Can’t Sleep? Seven Devices That Might Solve Your Coronasomnia
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Can’t Sleep? Seven Devices That Might Solve Your Coronasomnia

We tested a lulling light display, a wearable sleep lab and a robot that trains you to breathe your way to slumber.

Tue, Apr 12, 2022 10:15amGrey Clock 5 min

IT’S BEEN A MONTH since we sprang forward, but if you’re still slugging down extra coffee to cope, you’re not alone. Daylight savings is always hard on our bodies, said Dr. Nicole Avena, associate professor of neuroscience at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, but Covid-19 has made the shift more difficult than usual. Dr. Abhinav Singh, a physician at Indiana Sleep Center, says about 40% of people have experienced sleep problems, what he calls “coronosomnia,” during the pandemic. Working from home has disrupted our circadian cues for maintaining what Dr. Singh calls a healthy sleep-wake rhythm (think: irregular meal and exercise times, reduced sunlight exposure).

For those looking to get things back on track, several companies are offering products that promise to get you to sleep faster, stay asleep more consistently and wake up easier, improving overall sleep health. Seattle area surgery scheduler Genny Coleman, 46, who’s struggled with insomnia since contracting Covid-19 last summer, recently tried one such product on the urging of a friend with a newborn: the Hatch Restore. Released in May 2020, it doubles as a white-noise machine to help you sleep and a sunrise alarm clock to wake you up with gentle light and sound. “There are still some nights [I] may not sleep perfectly, but the Hatch definitely helps [me] to get better rest,” said Ms. Coleman. Other new sleep solutions range from wearable patches to breathable robots. We tested the following seven.

1. Casper Glow Light

Claim to Fame: This rechargeable LED light is designed to help you create a nightly routine. Once you’ve used the app to dial in some settings, it’s easy to use. When you’re ready for bed, flip the light over to turn it on. Depending on the “dimming time” you’ve selected, the light will slowly fade over a period between 15 and 90 minutes. The beacon serves as a helpful nudge, reminding you it’s time to put away your phone (and its sleep-compromising blue light) and wind down.

Test Results: This became a staple on my nightstand. I crawled into bed and read until the decrescendo alerted me it was time to close my eyes. This might not help much if you have serious insomnia, but for the mildly sleep-challenged, it’s enough.

Best For: Page-turners who stay up late and regret it in the morning. approx. $175,

2. OneClock Analog Waking Clock

Claim to Fame: Using your phone as an alarm clock is a bad idea—picking it up before bed is certain to induce scrolling. This minimalist clock, introduced in 2021, will gently nudge you awake in the morning. Waking songs currently include exclusive compositions by Jon Natchez from rock band the War on Drugs. The company bets that you’ll appreciate waking up to these atmospheric, invigorating pieces more than some of the cacophonies your iPhone spews.

Test Results: The modern equivalent of waking up to soft AM radio: comforting, calming, familiar. It was nice to start my day with music without needing to grab my phone to find the right Spotify playlist. A fair warning: The device’s many buttons lack labels. That makes setup tricky, but ultimately, learnable. Just don’t skip the online FAQ.

Best For: Melophiles ready to break up with bedtime blue light for good. approx. $4o0,

3. Somnox 2 Sleep Robot

Claim to Fame: Dutch inventor Julian Jagtenberg began creating the Sleep Robot in 2015 with a team of other sleep-deprived engineers to help his mother overcome insomnia without medication. As you hold the 1.3kg rechargeable jelly bean to your chest, like a teddy bear, its soft in-and-out movement and sounds are designed to encourage deeper breathing.

Test Results: Cuddling a robot is weird, yet effective. It reminded me of holding a delicate baby, but more relaxing. Downloading its app enables nearly two dozen sounds (or you can stream your own audio through Bluetooth) and lets you set your own breathing program. When you’re awake, Somnox also works as the best stress ball ever: Just hold it in your lap at your desk. One downside: Given the price, it was disappointing that the washable cover pilled quickly.

Best For: Anxious adults who wish their bed was still covered in a menagerie of stuffed animals. approx. $807,

4. Wesper Sleep Kit

Claim to Fame: This system turns your bedroom into a sleep lab, providing granular data you can’t get from most wearables. After snoozing for at least three nights with its crescent-shaped patches stuck to your chest and stomach, you schedule an initial video consultation with a sleep specialist on the app. He or she analyzes your results to pinpoint problems like sleep apnea.

Test Results: While my report didn’t find any issues, it helped me tweak my schedule to complete full sleep cycles. Impressive results, given I’d never heard of “sleep cycles” before trying the Wesper.

Best For: Anyone with serious sleep challenges or biohackers. approx. $270 plus $13/month after first month,

5. Dodow Sleep Aid

Claim to Fame: Measuring a little over 3 inches in diameter, this flat, white puck uses a pulsating light to coach your breathing at night. Tap the top as you climb into bed, and the battery-operated device projects a blue circle onto your ceiling. You inhale when it expands and exhale when it retracts, a breathing technique that relies on a mind-body therapy called cardiac coherence to control heart rate variability and help you fall asleep faster.

Test Results: Promising, but many will find the Dodow a bit awkward to use. It’s difficult to see the blue light unless your room is pitch black. And since the light appears on the ceiling, it’s hard to see unless you sleep on your back. You trigger the device through a series of taps, but I had to reread the instructions a few times and practice just to get the right “touch.” That said, watching a pulsing light is so boring that it’s bound to make you drift off eventually.

Best For: Back sleepers who’ve tried everything else, $80,

6. Loftie Clock

Claim to Fame: Loftie believes its three-in-one digital alarm clock, white noise machine and nightlight will finally convince you to stop sleeping with your phone on your nightstand. You can use buttons on the Loftie to set alarms and launch breathwork, meditation and sound-bath sessions without pulling out your phone and saturating your eyes with blue light. Alarms are two-phased: a soft “wake-up” chime plays for 30 seconds until a slightly faster (and louder) “get-up” tune signals that, well, it’s time to get up.

Test Results: We were impressed with the sheer volume of content stuffed inside this small device. Its bedtime stories are oddly soothing, like the grown-up version of having parents tuck you in at night. We also liked the clock’s “Bed Signal,” which cues a lullaby and a nightlight at the same time every night.

Best For: Perpetual snooze-button hitters who need a schedule. approx.  $200,

7. Flare Audio Sleep Pro

Claim to Fame: These sleek plugs have memory-foam ball tips (each set comes with two sizes), connected by a titanium stem, that are designed to mould to your ear canal. They’re intended to reduce all variety of sleep-precluding noises, from sirens to snoring, by an average of 32 decibels.

Test Results: At this price, the earbuds disappointed. They look great, but I found that the design was hard to wear for a whole night, especially when I slept on my side, since they stick out. They do a great job cancelling noise, but you might get similar performance in a more comfortable package from the sort of standard buds you could buy at a hardware store.

Best For: Back sleepers and frequent fliers. approx. $72,


Reprinted by permission of The Wall Street Journal, Copyright 2021 Dow Jones & Company. Inc. All Rights Reserved Worldwide. Original date of publication: April 11, 2022.


Consumers are going to gravitate toward applications powered by the buzzy new technology, analyst Michael Wolf predicts

Chris Dixon, a partner who led the charge, says he has a ‘very long-term horizon’

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What We Fight About When We Fight About Money

New research tackles the source of financial conflict and what we can do about it

Mon, Nov 27, 2023 3 min

When couples argue over money, the real source of the conflict usually isn’t on their bank statement.

Financial disagreements tend to be stand-ins for deeper issues in our relationships, researchers and couples counsellors said, since the way we use money is a reflection of our values, character and beliefs. Persistent fights over spending and saving often doom romantic partnerships: Even if you fix the money problem, the underlying issues remain.

To understand what the fights are really about, new research from social scientists at Carleton University in Ottawa began with a unique data set: more than 1,000 posts culled from a relationship forum on the social-media platform Reddit. Money was a major thread in the posts, which largely broke down into complaints about one-sided decision-making, uneven contributions, a lack of shared values and perceived unfairness or irresponsibility.

By analysing and categorising the candid messages, then interviewing hundreds of couples, the researchers said they have isolated some of the recurring patterns behind financial conflicts.

The research found that when partners disagree about mundane expenses, such as grocery bills and shop receipts, they tend to have better relationships. Fights about fair contributions to household finances and perceived financial irresponsibility are particularly detrimental, however.

While there is no cure-all to resolve the disputes, the antidote in many cases is to talk about money more, not less, said Johanna Peetz, a professor of psychology at Carleton who co-authored the study.

“You should discuss finances more in relationships, because then small things won’t escalate into bigger problems,” she said.

A partner might insist on taking a vacation the other can’t afford. Another married couple might want to separate their previously combined finances. Couples might also realize they no longer share values they originally brought to the relationship.

Recognise patterns

Differentiating between your own viewpoint on the money fight from that of your partner is no easy feat, said Thomas Faupl, a marriage and family psychotherapist in San Francisco. Where one person sees an easily solvable problem—overspending on groceries—the other might see an irrevocable rift in the relationship.

Faupl, who specialises in helping couples work through financial difficulties, said many partners succeed in finding common ground that can keep them connected amid heated discussions. Identifying recurring themes in the most frequent conflicts also helps.

“There is something very visceral about money, and for a lot of people, it has to do with security and power,” he said. “There’s permutations on the theme, and that could be around responsibility, it could be around control, it could be around power, it could be around fairness.”

Barbara Krenzer and John Stone first began their relationship more than three decades ago. Early on in their conversations, the Syracuse, N.Y.-based couple opened up about what they both felt to be most important in life: spending quality time with family and investing in lifelong memories.

“We didn’t buy into the big lifestyle,” Krenzer said. “Time is so important and we both valued that.”

For Krenzer and Stone, committing to that shared value meant making sacrifices. Krenzer, a physician, reduced her work hours while raising their three children. Stone trained as an attorney, but once Krenzer went back to full-time work, he looked for a job that let him spend the mornings with the children.

“Compromise: That’s a word they don’t say enough with marriage,” Krenzer said. “You have to get beyond the love and say, ‘Do I want to compromise for them and find that middle ground?’”

Money talks

Talking about numbers behind a behaviour can help bring a couple out of a fight and back to earth, Faupl said. One partner might rue the other’s tightfistedness, but a discussion of the numbers reveals the supposed tightwad is diligently saving money for the couple’s shared future.

“I get under the hood with people so we can get black-and-white numbers on the table,” he said. “Are these conversations accurate, or are they somehow emotionally based?”

Couples might follow tenets of good financial management and build wealth together, but conflict is bound to arise if one partner feels the other isn’t honouring that shared commitment, Faupl said.

“If your partner helps with your savings goals, then that feels instrumental to your own goals, and that is a powerful drive for feeling close to the partner and valuing that relationship,” he said.

A sense of mission

When it comes to sticking out the hard times, “sharing values is important, even more so than sharing personality traits,” Peetz said. In her own research, Peetz found that romantic partners who disagreed about shared values could one day split up as a result.

“That is the crux of the conflict often: They each have a different definition,” she said of themes such as fairness and responsibility.

And sometimes, it is worth it to really dig into the potentially difficult conversations around big money decisions. When things are working well, coming together to achieve these common goals—such as saving for your own retirement or preparing for your children’s financial future—will create intimacy, not money strife.

“That is a powerful drive for feeling close to the partner and valuing that relationship,” she said.


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