I think I’m pretty good at falling asleep until I’m not. There are days when I practice what you’d consider to be excellent sleep hygiene—I skip the caffeine past 2 p.m. (okay, 3 p.m.), get in a bit of after-work exercise, and end the day by reading a book for as long as an hour until I finally turn my lights off and hit the pillow. Then there are the days when I turn my lights off, grab my phone, and fall into a spiral, worrying about work, life, and whether or not I am even doing anything of importance, until before I know it, it’s close to 2 a.m. I eventually had to admit to myself that it might be a good idea to give a sleep supplement a chance.
Remrise, in particular, appealed to me. It’s a new natural sleep aid made with a blend of Chinese and Western herbs (no melatonin!) formulated to target exactly why you can’t fall asleep. After taking a two-minute quiz, I found out which sleep profile, out of five options, most aligned with mine. I’m “Always On”—basically, my productivity-driven stress often leads me to lose z’s. Not great!
CEO Veronica Lee, it turns out, is in the same bucket. And while anyone can have good days and bad days, she says what’s most important is setting up good sleep habits—which is why she developed Remrise to be taken daily. “The formulas are carefully blended to go beyond a one-night fix and improve your sleep over time, so taking it every day allows you to develop a better relationship with rest,” she says. The formulation of the supplements varies each day, to prevent you from building a tolerance to them. In every packet labeled by day, you’ll find four herbal pills, which you’re meant to take about 30 minutes before you want to drift off. Here’s how my first week went.
I had more—and vivid—dreams.
I found within the first three days of testing Remrise that my dreams seemed more frequent—and I remembered them in the morning. While dreams do occur in all phases of the sleep cycle, the more memorable ones tend to happen in REM sleep, so I would guess that I spent more time in that phase than usual. REM has also been connected to increased creativity, a benefit I’ll gladly accept, even if some of my dreams were less than pleasant. (Sadly, just because I was getting more sleep didn’t mean my stress magically melted away.)
I found myself spiraling less.
Turns out, it’s pretty easy to put down the phone and actually go to bed when you have a little assistance. Reading naturally helps me wind down, but on those fateful nights where my hand reached for my phone before my brain could even register it, it helped to have backup in the form of an herbal supplement that did make me feel tired.
The key was taking the pills 30 minutes before bed. By the time I turned on my phone alarm and set it facedown on my nightstand, I was sleepy enough to rule out the possibility of going on an Instagram bender.
I ended up—to my surprise—feeling rested.
Let me be frank: You’re not going to fix all of your sleep habits in just one week. But you can make progress. On the last night of my test, I almost forgot to take my supplements (remembering is half the battle) and found myself tossing and turning, mentally writing and rewriting my to-do list and wondering how I was going to get everything finished. It was already midnight when I finally realized I had forgotten to open my daily packet.
Within 15 minutes of taking the pills, I was asleep, and for the first time in a week, I woke up at 7:15 a.m. feeling…okay? While I typically hit snooze once or twice in the morning and occasionally get up to go to the bathroom only to return under the covers for 15 more minutes of sleep, this time I didn’t. I got up and made my coffee. I sat in bed, drank it, and felt all right. I’m not yet a morning person, but I’m starting to see a way there.