By, Dr. Kerris Dillon
For the video version, scroll to the very bottom and you will see the embedded link.
One of the most ignored, but extremely important factors in staying healthy and happy is sleep. There is a stage of sleep called REM (Rapid Eye Movement) in which brain chemicals are refilled, memories are encoded, there is a removal of neurotoxins from the brain, and other important healing aspects of the body take place. Therefore, your comfort as well as the quantity and quality of your sleep should be of the utmost importance to you.
Here are 10 products that can help you fall asleep as well as improve the quality and quantity of your sleep. There is a scientific explanation provided as to each of the products and why they improve your sleep quantity and/or quality.
The first and probably most important product that leads to quality sleep is your mattress. When Tempur-Pedic mattress first came out, my husband and I got on a monthly payment plan and bought one. It was $4,000 dollars to have the bed delivered with its frame, double box spring, and California king mattress. My husband who has a degree in physics (as well as lifelong back issues) theorized that memory foam due to its “give” would allow less pressure on the muscles and joints because the foam would slowly absorb movement and contours to its physical shape. With a box spring any movement causes the springs to bounce back, which applies force back to your muscles and joints. This can increase pain in those areas.
I was more than pleased when my husband’s constant back pain went away after one week of sleeping on the new mattress. We slept on that Tempur-Pedic for 20 years while properly cleaning it once a week. My husband and I realized that we probably needed a new bed as ours had lasted 2 decades. When we went to the store to find out how much new Tempur-Pedic beds cost, we were dumbfounded! In order to get a new bed with all of its fixings, it was going to cost us $10-12,000 dollars! That was as much as a brand new car! There was no way we were going to pay that much for a bed. There had to be an alternative!
I researched alternative foam mattresses and found an excellent substitute on Amazon. I bought two singles with an adjustable frame and couldn’t be happier. Sometimes, I find my kids will sneak into our room and fall asleep in our bed before we can get to it. This puts my husband and I on the couch or in their room, which doesn’t make us the happiest campers in our home. We find our beds to be as comfortable if not more comfortable than our previous Tempur-Pedic and definitely more affordable!
The second product for better and quality sleep is “My Pillow”. I’m sure you’ve seen the infomercials about it. I can’t believe that I’m writing about a pillow to help you sleep better, but I was absolutely shocked when I tried to this pillow! I couldn’t fathom spending $35.00-$50.00 on a pillow, but this one definitely changed my sleep! I have so much less tossing and turning because my pillow is lumpy or I have to fold it in half to get my head to sit up higher. I didn’t realize how much I was waking up because my pillow was such a mess. Remember, each time you wake up you are impacting your REM sleep, which is imperative for overall health, weight loss, and and refilling of your brain’s chemicals.
I sound so stupid when I talk to my friends about this pillow and go on and on about it, but I wake up so much more refreshed as compared to what I used to. The inventor of this pillow knew what he was doing because he shredded memory foam to help build this pillow. Memory foam pillows tend to be too hard and feathers tend to be too soft. When he shredded the memory foam, it helped to contour the pillow to the person’s head. I have to also hide this pillow from my children because they will come and steal it if I am not home. I will find it on the couch or in their rooms and I know eventually I am just going to have to buy them one of their own. So, here is the link to “My Pillow”, which I absolutely love!
The third product I have to RAVE about is the weighted blanket!!! My daughter just bought my husband a weighted blanket because he has high functioning Autism and he loves to bury himself in blankets at night and then plop the dogs on top of himself as well. The more weight he can put on himself at night, the better he sleeps! The thought of a weighted blanket seemed expensive, odd, and I wondered how I was going to wash it?!? I hate to admit this, but I actually use the weighted blanket myself every single time my husband isn’t around. I can’t believe I love it as much as he does and will probably buy myself one within a couple of weeks. I sleep so much better and I can’t believe it! Who would have thought?
I wanted to understand the science of why a weighted blanket would help someone to sleep more effectively and I found that weighted blankets were originally created to replicate deep tissue (pressure) therapy. The blanket also replicates the feeling of a semi-strong hug and helps to release oxytocin (the feel good hormone) within the body. When we cuddle or hug others, oxytocin is released within the brain encouraging bonding, trust, and the happiness hormone. For persons that do not necessarily like human hugs or cuddling, the weighted blanket allows individuals to get the same results and can choose when they need to have this feeling.
It works well for persons with anxiety, Autism, or sensory issues, but after I have used it…I think everyone should own one. I love it! I have also noticed that my husband moves less during his sleep and he doesn’t snore as loud into his CPAP when he wears it. I think sleep studies need to look at weighted blankets and their positive impact with sleep. Here is the weighted blanket that I would recommend because it has temperature control as well. One more reason that I love it? It doesn’t fall off the bed like our other blankets!
WHITE NOISE MACHINE
The fourth product is called the Marpac Dohm Classic White Noise Machine. A white noise machine can help to reduce the risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) with infants. It also helps all people to sleep more deeply and reduces the chance of waking up during a person’s REM cycle. When used in a hospital setting, it allows people to fall asleep more quickly and stay asleep even with all the hospital noise. Behavioral psychologists believe that white noise can be a conditioned stimulus for the brain to know it is time to sleep and that it is safe to sleep. Many people use box fans, which is fine, but white noise machines can save on electricity and they are easier to travel with. Having white noise while you sleep can help you to not hear your partner if they snore or talk in their sleep. There are many great white noise or sound machines on the market, but the reason that I chose this one is because you can buy a case for it and it fits into a suitcase very easily.
Persons that sleep with fans may have trouble feeling drowsy during the summer when they use their fan in the living room to cool off. When a fan is used at night, it triggers the brain to release melatonin (the sleep hormone) to ready the individual toward sleep. When white noise is used, it is the same frequency and the brain will not be tricked into becoming tired if a fan is utilized in an office or in the living room of the home. White noise machines are very portable and take up little room. Some of them run on batteries in case you want to take it with you tent camping or are trying to sleep in the car. Here is a link to the white noise machine that I think is one of the best.
The fifth product is a sleep mask. I was surprised when I read scholarly studies that showed sleep masks can help people sleep more soundly and effectively. The main idea is that sleep masks provide total darkness from ambient light, which can interrupt sleep and make it difficult to fall asleep. As a side note, most cell phones become equipped with light reduction technology that will turn your screen a shade of yellow throughout the day so that it doesn’t interfere with your natural circadian rhythm. Bright lights from computers and phones have been known to cause insomnia as they are unnatural and can interfere with melatonin production and secretion. Sleep masks whether they are simple, 3D, or have blue tooth are extremely beneficial for deep sleep once you get used to wearing one. Blue tooth sleep masks are beneficial for individuals that use sleep medications to fall asleep at night. Here are some sleep masks that I really like. The first one is very comfortable if you don’t mind looking like you are wearing a bra on your head when you sleep. As long as it is comfortable, which this one is!
This next product works best with conditioning oneself. Just like white noise sometimes takes getting used to, as does essential oil. Smell is the number one way to associate something in the brain with a neutral stimulus so if you can use essential oil to sleep, it will help your brain to prepare for sleep with melatonin production as well as secretion. If you put this essential oil on your neck, on your wrists, or on your pillow each night before you sleep, you will eventually condition yourself to fall asleep quicker. It may take 1 or 2 weeks for the conditioning to take place. This is my suggestion for an easy roll-on and ready-to-go essential oil. There are many good products on the market.
SLEEP TRACKING DEVICES
Want to get scientific about your sleep? There are a multitude of products on the market that let you know the quantity and quality of your sleep. One of my favorites is the sleep tracking pad because it is compatible with Alexa. It is a pad that goes underneath your mattress and lets you know your sleep score, how long you slept, and how many times you tossed and turned during the night. Because it works with Alexa, it can help you to control your lights and temperature, possible breathing disturbances, and what time of the night these issues took place. If you are someone that cares very much about your sleep and its quality, this is the perfect product for you. Test to see if you sleep better in different temperatures or if turning the lights off earlier in the night helps you to sleep better. The best way to know your own sleep is to experiment upon yourself. Here is the link to the product.
One of the most difficult times to get quality sleep is during pregnancy. With the baby moving around at night, pushing on your bladder, as well as trying to adjust to a growing body can be difficult for many women. I have heard many women rave about this pregnancy pillow because it can be shifted around and used between the legs and underneath the neck as the pregnancy changes. It is extremely difficult to get comfortable and the minute a woman has figured out how to adjust to a growing belly, her shape changes again and becomes uncomfortable. The snake-like shape of this pillow allows a pregnant mother to adjust as her body shifts and changes. It is so important for an expecting mother to get quality sleep as a phenomenal amount of growth is taking place in her body!
Many people don’t think sheets are important on a bed, but what lies underneath you can be as important as what lies on top of you. With 5 star ratings across the board, these sheets are definitely a favorite of sleepers! They are very soft and made of microfiber and come in a variety of neutral colors. This company guarantees the sheets for a lifetime and will offer you money back if you are not fully satisfied with them. Not many companies can say that about their products! These sheets are unique in that they are made with high density yarn, which makes them extremely soft. They are machine washable and do not wrinkle easily. Many people have commented that these sheets feel like silk, but without the hefty price tag. One woman claimed that she had never slept on better sheets for the past 76 years. If that doesn’t say something, I don’t know what would!
SLEEP STRATEGIES BOOK
The reason I like this book is because it is like no other that I have read. The author uses nutrition, an understanding of circadian rhythms, as well as science to explain his successful sleep strategies. Even though this book can be considered controversial, for those that battle sleep it can be extremely helpful. Most of us have read theories concerning better sleep and tend to have the same things repeated to us day-after-day with little to no success. This is why I like this book so much! The author figured out what worked for him and provides an outline concerning what might work for you in getting to sleep and gaining quantity and quality of sleep. My husband has no trouble sleeping and I have always had a terrible time getting and staying asleep. If there is a book that can provide me with ideas to figure out this mystery, I will read it and this book definitely does so! I was very impressed with this book and can’t wait to put his methods into action!
Affiliate Disclaimer – the author of this blog will receive a small compensation if you use these links to purchase the item. This compensation helps to fund this blog as well as the business of the author.