Breakthrough or bogus? What's real in the world of sleep tech and science.

With the holidays approaching quickly and wish-lists growing exponentially, you may be in the market for something dreamy. Maybe a new mattress, a bedding set that claims to be woven with the tears of unicorns, or perhaps something that closely resembles headgear. Sleep tech is an exciting new frontier, and there seems to be an answer for just about every problem that occurs in the bedroom.

Most of those problems, however, can be solved simply by taking a closer look at where you’re laying your head each night. Before you grab your wallet and a liability waiver, check out our guide on which products are a dream come true, and which are just pipe dreams.

1. Lucid Dreaming mask

The lucrative lucid dreams are those in which you are fully aware you are dreaming, and therefore have the conscious power to make choices, do whatever, and say whatever you like in your dreams. Lucid dreaming is linked to previously undiscovered creativity and self-reflection. It would be incredibly powerful if it weren't so difficult to achieve. In 2012, a wave of lucid dreams masks hit the market, promising to encourage lucid dreams by flashing red lights onto the user's eyes, which were bright enough to be seen but not enough to wake up the user. Once they realized they were asleep and dreaming, they could Inception their way around their own minds. This would be amazing were it not for the fact that lucid dreaming is far more complicated than that. The masks weren't targeting REM sleep, which is when deep dreaming occurs, and lucid dreaming is known to take weeks or months of practice. Keep that in mind before you shell out $1,000 for the highest-rated mask on the market.

2. Sleep apnea watch

The world of wearables is a highly competitive one, but one watch is claiming to meet a need that hasn't yet been met. This watch claims to detect sleep apnea by measuring your PAT system, or your sympathetic nervous system, using wires attached to your fingertip. This is a massive win for the sleep-science community since up until now the test for sleep apnea required doing a sleep study, which is highly invasive and deeply uncomfortable. While it claims to be 90% accurate, the jury is out as to whether these results would be accepted by a doctor's office or would need to be replicated by a proper study. For now, if you're suspicious of apnea, it's probably best to get a test done professionally. Here's what mine was like.

3. Dream recording machine

While scientists believe we're over a decade away from the world of "Alexa, play last night's dream", they're already working on machines that record and display a general picture of the goings-on in our brains at night. Experts believe that dreaming may just be our brains firing off electric signals and nerve impulses the same way we do when we're awake. Using fMRIs, a professor in Japan was able to reconstruct images from a waking person's mind, meaning the sleeping person's mind could very well be within reach. Though this is all still highly theoretical, this technology could open up a new world of opportunity for advertising, mental healthcare, and even military tech.

We may still be a ways away from fully understanding, and therefore fully capitalizing upon sleep and dreaming, each day we get closer to honing in on what makes our brains tick when the sun goes down. For now, it's probably best to keep it simple and follow common sense:

  • keep your thermostat low (the ideal is 67 degrees!),

  • keep your sheets clean and breathable,

  • make sure you stay hydrated during the day, and

  • put away all screens at least 45 minutes before bedtime.

Don’t play into the marketing tactics of big-name companies who just want to make a buck. Get back to the basics, and you’ll rest easy.