How to Get a Good Nights Sleep (Even When Everything Is the Worst)


Scientifically speaking, there are still plenty of mysteries about why we need sleep and what happens when were sleeping, but most of us know these basic realities from experience: it feels amazing to be well-rested and getting the National Sleep Foundations recommended 7-9 hours of sleep per night can be frustratingly elusive.

Not being able to catch those zs has broader implications beyond the horror of lying awake at 3 a.m., certain youll be trapped in sleepless purgatory forever. After a bad night of sleep, studies have shown that you may have a harder time remembering things the next day, your ability to do quick decision-making and problem solving may be impaired, and you might be worse at accurately identifying certain emotions in other people (fun!). Not to mention that, big picture, sleep problems can increase your risk for serious health problems including heart disease, strokes, mental distress and all-cause mortality, according to the CDC. (Heres my obligatory please see a doctor note if youre experiencing sleep problems.)

So, yup, science supports what many of us already know: not getting enough sleep is the literal worst.

The good news is that as sleep gains more attention, were learning more about the process (and products) we need to get to bed. (If youre a nerd like me and want to learn more about sleep science, check out this great book on the topic.) That said, its harder to get to sleepand stay asleepthan its ever been before. Our world today is brighter and louder, not to mention that weve got a Twitter-happy president who casually tweets about starting a nuclear war and a nonstop newscycle that, lets be honest, can be pretty stressful.

Luckily, the sleep tech market is booming: theres a plethora of available apps, sensors, immersive virtual reality experiences and smart mattresses that promise to help you get to bed. But many of these products are in early phases of testing, not to mention immensely overpriced.

There are more budget-friendly ways to boost your sleep routine and turn your room into a sleep sanctuary. And to be clear, the tried and true advice for getting a good nights rest still holds: try to limit booze, caffeine and electronics before bed. Here are my favorite sleep aids.

The Alaska Bear silk sleep mask, $9.99

Lets start with the basics: buying a sleep mask is the easiest and cheapest thing you can do for your sleep routine. (You could spring for some blackout shades to achieve the same effect, but this is a lot easier. Plus, blackout shades can be disorienting and may have caused one nameless writer to accidentally sleep through many alarms until 3 p.m.)

The main advantage of a sleep mask is its ability to block out light, some of which you might not even know is there: even a seemingly dark room might be letting in too much light. In a nutshell, light regulates the rhythm of our body. During the day, the light we are exposed to tells us stay awake! but alas, it does the same thing at night.

I use a silk sleep mask because they feel amazing and dont disrupt my (very) sensitive skin. Reviewers agree that that this specific mask is super soft and really efficient at blocking out light. Plus, as the description for this mask explains, Mulberry silk is the fabric of the emperors.

Blue Blocking Amber Goggles, $34.95

If you work late into the night or cant resist using your light-emitting gadgets before bed, consider investing in these very, uh, stylish light-blocking glasses. (These cheaper ones are actually pretty stylish but dont block as much light.)

These glasses work similarly to the night mode on the iPhone or f.lux technologies: they turn the bluish hue of electronics into a softer, more orange shade, which helps your body and brain stay in the time to sleep mindset.

Wave Premium Sleep Therapy Sound Machine, $29.99

This white noise machine offers a seamless looping of 6 soothing nature sounds, a built-in USB charger for your gadgets and an automatic timer to turn off. In addition to offering the standard white noise, it also gives you the option to fall asleep to rain, sounds of the ocean, streams and summer nights.

Machines like this can work in a few ways: if you live in an area where youre getting lots of sound, it can block out some of the more unpleasant ones in lieu of summer nights. And getting sound out of your bedroom is crucial for a good nights sleep: our brains try to process the sounds we hear during the night, and even though we usually dont remember that happening, it can impact the quality and quantity of our rest.

Aura Cacia Lavender Essential Oil, $8.99

Lavender has a well-established reputation of being therapeutic in many ways, including having the potential to soothe your mood and help you sleep.

My favorite method is to add a few drops of this essential oil (its very strong!) to an empty spray bottle (heres one, if you please) with a little bit of water and mist it around my bedroom and over my pillows.

This has the added perk of being a sleep ritual: by doing this every night, Im Pavlovian-dog-training myself into associating lavender mist with bedtime. Having a ritual, even if its just spritz n sleep, is a super helpful way to remind yourself that sleep is an important event, one to be treated seriously and with care.

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Of course youll need to figure out which of these, or which combination, works best for your specific needs. But these options are all pretty affordable, which means investing in your sleep sanctuary wont break the bank. Youll be amazed (I was!) by how a few simple tweaks to your living space can dramatically improve your sleep and, by extension, your quality of life.

Scouted is here to share practical, entertaining, and sometimes unexpected ideas for products that you might like. Please note that if you buy something featured in one of our posts, The Daily Beast may collect a share of sales.

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