If you’re looking for the secret to good health, look no further than your pillow. Matthew Walker, the author of Why We Sleep, calls sleep a superpower. That’s because sleep can impact how we learn, the effectiveness of our immune system, and, possibly, how long we live.
The problem is that for some people, sleep can be hard to come by. Noise, joint pain, stress, family obligations, and other obstacles can make it difficult to get enough sleep.
This article features sleep accessories that can help you improve your sleep with easily accessible, relatively low-tech gadgets. But first, let’s talk about how much sleep we need to live happy, healthy lives. The answer might surprise you.
The world’s largest sleep study suggests adults need about seven to eight hours of sleep every night to maintain optimal health. If you get more or less sleep, it can impact your cognitive abilities, researchers found.
Optimal sleep can vary a bit by individual. Stress, illness, and other life factors can impact the amount of sleep you need to stay healthy. For example, high-performance athletes need more sleep than most people.
Most people struggle to get enough sleep, however. That lack of sleep does more than just make you feel tired; it can have long-term impacts on your health and longevity.
What is the first thing that gets cut when you’re busy at work, overwhelmed with family obligations, or have too much on your plate? If you’re like most Americans, it’s sleep. In fact, nearly three-quarters of Americans say they don’t get enough sleep.
While reducing your sleep time may make you feel more productive, it can have a long-term impact on your health.
Researchers found that lack of sleep can:
- Impact your brain health and concentration
- Lower your metabolism by reducing the hormones that metabolize glucose
- Make it more difficult to regulate your appetite
- Lower your immunity by reducing white blood cell counts
- Make it harder to regulate your moods
- Lead to an increase in stress
Sleep is not just good for our bodies: It’s crucial to our health. This is why getting enough sleep should be a top priority.
In a perfect world, we would all get a full, uninterrupted eight hours of sleep a night. Unfortunately, it’s not an easy task. Work stress, noise from neighbors, insomnia, heartburn, joint pain, and any other number of ailments keep many of us from getting the sleep we desperately need.
The good news? There are several affordable, low-tech solutions to help you get the Zzzs you need to be healthy and happy. Here are seven of our favorites.
Darkness encourages our body to create melatonin, the neurohormone that helps us get to sleep. If you struggle to keep your room dark enough, a sleep mask may be a great solution. It’s less expensive than blackout curtains (and requires no installation), and there’s a wide variety of styles to choose the best option for your needs.
If sleep masks aren’t your thing, blackout curtains offer similar benefits. They are especially helpful for night shift workers and during the summer when the sun rises earlier in the morning. These specialized drapes can reduce energy costs by keeping out drafts in the winter and reducing cool air loss in the summer. As an added bonus, your blackout curtains can help muffle outside noise, too, which can contribute to a better night’s sleep.
Do you toss and turn all night? Therapeutic weighted blankets create pressure on your body, which can help you relax and fall asleep faster. They are also thought to increase the production of melatonin and decrease cortisol, a stress hormone, which means weighted blankets may reduce stress.
If noise keeps you awake or makes it difficult for you to fall asleep, earplugs may be the answer to your sleep woes. Small foam ear plugs sit in the ear canal to block out noise from pets, neighbors, or even your partner’s snoring. They are small, inexpensive, and can be easily packed when you travel.
A nasal dilator is a low-cost solution if snoring wakes you (or your partner) up. Choose from an internal dilator that works inside your nose to open your nasal passages, or external dilators that open your nose from the outside. A recent study found nasal dilators can significantly reduce snoring, so you sleep better — no matter who’s sawing logs.
If you struggle with night sweats or general temperature regulation, a cooling pillow may be the solution you’ve been looking for. These pillows use a variety of materials, including gel or shredded memory foam, to allow heat to dissipate more easily. The result? A pillow that keeps you comfortable so you can get the rest you need.
Do you struggle to fall asleep, or get woken up by noises around you? A white noise machine can mask sounds in and around your home and may even train your brain to fall asleep faster. A recent study found steady noise, like that from a white noise machine, can reduce sleep onset latency (the amount of time it takes you to fall asleep) by 38 percent.
If you give these tools a shot and still don’t see an improvement in your sleep, it may be time to consult with a healthcare professional. They can help you identify underlying causes that make getting enough sleep a challenge.
Getting a good night’s sleep is crucial to maintaining your health. The good news is that these affordable, low-tech accessories will hopefully help improve your sleep and, therefore, your health.