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10 Effective Sleep Aids

There are tons of different sleep aids out there. Some work, some are complete snake oil. Expensive snake oil, at that. Lord knows many of us have bought plenty of it. Here are some things that do work. Not all of these items actually help you get to sleep. Some help you wake up at the right time or in the right way, which kinda goes hand in hand with that whole trouble sleeping thing.

  1. Melatonin Sublingual 3mg – 60 – Tablet Gluten free sublingual melatonin from Douglas Labs. It’s a small, small tab that you place under your tongue about a half hour before bedtime. It will dissolve slowly. This is by far the most effective melatonin I’ve found out of the many that I’ve tried. The only thing more effective than this, for me, is Ambien. For some reason, this brand is only distributed through “healthcare practitioners” and, apparently,  Amazon. If you’re like me, and you have trouble falling asleep at night, it might well be from a lack of sufficient melatonin, and this may well be worth trying.
  2. The Promise of Sleep: A Pioneer in Sleep Medicine Explores the Vital Connection Between Health, Happiness, and a Good Night’s Sleep – By far one of the best books on sleep out there. It covers a multitude of sleeping disorders and treatments. Surprisingly easy read, considering the subject matter. Of course, once you’ve figured out which problems are similar to yours, you need only read the chapters on those. Most of the other sleep aids on this list I found because of this book.
  3. NatureBright SunTouch Plus Light and Ion Therapy Lamp – This one helps you wake up. Bright lights, also known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) Lights simulate key elements of natural sunlight. For those who get depressed during winter, bright lights make up for that and alleviate the depression somewhat. For those who (like yours truly) have sleep shift disorders and therefore have trouble waking up of a morning… bright lights wake you up. And how. Effective. Not cheap (this one is around $100, as one of the best of the affordable models). Recent studies have also shown positive results in treating general depression (not just seasonal) and ADHD. I have this exact model sitting on my desk at work. Apparently the glow of it makes me look angelic, according to the CEO. (Got him fooled, haven’t we?
  4. Zeo Personal Sleep Coach – The best pure sleep monitor out there. It is pricey ($199) but it’s also incredibly useful. For folks with sleeping disorders (say, sleep apnea? DSPS?) this is a godsend. You can track how much REM and Deep Sleep you’re getting on any given night. You could test it with your CPAP and without, to see how much of a difference your CPAP is making.
  5. Litebook Elite Hand-Held Light Therapy Device Yes, a second bright light. And a pricier one, to boot, at $180. If you travel a lot, and need to be alert for meetings (or, in my case, teaching 8 am classes 300 miles away from where I lived at the time…) this puppy is a blessing. Travel size, with plug attachments to allow easy international travel.
  6. Fitbit Wireless Personal Trainer – Dark Gray – The fitbit rocks. Small, elegant, multipurpose. It’s a very useful measuring tool for seeing how disrupted your sleep is. The pedometer function is pretty rocking, too.
  7. Sunrise Sun Simulator Day Light SRS150 Alarm Clock – The prior generation of this dawn simulator worked well. While I haven’t tried this one yet, I sure would like to. It looks to have the same strengths: use with bedside lamp, 15 – 90 minute sunrise. It also includes radio and MP3. The form factor, too, is nicer. Hopefully the buttons are easier to navigate. The interface on the prior gen was a bit confusing. Worth it. Absolutely worth it. Waking up alert to a gradually brightening light is so much nicer than waking up groggy to the sounds of a blaring alarm.
  8. Earplugs (200 ct) – Seriously. If noise bothers you at all, ear plugs help. You can also get a white noise machine (I haven’t tried one yet, so can’t say how good they are). However, ear plugs are cheap. And you can get them at any drugstore or grocery store.
  9. Eagle Creek Travel Gear Comfort Eye Shade – Eye shade, sleep mask, something that blocks out light yet doesn’t require you to tinfoil over your windows (I had a roommate who did that once). This particular one leaves enough space for your nose (an amazing number of them don’t accommodate normal sized noses well). It’s also sturdier than the sort you’ll find at, say, Frederick’s or Vickies (not that I’ve had any of those disintegrate on me).
  10. Rabbit Air BioGS (model 421A – covers 600 sq. ft.) High Quality Ultra-Quiet Air Purifier
    – This is possibly the least obvious of the sleep aids, but it’s one that can make a huge difference. Particularly for those of us with sleep apnea. Allergies frequently make apnea worse; after all, they make breathing harder, and that’s sorta the heart of the apnea problem. My allergist told me to get an air purifier, and not one of those dinky Hamilton Beach deals you can get at Target. The really good ones, the ones that cycle through all the air in the room several times an hour…. they’re pricey. Most of those are in the thousands range. The Rabbit Air (which I have and love and want to get for each room of my house) is $339, which is not cheap, but it’s a lot more affordable. And it made using my CPAP so much better; fewer allergens in the air = less allergic inflammation = lower air pressure on CPAP = less air getting forced into the tummy = better sleep.

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