With the world moving so fast and our minds constantly adapting to new environments, challenges, and everyday stressors, it is hard to sleep. In fact, sleep disorders are actually pretty common, with around 70 million Americans affected by them each year. Whether it’s ruminating over the past, cycling through the future, or even binging our favorite T.V. shows, people are falling asleep later and later.
While we recommend consulting a doctor for serious cases of chronic insomnia, there are ways to help yourself drift into snuggly sleep when dealing with occasional issues. March is National Sleep Awareness Month, which focuses on the important role sleeping plays in our overall health. Without sufficient sleep, our bodies can’t rest to repair and heal.
It’s best to think of sleep as a one-stop-shop for keeping our bodies fueled. According to sleep expert and neuroscientist Dr. Merrill Mitler, “Sleep services all aspects of our body in one way or another: molecular, energy balance, as well as intellectual function, alertness, and mood.” Suffice to say, sleep is pretty darn important.
Long-term insomnia leads to higher risks of heart disease, kidney disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, anxiety, depression, and stroke. With that said, if sleep isn’t your jam, don’t panic. With a positive mindset, a soothing environment, and the right products—sleep is possible.
The first thing to remember is to stop blaming yourself for being skipped over by the Sandman one too many times. Sleep is about knowing that you’re safe, loved, and deserving of the time used exclusively for your body to get some much-needed rest and relaxation.
Here are 4 products made to promote sleep, along with brands that we recommend, and, of course, don’t forget some sleep affirmations!
While many rave about the wonders of melatonin, it’s important for people to know that it’s not the only over-the-counter option out there. For those that find no success with melatonin, try magnesium. Magnesium helps to improve sleep by activating the parasympathetic nervous system, which regulates calm and relaxation in our brains. It’s also used to relieve anxiety and muscle tension.
It also assists in regulating our neurotransmitters to signal the body and the brain to sleep. Magnesium adjusts our circadian rhythms and helps our bodies with melatonin production. While it can be taken in many ways, these meltaway tablets work quickly to dissolve into our bodies. They are flavorless and work quickly enough to take right before going to sleep. They cost around $10 at most drug stores.
Another alternative that people often look to is the Indian ginseng herb, Ashwagandha, which helps with stress, anxiety, sleep, mood, memory, inflammation, and more.
This Black woman-owned plant-based supplement company provides products dedicated to wellness and keeping our bodies renewed. Founder, Samia Gore teamed up with nutritionist Dr. Ruby Lathon to develop the Calm Relaxation Capsules ($30). They are packed with ashwagandha and valerian root for sleep. The Renew Energy Drops ($40) gives a powerful B-complex vitamin boost to wake you up in the morning. The drops are fun to add to your favorite warm morning drink for a day full of revitalization.
These supplements help with sleeping well and waking up with energy. This optimizes brain function, mood, metabolism, skin, and overall health. Both products are plant-based, soy-free, Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) Certified, and 100% drug-free.
While some may wonder what hair products have to do with sleep, the answer likely lies with which essential oils are involved. Almond oil is a natural anti-inflammatory that helps with skin and hair. Also, it promotes deep breathing for better sleep. During a study with 75 people suffering from chronic insomnia, people expressed improvements in sleep quality after using almond oil drops in their nasal cavities every night for 30 days.
Almond oil remedies dry or blocked up noses to help with sinus problems that make it hard to breathe while lying down. However, if you’re not one for putting drops in your nose, simply smelling products with almond oil can help do the trick for less severe cases.
Hair Food’s new Shea Butter & Almond Oil Repair Collection is great for your hair and your sleep, like the shampoo, conditioner, and other products are crafted with curated natural ingredients, including sweet almond oil. The sweet almond not only gives hair strength and protection but also provides a soothing aroma that helps evoke peace and calm. Products from the collection are available at most major big-box retailers, including Target for around $8 each.
- Lavender Bath Bombs and Salts
When it comes to lavender bath products, there are a lot of options. From the common and affordable brands, like Dr. Teal’s and Dove to more lavish brands, like milk + honey and Lush, there’s something for everyone.
While most of us are aware of just how much hype lavender gets for helping people sleep, the science behind it actually points more to how it relieves stress rather than directly impacting sleep. It affects the parasympathetic nervous system, which influences our anxiety levels. Lavender soothes stress and can even reduce feelings of depression when it relaxes heart rate and breathing.
For those that don’t like the smell but still want the benefits, it can be helpful to find products that pair lavender with a stronger smelling essential oil, like peppermint or eucalyptus. The Terra Beauty Relax Lavender + Eucalyptus Salt Soak may be the right way to go. The vegan plant-powered bath salts work to calm with lavender and detoxify with eucalyptus to promote circulation, relaxation, and soft skin.
People even find maximum results when pairing lavender and CBD. Sugar & Kush has a Lavender Charcoal CBD bath bomb ($13) that’s THC-free, cruelty-free, fast-acting, and made with fresh petals.
When all else fails, sleep affirmations can come in handy. Before going to bed, try this simple yet concrete sleep affirmation: “Today is done, and I did my best. Tomorrow is a new beginning.”
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Danielle Broadway is an English Literature MA student at California State University, Long Beach. She has been published in Black Girl Nerds, LA Weekly and Medium, is a writer for CSULB’s the Daily49er, is a managing editor for Watermark, her school’s academic literary journal and is an assistant editor at Angels Flight • literary west. She’s an activist and educator that is inspired by her family to make social change both in the classroom and beyond.