8 Items That Can Help You Sleep Like a Baby
A good night’s sleep may not be the cure for absolutely everything, but it sure can help make your day a lot more pleasant, as well as improve your well‑being. Research tells us that getting seven to nine hours of restful sleep can strengthen our immune system, lower our risk of diabetes and heart disease, reduce stress, help us think more clearly, and make us less likely to snarl at our kids, partner, or coworkers.
But sometimes, even if you limit your caffeine to a morning cup, turn off your screens an hour before bed, and do your best meditating and self-soothing, sleep can still be elusive. When this happens, often the culprit is your environment. Here are some solutions that can have you snoozing soundly again.
Sure, those diaphanous curtains that flutter gently in the breeze look amazing on a Pinterest page of beach-house inspiration, but they won’t be much help when the sun streams into your bedroom at 6 a.m., or a streetlight just outside your window stays on all night. According to the National Sleep Foundation, a good set of blackout shades is key to achieving the complete darkness that tells our brain that it’s time to sleep. Many home stores and curtain suppliers offer opaque, light-blocking curtains in a range of colors to match your décor.
Let’s say you find the perfect shades to block out light and make your bedroom a pitch-black cocoon. Still, when you travel for work or vacation, you can’t bring your window treatment with you—that’s where an eye mask comes in handy. Look for one that stays on snugly and comfortably, made with a skin-friendly material, such as silk or quilted cotton, suggests the American Sleep Association. One study showed that wearing a mask can result in longer stretches of REM sleep and elevated levels of the sleep hormone melatonin.
White Noise Machine
Whether you have neighbors who argue late into the night or a chatty pair of finches who chirp outside your window at the break of dawn, noise can be one of the worst offenders against your efforts to snooze. A white noise machine—which mixes low-, medium-, and high-frequency sounds at the same intensity—can effectively block other sounds, making it a must-have for those trying to snooze in noisy environments, according to the Sleep Foundation. If the static-y shhh sound doesn’t work for you, you can also ask your smart speaker or phone to play soothing waterfall, ocean, frog, or rain sounds.
Blankets filled with plastic beads or pellets to weigh them down have been used for decades to soothe children with autism and other behavioral conditions; but, in the last few years, they’ve been embraced by children and adults who simply want to feel snug in bed. While the science is still out on whether the blankets truly reduce stress and anxiety, they certainly can make you feel like you’re sleeping in a warm embrace. According to the Sleep Foundation, you should look for a blanket that weighs roughly 10 percent of your body weight—people with sleep apnea, chronic pain, or respiratory issues should skip them.
There’s a reason so many baby products are lavender-scented—the flowery smell has been found in several studies to help induce sleep. Experts suggest you try using a diffuser to fill your bedroom with the intoxicating aroma, or mix a few drops in your bath water for a relaxing soak before bed.
Huggable Body Pillow
Remember how comforting it was to sleep curled around a teddy bear? You can get the same sensation without the furry friend by choosing a pillow designed to be snuggled. Some are long body pillows made of memory foam or other soft materials that you can throw a leg or arm over to find the most comfortable sleeping position (these are particularly helpful for pregnant women or those with back pain); others are designed to be held against the chest for calming pressure similar to a weighted blanket. Of course, you can always grab your old teddy or stuffed animal, no judgments.
Being overheated at night—whether you have a wonky air conditioner, you’re going through hormonal changes, or you just tend to sleep hot—can interrupt the restorative REM stage of sleep, according to the American Sleep Association. Your body also experiences a natural drop in temperature before sleep, which coincides with the release of the sleep hormone melatonin, so it’s important to stay cool to sleep well, says the Sleep Foundation. Several companies offer sheets specially designed to wick away moisture and keep you cool with breathable fabrics, such as a bamboo, hemp, or Tencel.
Fading Sleep Light
If you like to read before bed, consider investing in a lamp like the Casper Glow Light or Hatch Restore that emits a warm light that slowly dims according the schedule you set, gently telling your body that it’s time to turn in.
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