TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — In 2016, Americans spent an estimated $41 billion on sleep aids and remedies. New products to help us get a good night’s sleep are hitting the market nearly every day. But are any of them worth your money?
We asked Dr. Lara Whittine, who is the Medical Director at the Florida Hospital Tampa Sleep Lab, to review some of the newer products on the market, as well as some well-known sleep aids. Here’s what she has to say about the sleep aids-
Devices that monitor and regulate light – red for sleep, blue to wake up – are based on circadian rhythm, our bodies’ natural responses to light. The product Dr. Whittine looked at was the “Glow to Sleep: mask by Illumy. The product is described by the manufacturer as “a comfortable sleep mask that uses gently dimming light to help you fall asleep and gently brightening light to help you wake up naturally.” Dr. Whittine says the science behind this product, and others like it, is valid. But she says that simply being away of light exposure does the same thing. That means dimming your lights and discontinuing the use of electronics, which give off blue light, an hour or two before bedtime. For those who need extra help creating the perfect sleep environment, Dr. Whittine says that a regular sleep mask will help block out the remaining light, and “it’s probably just as beneficial in all honesty.:
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with white noise, says Dr. Whittine. But she’s concerned about products that include the “Hush Smart Earplugs,” wireless earphones that filter noises, monitor sleep, and play soothing sounds. She says studies are needed to show the long-term effects of the headphones on hearing.
Fitness Trackers That Monitor Sleep
Dr. Whittine says a lot of fitness trackers, measure motion and muscle activity, not sleep. The tracker may indicate that you’ve woken up throughout the night, but it’s likely that you didn’t, and simply moved in your sleep, which is normal. “Sometimes these technologies can get us even more concerned about processes than actually give us reassurance – I think we really have to be careful about how we interpret those,” Dr. Whittine says.
Devices Designed to Prevent Snoring
Dr. Whittine says that snoring can be a marker for obstructive sleep apnea, which can impact the cardiovascular system. If you or your partner has a problem with snoring, it’s best to consult with your physician first, to make sure you’re not at high risk for a cardiovascular issue.
Dr. Whittine says there is medical evidence to show that Melatonin can help solidify the circadian rhythm, and Magnesium may improve sleep, particularly in older people. But, rather than take a Magnesium supplement, Dr. Whittine recommends adding more magnesium-rich foods, like leafy green vegetables, to your diet.
Prescription Medications, Including Ambien
While these can certainly help you get a full night’s sleep, Dr. Whittine says that they only help achieve “N2 sleep” – that’s non-REM sleep. And, these sedatives are not recommended for older people due to the increased risk of falls.
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