For many people, the most effective ways of getting to sleep at night involve violent team sports, several pints of Guinness or a consecutive combination of both. Thankfully, Matsushita Electric Works in Japan has developed a more 21st-century method for helping us all drop off.

To that end, the household branch of the company best known for its Panasonic-branded gadgets has created something called the Sleep Assist System (SAS). Rather than forcing tiredness upon us, it relies on creating the ideal environment for sleep.

As a winner of the Good Design Award operated by the Japan Industrial Design Promotion Organisation, SAS comes with an official 'well-done' badge from Matsushita's peers - in other words, it works.

Sensitive bed

This it achieves by using bed-bound sensors to monitor heart rate, respiration and other factors that are the telltale signs of sleepiness. When the Land of Nod beckons, lights dim, an air-massage system in the mattress kicks in and the bed reclines as if by magic.

Although there's no promise of quails' eggs in aspic and chilled Bollinger for breakfast, there is a comforting morning arousal. This comes courtesy of lights that can simulate a sunrise and a customisable easy-listening and viewing experience to get you going.

Best of all, there's also a computer analysis showing how well you slept, creating the opportunity to learn how to do better in future.