tuned lighting resulted in fewer sleep disturbances in older adults.
Set a Sleep Timer to Soothing Music
Some folks need absolute silence to fall asleep while other like to drift off to music. The only problem? Being awoken by the same music you fell asleep to.
A way around this is to download any number of apps that allow you set a timer to automatically stop playing music from your phone. On the Sleeptimer app, for example, you set a countdown clock that gradually softens the music at the time of your choosing. And if you are not ready to sleep then you simply shake your phone and the stream will continue for a set period of time.
If you have an Alexa or Google Home, you can also instruct them to automatically turn Spotify off at a certain time. On Android phones, Spotify also has a built-in mechanism that allows you to set a sleep timer to your favorite sleepy playlist. For iPhones, you can set the sleep timer for Spotify through the native Clock app.
Block WiFi from Your Devices
If you have kids, this smart home hack might cause a little bit of tension, but when it comes to sleeping the recommended eight to 12 hours a night, a literal power down may make all the difference between bad and good moods.
To make sure no one is blocked from access WiFi when they need it, use the WiFi Blocker app. For $5.99, you can schedule the WiFi to disconnect from individual devices. With this, you can rest well knowing that your older kids have access to internet for homework while younger kids aren't up on Minecraft until 1 a.m. For yourself, snoozing your WiFi may be the hack you need to stop doomscrolling.
Get the Temperature Right
Cold temperatures won’t disturb your sleep stages the way heat would, which makes lowering the temperature before bed a good move. But waking up to a cold home isn’t as ideal, and for forgetful folks, constantly changing the temperature up at night (and back up in the morning), can be a hassle.
The solution? A programmable thermostat.
“An electronic thermostat that adjusts to the right temperature range during sleep hours is very helpful,” says Gold, “and not overly expensive.”
Any number of programmable thermostats can help you regulate your home’s climate. For ideal sleep, you’ll want to set your night temperature somewhere between 60 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit. Automate the temperature to slowly raise in the morning, so you don't wake up to cold floors and chilly air in the winter.
Of course if you live in an area where the temperature doesn’t change much, then you can use thermostats to help maintain a consistent, cool environment.
A bonus? Programmable thermostats can save you $180 a year in energy costs, according to Energy Star.
Automating Your Sleep Quality May Help You Sleep Better
A good night’s sleep is defined as seven hours to nine hours a night but one in three Americans don’t get a good night’s sleep, especially in big cities. For those getting poor sleep, this can affect how alert and engaged you are. It’s estimated that at least 18% of Americans experience excessive daytime sleepiness, which also increases risk for high-risk accidents.
Sleep deprivation also has physical implications. “Lack of sleep can have significant ramifications on immune, central nervous system, and digestive system health, as well as causing numerous cognitive and emotional deficits,” says psychotherapist Haley Neidich, LCSW.
“People who are working on even one poor night's sleep may suffer from a negative mood, impulsivity, poor judgment and indecision. When one poor night's sleep turns into a chronic problem, people can be at risk for severe and sometimes irreversible health and mental health problems.”
If you feel trapped by all the reminders and to-dos of a bedtime routine, diving into the world of smart homes could be your answer. By automating your home’s ambiance — and giving up the need to remember to things turn on and off — you can focus on the easy part of your bedtime routine: getting to bed. Sometimes the steps to sleep should be just that simple.
For more hi-tech approaches to the bedroom, check out our DIY tech "tuckaway", what science says about blue-light-blocking glasses, and the best music for sleep.
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