bedtime technology

to help you sleep

Advocates of healthier, less tech-dependent living say you should keep your gadgets out of the bedroom. But what if those devices can help you get a decent night's sleep?

Plenty of consumer devices can track sleeping patterns — how long and deeply you rest, how often you get up and even your heart rate and respiration. For $50 to $200, you can get an activity tracker that is worn like a watch, with familiar brand names like the Jawbone Up, Fitbit, the Basis Peak and the Microsoft Band.

You can get more data — and spend more — with things like headbands and chest straps and bedside monitors that can watch your breathing and respiration.

Let's start with the wrist gadgets you've probably heard of: Jawbone and Fitbit don't track heart rate or respiration, just movement — though both have announced coming devices that will include heart rate tracking.

The Microsoft Band and the Basis Peak provide heart-rate monitoring in addition to sensing motion. Their manufacturers claim they can tell the difference between light and deep sleep.

Some people reasonably object to wearing a wristband, chest strap or headband while sleeping. An answer to that could be bedside devices that claim to monitor your sleep from afar, like the $150 ResMed S+.

You can also consider tech that doesn't require any extra work at all — you just have to go to bed. Withings, a French company, makes a $300 device called the Aura, which includes a mattress pad and a bedside base that can produce various sounds, lights and alarms.

A cheaper competitor called Beddit offers a $150 setup that consists of a motion-sensing strip that sticks to your mattress and plugs in next to the bed. If you're willing to sleep with your phone next to your head, it will even use the phone's microphone to listen for sounds like snoring.

Sleep scientists say a lot of people go to sleep at night and wake up tired for reasons they can't explain. If you live alone, you might have no idea that you have sleep apnea, restless legs or even problems like sleepwalking. Sleep tracking can help uncover patterns that you didn't already know about, even if they are not always completely accurate.