Comparing Different Sleep Products Available

July 24, 2019

Comparing Different Sleep Products Available


I miss being young. When I was young and it was time for bed, I put on my pj’s, I crawled into bed, my mom came into my room to kiss me goodnight, she turned off the lights and shut the door, and I closed my eyes and fell asleep.

Life was so simple then. But now I am an adult, and I have to do adulting. Bills to pay, appointments to keep, work to do - the list seems never-ending. It isn’t a surprise that at the end of the day my mind is racing and falling asleep isn’t as simple as it once was. Now when I lay down to sleep, I take melatonin to help control my circadian rhythm (my sleep and wake cycles),

I apply lavender lotion to my body so the scent can calm me down, I put earplugs in my ears to block out the noise, and I put on an eye/sleep mask to block out the light. And yet, even with all of these tools, sometimes good sleep escapes me.

There are many products out there to help people fall and/or stay asleep. Everyone is searching for the perfect combination in order to get the recommended 8 hours. Below is a shortlist of items I came across when searching for different sleep aids:


Eye/sleep masks

 

The patent for sleep masks was submitted in 1930 by Edward and Elsie Hemphill; however, sleep masks are comparable to blindfolds, which have been around since at least the 15th century. Covering the eyes to help keep out light is beneficial in maintaining your circadian rhythm, especially if you are going to bed while it is still light outside or if you go to bed late and the sun starts shining well before you want to wake. Some people don’t like the feeling of the mask across their eyes or hitting them on their temples, but I found that I acclimated to using a mask after just a week or two of use.

What’s more, because I have been using a sleep mask every night for years, I find that if I try to nap or sleep without a mask, it is a struggle. Sleep masks are probably one of the least expensive tools out there to help with sleep, and being that they are not a drug, they might even be considered one of the safest methods to try.


Earplugs

These tiny devices date as far back as Homer’s book, The Odyssey, in which men were advised to fill their ears with beeswax so that they would not hear and be lured by the Sirens and to their death. Today, earplugs are made from a variety of materials - wax, silicone, foam, and even custom-molded earplugs are available. Personally, I use foam earplugs.

They are inexpensive, and I like being able to replace mine with a new pair each night. Though the earplugs that I use might not block out all noise, they do block out enough noise to make a difference in the sound levels around me, and thus I find they help me to sleep.

As had happened with my sleep mask, my ears have become accustomed to the feeling of earplugs in them at night, and now I find it hard to sleep without them.


Supplements

Melatonin, theanine, magnesium, and more, there are a plethora of supplements on the market, all with the claim that they can aid in obtaining better sleep.

I personally use melatonin as part of my nightly routine, as it is a hormone that our body naturally produces, and I do not feel as if I am ingesting too many unknown substances. Though I have tried other supplements, I found that melatonin is what works best for me.

If you want to try a supplement, you should always check with your doctor or medical advisor first prior to starting any supplement or medication.


Medicinal Sleep Aids

Whether prescription medicine, such as Ambien and Lunesta or over the counter varieties, such as Unisom and ZzzQuil, there is an abundance of sleep formulas on the market to help you sleep. Not every formula works for everyone, though. Years ago, I was prescribed Ambien and instead of helping me sleep, it kept me up all night! This didn’t surprise me, though, seeing as codeine (which makes most people tired) keeps me wide awake.

I have had adverse and/or opposite reactions to other medicines, as well. Again, always check with your doctor first before starting any medicines and only take prescription medicines that have been prescribed directly to you.


Beverages

Warm milk, decaffeinated herbal teas, and specialty tonics are often used to aid in sleep. Those infused with ingredients such as lavender and chamomile, known for their stress-relieving and calming properties, can be especially helpful when trying to get some shut-eye.

Some people even swear by having beer, wine, or other spirits before bed makes them drowsy; however, the sleep you have after consuming alcohol might not be as restful as non-alcoholic beverage varieties.


Aromatherapy, Essential Oils,
and Lotions

Aromatherapy started with ancient civilizations, where various scented blends could be found in medicines, perfumes, and make-up products, but the word “aromatherapy” wasn’t used until the early 1900’s. Dating back to as early as 1188, essential oils can be used in a variety of forms, including aromatherapy. Whether burned, heated, or diffused, the scents created from the oils can assist with sleep. Being asthmatic, I have to be careful with the strength of scents that I use on or near my body, as strong scents can elicit adverse reactions.

I do use a lotion containing lavender before laying down at night, but I found one where the scent isn’t too powerful. I need to be careful as overpowering scents might cause me to cough or even have an asthma attack.


Oriental Traditions

Meditation, Yoga, Acupuncture, and even Feng Shui have been used for centuries, and some people swear by these practices to help them sleep.

Though not for everyone, for those who are looking at alternative methods of achieving a good night’s rest, these can often be beneficial. Being drug-free is an added benefit of these ancient techniques.


Weighted Blankets

Believed to help serotonin production, which in turn creates the feeling of comfort and security, weighted blankets and other comfort items (such as teddy bears, for example) can create a refuge for the user. By stimulating deep touch pressure stimulation, weighted blankets have been claimed to help with insomnia, anxiety, stress, fibromyalgia, and a variety of other ailments and conditions. Available in a variety of thicknesses and weights, thus providing the right temperature control and pressure, these items have the potential to help users sleep well. I have yet to try a weighted blanket, though buying one was recommended to me. As a relatively inexpensive, non-chemical option for sleep assistance, I am getting closer to testing how well one might work for me.


Bamboo

Skeptics might be thinking, “Bamboo for sleeping?” For many years, bamboo has been used as rayon fibers in many textiles. More recently, however, many bedsheet makers have realized the benefits that natural bamboo provides.

From being naturally antifungal and antibacterial to their staying slightly cooler than traditional cotton bedding, bamboo is an optimal choice for a variety of bedding accouterments including pillows, sheets, and mattresses.


  Pillows, Sheets, and Mattresses

Speaking of bedding accouterments, people are quick to try various methods to assist them in sleeping, but they often forget that the base of their sleep - their selection of pillows, sheets, and mattresses - plays a key role in the quality of sleep that they get. So before trying any of the above-mentioned sleep aids, maybe just start with something as simple as a pillow change? I grew up sleeping on what I considered to be a traditional, fluffy pillow. It wasn’t until a few years ago where I took a cruise and was given a firm pillow that I realized...THIS is what I had been missing all of my life! I didn’t sleep well on goose feathers as others swear by. What my body had been craving all along was a brick. Well, maybe not an actual brick, but definitely a thick and dense pillow. You need to try different densities and materials until you find the pillow and bedding accessories that are best for your body. Adjustable pillows, which have removable inserts, are a great way to find the pillow thickness and density that is optimal for you.

I am sure there are other sleep tips and tricks that I haven’t covered here, as technology advances us every day, and new items are constantly being released to help in the never-ending quest for optimal sleep.

What tips and tricks do you have to help you get the best sleep?






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