In today's nonstop world, it can be hard to make yourself sleep when your body needs it most. As such, insomnia is becoming an increasingly prevalent problem, affecting roughly 50 million to 70 million people in the United States alone.
If you're one of the many who suffer from it, you may have already tried a number of possible remedies, from sound machines to prescription sleep aids. However, many insomniacs find the non-medicated routes useless and thus turn to medication more and more. This is not exactly a healthy habit to adopt. Not only can it turn into an addiction, but such medications can severely impact your daily life by depleting your energy, making you overly drowsy and even causing amnesia.
However, thanks to Michael Larson, a brilliant mechanical engineer, the need for such dangerous sleep aids may soon be behind us. He created an incredible headband that uses "brain-training" sounds to help you fall into a deep sleep and stay there.
The Sleep Shepherd Blue is a comfortable headband that plays "binaural beats," which are soft humming sounds that allegedly lull your brain into a deep sleep. Think of it like someone repeatedly making the meditation "om" sound in your ear to calm those busy thoughts (but less invasive). There have been studies on these beats that suggest they do in fact improve sleep quality. But that's far from the only thing this headband can do.
It also has multiple sensors that track your brain waves and send data to your smartphone or tablet, similar to a Fitbit. However, the sensors are somewhat more advanced, because if they sense wakeful brain waves, they alert the speakers, which in turn play more binaural beats to send you back to dreamland.
"[The beats] are like a hammock for your brain," Larson told Huffington Post. "They help your brain slow down, which is the very definition of sleeping."
The sensors will even show you which head positions you favor when you sleep, so if the app says you get a better night's sleep on your right side, you'll know to opt for that side more often. The headset also comes with a built-in smart alarm that ever so gently brings your brain out of its sleep state into wakefulness. You'll never need to use your snooze button again.
Larson came up with the idea for the Sleep Shepherd (the precursor to the Blue version) back in 2012, when his daughter was dealing with a frustrating sleep disorder. He hated seeing her deal with the nasty side effects of medication, so he decided to put his engineer skills to good use and create a better, medication-free option for her.
While there aren't any doctors involved with the Sleep Shepherd's development, Larson cites a number of scientific studies that show the effectiveness of binaural beats on sleep-challenged people. He says the EEG sensors that monitor brain activities are the same ones doctors have been using for decades now, so they're perfectly safe. Not to mention the first generation of the Sleep Shepherd has already been sold in stores for a few years, and so far, no major complaints.
If the idea of restful, deep sleep sounds awesome to you, you can purchase the Sleep Shepherd Blue on the product's Kickstarter page for $159 to $199, depending on availability. And unlike other Kickstarter offers that often take months to reach you, this looks to ship out relatively quickly. You could be on your way to a much better night's sleep by early spring.
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