So, how’d you sleep last night? If you are one of the lucky ones, you dozed off quickly and got about seven to eight hours of z’s, without any waking or restless moments. But for many of us, that’s not how it was. According to the National Sleep Foundation, 35 percent of Americans report their sleep quality as “poor” or “only fair.” And even worse, 20 percent reported they did not wake up feeling refreshed “on any of the past seven days.” This may be one of the most serious (and least discussed!) mental and physical health risks we all face. Sleep affects so many aspects of our waking moments—how we think, learn, react, problem-solve and interact with others. It also impacts our bodies in ways we can’t see, increasing our risk of heart disease, kidney disease, high blood pressure, and more.
A good night’s sleep starts with simple things you can do immediately: try not to drink alcohol right before bed since it inhibits REM sleep (the deep, restorative sleep you need to feel rested), and try not to use your phone in the couple of hours before bed—the blue light it emits has been shown to suppress the secretion of melatonin and throw off our biological clocks. In addition, we’ve rounded up a variety of products to address some of the most common reasons you may not be sleeping well. From a simple tea bag, to a nifty cooling pad, you are sure to find just what you need to fall asleep fast, stay asleep all night, and wake up feeling better than ever.
The Blackout Drapes
According to the National Sleep Foundation, darkness is one of the most important factors in inducing a feeling of sleepiness and helping you stay asleep all night. These grommet-topped panels block both light and heat, keeping your bedroom dark and cool. They’re available in four lengths and 12 colors, including light shades such as white, cream, and lavender which can be difficult to find in blackout curtains.
The Sound Machine
If you are someone that hears every little noise from inside and outside your house as you attempt to sleep, consider investing in a sound machine to drown out those distractions. This sleek unit from Homedics provides a variety of options so you can personalize the sound. There are four white noise tones, four water tones (“thunderstorm” is our favorite), and four nature tones, and you can adjust the volume for each. Use the timer to have the sounds play for 30, 60, or 90 minutes, or use the “sleep therapy” function, which automatically transitions from one of the water or nature tones into white noise. Keep the small remote control on your nightstand so you can make adjustments without getting out of bed.
If you are having trouble sleeping, the first change you may want to make is your pillow. (If you can’t remember when you bought it, it’s probably time to replace it!) Pillow technology has come a long way, and one of the greatest inventions is memory foam, which is firm enough to support your head and neck but soft enough to contour to your body. This pillow is made from gel-infused, open-cell memory foam and a special “cold touch” fabric so you can stay cool and comfortable all night. Bonus: It’s universally beneficial for back, side, or stomach sleepers.
Add a cool mist humidifier to your bedroom to help you breathe easier throughout the night. This one from Crane provides 24 hours of moisture per filling, which will leave your skin and sinuses feeling top notch. The nozzle turns 360 degrees so you can direct the cool mist where you want it. When the tank is empty, the unit will shut off by itself.
The Pillow Spray
Lavender and valerian are two herbs known to aid relaxation and this mist has both. Just spray a few pumps onto your pillow and sheets before getting in bed. You’ll wonder how you ever slept without this soothing scent.
The Sleep Mask
As mentioned above, darkness is a critical component of quality, uninterrupted sleep. Use a sleep mask to block light coming in your windows, from a partner’s cell phone, or anywhere else. This one is super comfortable because it’s made from soft fabric and is contoured, creating a little space between the mask and your eyes so there’s no pressure on your lids. The adjustable Velcro strap makes it easy to get a good fit. It comes with a carry case and earplugs—just in case noise is also an issue.
The Mattress Pad
Rather than cooling—or heating—your entire home or bedroom to the temperature you prefer for sleep, this pad has a thermostat that allows you cool or heat tiny tubes of water on its surface. Connect the attached cord to the ChiliCube, which holds and cools (or heats) the water that you pour in and then circulates it through the pad. It took a few tries but I found the ideal temp for me was around 67 degrees, but you can set it anywhere from 55 (brrr!) to 110 (uh, no!).
The Salt Lamp
This booming new category is one of the more beautiful items you can add to your sleep repertoire. In shades of soft pink and melon, salt lamps are chiseled blocks of salt crystal with a light bulb inside. The salt absorbs water molecules from the air, along with particles like mold, pollen and pet dander trapped in those molecules. While the heat from the bulb evaporates the water, it’s believed the pollutants remain trapped in the salt. Then as the salt dries, it’s able to absorb more water and continue the process of cleaning the air. A bonus feature: The beautiful pinkish-orange glow is incredibly soothing.
The Hot Tea
Herbal tea has long been known to be a natural remedy for insomnia. Celestial Seasoning’s Sleepytime Tea is one of the most popular. The caffeine-free blend of chamomile, spearmint, lemongrass, orange blossoms, rosebuds and more has a wonderful, calming aroma and even better taste. My advice—be like the cute bear on the box: Don your pajamas (red cap optional), make a cup of this tea, and get ready to drift off to dreamland.
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