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Are there any people more sleep-deprived than parents? When you have kids, sleeping for the recommended 7 to 9 hours nightly seems next to impossible.
Whether you’re waking up during the night to care for your little ones or are routinely wide-eyed with a case of the 3 a.m. worries, consistent loss of sleep can take a big toll on your body. Getting enough rest is important to prevent a host of health problems, from weight gain to a weakened immune system, but it’s sometimes easier said than done.
“I’m a physician assistant who works with both kids and adults on all types of sleep problems,” says Kelly Morgenstein, PA-C, MMS at the Colorado Sleep Institute. “Lately I’ve been seeing a lot of insomnia. Stress and anxiety tend to bring on more trouble with sleep.”
And just as pediatricians recommend establishing a sleep routine for babies, parents often need a reminder that a nighttime routine that involves time to unwind from a jam-packed day is key.
“I typically suggest making time to develop a good sleep schedule and employing ‘sleep hygiene’ in yourself and your children,” says Morgenstein. “It can have lasting, long-term benefits in everyone’s ability to initiate and maintain sleep throughout their lives, even during stressful times and situations.”
So, to help parents take the time each night before bed to get into sleep mode, we’ve gathered several products that are designed to help people release stress and — hopefully — get some Zzz’s.
We searched for highly rated, fan-favorite products that can help folks get to sleep. We’ve broken these tools out into groupings based on price point, and all the products in this list meet the following criteria:
- safe for use
- durable materials
- reasonable price tag for the market
- rave reviews about sleep benefits and reduced stress
Melatonin is the hormone your brain releases when it’s time to sleep. But sometimes your body may need a little help pumping the breaks, either because you’re not producing enough melatonin naturally or your mind is too active.
Melatonin supplements, like these gummies from Natrol, help boost your natural melatonin levels to encourage restful sleep without the use of chemical sleep aids. One reviewer claims, “Within 20 to 30 mins I’m feeling sleepy and ready to curl into my blankets.” Several others say that they don’t feel groggy the following morning and that they’re reasonably priced for the 5 milligram dosage.
A handful of reviews say that these strawberry-flavored gummies are super tasty. But as they contain a small amount of added sugar, be sure to brush your teeth after chewing to prevent any remaining residue from hanging out in your mouth while you sleep.
Darkness is another factor in your body’s ability to produce melatonin. When it’s light outside or there’s artificial light in use, your body’s circadian rhythm (or internal clock) tells your body to stay awake and suppresses chemicals like melatonin, making it harder to fall asleep. One easy way to make your space darker? Cover your eyes.
The Alaska Bear Natural Silk Sleep Mask has mulberry silk on both sides for a spa-like feel. An adjustable strap makes it easy to fit the mask to your face and adjust the tightness for a stronger blackout effect. Reviewers like that this mask is soft and flexible and say it’s a solid product for the price.
There is some controversy among reviewers about the darker colors bleeding on white sheets (one reviewer says the black color bled, another said they had no problems). If you have white sheets on your bed, you might be better off playing it safe with one of the lighter colored designs.
Epsom, also known as magnesium sulphate, is a combination of magnesium, sulfur, and oxygen. Magnesium is important for many bodily functions, including helping the brain make neurotransmitters that induce sleep.
And while there’s no scientific evidence that you can actually absorb magnesium through the skin, you don’t need an expert to tell you that a warm bath before bedtime is relaxing and sleep-inducing.
Dr Teal’s makes Epsom salt soaks in a range of aromas and essential oil combinations, but this lavender-scented solution is a fan favorite. Of course, finding the time for a bath isn’t always the easiest feat — but if you can carve out 15 minutes of alone time before bed, the reviews suggest that it might just be worth it.
Reviewers like the soothing lavender smell (although reviews are mixed as to whether it’s just right or a bit too much), and that the salts dissolve quickly. Many folks claim that a soak in these salts before bedtime helps them drift off to sleep — one reviewer even says, “Honestly I think it’s made of unicorn tears.”
Drinking a cup of hot (decaffeinated) tea before bed can be a calming, soothing ritual that’s part of a solid power-down sleep routine.
Traditional Medicinals’ Nighty Night tea uses verified non-GMO, certified organic herbs that have been found to reduce anxiety and insomnia. This particular blend includes passionflower, chamomile, linden flower, hops, and valerian root — often referred to as “nature’s Valium.”
Reviewers say that a hot cup of this tea helps them unwind before bedtime, and several report sleeping deeply (one woman even says she calls this tea “The Hammer” for how quickly she falls asleep!). Folks also like the flavor, which reportedly has a strong peppermint profile.
If the slightest sound prevents you from falling into a restful slumber, you might try a bringing some white or pink noise into your space.
A quick crash-course in sonic hues: White noise equally combines all audible sound frequencies to create a steady noise that replicates the constant hum of a fan. Pink noise combines all audible sound frequencies, but unevenly — it’s more intense at a lower frequency and includes many sounds we hear in nature, such as steady rain or wind.
This highly rated sound machine from Dreamegg provides both white and pink noise, with 7 white noise and 10 nature sounds to choose from. It also includes a timer and a lullaby and nightlight option for babies — although be sure to investigate the pros and cons of using white noise to help babies fall asleep.
Reviewers appreciate this machine’s sound quality and the amount of features for the size and the price. A few also comment on liking the sleek black design and the machine’s overall durability.
A few folks mentioned that older versions had some distracting background sounds in the white noise and forest recordings, but amended reviews claim that the company has made updates since then.
Lavender has long been recognized as aromas that promote sleep. In fact, a
Using a pillow spray, like this one from This Works, is a great addition to your evening routine. Reviewers say the lavender and chamomile scent helps them to relax and drift into better quality sleep. Another new mom says she almost slept through her newborn’s crying. (Is that even possible?!)
We actually featured this spray in our Mother’s Day Gift Guide, too, because one of the Parenthood editors is a big fan. The only downside is that it’s pricey for a pillow spray, so try to avoid dunking your entire pillowcase in it.
Resting your head on an uncomfortable pillow is a quick and easy recipe for a bad night’s sleep. If you’ve struggled to find a pillow that fits your sleep-style, consider checking out an adjustable pillow, like this one from Coop Home Goods.
This pillow is filled with shredded memory foam and microfiber so you can unzip the liner and pull out as much as you’d like until you get the right amount of cushion for your noggin. The outer layer is made of washable, sustainably farmed bamboo that’s soft and breathable enough to sleep on sans pillowcase (if that’s your thing).
Reviewers like that this pillow is hypoallergenic, easy to adjust, and comes with an additional half-pound of stuffing so you never have de-stuffing remorse. On the negative side, like most foam products that arrive in a box, the stuffing lets off a weird-smelling odor for the first day or two. Coop suggests popping the pillow in the dryer on low/cool when first receiving it to expedite the airing-out process.
Weighted blankets are therapeutic blankets weighing between 5 and 30 pounds and work by mimicking a technique called deep pressure simulation (think a big, soothing hug but using a blanket’s weight instead of touch). They’ve been shown to reduce stress and anxiety, relieve pain, and improve mood, especially in people experiencing chronic pain and insomnia.
The Quility Premium Kids and Adults Weighted Blanket features thousands of glass microbeads stitched into several layers for breathability and a soft, removable cover that removes for easy washing.
Reviewers like that the quilting provides even weight distribution and that there are ties in the corners to keep the soft cover in place. Most reviewers say that it isn’t too hot to sleep under, despite being heavy. And multiple people comment on Quility’s blankets being just as effective as more expensive competitors.
A few tips: When picking a weighted blanket, aim for 10 percent of your body weight. Weighted blankets shouldn’t be used by toddlers under the age of 2, or people with asthma, claustrophobia, or sleep apnea.
Whether you’ve been holding your toddler on the same hip all day or your newborn’s fallen asleep on your arm for the seventh night in a row (must. not. move. arm.), the aches and pains of parenthood can make getting comfortable enough to fall asleep a real feat.
Since going to a spa for a deep-tissue massage may not always be a realistic option, relaxing at home with a hand-held massager might offer some immediate muscle relief. This one from Lifepro is portable, quiet, and holds a charge for up to 6 hours.
Reviewers like that there are five levels of intensity and five different attachable massage heads. Fans of this product also say it’s extremely quiet to operate (which isn’t always the case with power drill-style massagers like this) and that it performs just as well as its more expensive competitors.
All right, bear with us on this one. If you were the kind of student who nodded off to the monotone sounds of your professor’s voice, this podcast might just be your saving grace.
Hosted by a low, rumbly voice known as “Dearest Scooter” (Drew Ackerman), Sleep With Me is an hour-long boredom-fest intended to send you straight into slumber. His “adult bedtime stories” are a winding maze of run-on sentences that cover… well, nothing important, really.
Reviewers love Scooter’s gravely tone and call this podcast “melatonin in audio form.” One reviewer calls Scooter her “borefriend” and claims she can’t sleep without him. But new listeners be warned: If you’re looking for these bedtime stories to go anywhere, you’ll be sorely disappointed. Then again, that’s the whole point.