March 19 marks the 14th annual World Sleep Day, which is intended to be a celebration of sleep and a call to action on important issues related to getting enough of it.
This year, the focus is on the benefits of regular sleep, with studies showing stable bedtimes and rise times mean better sleep quality. Regular sleepers reportedly have better mood, psychomotor performance, and academic achievement.
But how can we maintain healthy, regular sleep times? Technology can certainly help.
For World Sleep Day 2021, we've collected some of the latest and greatest tech tools that will help you enjoy regular, healthy sleep.
Apple's Sleep and Health apps
There are a number of ways people can use Apple products to help them sleep, but perhaps the most effective are the Sleep app on Apple Watch and the Health app for iPhone.
These free services can be used to track how well you're sleeping every minute of the night, as well as set-up a personal sleep schedule and then track how well you're achieving your goals.
Users can create a 'Wind Down' routine for the end of the day to help prepare them for sleep. That can be taken further using Apple Fitness+, a paid subscription service with a 'Mindful Cooldown' feature, which is said to help unwind before bed through stretching and guided meditation. It aims to reduce stress, and improve flexibility and focus.
"We wanted to be seen as a helpful addition, rather than another source of frustration and anxiety," says Kevin Lynch, Apple's Vice President of Software.
"It's really about getting enough sleep and the main thing about that is the difficulty of going to bed. There are so many things in the world to distract us and occupy our attention. Supporting people in managing that transition is where the magic is."
Apple Music and Spotify also feature plenty of sleep music playlists and podcasts that are specifically made to help you drift off and stay asleep. Even just opening YouTube on your phone can connect you with countless long, snooze-inducing audio files of things like rain sounds.
Fitbit Ace 3
Of course, Apple isn't the only company offering sleep aids that you wear on your wrist.
Fitbit recently launched its latest activity and sleep tracker that is targeted at families, Ace 3, which is compatible with Android and iOS devices.
Parents can set up a family account and manage aspects of their children's devices, which are also designed to be fun for kids to use.
"Sleep tracking, bedtime reminders and silent alarms help parents and kids work together to develop a consistent sleep schedule that gives kids enough time to rest and energise for another day of staying active and building healthy habits," says Fitbit.
"Through a Fitbit Family account in-app, parents are able to access Parent View where they can easily see their kid's activity. Meanwhile, kids can experience Ace 3 in-app via Kid View, a focused view that promotes the development of healthy habits by showing the data that matters most, like activity and sleep stats."
Circadian lighting and adaptive lighting
Smart lighting technology has come a long way in recent years and one of its benefits can be helping people get better sleep.
Instead of waking up to a shrieking alarm, some people find it much more pleasant to have a light gradually wake them in the morning.
It's also becoming increasingly popular to create lighting that emulates the natural sleep/wake cycles of the human body from dawn to dusk.
One of the companies selling such lighting set-ups in New Zealand is Nanoleaf.
The company's own app offers a circadian lighting feature, but its products can also be used with Apple's HomeKit which offers adaptive lighting.
These work with the bulbs and lightstrips to automatically adjust their colour temperature throughout the day based on your timezone.
"This mimics the lighting effects of the sun to give your body the natural signals that you wouldn't get with a standard light," says Nanoleaf.
"As a result, you can experience increased energy and productivity throughout the day, improved comfort in the evening, and even a better more restful sleep at night."