Gear

Would a minimalist phone help you break your smartphone addiction?

05.18.18
the light phone 2

The good old days, when a phone was a phone are long gone. Our smartphones are not just a mobile connection to our sitter, spouse and kids, they’re our mobile office, our camera, our weather report, our GPS and more. Plus, as we’ve been learning more and more, they’re especially crafty and vying for (and consuming) our attention, and creating smartphone addiction in the best of us.

That’s why I’m a huge fan of the Light Phone. The original came out a few years back via a Kickstarter campaign (I backed them), but now the second generation is here, called the Light Phone 2, and it’s blowing up on IndieGogo.

What’s a Light Phone?

The Light Phone is the antidote to how complicated our smartphones are. It’s a simple 4G LTE phone that allows you access to the basics—the ability to make calls and send texts and set an alarm clock—and that’s it. It features a beautiful matte black and white e-ink display and best of all, it’s compact (and durable) enough to fit in your back pocket or even your wallet. No apps. No camera. No social media. No surfing the web. You get the idea.

the light phone 2

the light phone 2

What’s the appeal?

As much as we all lament being constantly connected, it feels a bit scary in today’s world to fully go off the grid. The Light Phone solves for that, so you can truly turn the pings and buzzes of countless notifications off, and just have your phone to communicate by calls or texts, and little else.  It’s easy to transfer incoming calls to the lightphone, then back to your regular phone, using their app.

the light phone 2

Any cons?

OK, so reality check: You might actually miss the modern conveniences you’ve come to rely on when you leave your smartphone—enhanced with a zillion time-saving apps—at home. For example, the camera and GPS, not to mention the ability to summon a Lyft or Uber at a moment’s notice when you’re rushing around. You’ll also have to shell out $250 for a supplemental phone, plus $5 a month for service.

the light phone 2

My take

This is a worthwhile investment if you’re someone that really struggles to turn the world off when you need a digital break or moment to recharge. And if you really are worried about the lack of, say, GPS, travel or hike with someone that has a fully-functioning smartphone complete with all the apps that you can “borrow” as needed.

Beyond that, there are also kid-friendly benefits. (Think about it: It’s the perfect device for teens that you’d like to be able to reach in an emergency or simply to coordinate rides/plans, but who don’t need all the bells and whistles of an iPhone X.)

It’s expensive, but I do like the idea of having an “alternate” phone that just does calls and texts, so I don’t feel completely cut off, but doesn’t tempt me with games, news and social media. And it’s a chic looking gadget, to be sure.

What do you think? Would you invest in a Light Phone?

Wellness

Is infrared light really a miracle wellness remedy?

05.14.18
Infrared

The use of infrared light to heat up the body as a wellness move is approaching a sort of phenomenon.

You can sweat in an infrared heat sleeping bag at Shape House (I love this place) in a pod at SaunaBar, or in a room in NYC’s HigherDOSE. Meanwhile, yoga studios like my new obsession Y7 (pictured above) tout the benefits of using infrared panels to heat their yoga classes.

Personally, I love the way I feel after a good Shape House sweat or Y7 class, but all of the miracle health claims (Weight loss! Clear skin! Muscle relief!) got me thinking: What are infrared saunas actually doing for me and the many others that are now shelling out big bucks to sweat?

What is Infrared Heat

The technical term is Far-Infrared Sauna, or FIRS. While traditional saunas heat the air around you, which in turn heats you up, a far-infrared sauna uses light waves to heat your body directly (without heating the surrounding air). It’s often described as heating your body “from the inside out.” 

Why does that matter? Proponents say the heat “goes deeper” into the body, but no reliable scientific evidence supports that claim. The most tangible benefit is that because you’re not surrounded by hot air, it’s more comfortable. People who have trouble tolerating heat often do better in an infrared sauna compared to a traditional sauna.

Also, it’s good to know that experts say infrared saunas are generally safe. The only potential risk is some believe repeated use could affect sperm count, so if you’re a dude looking to have a baby soon, maybe give it a break.

Personally, I love the way this feels in a yoga class: I was never into Bikram yoga back in the day because the forced-air heating in the room made me feel like I couldn’t breathe (or was breathing in dust that was being blown around the room). Infrared feels much cleaner — you sweat like crazy, but you don’t feel suffocated. 

The Science-backed Benefits

Okay, here’s where things start to heat up. (Sorry, had to.) Infrared saunas often make health claims that make you think showing up once a week will make immortal, but the research on their benefits is pretty scant.

The benefit most tested and proven by scientific study is improved circulation. One 2009 review of all of the FIRS research to-date (a whopping nine studies!) found decent evidence to support the fact that regular FIRS use is associated with lower blood pressure. And large, long-term studies have found that (traditional) saunas are great for heart health, decreasing the risk of heart disease and fatal heart attacks with regular use.

Another benefit that’s pretty established is pain relief. The aforementioned review found “fair evidence” that infrared saunas could help relieve chronic pain and small studies have shown infrared sauna use reduced arthritis-related pain. Lots of devotees of intense exercise swear by it for muscle pain relief and workout recovery. The evidence is lacking on this point, but one very small study did find FIRS therapy might help with recovery.

Infrared

And how about that magical promise of detoxification? Well, it is possible for you to sweat out some “toxins” (experts disagree on what those even are), but doctors say your body mainly uses sweat to cool itself, while most detoxification is handled by the kidneys and liver. Claims that sweating in infrared saunas versus sweating elsewhere (like in spin class) are totally bogus.

Other purported benefits that have no basis in science so far? Weight loss, clear skin, and mood-boosting stress relief. Although, I mean, who wouldn’t be relaxed after laying in a pod or room by yourself for half an hour, disconnected from your devices? The sessions at Shapehouse definitely de-stress me, infrared heat or not.

Have you tried far-infrared saunas? What did you think? Have you noticed benefits? Share your experiences in the comments below!

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Will these techy pajamas help you sleep better?

05.07.18
Celliant: Lunya Restore

The fact that your body temperature plays a role in how well you sleep probably doesn’t come as a surprise. Who hasn’t been woken up during the night by sweaty sheets (ew, gross) or half-way freezing and in need of another blanket?

So when I heard about Celliant, a techy fabric that promises to take care of regulating your core body temperature so you sleep soundly ‘til morning, I was intrigued.

Here’s how it works: Celliant is a mix of 13 “thermoreactive minerals” that are embedded into fibers. Those minerals give the fabric they’re embedded in the ability to absorb infrared and visible light, which is then transformed into a wavelength that’s better absorbed by your body. When your body absorbs that energy, it makes more oxygen available to your cells, improving circulation (AKA blood flow). The makers of Celliant say that this weird, scientific heat-and-light process means two things: your body temperature is more regulated, so you sleep better, AND your body is able to heal and recover (from injuries or workouts) faster.

Of course, those are pretty big claims, and unfortunately, it’s pretty hard to verify them. The fact that sleeping in or on Celliant fabrics increases blood flow is pretty clear. But do people who use the fabric actually sleep better or recover faster?

The company touts a “clinical study” it had commissioned by a university sleep center, but when you read the actual results of the study, the word unimpressive is a major understatement. The researchers studied just six people (with back pain) sleeping on a Celliant mattress cover, which is a tiny, tiny, tiny sample size. There was a significant change observed in the median time spent awake after falling asleep, but other than that, the results are all over the place. The participants slept for less time overall when they were using the Celliant cover, which the researchers said could mean the fabric improved their sleep to the point that they needed less…but couldn’t they also have just not slept enough? And three out of the six reported a subjective improvement in their sleep (so pretty much a wash), while only two reported an improvement in their back pain.

Still, that’s not to say there’s nothing to this… there just isn’t much solid evidence as of yet. If you put on your infrared-capturing pajamas and find it’s the best night’s sleep of your life, why wait for science, right? If you’re interested in giving it a go, here are three ways to test out this tech sleep solution.

Celliant

Celliant Pajamas

Lunya sleepwear is a new obsession of mine. I am a big fan of their washable silk PJs (washable silk!!!) and I live in their alpaca robe. So when I heard that their new Restore collection uses Celliant fabric to make cozy pajama tops and shorts that help you sleep better? Blew my mind. The designs are minimalist and cute, so even if you don’t get an oxygen bump, you’ll look and feel great when bedtime rolls around.

Celliant

Celliant Sheets

If you’d rather sleep on, not in the fabric, this Celliant sheet set from The Company Store come in pretty colors like white, grey and ivory. They boast an antimicrobial finish as well, to keep the bed fresher longer and have a softer than soft feel. 

Celliant

Celliant Mattress

Finally, the option for the person who really wants to dive right in. The Bear Mattress is a mail-order new age mattress like Casper and Leesa, but its top layer is a breathable Celliant cover. It’s also got a layer of “cooling graphite-gel memory foam” that is supposed to further regulate your body temp. But that’s a whole other research project…

Have you tried Celliant sleep tech? Did you sleep any better? Share your experiences in the comments below!

Wellness

Would You Try These At-Home Medical Tests?

05.04.18

Gone are the days where an in-person doctor’s appointment is the only way to meet your medical needs. Instead of wasting time waiting out an appointment—or in the waiting room—more and more medical tech companies are offering at-home alternatives, allowing you to take a personalized and DIY approach to your health.

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