The 3 a.m. internal wake-up call gets me every time. It always seems to be 3 a.m. on the dot, and I’m awoken by some varying form of anxiety. Sometimes it’s the realization that I’ve been trying to answer emails in my sleep. Like, “Great question, Sophie, let me search the SEO on that topic and circle back…,” as if I’m somehow transcribing that into actual emails. Other times it’s awakening after realizing all the urgent things on my to-do list in the morning. It’s a recent development, too; My sleep issues have been mounting up in the last few months, and it seems to stem from anxiety and stress, not from late-afternoon caffeine or muscle pains. Nope, it’s all from my overworking brain.
This is a rather obnoxious and disrespectful occurrence my internal self is putting me through. Don’t they know I’m a wellness editor? I’m supposed to be a beacon of shining adaptogens and calming rest. After a month of sleep issues, I decided I’d had enough of the self-sabotage and I was going to do something about it.
I was a daily meditator and slowly stopped prioritizing it recently, and it’s probably no coincidence that my anxiety increased as my meditation practice decreased. While the benefits of meditation can be pretty quick, I also wanted something instantaneous. Give me relief and give it to me fast. There are a handful of wind down–related items that I’ve started to incorporate into my bedtime routine, with varying success. Here are the products that are taking me on the express highway to less stress and more sleep.
The humble blanket could aid in anxiety relief too. Weighted blankets, or gravity blankets, are another powerful, natural tool in anxiety relief. In a 2015 study, researchers found insomnia participants slept better using a weighted blanket and woke up feeling more refreshed in the morning. In another study, scientists reported users had 63 percent less anxiety after using a weighted blanket and 78 percent of participants preferred the weighted blanket as a calming mechanism over other pharmaceutical options.
As soon as I come home, I shower and do my skincare regime, and then hop into bed to relax. Either binge-watching something or more recently, reading. But no matter my activity, I try to have my weighted blanket on me. I really love this Bearaby Napper, $259—it’s the best-looking weighted blanket I’ve seen yet. Sometimes I feel like it’s kind of suffocating me, and I’ll wake up in the middle of the night to pull it off. Other times it feels really restful and relaxing.
Chances are you’re deficient in magnesium, as are 80 percent of Americans. The symptoms might be minor, but a deficiency can negatively impact your sleep, muscles, and nerve function. The Nue Co. has a Magnesium Ease Spray, $70, that includes your daily intake of magnesium, which is 45 milligrams, with lavender and arnica oils to reduce muscle tension and aid in relaxation. The combo of lavender and magnesium are meant to calm your mind and body to help you fall asleep easier. I spritz on the recommended three sprays, which give an immediate cooling effect upon application. While I don’t notice an immediate sleepy-time feeling, I don’t not feel sleepy either, though.
If it ain’t broken, don’t fit it, right? I’m not a huge fan of chamomile or traditional sleepy-time teas personally, but I do love peppermint or the Pukka Three Ginger Tea, $5.63, which has a potent flavor kick of ginger and turmeric. I try to drink it about an hour or two before bed and enjoy it from under my weighted blanket. I don’t necessarily feel tired from the tea, but I think the routine and comfort of holding a warm mug starts to train my brain to slow down.
Anywhere between 30 to five minutes before bed, I’ll spritz some sleep spray onto my pillows. There are a handful of brands that make lovely versions, but I’m partial to Ren & Now Sleep Pillow Spray, $25. The jury is still out if the blend of frankincense, lavender, and hops oils actually put me to sleep or if it again is another ritual that signals to my brain to chill out.
Our sense of smell is directly wired to our brain’s centers of emotion. Essential oils not only smell great, but they can also provide powerful relief for disrupted sleep and improve sleep quality and can even aid in anxiety. London-based brand de Mamiel has taken aromatherapy a step further by creating products that don’t make you sleepy but rather address sleep at the root cause over a gradual amount of time. The Soothe Roll-On, $60, addresses issues of mental anxiety with a complex blend of herbs, watermelon seed oil, passionflower oil, magnesium, zinc, and vitamin B. You roll on the oils and take at least three deep, calming breaths. You’re also meant to roll on your stomach, which addresses that stomach-churning feeling when you’re particularly stressed. I’m probably not as consistent as I need to be with this roll-on, but it’s another part of the routine that makes me feel like I’m prioritizing my sleep and myself.
At the end of the day—literally—I’m still figuring out this thing called restful sleep. But I’d rather spend time and money to focus on this part of my routine, knowing it’s one of the most vital things I can do every single day. Every evening is another opportunity to try again.