There’s very little that isn’t improved by a night of quality sleep.
I’ll admit it, I was complacent about my sleep until I hit a wall. Before I got my hypothyroidism diagnosis, I was desperate to try anything that would help with my energy and weight. I knew all along that sleep was supposed to be a focus, but honestly it just never came before diet and exercise until it had to. Sleep was always the thing I could, and did, cut when something had to give.
The worst part is, I knew better this whole time. For one short semester in college, I set an aggressive goal for myself. No matter how much work I had to get done, I was going to go to bed at 10:30pm. And I did, but only for those few short months. Then life and stress got in the way again and I let the routine slide. But I did feel fantastic for that semester. It was easier to focus, my work got done faster, and I think I even managed to lose some weight.
But now that my body has forced sleep back into the spotlight, I’ve nailed the routine. It took plenty of trial and error to find what actually helped me get that elusive night of quality sleep. Luckily, I can now cut the experimentation time down for you.
Products that help me get quality sleep
First things first: if you feel chronically fatigued, you should see a doctor. They might suggest that you try to clean up your sleep hygiene before coming back, but it’s good to talk to an expert anyway. (PS: You should try to optimize your sleep routine before seeing a doctor if you think you have an underactive thyroid. It could help you get a diagnosis.) While these products do help with anxiety management and restlessness, they’re not going to help with medical conditions like sleep apnea. Rule those out first, especially if they run in the family.
I can suggest these products to you because I’m the most anxious person I know. (Which is why I have a whole separate list of products I swear by for anxiety management.) In the last 6 months, though, I’ve managed to turn around my sleep. I credit these items with helping me finally achieve quality sleep. Six months into a completely different routine, I feel like a different person. I feel most like myself after a night of quality sleep, and each month just gets better.
I’ll launch straight into the trendy one first because a lot of you probably wonder if this is worth the money. Mine was worth every penny. It not only works wonders at easing my anxiety when I’m working from home, but also helps me drift to sleep faster. In fact, some nights I swear it knocks me out in seconds. Make sure to read guides for the product you’re considering and order the weight based on your size. The weight should feel comforting, not smothering.
And yes, some brands can get expensive. But you don’t need the top of the line weighted blanket. You can get a perfectly good one off of Amazon. That’s where I got my Hiseeme Softest Weighted Blanket. At the time of publication, they’re even on sale at Macy’s. Snag this BlanQuil Weighted Blanket for 65% off the original price until October 28. It comes in two sizes: 15 pounds and 20 pounds.
COST: Varies by brand.
Mushroom Hot Cacao with Reishi
Yes, I’m a big fan of Four Sigmatic, but it wasn’t the mushroom coffee that hooked me. While many turn to this company for stable energy in the morning, I turn to them for nighttime soothing. The first product I tried was this hot cacao with reishi, which research has shown to support sleep. It won’t knock you out like those sleeping pills you really shouldn’t be taking, but you will get quality sleep. Enjoying this hot drink at night simply makes it easier to drift off.
But the effect is subtle. In fact, I sometimes drink this mushroom hot cacao in the morning to start my day stress-free. I went ahead and got myself a subscription to boxes of this magical elixir. If you try it out and find you want to do the same, you’ll save 20% off every purchase and enjoy free shipping.
White Noise Machine
Sorry, those “soothing sounds” of the rainforest just aren’t. I love listening to ambient tracks when I’m working, from thunderstorms to a crackling fireplace, but they’re just not ideal for quality sleep. The classic white noise machine from Marpac, though, has been helping me sleep for 6 long years. I think this model because it’s pretty straightforward. There’s an on-off switch and you can rotate the body to make the white noise higher or lower pitched.
Even when you’re sleeping, your brain registers sounds. That’s why you can be woken from a dead sleep if someone drops something or slams a door. But, according to the National Sleep Foundation, a white noise machine “works by reducing the difference between background sounds and a ‘peak’ sound.” Those would be doors slamming, car alarms going off, and most other street noises that come in through my first floor New York apartment window. Smoothing out this difference, though, gives you a better chance to sleep through the sounds undisturbed. And that’s exactly what I’ve experienced.
Contoured Sleep Mask
My boyfriend and I disagreed on the subject of sleep masks for a long time. He loves them, I hated them. That is, until I found contoured sleep masks. There was just something about the normal flat ones that bothered me. They don’t exert much pressure but for some reason I still ended up tearing them off my head in the middle of the night. (And my eyelashes got pretty messed up a couple times.)
Contoured sleep masks, however, solve that problem. They have gentle structure so they’re not pressing into your eyes. (And yes, they look a little like bras for your face.) This is one argument I’m glad he won because, honestly, I really needed the sleeping mask. We have blackout blinds, but there’s still ambient light in our little studio apartment. It’s hard to get rid of all light between the electronic devices in the apartments and windows that face a New York City street. Finding a sleeping mask that works for me has boosted my quality sleep by keeping me asleep. For some that’s the hardest part of getting a solid 8 hours.
ZMA with Theanine
I try to be very careful about what I put in my body. We’re complicated systems; I don’t want to mess any of the workings up. That’s why I personally avoid melatonin. I want to make sure my body is healthy and making as much as it should without relying on a supplement. (Don’t get me started on sleeping pills.) So I turned to fellow bodybuilders to ask what they used to get quality sleep, and I kept getting the same answer: ZMA.
The basic ingredients are just zinc, magnesium, and vitamin B6. If you want quality sleep, you should be most concerned about the magnesium. ZMA was formulated to help athletes recover, so zinc and vitamin B help with other processes of recovery like supporting your immune system. I always buy the formula with theanine because it may help regulate sleep and contribute to stress and anxiety relief. Plus, I’ve logged better sleep more consistently with this formula than with others that didn’t add this in.
Although I researched and decided to take ZMA with Theanine on my own, this is the supplement my coach recommends for quality sleep. Here’s the thing: it’s not a sleep supplement. But the reason I’m not alone in suggesting it for quality sleep is its ability to help relieve stress and anxiety. If you lay awake at night with a racing mind, it’s worth giving this product a try.
You don’t need to take it right before bed. In fact, I take mine in the morning to help with work stress throughout the day. There’s a reason you’ll find so many 5-star reviews on Amazon with long, glowing recommendations. Stress affects your life in so many ways. This tiny supplement has helped people with their stress-related insomnia, headaches, relationship issues, and more.
Products I swear by for quality sleep