The Dreampad was originally conceived as a way to help relax autistic children, but took on a new dimension after an academic study showed the device was helpful in helping adults induce sleep. The pillow — which got a segment on “Shark Tank” but didn’t land a deal — is used by sleep clinics at Harvard, Duke and Stanford.
Unlike apps that monitor sleep or need active engagement, “by design the Dreampad is relatively low tech,” Redford explained, adding that it’s for people who want to manage stress. “That’s the real target for this.”
As a result of growing stress levels, America is suffering from poor “sleep hygiene,” according to Alpher, with many consumers in need of a deep cleaning of sorts.
“You want a technology-free bedroom: turn off all technology in your room,” he said, and suggested sleepers do a “brain dump: Write a journal and keep notes of all thing you need to do,” he added, so they don’t consume your thoughts before bed.
Among other things, alcohol, caffeine and spicy foods should also be strictly regulated before bedtime, Alpher told CNBC.
“The bedroom is strictly for sleeping, you don’t want to do anything else. You need to have peace and quiet: If your partner snores, that’s like secondhand smoke,” the doctor said. “It is linked to potential heart issues, high blood pressure, and emotional disorders. You’re very tired, not getting the biochemical changes necessary to wake up and relax. It’s a slippery slope.”
So does technology have a legitimate role to play in fixing America’s sleep crisis? Alpher voiced skepticism, and even suggested the growing list of sleep aides and trackers might even compound the problem.
“One of the big dangers we face is people will play around with all these gadgets thinking they can fix serious sleep disorders or to find out whether they have a sleep disorder,” he told CNBC.
–CNBC’s Hadley Gamble, Natasha Turak and Erin Barry contributed to this article.