Smarter Sleep - A Guide To Bringing Your Bedroom Into The Future.
Technology is huge, it is constantly growing and evolving and for many that can be a scary thought. Not all of us understand the whole concept of creating a smarter home. Previously thought to be expensive or just too complicated, smart home technology has become widely affordable to the masses and easier than ever to set up. Whether you are outfitting your whole home to be smarter, or just simply creating a smart room (in this case the bedroom), our guide should help you navigate the waters. The time to take the leap is now! So, let’s jump into the beautiful world of smart home technology.
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Smart Home Automation
When we talk about smart home technology, the first thing that may come to mind is lighting. Before we jump to that, I would first like to focus on what I like to call your home hub. Basically, the device that is going to control all of this fancy technology. For the most budget-conscious consumers, if you have a smartphone and can download apps you can pretty much skip this step. However, for those that really want to get their feet wet, I have a much more automated option that won’t break the bank, the Echo Dot.
The Echo Dot is Amazon’s solution to automating your home at a fraction of the price of some other competitors on the market. I won’t go into the reasons here as to which is better and which does what (I’ll save that for another blog), but when it comes to controlling lights (and more) Amazon’s Echo Dot can seamlessly do this at a price point that is unmatched, this makes it very easy to suggest.
LED technology not only allows for a more modern look and feel, but it also sets you up for a fully automated hands-free experience. In addition, LED lights will help you save on your next electric bill! Many older homes may still be using standard bulb lighting which can be costly as powering them requires a higher wattage. If that wasn’t enough reason to change, they don’t last nearly as long.
With LED lights you may spend more for the initial product, but once you have it, you’ll be happy to know it is a tiny wattage use in comparison and some can last years! Not only that, they generally shine a more natural light so it can emulate daylight which can improve productivity and reduce eye strain when the sun goes down so you’re not only upgrading to a smarter home, you are saving a pretty penny too.
Philips Hue Bulbs
So now we’ve got all the reasons to upgrade out of the way lets move on to budget. Smart home lighting costs can vary quite a bit. With a plethora of bulbs on the market, all promoting similar functions but wildly different price brackets, its easy to get overwhelmed, but for the sake of the article we are going to go with our favorite, Philips Hue.
The bulbs are available in three options, white, white ambiance (50,000 shades of tuneable white light) and color ambiance; color ambiance bulbs allow you a fully customizable experience versus the traditional white. We are partial to the color option which allows us the most creativity for setting our bedroom scene. You can choose how warm or cool you want the color tone to be, along with over 16 million color choices overall! Whichever you choose will work for your smart bedroom similarly.
Setting Up Your Smart Lights
I chose Philips bulbs because the hub has a one click button to detect new bulbs, making it very easy to connect to the network. Once you have your new bulbs you simply need to plug your new hub into the network, download the Philips Hue app on your phone and go through the simple to follow guide to get your lights onto your home network. If all has gone well you should have your bulbs appearing on your network, you will likely have to go through and name the bulbs individually (bedroom bulb) through the app, next would be to get the Echo Dot understanding what to do with it, this is much easier than it sounds.
If you haven’t already, follow the setup guide to get the Echo Dot on the network, launch the Alexa app on your phone and add a new skill, skills are essentially tie-ins to Amazon Alexa so you can add additional features. In this case, we will add the Philips Hue app and go through the same sign-in process that we went through on the phone. To test it, try saying “Alexa, turn on the bedroom light”. If it works, you’ve done it! At this point, you can use different commands to change the brightness by saying “Alexa, bedroom light to 50%” and so on. If you have the color hue bulbs you can also specify color and of course, you can do it without Alexa’s help by simply using the Philips Hue app. This is especially helpful if your partner is sleeping and you need to make adjustments without voice commands.
Smart App Integration
You’re now well on your way to making your bedroom smarter, so what else can you do? We recently wrote about the 5 Best Smart Apps of 2020, which featured the app Sleep Cycle. Sleep Cycle, which can link into Philips Hue, functions to gradually turn on your lights over a period of time. Meant to emulate the sun rising this helps to gently wake you up in the morning. The wake-up times are customizable so set it as early or as late as you need. You can also program the lights to come on or turn off at a set time. For example, we have our lights set to turn on at sunset and turn off at 1am. We are night owls and have a tendency to forget the time, this helps remind us it is time for bed!
Side note: this is a great feature if you are vacationing or away from the home for some time. The lights will go on and off, deterring anyone who might think your home vacant.
For some, you could stop here and call it done, your bedroom is now smarter just through the addition of some lighting. However, if you are really interested in creating a calming scene, keep reading!
Smart Bed Technology
We’ve reviewed dozens and dozens of mattresses but only one truly fits the smart bed bill, in our opinion. The ReST Performance mattress is an adjustable air bed that integrates with an app you download on your phone. The app allows you to control your firmness and sensitivity settings, see a realtime map of your pressure points, as well as pick from a selection of modes, including manual, auto position and automatic. What we really think sets this mattress apart is the automatic mode. The ReST bed uses a responsive surface technology that maps your pressure points and makes realtime adjustments to air levels in the various chambers of the bed. We won’t go into all the details here, but if you are interested in learning more, head on over to our ReST Performance mattress review for more details.
Under Bed Lighting
There are plenty to choose from but for ease of use, I went with RC LED Strip lights because they are a good price and can again change color. I ended up ordering 32.8ft but honestly, you probably only need 16.4ft for a king-sized base. There will be a slight gap but the lights are strong enough that you likely won’t notice the difference so you can save those extra pennies.
The strip lights come with everything you need, simply download the app, follow the instructions and you’ll soon be in full control. The challenging bit will likely be placing the strips under the bed. They come with an adhesive backing which works great if your frame is made of wood or metal. If your frame is made of cloth, you may need to get creative to fix it to an area. Once you have them set up and on the network, you simply follow the same process as the Philips lights to add them to the Echo Dots control. Presto! Now you have voice-controlled lights for under your bed!
Being able to control each light separately really allows for some cool color contrasts. As a bonus, these lights come with a sound mode, so if you really want a party, set up some music and watch the color of your under-bed lights change to the beat!
If you want to go a step further, you could even purchase Philips Hue motion sensors so the under-bed light only comes on when your feet hit the ground. This is especially great if you have a tendency to wake throughout the night for bathroom breaks and need a bit of light.
The BlissLight Sky Lite is our last recommendation for creating the bedroom of your dreams. While it doesn’t integrate with an app, or respond to voice commands, it does have an automatic timer for shut off! I guess you could say it is semi-smart 🙂 but it is sure to elevate your bedroom’s ambiance. The projector casts an array of moving laser stars across a drifting nebula cloud for a perfect nighttime scene.
We’ve barely hit the tip of the iceberg on what you can do with smart home technology, but many of these tips and tricks can be applied in other rooms throughout the house. We hope we’ve managed to show you that creating a smart home experience doesn’t have to be overly complicated or expensive, it’s actually quite easy! So now the bedroom is fixed, what rooms are you most interested in automating?