Trouble sleeping? Try one of these clever gadgets that let you listen to music without disturbing your partner

If you have trouble sleeping at night, or in the morning, listening to something relaxing might helpIf you have trouble sleeping at night, or in the morning, listening to something relaxing might help
If you have trouble sleeping at night, or in the morning, listening to something relaxing might help | fizkes -

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Listening to music, an audiobook, or a podcast can clear your mind and help you drift off to a relaxing sleep - and there are gadgets that can help with that

We all know how important it is to get a decent sleep. Waking up feeling refreshed is not only key for our productivity, but long-term physical and mental health can be affected by not getting enough rest.

It's often easier said than done though. Despite our best intentions, it can be hard to drift off with thoughts, stresses, and worries racing around our head.

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Morning people might wake up too early and struggle to get back to sleep, and night owls often lay awake at night, struggling to clear our minds.

There are plenty of tips that can help you get a better night's sleep, but one of the ways technology can help is by providing a source of music, maybe an audiobook, or even just white noise.

By focusing on a sound, your mind is distracted from the thoughts that keep you awake, and you're lulled into a more relaxing state, ready to nod off.

But playing music from your bedside table might affect the person sleeping next to you, or a family member in the next room. Thankfully there are lots of solutions out there to channel the music only to your ears, so you can discreetly listen to whatever you like, without fear of disturbing anyone else.

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Here's a list of consumer technology writer Gareth Butterfield's recommended gadgets that are aimed at delivering a subtle sound, to send you off to sleep. We've also listed a few podcasts to try, which are tried and tested and proven to help you relax.

Best price: £29, from Boots

The Soundasleep Speaker PillowThe Soundasleep Speaker Pillow
The Soundasleep Speaker Pillow | Boots

I first tested a speaker pillow nearly 15 years ago, and it was something of a life-changing thing for me. I discovered the joy of listening to a podcast at bedtime, and how effective it was at clearing my head and helping me drift away.

This pillow by Soundasleep is the latest version of the one I tested, and its small speaker is embedded in its fibres - so you can't feel it, but you can hear it emanating through the comfy filling.

If you play it loudly enough, your partner will pick up on it, but you just don't need to play it at any sort of significant volume, especially if you're lying right on top of the speaker.

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The clever dual lead system on this particular pillow will enable you to charge your phone at the same time as plugging it in to the USB port, and there's an adaptor for iPhones.

I'm not promising it'll suit everyone, and you may require a different pillow to a basic hollowfibre pillow, but for £30, it's got to be worth a try.

Best price: £29.95, from Amazon

The Sleep n Sound Speaker PillowThe Sleep n Sound Speaker Pillow
The Sleep n Sound Speaker Pillow | Amazon

Another pillow with a built-in speaker, this Sleep n Sound pillow costs roughly the same as the original Soundasleep pillow, but has a simpler lead connection.

Reviewers on Amazon have generally praised its comfort, but bear in mind its 3.5mm audio jack won't suit many modern phones. You'll need an adaptor to convert it to USB, which should cost around a fiver. Or you could do what I've done and buy a Bluetooth transmitter for about £15 and it's a wireless solution.

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Again, though, it's not a lot of money just to try out the concept of sleeping on a speaker pillow and, if it suits you, it could be just the sort of sleeping aid you've been after.

Best price: £6.04, from Amazon

A simple DIY speaker, for any pillowA simple DIY speaker, for any pillow
A simple DIY speaker, for any pillow | Amazon

For an even cheaper and simpler solution, try this basic pillow speaker. It's essentially a DIY solution, which you stuff in to the innards of your pillow and connect your phone to, and it should work the same way as the two dedicated speaker pillows above.

The advantage of this solution is you can use your existing pillow, but only providing it has a zip access, and as long as it's not made up of memory foam or gel panels. If it's like my pillow, it may be filled with memory foam cubes, or perhaps microfibres. In which case this will fit very well.

It'll take some experimentation to get the right position, and you may find you need an audio jack to USB converter, but this is actually what I use in my pillow - and I have done for years. It's a great way to immerse yourself in subtle sound from your favourite pillow.

Best price: £39.99, from SnoozeBand

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The SnoozeBandThe SnoozeBand
The SnoozeBand | SnoozeBand

My wife bought me one of these for Christmas, and I love it. I use it when I'm travelling, as I don't fancy taking my speaker pillow to hotels and guest houses. It fits surprisingly comfortably, and the subtle sounds it gives you are very rich and clear.

Its battery lasts for several sleeps, and it's lightweight and easy to pack away. Powered by Bluetooth, your phone can be charging on a bedside table or nightstand, and there are simple controls on the headband itself to play, pause, and change volume.

This might actually suit some people better than a speaker pillow, especially if you like to move around a lot. But it is a slightly more expensive option.

Best price: £32.99, from Amazon

The AudioDream Music PillowThe AudioDream Music Pillow
The AudioDream Music Pillow | Amazon

This is a different take on the concept of a speaker pillow. Rather than use a speaker, this pillow allows you to comfortably fall asleep with earbuds or headphones in your ears, thanks to two small cut-outs in the pillow.

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It's a clever idea, particularly if you have a nice set of headphones or earbuds you love listening with, although I'm not sure it would work for me as I sleep on my side all the time, and move around a lot.

But if you're not like me, if you're a bit more normal than that, for £32.99 it's worth a try. Amazon has a very simple return policy, after all.

Best price: £34.99, from Amazon

A Bone Conduction pillow speakerA Bone Conduction pillow speaker
A Bone Conduction pillow speaker | Amazon

This looks like a great idea, and I'm almost tempted to try it myself. Using bone conduction, which is a fabulous technology becoming very popular with fitness enthusiasts, the speaker transmits sound from beneath your pillow. So you can, in theory, use any pillow you like, and you just soak up the sound.

Bone conduction is basically inaudible to anyone around you, it transmits sound through vibrations rather than out of a speaker, so it is going to be the best solution if your partner has sensitive hearing.

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The only trouble is it's battery-powered, and the battery is likely to only last up to 15 hours. So if you forget to charge it before you sleep, you'll be woken up by a low battery warning. Leaving it on charge is an option, but I'm not sure how much I'd like to sleep on top of a lithium battery while it's being powered.

Podcasts I'd recommend for helping you nod off

Some people like to listen to music to help them sleep, others like simple white noise. These are all very easy to come by, but personally I like a podcast. And the more boring the better.

I like to have something playing that distracts me just enough to clear my head of all other thoughts, but not enough to engage me in something I'll need to lie awake and analyse. So as much as I like to listen to The Rest is Politics, or BBC's Comedy of the Week, they're not exactly sleeping aids.

But these are...

The Sleeping Forecast

Somebody, somewhere, had the genius idea of setting BBC Radio 4's Shipping Forecast to ambient and classical music. And it's one of the best things you can possibly fall asleep to.

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Used for decades as a service for the shipping industry, its distinctive descriptions of maritime weather conditions are completely meaningless to most people - but that's what makes them so effective at clearing your mind and helping you relax.

Honestly, give it a try. You'll have drifted away long before you learn that visibility in Cromarty is moderate or good, occasionally poor.

Nothing Much Happens

Written and read by Kathryn Nicolai, the Nothing Much Happens podcast series is a huge archive of "bedtime stories" in which, by her own confession, nothing much happens. And that's what's so clever about these stories.

If you were listening to somebody reading from the pages of a gritty crime thriller, you'd probably get so absorbed in it you'd be kept awake - but when the stories just ramble on and take you and your imagination to far away places, you're soothed and comforted into a long, deep sleep.

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Kathryn's soft American voice is lovely to listen to, and she reads each story twice. The second time at a slower, almost whispered pace. This is the first podcast I turn to if I'm struggling to sleep.

Sleep With Me

Drew Ackerman describes his frequent podcasts as "someone telling you a bedtime story," but it's one of the most bizarre things you can listen to. And in a really good way.

His voice isn't exactly dulcet and relaxing, but he cleverly embarks on a one-man discussion about something utterly random. And then he goes off on utterly random tangents.

If you were to actually sit and listen to his podcasts in the cold light of day, you'd find they make very little sense. But that's actually the point. By never really settling on a topic you can consciously follow, your mind empties in a heartbeat and you're able to let yourself slip away.