Can’t sleep? You’re not alone. Not even close.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, the average adult needs 7-9 hours of solid sleep to operate as a fully-functional human being. To perpetually exhausted parents, this sounds like some sort of cruel cosmic joke. A recent study found that new parents don’t get enough sleep for six years, after their child arrives.
The keys to getting actual restful shuteye are fairly obvious, if seemingly unattainable when you’re dealing with commutes, packing lunches, grinding out homework and the riffraff of real life. The National Sleep Foundation suggests that parents stick to a schedule, have a bedtime ritual, exercise daily, have comfortable mattresses and pillows, turn off electronics before bed, and be leery of caffeine and booze, which can impact sleep.
See more: The Best Sheets for Your Bed
“You need a wind-down routine. I put the phone in the bathroom before I go to bed. You need peace of mind, so anything you can do to do that will help you. That’s a big issue for parents,” says Allswell’s president Arlyn Davich. “So I watch a lot of mindless television, while drinking tea, without my phone. It gets me more into a mindless state. Gratitude journals have helped me in the past.”
Another major sleep booster: Keeping your environment cool, advises Dr. W. Christopher Winter, a sleep expert and the head of the Charlottesville Neurology and Sleep Medicine clinic.
“The room should be 65 degrees. You want to regulate your body temperature with your bedding, not what you wear, so put on breathable, light clothing,” says Winter. “Bundle up with blankets that can move on and off. And make your room as quiet and dark as can be.”
We talked to sleep experts about products that can really help with sleep (like a mask) and things that are more hype than help (like essential oils, which can have some benefits, but nothing definite). Here are some select products the experts, Fatherly editors, and sleep pros stand behind.
Dab a little bit of this cooling serum on your face before going to bed, for an instant soothing, cooling, calming sensation.
Pros: This serum gives your face that added dose of cooling hydration before you hit the sack, leaving you feeling relaxed and refreshed.
Cons: It’s on the pricier side.
Keep your bedroom at a steady 65 degrees with this intelligent temperature tracker.
Pros: It’s easy to set up, and it works with your smartphone, plus Alexa and Google Assistant. You get consistent temps, without any annoying fluctuations, because it has specific room sensors.
Cons: The price.
Every expert stresses the importance of keeping electronics out of the bedroom. With this handy chaging station, they're all in one place.
Pros: Not only is this a nice decor feature, but it takes away any excuse you have for keeping the phone by your side. You can charge your iPhone, your Android, your Apple watch, your tablets, far away from where you sleep.
Cons: Inexplicably, some of the ports can stop working, says one Fatherly editor who’s had one for a year.
If you do need to check your phone in the night, put on these glasses, because they block blue lights from your mobile devices.
Pros: Put on these types of glasses and you won’t feel as awake if you’re responding to an urgent email, says Winter.
Cons: Well, it’s one more thing to remember to do.
This is a diffuser that doesn't cover up stinky home smells with more smells. But it actually infuses your room with understated fragrance.
Pros: There’s no magic scent that will knock you out for a solid eight hours (that we know of, anyway), but the soothing Aera can help you at least wind down enough to be ready for bed. You download the app, pre-set the level of scent you want in your home, and set a schedule. So that way, when you’re set to crawl between the sheets, at least your bedroom will smell tranquil and you’ll associate that specific odor with sleep.
Cons: It’s not cheap. And neither are the fragrances.
10,000 Amazon reviewers can't be wrong about this luxe yet affordable sleep mask, which is made from breathable, smooth mulberry silk on both sides.
Pros: This sleep mask gives you absolute blackout darkness, which is deal for sleep, while the hypoallergenic silk keeps any dry air out. It’s easily adjustable and perfect for sleeping on the go, like when you’re on a plane.
Cons: If you’re not into having anything on your face when you sleep, skip this one. It can feel constricting.
Because this bulb has no blue or green in it, it will make you fall asleep easier, says Winter.
Pros: This bulb boasts of having 22 years of battery life, and emits less of the blue light waves that you would see during the day, thus boosting the melatonin you need to sleep.
Cons: As with most things, it doesn’t work for everyone.
This oil zens you out so much, we don't recommend using it in the morning.
Pros: From one of our go-to brands, this sleep-boosting oil is truly a bedtime story in a bottle. Lavender aside, the oil is blended with almond oil and sunflower oil.
Cons: Your skin sucks it in, but for some, may be a little heavy.
So you want to tune out, but hate having things in your ear? This is the solve.
Pros: You get a breathable eye mask that also delivers tunes. Or podcasts. Or the news, if you’re so inclined. It connects to any Bluetooth-capable device, including, of course, your smartphone, so you can listen to whatever your ears desire.
Cons: You get about 10 hours of playing time, which isn’t that great if you need it the whole night and you sleep (gasp!) longer. But it’s probably not a great idea if you have small children, or babies, who need your attention at night.
People swear by these gummies, which are loaded with sleep-boosting melatonin.
Pros: These gummies taste like berries, but it’s the melatonin in them that actually helped one Fatherly editor get some shut-eye.
Cons: These are not regulated by the FDA, so we’re a little leery of including them. But we have tried them, and they do work.
Imagine being enveloped in a hug that's never sweaty, smelly, or annoying. Such is the magic of this weighted blanket.
Pros: Weighted blankets have no scientifically proven therapeutic value, but they sure are comfortable. Basically, it’s like being wrapped in a comforting hug. The blanket is just heavy enough that you stop fidgeting or moving around.
Cons: The blanket can feel oppressive when it’s warm out, or if you tend to overheat.
You know how you sometimes wake up in the middle of the night with an aching neck or back? This Eden pillow will solve your neck-related sleep woes.
Pros: We love this pillow because its cooling gel memory foam gives you breathability and keeps you from overheating during the night. And you can fully adjust the fill to fit your sleep patterns and needs. You can shape and contour the pillow to your exact specifications.
Cons: The fill can shift over time, becoming either too soft or too bunched up.
Bright light is the enemy of deep sleep, so invest in some blackout curtains. The price is right here, and they come in a variety of colors.
Pros: You get solid blackout curtains that keep out both sunlight and cut down on outside noise to help you sleep better. They come in a slew of colors and at this price, you can keep swapping them out.
Cons: They can resemble shower curtains, and the length isn’t ideal for everyone.
Think of this as your own personal in-ear sound machine.
Pros: These sleepbuds are compatible with any Bluetooth device, have a 16-hour battery life, and are pretty brilliant. No, you don’t listen to boring podcasts to pass out. Instead, these are preloaded with soothing sounds to cover up noise, thus enabling you to sleep.
Cons: If you don’t like things in your ears, this is stating the obvious, but these can be uncomfortable.
Forget those humidifiers of yesteryear, that inevitably get water all over the place and have to be cleaned out on the regular. The Moodo is the definitely of plug and play. You pick a family of scents, pop in the pods, decide on how strong you want the smell to be, and enjoy the results.
Pros: Brilliant, mess-free packaging and a lovely assortment of scents, all controlled from your phone.
Cons: The scents can be overpowering.
Shedding your tight work clothes and really letting go is part of the wind-down process. And you can't do better than this microfiber fleece bathrobe.
Pros: You throw on the robe. You grab a book. And you put the long day behind you. It’s soft as hell, and has two large pockets (for your phone or baby monitor). There are options for the ladies as well.
Cons: Can generate a ton of fuzz, despite numerous washes.
One Fatherly editor has two of these pillows, and can't say enough positive things about them. They're cooling, relaxing, and oh so soft.
Pros: The absolute greatest thing about silk pillowcases, and these in particular, is that they don’t mess with your hair and thus, you sleep better because you don’t wake up sweaty or tangled. And the quality is second to none.
Cons: The texture, if you’re used to cotton, takes some getting used to.
To get good sleep, you need good sheets, preferably at a good price. These sheets are those sheets. They're basically perfect.
Pros: There’s no good way to describe these sheets except to say, they feel creamy against your skin, without being sticky. They don’t pill, they fit even a deep mattress, and they’re just amazing, especially for the price.
Cons: They’re not soft enough for some.
Spray this on your pillow and you get to curl up to the relaxing scents of lavender, vetiver and camomile.
Pros: It smells lovely, it turns your bed into a scented oasis, and it does help relax you. Plus, the brand’s products are made without parabens, phthalates, GMOs, sulfates, synthetic dyes and fragrances, propylene glycol, mineral oil, and petrolatum. So there’s that. At least you’re not dozing off in a chemical haze.
Cons: The scent doesn’t last long, but if you fall asleep fast, who cares?
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