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My Smart Bedroom Story: Sleep Better, Wake Up Better, Relax Better

I have been installing smart technologies in my bedroom for over a year. It started with a simple switch that let me control the lights without getting out of bed. But it has evolved into a voice-controlled ecosystem that starts looking after me and mine before we wake up, helps us – or me anyway, since I work at home — through my day, and tucks us both in at night. I don’t have to get up to touch a light switch. But it’s much more than that. Our bedroom has gone from a room with a bed and dresser to a nurturing space designed to comfort, calm, and watch out for us while we sleep. My only worry is that if the machines become sentient, they will start playing practical jokes on us.



7am: The Morning Alarm



A complex system of gentle alarms wakes us gently – Withings Aura


I’m not a morning person. And waking up to the shock of an alarm clock does not make for a good start to the day. Fortunately, the bedroom knows this and has an elaborate system in place to wake us gently. About forty minutes before we need to get up, The Sonos Play 5 dials up gentle ambient music from Groove Salad on SomaFM.com. Slowly, my mind stirs. But we can cling to sleep for a bit longer. Twenty minutes later, the Withings Aura starts its simulated sunrise, gently bringing the light levels in the room up to a low daylight until my brain recognizes that it’s morning. By the time the Amazon Echo Dot alarm goes off – the real deadline for getting up – we are already awake and chatting.



8am: News and Transportation


Amazon Echo Dot Receiver

This little Amazon Echo Dot keeps us informed and on time. It also reads to us. 

Note: If you want to order the Amazon Echo Dot, you must place the order with an Amazon Echo.


“Alexa,” I ask the Amazon Echo Dot that sits on my bedside table as I dress and brush my teeth. “What’s the Flash Briefing?”  She reads the headlines I’ve told her we like. Well, she doesn’t so much read them as queue them up — introducing CNN, the BBC, and NPR – and lets the newscasters do their jobs as we dress and scramble to find shoes. Alexa makes it possible for me to stay abreast of the news even if I’m knee deep in a fashion crisis. Today that fashion crisis is taking longer than it should. I have a meeting in the city. So I interrupt the news to ask, “Alexa, when is the next BART train?” She looks up the schedule and informs me it’s imminent, confirming my fears that these pants will have to do. I need to leave ASAP.



2pm: Afternoon nap


Sonos Play 5

The Sonos Play:5 dials up tunes on a schedule so we can wake up to gentle music.


I catch my train, barely, and make it to my meeting. Afterward, I have lunch with an editor. We talk story ideas over a glass of wine. It is fun. But the wine was a bad idea. I fell prey to enthusiastic peer pressure but I’m not a mid-day drinker. So, now, after a train ride and walk home in the sun, I’m sleepy. A quick nap will fix that. I climb into bed, tap the Withings Aura for a 30-minute nap and it plays ocean sounds and sunset lighting till I fall asleep. Thirty minutes later, it brings the lights back up and plays music. I am refreshed and get back to my home office for some work.



8pm: An Evening In


smart headboard lights

This inexpensive hack –using Christmas tree lights and a smart plug — is one of my favorite smart features


One of my bedroom’s best smart features is also the simplest. We wrapped some small-bulb Christmas lights around the bed’s headboard and plugged those into an iDevices Switch, a smart plug. Then, using the app, we set the lights to come on automatically at 8 pm, providing sweet, romantic bedroom lighting. Do not underestimate the mood-setting ability of good lighting. The app-connected Misfit Bolt bulbs I screwed into the ceiling light sockets help, too, by letting me choose lighting profiles to suit my mood. There are also great smart lightstrips from Philips Hue and Osram that we have reviewed in the past, and have also found some other great uses for.


Tonight, it’s a warm night and I’m in the mood for the tropics – even though I live in arid California. I choose beach lighting and plug in the Dyson Humidifier. This awesome machine lets me choose a humidity level for the room. It quietly works to set that level and shuts itself off when it gets there, monitoring and maintaining. Humidity is good for the skin, for the lungs, and – though I have only anecdotal evidence to support this – for the libido. Add a couple of mojitos to this and we have a very easy and inexpensive date night. Let’s just say, fun was had.



10 pm Bedtime Story


audible screen shot

Who doesn’t like to be read to? The Amazon Echo Dot reads to us from our Audible library.


Children are not the only ones who are comforted and amused by having stories read aloud to them. Tired adults like it too. And not having to get up and find a book or even a phone with an audio book on it is bliss. Not interrupting bliss to do any of that is heaven in the tropics. I ask, “Alexa, read us The Last Stand.” She pours through my Audible library and locates the book by Nathaniel Philbrick that we’ve been listening to and queues it up at the last spot we listened. (Even though we last listened while in the car.) We don’t have to move a muscle and the story picks up right where we left off, letting us bliss out and drift off.


3 am The Witching Hour


Canary Screen Shot

The Canary Camera watches my office for me so I can check in without getting out of bed.


I tend to wake up and worry in the wee hours. It starts because I’m too hot or cold. And it ends with me fretting over anything from my kids to work deadlines to whether that noise I think I heard was someone breaking into my office and stealing all my computer equipment. “Alexa,” I whisper. “What time is it.” She tells me it’s 3 am, though she didn’t really need to. This is always the time I wake up. It’s warm in the room so I open the Wink app on my phone and turn the temperature down, kicking in the air conditioning without getting out of bed. Then I look in on my office through the Canary security camera that sits on a shelf there, alerting me of intruders and watching over my gear. All is well. I feel the cool air and pull up the covers, heading back to dreamland until the music starts again at 7 am.





My smart bedroom takes good care of me and it was simple and inexpensive to set up. I have gotten so dependent on it, in fact, that I find myself asking Alexa to help me out when I’m driving or even walking around town. And here is one thing I know for certain: The very minute someone invents a robot that will make coffee and bring it to me in bed, I will install it.

What smart tech would you like to see in the bedroom?

Want more? Check out the Best Smart Sleep Monitoring Gadgets and 5 Reasons You Need To Replace Your Old Door Lock with a Smart Door Lock.

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