Consumer Reports: Gizmos to help you sleep

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Sleep deprivation has become big business. Americans spent more than $40 billion last year searching for that elusive good night's sleep. (WLS)

Sleep deprivation has become big business. Americans spent more than $40 billion last year searching for that elusive good night's sleep.

The marketplace has exploded with plenty of options to help you get your zzzz's on. But are they really great gadgets or just sleep gimmicks? Consumer Reports takes a look under the covers.

Infomercials can be tempting, if you're desperate for some shut-eye.

The $60 My Pillow promises "deeper, longer REM sleep." But there are no clinical studies to support this.

How about the $150 Sleep Shepherd? It's basically a beanie with built-in speakers. It claims to monitor brain waves and drown out distractions.

"The research that it accurately monitors brain activity is pretty thin, but hearing the rhythmic sounds can be soothing," said Sue Byrne, Consumer Reports.

In fact, white-noise machines like the $50 Marpac Dohm DS help most people who've tried them sleep better, according to a Consumer Reports survey.

Apps like White Noise and My Noise let you get soothing sounds on your Smartphone for free.

"You should also think about why you can't sleep. Electronics devices like smartphones and laptops emit blue light, which slows the production of the sleep hormone melatonin and keeps you awake," Byrne said.

These pricey glasses promise to block blue light - and they do block some. But when Consumer Reports tested glasses in this special light-measuring sphere, they found the glasses that actually blocked out the most blue light were the Uvex Skyper Safety Glasses - with orange lenses - which cost just $8.

What's the best way to beat insomnia? Quit smoking, cut back on caffeine and alcohol and turn off screens long before you head to bed.

Although you might be craving a simple chemical solution to sleeplessness, Consumer Reports Best Buy Drugs' team, which evaluates the safety and effectiveness of medications, reviewed the research on sleep drugs and found them to be limited in their effectiveness. They also pose some serious risks of side effects, like next-day drowsiness.

You can get more information to help you improve your sleep at ConsumerReports.org/sleepbetter.

All Consumer Reports Material Copyright 2015. Consumers Union of U.S. Inc. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Consumer Reports is a not for profit organization which accepts no advertising. It has no commercial relationship with any advertiser or sponsor on this site. For more information visit consumer.org

Related Topics:
healthconsumer reportssleep

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