Despite all of the health and wellness trends available these days, nothing makes you feel better than a good night’s sleep. Sleep plays a vital role in your physical and mental health and is responsible for everything from repairing your heart and blood vessels to regulating hormones and maintaining your immune system. According to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, “Ongoing sleep deficiency is linked to an increased risk of heart disease, kidney disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and stroke.
The point is: Sleep is important. Those who aren’t getting enough are often willing to try anything to right the ship. Sometimes this means taking medications, while other times it might simply consist of a few lifestyle tweaks. But getting a better night’s sleep is big business, and in recent years, the pursuit of sleep has led to many new trends and products — some worth trying, some not.
Below, we’re running down some of the most popular sleep trends right now. May they provide assistance in all your sheep-counting endeavors:
Sleep coaches aren’t just for helping new parents get their infants on a better schedule. Sleep-deprived adults are turning to coaches for their own health as they look for guidance on getting more shuteye. Sleep consultants promise to improve their clients’ sleep by focusing on health and lifestyle factors, from nutrition and stress to bedtime routines.
Ronee Welch, a certified integrative adult sleep coach and the owner of Sleeptastic Solutions, emphasizes the importance of what she calls sleep hygiene.
“Take a good look at your environment to see if you have the ideal sleep situation,” she advises. “Is your room dark enough? Is your room too hot or too cold? Do you have a bed partner (including pets and kids) that is disturbing you? Are you staying off of the electronics at least 30–60 minutes before bed? All of these things are simple, yet can be very effective.”
You’ve likely seen or heard this word making the rounds recently in wellness circles, but adaptogens have been an important component of Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine for centuries. Comprised of various herbs, roots and plants, including ashwagandha, ginseng and holy basil, they’re supposed to help the body handle stress. A recent Japanese study found an active component of ashwagandha itself can induce sleep and may prove beneficial in treating insomnia.
Research like this, as well as a general interest in alternative medicine, is part of the reason adaptogens are popping up everywhere. If you want to give them a try, you can find adaptogens in powder form, as teas or sold as supplement pills. The old check-with-your-doctor-first adage applies here.
Sleep trackers are nothing new, but the types of devices available are continually changing. First, there were watches that tracked your sleep. Then came countless apps that promised to do the same thing. That turned into wearables like smart pajamas, as well as non-wearables like trackers that clipped to your pillow or laid unobtrusively beneath your mattress.
The tracker trend continues with new innovations, including products like the UrgoNight, which debuted at the 2019 Consumer Electronics Show in January. It’s essentially a high-tech headband that uses electroencephalogram (EEG) sensors to detect electrical activity in your brain. It then provides feedback during the day that can train your brain to sleep better at night. It’s a brave new world we’re living in.
The purported benefits of CBD include reduced anxiety, pain relief and better sleep. Much of the research is still pending, but that hasn’t kept enterprising companies from releasing CBD products aimed at insomniacs. The good news is some might actually prove effective.
According to Dr. Peter Grinspoon of Harvard Medical School: “CBD is commonly used to address anxiety, and for patients who suffer through the misery of insomnia, studies suggest that CBD may help with both falling asleep and staying asleep.”
Similar to how a nice hug makes you feel safe or a “thunder shirt” can reduce your dog’s anxiety, people are turning to weighted blankets for better sleep. The purpose of these blankets, which typically range in weight from 5–25 pounds, is to provide deeper pressure than ordinary blankets, thereby promoting calmness. A study in the Journal of Sleep Medicine and Disorders found participants fell asleep easier, awoke fewer times during the night and felt more refreshed in the morning when using a weighted blanket.
If you’d like to try one for yourself, most experts recommend choosing a blanket that’s about 10% of your bodyweight.
Meditation apps like Calm and Headspace are a booming business. Such apps offer many features, including leading you through a series of meditations focused on mindfulness, breath work and exercises meant to induce sleep. Calm even offers Sleep Stories, which are “soothing tales that mix music, sound fx and incredible voice talent to help you drift into dreamland.”
It’s no surprise people are turning to meditation apps to help their slumber. According to a study in JAMA Internal Medicine, participants who practiced mindfulness meditation showed improvements in insomnia, fatigue and depression. So, if you can stomach the monthly fee, those apps might be able to help you fall asleep, stay asleep and feel better the next morning.
Everyone needs sleep. But for athletes — even of the weekend warrior variety — rest is crucial to muscle recovery. That’s why smart PJs like Under Armour’s Athlete Recovery Sleepwear were created. They were specially engineered to help you get the most benefit from your time in bed. The shorts, pants and shirts are made from comfortable materials to help you stay cool. But more important, they contain a soft, bioceramic print on the inside that absorbs natural heat and reflects far infrared back to the skin. This helps the body sleep better and recover faster by boosting blood flow, improving circulation and increasing the amount of oxygen that reaches your muscles. All that translates to a better day tomorrow, whether you’re hopping on your bike, playing in a basketball tournament or just returning to your desk.