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Whether you work the night shift, fly on the red-eye, or just have trouble falling asleep, this might be the invention for you.
Sound Oasis is a Boston-based startup that creates products meant to help people sleep. The company’s line includes sound machines that produce carefully engineered white noise as well as pillows and speakers meant to lessen the effects of tinnitus.
The company’s team includes doctors with expertise in sleep, sound, and neuroscience, among other areas. One of the startup’s latest creations: the Illumy sleep mask, a $150 gadget that’s supposedly engineered to make you doze off.
Its secret: The inside of the mask glows with a red light as you’re trying to go to sleep. According to Interesting Engineering, Sound Oasis consulted with NASA sleep experts who use similar technology to help astronauts keep their circadian rhythms while in space.
Red light has been associated with better sleep for several years. One theory sleep scientists have: red light helps with the production of melatonin, a hormone that makes you feel more tired.
In turn, the sleep science community has theorized that the cold blue light many devices (smartphones, tablets, etc) give off can make it more difficult to get to sleep. A 2015 study found that subjects who read on light-emitting tablets before bed took, on average, 10 minutes longer to fall asleep than those given traditional books.
That science is why Apple has been incorporating a new feature into the iPhone called Night Shift, which converts the harsh blue light of your screen into warmer reddish hues in the hours before you go to bed.
Based on similar science, the Illumy mask begins glowing blue for the wearer when it’s time to wake up. It gets synced with an app on your phone on which you can set your sleep and wake times. A chiming alarm will complete the effect of jolting you back into consciousness if you so choose.
And the most hard-core sleep enthusiasts can turn on Sleep Enhance, a feature that incorporates gently pulsing light into the mask’s glow in an attempt to lull you to sleep. The blue light will pulse faster when it’s time to wake up, which, when combined with an alarm, sounds like just about the most nightmarish way to possibly begin your day.