Confession: I’ve always struggled to fall asleep at night. I’ve pretended to lie on a beach, I’ve counted sheep and I’ve consumed more than my share of warm milk. It’s bananas, I tell you! After way too many restless nights, I graduated to things as intense as brain biofeedback treatment (a technology that alters brain waves), valerian root (a supplement used to treat sleep and anxiety), yoga and melatonin (a hormone our body produces that aids in sleeping).
Nothing worked for me (although those are all great options that some people achieve amazing results with). But I persevered, and after trying about a zillion other things, I finally found a selection of products and items that I count on every night. Behold, my top five tricks to catching quality zzzz’s—plus some other amaze products that are worth a shot!
BUT FIRST! WHY NODDING OFF IS GOOD FOR YOU
Sleep deprivation and difficulty falling asleep aren’t just annoying—they’re huge roadblocks to good health, a calm mind and beautiful skin. I mean, c’mon, there’s obvs a reason it’s called beauty sleep. Essentially, those seven to 10 hours in dreamland allow your body—including your skin—to repair and regenerate. I don’t need to be the one to tell you that without the proper amount (or quality) of sleep, you’re more susceptible to depression, weight gain, inflammation, stress (which leads to advanced aging—wrinkles—and worsening of acne), insulin resistance, dark circles under your eyes, a dull complexion and puffy skin. Um, gross. Pass. One study even found that sleep-deprived individuals appear less healthy, more tired, and less attractive than those who have received a full night’s worth of sleep.
So in an effort to save myself from the horrible list of side effects above (!), here’s what I’ve discovered works for me.
1. A WHITE NOISE MACHINE
OMG. This thing is to die for—it sounds kinda like a rushing waterfall or wind blowing through trees. Love! I did a lot of research before buying one, and finally chose the Marpac SleepMate; it’s a best seller and has gotten crazy good reviews online. There’s also a great one by Obus Forme which has a timer so you can set it to turn off after 30 or 60 minutes. Mine doesn’t have that option, but I like to leave it on ’til I wake up anyway, because it drowns out any sound throughout the night (I’m a light sleeper, obvs) and I find the noise super-soothing.
2. LAVENDER ESSENTIAL OIL
I mix about 15-20 drops of Aura Cacia’s Pillow Potion oil in a spray bottle with distilled water and mist it over my sheets. I also have a jar of pure lavender oil beside my bed which I stick in a diffuser (like this one) to really let it permeate the room. Something about the scent just really helps me relax and quiet my thoughts. Obsessed!
3. HERBAL TEA
Right now I’m using Bio-Vita #7 tea that my Chinese medicine doctor gave me (which I love, but my boyfriend says smells like sweaty socks… SO not true!). In the past, I’ve also used Traditional Medicinals Organic Nighty Night tea and Yogi Bedtime tea, and both have worked like a dream (get it?). Some ingredients you wanna look for in a sleep-aid tea include chamomile, valerian, skullcap, passionflower, St. John’s Wort and lavender. Drink a cup about 1/2 an hour before bed and try to tell me you don’t feel chilled out.
4. A SLEEP MASK AND EAR PLUGS
Making your room cool, dark and quiet is key to a good night’s sleep, so unless you have blackout curtains or sleep in a cave, break out the sleep mask. I know I wrote about them here, but in addition to rocking one on the plane, I use it every night at home, too. I swear, sleep masks can be super-cute! I pair mine with some ear plugs and I’m good to go (I know—I’m a real treat to share a bedroom with). As for the earplugs, I know I have my white noise machine, but sometimes the seagulls and birds near our apartment are crazy loud in the mornings, and without earplugs, I’m up at 5 a.m. Not a happy camper. I swear by these babies.
I find that when I work out two or three times a week, I sleep sooo much better. Unfortunately I’m lazy and often let this one fall by the wayside. Big mistake. BIG. HUGE. But seriously, who wants to go to the gym after working an eight hour day? Props to those of you who do it, ’cause I’d rather eat a yummy dinner and read a book or watch TV on the couch. The Mayo Clinic, however, says that regular physical activity can promote better sleep, helping you to fall asleep faster and sleep more deeply. If only I could get a personal trainer to come to my house and force me to exercise… Perf. Problem solved.
So those are my go-to sleep aids, but there are lots of other prodz in my rotation! Some other faves—and some I’m keen to check out—include The Body Shop’s Deep Sleep Essential Oil:
Lush Dream Cream Body Lotion:
Bach Rescue Sleep Spray:
Bath & Body Works Lavender Chamomile Pillow Mist:
and Crabtree & Evelyn Comforting Body Night Cream:
Elizabeth Oborne is a Vancouver-based writer and holistic nutritionist. Follow her on Twitter: @elizabethedits.
Do YOU have trouble falling asleep?
What’s your best sleep tip?
Which of these prodz have you tried?