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woman in sleep maskAs any traveler knows, sleep—on a plane or in a hotel room—can be elusive, says a recent New York Times article. To help road warriors get the zzz’s they need, there’s no shortage of gadgets that promise to help, though some make you look downright silly. So how do you travel the world without resembling a large bird or wedge of cheese?

“If you want shut-eye but don’t want to reach for pills or cocktails, sleep studies suggest you must control what you see and hear,” says the Times article. “Of course, sleep is so complex and personal that there’s no universal cure for insomnia.” There are two things, however, that seem to make sleep hard to come by for almost everyone: sound and light.

Sound

When a cranky infant is screaming two rows behind you on a plane, or decibel-shattering music is vibrating the walls of your hotel room, or when you simply can’t quiet your thoughts, ear plugs just won’t cut it.

Airsleep, a new app for iPhones, iPods and iPads, promises to transport you to dreamland with the sound of rain, waves and wind, along with “dreamwave brainwave” technology that supposedly alters your brain wave patterns to help you relax. Designed for travelers, the app actually has some useful features: you can adjust the length of each track based on travel time (up to 10 hours) and listen while your iPhone is in Airplane Mode (be sure to download tracks before your flight, when you have an Internet connection). The app can also add music to the rain, waves and wind, and it’s free through Dec. 31, 2013.

Prefer to nod off to the calming sounds of nature? Check out “Healing Sounds of Nature” CDs. Thunderstorm, Rain and Ocean Waves is particularly soothing; albums are $9.99 on iTunes.

Those of you who like to fall asleep with the TV on may want to try the Coffitivity app for iPhones, Macs and iPads ($1.99). With three types of coffee shop buzz (morning murmur, university undertones, lunchtime lounge), it’s designed to foster creativity in the workplace by providing a background blend of calm and chaos typically found in a coffee shop (inspired by research about noise and creativity—who knew).

White Noise by TMSoft, an app for iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch, soothes listeners with ocean waves, wind and rain, as well as more unconventional sounds like a train, vacuum cleaner, hair dryer, clothes dryer, heartbeat, water dripping, crickets chirping and purring cat.

When thunderstorms fail to send you to the land of Nod, try former Buddhist monk Andy Puddicombe’s free 16-minute sleep podcast (on his Headspace meditation app and through a link on Getsomeheadspace.com) during which he talks you through an under-the-covers meditation technique.

Light

Although the New York Times article’s author mentioned two sleep masks, neither one brought satisfaction. We would therefore like to offer Cabeau’s Midnight Magic Sleep Mask as a solution, allowing you to sleep comfortably on a plane—or anywhere—in total darkness. Cabeau’s sleep mask guarantees a perfect fit because the adjustable nose bridge molds to the unique contours of your face. Plus, you choose the amount of darkness you want.

Whichever method of sounds or darkness you use to help you drift off to sleep, sweet dreams!

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