If you’re not sleeping well at night, the first thing you should do is make sure you’re following habits that promote healthy sleep, and then to rule out the possibility of a sleep disorder. When sleep evades you, it’s usually because you’re sabotaging yourself with evening lattes or late-night smartphone browsing.
But if that’s not the case, you might benefit from a little extra help falling asleep. While no product is a perfect cure for trouble falling and staying asleep, some of them can help you overcome the most common issues that disrupt sleep—like loud noises, racing thoughts, or unwanted light.
Here are some of the products sleep experts recommend to improve sleep:
1. Blackout curtains can be a huge help, especially for people who work night shifts or have a glowing streetlight right outside their bedroom window. These curtains excel in blocking out light and providing the darkest room possible.
A dark room promotes sleep because light can tell the body to stop producing melatonin. That’s the hormone that helps control the sleep cycle and induces sleepiness. By keeping the light out, you’re letting the melatonin do its thing (i.e., keep you snoozing).
2. A weighted blanket might help soothe you and promote relaxation and sleep. This heavy blanket applies gentle pressure around the body—like a cozy hug—to reduce distracting stimuli.
Although they were originally created for children with autism, many people with anxiety-induced insomnia find weighted blankets useful.
3. A noise machine could be a game-changer if you have noisy neighbors or live in a city with a lot of sirens. Noise machines create white noise that can drown out disruptive sounds to save you from tossing and turning at 3 a.m. (But if it happens, here are tips to fall back asleep in the middle of the night.)
4. A sleep mask is a more affordable (and transportable) alternative to the blackout curtains. It's also a good option if you sleep with a partner who likes to have a reading light on before bed. (Here are more tips for sharing the bed with a partner.)
5. An essential oil diffuser might help promote sleep if you find certain scents pleasant and calming. Popular scents for sleep include lavender and jasmine, according to the National Sleep Foundation. (You might want to avoid citrus aromas, since they tend to be invigorating and can have the opposite effect.)
Studies on the effectiveness of aromatherapy are few and far between, according to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Essential oils might not be a cure-all, but the pleasant aroma might provide a good distraction that can help induce sleep.
6. The right pillow is essential for good sleep, and it’s something many people overlook. The best pillow depends on how you sleep:
Back sleepers should opt for medium-firm pillows. Try one that has an extra lift at the bottom of the pillow that can cradle the neck, or a memory foam pillow.
Stomach sleepers should choose the thinnest pillow possible—or no pillow at all.
Side sleepers should aim for a full and thick pillow to help keep the neck aligned with the rest of the spine.
Need more sleep tips?