Even if you nestle into bed far before your “if I fall asleep right now, I’ll get eight hours” bedtime, it’s not always easy to start snoozing (it’s not like you’ve got a lot on your mind right now… ahem).
Of course, you can try all the healthy habits that usually help like not exercising, eating, or Netflix-ing too close to bedtime—but when that doesn’t work, you can be left in a real bind.
And your body feels it. “Sleep helps so many health functions—it helps the heart, gives us energy for the day, and recharges our muscles and cognitive functions,” says Joshua Tal, PhD sleep and health psychologist. So, why is something so helpful to our health so hard to get sometimes?
“Everyone is different,” Dr. Tal says. “For some it can be too much light before bed or during the night, others it could be waiting on a new mattress or pillow, and others too much outside noise.” (Did you spot the one that sounds like you?)
To set the stage for better sleep, we asked Dr. Tal to short-list the sleep accessories—like cotton sleep masks for breathability and comfort or blackout curtains to block light (more on these later!)—to help you become a snoozing pro.
Keep scrolling to take a look at these six sleep accessories this sleep doctor approves for better shut-eye.
1. Noise machine
Even if you live in a relatively quiet neighborhood, your ears will still hunt down the one noise that’ll keep you awake for hours (mainly talking to you, birds).
“Random, sudden noises can be a big culprit, so instead of hoping no sounds pop up, you can create a blanket of ambient sounds that will cover up any surprise noise at night,” Dr. Tal explains. Now you can thank lapping waves (or, you know, classic white noise) for your ticket to snooze town.
2. Blackout curtains
Natural light seeping through your windows during the day is a solid good-mood booster. But when that light starts to poke through when you’re trying to wind down or at the crack of dawn? That has the opposite effect. That’s why Dr. Tal says black-out window treatments are a must-have.
“In general, it is important to eliminate any external lights and sounds that can wake you up,” he says. “Blackout shades provide a fortress of complete darkness.” Yes, “fortress of complete darkness” is your bedtime goals.
3. Sleep masks
In movies, eye masks always look so glam—and in addition to their role as a Hollywood-approved hair accessory, they’re an essential sleep accessory, according to Dr. Tal. “I like the ones that have a convex shape away from your eyes,” he says, adding that lightweight, unobtrusive, and soft should be on your list.
To that end, prioritize a cotton mask that’s thick enough to block any light (remember, it’s your Fortress of Complete Darkness™), and that’s comfy enough to leave on your face for the next eight hours.
4. Cotton sheets
Can you really name a better feeling than sliding into crisp, fresh sheets at the end of a long day? (We don’t think so.) To maximize comfiness, opt for 100 percent cotton sheets, because they’re lightweight, breathable, and accessible no matter your price point. Sweaty nights, be gone.
5. Eucalyptus oil
While lighting a candle might be your go-to mood-setter, you don’t exactly want an open flame going while you’re trying to get some shut-eye. Dr. Tal recommends enlisting the help of essential oils instead.
“I dab a little bit of eucalyptus oil every night under my pillow to create a relaxing ambience, as well as provide a bedtime routine to signal to my body it is sleep time,” he says. Inhale and exhale—then lights out.
Yes, noise machines help those who like to hear a soft, muted something, but if your sleep’s interrupted by a single raindrop hitting the roof (or your neighbor is a construction site), then you need back-up.
Dr. Tal recommends earplugs to mute your surrounding disturbances and allow you to just drift off. And with only six sleep accessories you’ve earned yourself an easy eight hours.
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Top photo: Getty Images/PeopleImages
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