Dealing with both chronic and short-term insomnia can be a nightmare. As a chronic insomniac myself, the reasons for sleeplessness run the gamut. I’ve always been jealous of people who can fall asleep anywhere because when I lay in bed, my mind becomes a playground of anxiety filled with racing thoughts and reminders of everything I’ve been putting off. Even as a child, it wasn’t uncommon for me to toss and turn for a few hours before finally dozing off. The fact that my husband and dog perform a nightly snoring orchestra doesn’t help.
Since I personally prefer to stay away from non-habit-forming aids for sleep, I’m left with only a handful of alternative remedies to help keep me well-rested. While they may work individually, these natural sedatives work best as part of a bedtime routine that allows the brain and body to prepare to relax. They give me peace and sanity, but they’re also part of my own carefully constructed nightly regimen that includes:
- No screens an hour before bedtime
- Working out earlier in the day
- Nixing caffeine after noon
- Going to bed at the same time every night
Insomnia is no joke, and just a night or two without proper sleep can start to impact your body seriously. If you’re like me and deal with these issues nightly, you’re probably always searching for tips to get more rest. Whether you’re experiencing burnout or mental health struggles or are searching for products for new parents, these seven hacks will help you head off to dreamland. From the best sleep tea to the ultimate white noise machines and cooling pillows, here are the best sleep aids to help you fall asleep and stay asleep longer.
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Earpeace Sleep Earplugs
As someone who has wasted money on practically every pair of earplugs money can buy, I can safely say that these work like no other. They’re a game-changer if you live with a snorer. If you’re someone with a shorter ear canal like me, you’ll also appreciate that these plugs have a less elongated fit, unlike many foam alternatives. The silky soft texture is also more comfortable and encourages sound sleep. Just under $20, they’re a little more expensive than your average drugstore earplugs, but that’s because these are reusable and easy to clean. These durable plugs never fall out and feature an easy-to-reach pull tab when you are ready to remove them.
LectroFan Noise & Fan Machine
I’m an insomniac who prefers their white noise to be more natural. While some people might be able to doze off listening to the sound effects of a waterfall, waves washing ashore, or small birds chirping in a forest, I find those artificial sounds to be even more distracting while I’m trying to fall asleep. That’s why I invested in one of the best sleep aids: the LectroFan Noise & Fan Machine, which only uses natural white noise. Choose between ten fan sounds and ten white noise sounds, with a range of volume levels and upward speaking producers that spatially fill the room. An automatic shut-off feature and timer allow you to save power, while the look is subtle enough to fit in with any bedroom.
Organic Valerian Root Liquid
Since childhood, I’ve been immune to the powers of melatonin. But after some research, my mom picked up some valerian root extract (this brand specifically), which was one of the best sleep aids in my younger years. This relaxation powerhouse affects neurotransmitters in a way that eases anxiety, stress, and insomnia, making it a perfect choice for anyone who has trouble winding down at night. Personally, this supplement has helped me fall asleep faster, improved sleep quality, and kept me in REM sleep for longer without any grogginess in the morning. I use the liquid extract, but not everyone loves the scent; it’s also available in pill form.
MUD/WTR Reset Blend
Described as a “coffee alternative,” MUD\WTR sells a day and evening powdered drink mix. The daytime mix energizes, while the evening mix is a personal favorite for promoting sleepiness. It has a bold flavor, akin to Masala chai, with chocolatey notes: a little sweet, a little savory, and extremely comforting. Though you can buy the adaptogen and herb powder on its own, I recommend considering their Evening Ritual Starter Kit, which includes their signature creamer and a milk frother. The frother is useful since the concoction can get slightly clumpy if not properly mixed. A powerful blend of calming ingredients like valerian root, passionflower turkey tail, and chamomile makes this proprietary blend a very effective sleep aid.
Cozy Earth Silk Pillow
This Cozy Earth pillow contains hypoallergenic mulberry silk rather than an animal-based filling, so I don’t wake up with the usual congestion. It also provides a density that encourages alignment for side and back sleeping. It feels cooler than cotton and is oversized to provide more surface area. With a medium loft, it’s soft but has a consistent, lump-free feel (there’s even a warranty against shifting) that promotes a more even spine angle. Somehow, it’s malleable like down but has a firmer feel, making it one of the best pillows for neck pain. And while the price is high, you won’t have to replace it every three months like those cheap department store pillows.
Foria Wellness CBD Treatment
This is one of the best sleep aids for those comfortable in baths. The act of taking a hot bath has always helped me drift off to sleep. But with the addition of these Foria bath salts with CBD and lavender, I face-plant into my sheets and blackout for the next eight hours. CBD is an anti-inflammatory component of the cannabis plant that doesn’t get you high. But it does feel like you’ve just gotten a deep tissue massage, reducing inflammation all over.
With the addition of lavender and kava, this calming, botanical-rich blend nourishes skin while removing discomfort. While it’s a little pricy, the cozy feel and mind-clearing effects are worth the splurge. Even if you can’t access CBD where you’re located, consider using a generous amount of Epsom salts, which are mineral-rich and contain magnesium, a known sleep aid.
Traditional Medicinals Organic Chamomile & Lavender Herbal Tea
When all else fails, reach for this organic tea that settles the nervous system. Combining a potent blend of lavender and chamomile, this tea smells decadent and tastes excellent with a dollop of honey — iced or hot. Unlike some herbal teas that are tasty but ineffective, this makes a delicious after-dinner drink that will lull you to sleep.
Often, I pre-make a big pitcher of it that I store in the fridge and keep on my night table in a water carafe in case I wake up restless or thirsty. Performance-wise, some people have compared its effectiveness to the best OTC sleep aid brands, and I agree. After a few cups, you might get hooked too.
BedJet 3 Climate Comfort Sleep System
Whether you’re a hot sleeper or a cold sleeper, BedJet’s innovative Climate Comfort Sleep System is a game-changer to make your sleep as restful as possible. Rapid air-based cooling, warming, and sweat-drying tech provide customizable comfort, and if you have different references from your partner, you can buy the Dual Zone Cloud Sheet that covers half of the bed instead. If it’s a chilly night or you have cold feet, turn on heat mode for a deliciously toasty sensation. Finally, biorhythm sleep tech provides better rest with personalized schedules that adjust automatically as you sleep.
Dr Teal’s Pure Epsom Salt Melatonin Sleep Soak
Taking your melatonin orally isn’t the only way to ingest it, and this Melatonin Sleep Soak from Dr.Teal is proof. Studies say that those who take a hot bath an hour or two before bed also fall asleep faster, and this melatonin, chamomile, and lavender-infused bath will have you out like a light in no time. Just soak for around 20 minutes — even if you’re not a bath person, you can scrub it on your skin as an exfoliant to experience benefits.
Bose Sleepbuds II
They’re certainly not the cheapest sleep accessory on the market, but thousands of people claim that these headphones are finally helping them get their eight hours thanks to soothing sleep sounds that help you fall asleep faster and wake less during the night. Their noise-blocking design pairs with the Bose Sleep app, which contains 50 curated sounds. Best of all, their proprietary ear tips are made of the softest silicone and come in multiple sizes so you can find the perfect fit. They even stay put if you’re tossing and turning or sleeping on your side.
Sleep Kit plus Loftie
Loftie is an innovative alarm clock praised by insomniacs for its designs and features. Beyond your basic white noise, Loftie’s library also contains audio content like sound baths, nature sounds, guided meditations, and soft-spoken bedtime stories. Made to help you avoid the dreaded blue light and late-night scrolling black holes on your phone, this alarm clock will change your entire morning (and bedtime) routine. This kit comes with a sleep mask, light blockers, and a book on sleep.
Perytong Sleep Headphones
If you’re skeptical about the high price tag on Bose Sleep Buds II or think they might fall out when you sleep, consider a wraparound sleep headband that features ultra-thin Bluetooth speakers on the side. Whether you’re sleeping, jogging, or looking to pass the time on a flight, these versatile wireless sleep headphones cost less than $20 and can drastically make a difference if you’re like me and sleep with a snorer or in other noisy conditions.
Quility Weighted Blanket
Weighted blankets create the sensation of a warm embrace, making them the ultimate sleep hack for cuddlers. And since we at SPY are obsessed with the high-quality but ultra-affordable Quility weighted blanket, it’s a no-brainer choice for anyone looking to improve their sleep health. Made with fine glass beads, these washable blankets are available in several weights and sizes. Breathable and fuzzy, this blanket can be used on its own or in addition to your existing blanket.
Coop Home Goods Adjustable Pillow
If you can’t sleep well, it might be because your pillow isn’t right for you. Your best bet is a pillow with an adjustable loft, where you can add in or take out a shredded foam filling to customize your pillow to your preferences. This makes it suitable for side, back, and stomach sleepers, which is why the Coop pillow has more than 50,000 positive reviews. Available at a more reasonable price point than other adjustable fill pillows on the market right now, this is an investment that your neck and back will thank you for.
Bigelow Sweet Dreams Tea
Along with Traditional Medicinals Chamomile and Lavender Tea, Bigelow has come up with a pretty potent blend that even hardcore insomniacs like me will be impressed by. Filled with soothing chamomile and mint, their Sweet Dreams tea might just become your new nightly ritual. Also a great nighttime tea for those who enjoy green tea but don’t want to be caffeinated before bed.
If you’re sick of your mattress but not ready to buy a new one, a topper is a great way to extend its life while making your nights a lot more comfortable. Filled with three to four inches of traceable wool filling and highly supportive micro-coils, The Wooly Topper is quite the investment, but as someone that owns it, it’s 100% worth the splurge. The surface is incredibly breathable, and it feels like an added pillowtop to my existing firm mattress rather than a foam layer that traps heat and causes the dreaded sinking sensation.
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