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11 best sleep aids for a restful night’s kip

Tired of counting sheep? Try our snooze-inducing edit

Anjana Gosai
Wednesday 11 May 2022 10:11
<p>We tried everything from calming candles to noise-cancelling earbuds</p>

We tried everything from calming candles to noise-cancelling earbuds

Striving for better sleep? Whether you have trouble nodding off or find yourself frequently awakening in the middle of the night, these products could help you on your way to a peaceful slumber.

We all suffer from the occasional poor night’s sleep or find it hard to drift off. But for some, this can be a recurring problem. More than 54 per cent of Britons are unsatisfied with their sleep quality, and half don’t know how to improve it, according to research by Cint UK.

A lack of shut-eye not only has an impact on our day-to-day life but also on long-term health.

“A few nights of cutting sleep short or experiencing reduced sleep quality increases our risk of poor focus, memory recall and decreased motivation,” says sleep physiologist Dr Guy Meadows. “It affects our mood, increasing levels of stress, anxiety and depression and the immune system is also compromised. In the long term, a lack of sleep can increase the risk of developing diabetes, obesity and heart disease.”

It’s clear that regularly getting a good night’s rest is key to overall wellbeing.

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Lifestyle changes such as avoiding caffeine and managing screen time before bed are commonly recommended methods for tackling insomnia. If you’ve tried these approaches to no avail, there are a host of sleep aids that may help you on your way to a better night’s slumber.

How we tested

We’ve been testing various sleep aids that are designed to induce drowsiness and relaxation, improve our overall sleep environment and help us stay snoozing through the night. Our favourites allowed us to get into a relaxing bedtime routine, helped us fall asleep faster and stay in peaceful slumber for longer.

The best sleep aids for 2022 are:

  • Best for pre-bedtime relaxation – Dreem Distillery CBD anchoring bath soak ‘the Z’s’: £80, Dreemdistillery.co.uk
  • Best for easing tension – Spacemasks self-heating eye mask, pack of 5: £16.50, Feelunique.com
  • Best for regulating body temperature – Woolroom chatsworth collection washable wool duvet, all seasons, 9-15 tog: £244.99, Thewoolroom.com
  • Best for falling asleep naturally – Lumie bodyclock luxe 750DAB: £200, Selfridges.com
  • Best to support sleep posture – Levitex gravity defying mattress: £459, Levitex.co.uk
  • Best for setting a calming environment – Neom perfect night’s sleep scented candle, 3 wick: £48, Neomorganics.com
  • Best for neck support – Tempur cloud cooltouch pillow: £95, Dreams.co.uk
  • Best for easing restlessness – Mela eucalyptus silk weighted blanket: £83.40, Melacomfort.co.uk
  • Best for blocking out noise – QuietOn 3 active noise cancelling earbuds: £229, Quieton.com
  • Best for allergy sufferers – Dyson purifier humidify+cool autoreact: £599.99, Dyson.co.uk
  • Best for blocking out light – Vivida silk blackout eye mask: £35, Vividalifestyle.com

Dreem Distillery CBD anchoring bath soak 'the Z’s’

Best: For pre-bedtime relaxation

Rating: 10/10

This CBD-infused bath soak can be used to elevate your evening relaxation and prepare you for a restful sleep. Derived from the hemp plant, CBD, or cannabidiol, is full of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties and has been shown to calm the nervous system. Finely milled Epsom and Himalayan salts are blended with calming lavender and juniper berry oils along with organically-grown, broad-spectrum CBD brimming with naturally occurring compounds from the plant – like cannabinoids, flavonoids and sleep-inducing terpenes.

The salts smell incredible, and they are so potent that just a handful is needed to turn your tub into a therapeutic, sleep-enhancing haven. After a 15-minute soak, muscles felt relaxed, and the mind was pleasantly drowsy, which resulted in a solid night’s sleep.

Spacemasks self-heating eye mask, pack of 5

Best: For easing tension

Rating: 9/10

This therapeutic eye mask is one of the smartest products we have tried. Slip the lightweight, air-activated, self-heating mask over the ears and eyes to unlock its magic, soothing tired lids and relieving headaches.

It comes infused with a subtle jasmine scent that, when combined with the gentle warmth of the mask, feels like a spa-like compress that gently lulls us to sleep – every time. We love that they are uber light and gentle on the eyes, and while they may not be one for daily use, they are ideal for stressful days where you need help to unwind.

They are also disposable and recyclable, making them perfect for flights and travel.

Woolroom chatsworth collection washable wool duvet, all seasons, 9-15 tog

Best: For regulating body temperature

Rating: 9.5/10

Do you often feel too hot or too cold at night? Wool bedding could be the answer.

Filled with British wool sourced from the Chatsworth Estate in the Peak District, this temperature-regulating quilt is designed to help users sleep comfortably for longer.

Since wool is a natural fibre, it holds onto warmth when the temperature drops. On warmer evenings, its moisture-wicking properties allow air to circulate within the bed, pushing moisture away from the body rather than reflecting it back as manmade fibres can do, so you’re less likely to be kicking the duvet off.

We can certainly vouch for this. The versatile, all-seasons duvet comes in two parts that can be attached together with poppers. It feels light, and the outer organic cotton fabric is beautifully soft. It sustained a comfortable warmth when placed together on colder nights and when used in singular mode on warmer evenings. It really revitalised our sleep.

The filling is hypoallergenic, and Woolroom has a seal of approval from Allergy UK for resistance to dust mites, making it an excellent option for asthmatics and allergy sufferers. Plus, it’s machine washable, which is always a bonus.

Lumie bodyclock luxe 750DAB

Best: For falling asleep naturally

Rating: 8/10

This sunrise/sunset lamp uses light therapy to gently wake you up in the morning and a soothing wind-down light to lull you to sleep at the end of the day. Experts recommend these lamps as they can help users stick to a consistent sleep routine.

We were impressed with Lumie’s wind down sunset feature that emits a soothing orangey-red light that gradually dims over 30 to 90 minutes. There are 20 “sleep sounds” to pick from – the white noise and waves options worked wonders to switch off a busy mind.

Waking up gradually with a brightening light rather than being jolted from sleep by an alarm was also welcomed. Although it was complex to set up, we like how this lamp can be fully customisable. You can set different daily wake up times, pick your favourite radio station to start the day with, and brightness levels can also be tailored. The design is smart, and the added DAB+ radio and adjustable light, which is bright enough for reading, is a useful addition to the bedside cabinet.

Levitex gravity defying mattress

Best: To support sleep posture

Rating: 8.5/10

Eight out of 10 Britons sleep in a position that’s affecting their sleep quality and causing neck and back pain, according to a YouGov study. Levitex was founded on the idea that sleep can be used for recovery, provided you lie in the correct position on a supportive mattress and pillow.

Before launching the company, postural care expert James Leinhardt worked with athletes and patients with neck and back pain. Used by boxer Anthony Joshua, rugby star Tom Curry and cyclist Laura Kenny, this mattress is made with 100 per cent foam. Before you think it’s just another memory foam mattress, it absolutely is not. Traditional memory foam mattresses react and deform in response to heat, softening the foam in areas where you are lying, allowing you to sink into the foam. Instead of responding to heat, Levitex’s innovative foam responds to pressure. The more you apply, the firmer it becomes, allowing you to manage posture and pressure simultaneously.

The mattress is 20cm deep and feels extremely comfortable. It provides a stable firmness, and since it doesn’t trap heat like some foams can, it maintains a pleasant temperature throughout the night, leading to deeper sleep.

Regular strength training means that body aches are something our tester had gotten used to, but after 10 days of using this mattress, these were less noticeable.

Neom perfect night’s sleep scented candle, 3 wick

Best: For setting a calming environment

Rating: 8.5/10

The flickering flame of a candle and the scent it emits can create a mood of calm in the evening. Made from naturally-derived wax, this hand-poured candle harnesses the power of aromatherapy. It comes infused with an impressive 19 essential oils, including anxiety-reducing jasmine and English lavender, to induce relaxation.

We recommend lighting it an hour or two before bedtime. The deeply sedative scent envelops the room with a spa-like aroma that encourages the body to wind down and get ready for sleep. The three-wick candle contains up to three bottles of essential oils and has a burn time of up to 50 hours, making it long-lasting too.

Tempur cloud cooltouch pillow

Best: For neck support

Rating: 8.5/10

Experts recommend replacing your pillow every one to two years. Overuse of a pillow can flatten it, causing strain on the neck and shoulders. Designed for all sleeping positions, this sumptuous pillow is made with the brand’s Nasa-approved Tempur-Pedic proprietary memory foam micro cushions that slowly adapt around the head and neck.

The pillow has a medium firmness that immediately feels dense and supportive around the neck while still allowing you to sink in for a comfy sleep. It does a great job of keeping the head and neck aligned when lying on your side or back. There was less fidgeting at night trying to get into a comfortable position, and it comes with a hypoallergenic, machine-washable cooling cover and a three-year guarantee. We feel this pillow is versatile enough for every sleeper and is highly recommended if you’re looking to invest in a new one.

Mela eucalyptus silk weighted blanket

Best: For easing restlessness

Rating: 7.5/10

Fans of weighted blankets rave about their ability to help them fall asleep faster, ease anxiety and reduce restlessness during the night. Some of these claims are also backed up by science. Two-thirds of adults reported lower anxiety after sleeping with a 14kg blanket, according to a study published in Occupational Therapy and Mental Health in 2008. Plus, pressure therapy through the use of blankets has been used since the 1960s to help calm and comfort those with autism.

Made from a cooling, super-soft eucalyptus fabric, this blanket is available in three weights (5.5kg, 7kg, 9kg and 11kg) and three sizes (single, double and king). It’s filled with glass pellets, which give it its weight and help it mould to the contours of the body. As you slip underneath it, it applies a gentle pressure making you feel cocooned and cosy. While the extra weight leaves little space for wiggle room, the breathable fabric maintained a comfortable temperature throughout the night, and it definitely helped us kip more soundly. And, if you’re not sleeping better within 30 nights, Mela promises to offer a full refund.

QuietOn 3 active noise cancelling earbuds

Best: For blocking out noise

Rating: 7.5/10

Whether it is traffic outside, a partner who can’t stop snoring, or neighbours who like to party, noisy environments prevent you from falling asleep and can disturb you once you’ve dozed off.

Even noises that don’t wake you can impact sleep quality as the sleeping brain continues to register and process sound. In fact, the World Health Organisation says long-term average exposure to levels above 55dB, similar to the noise from a busy street, can trigger elevated blood pressure and heart attacks. Designed for sleeping, these wireless, app-free earbuds use active noise-cancelling technology that generates sound waves at the same frequency but in the opposite phase to incoming sounds to cancel them out. They are perfect for blocking out low-frequency sounds such as snoring. The earbuds come with memory foam tips in three sizes, and they feel super comfortable once you’ve found your perfect fit and easy to sleep in. Passing cars and annoying early morning drilling from the renovations next door were completely blocked out, allowing for a longer sleep. These are ideal for light sleepers and frequent fliers. They come in a charging case and have a long battery life.

Dyson purifier humidify+cool autoreact

Best: For allergy sufferers

Rating: 9/10

The average home can be three and a half times more polluted than the air outside, according to a study by the National Air Quality Testing Services.

House dust and pollen can trigger allergies leading to discomfort at night, while central heating and air conditioning can cause dry air and affect our quality of sleep.

This large, floor-standing, three-in-one machine works as a humidifier, air purifier and cooling fan. It has a Hepa filtration system that captures pollutants such as dust, pollen, mould spores and bacteria as small as 10.1 microns. It uses activated carbon to absorb odours, and the built-in evaporator emits purified air, rehydrating it to a comfortable humidity. The added moisture in the air certainly helped promote easier breathing and it must have ousted pollen too, as our tester who suffers from hayfever was sneezing less when it was in use. For this reason, it is sure to help those with respiratory issues, asthma and dry sinuses.

It has a clever sleep timer that can be set to turn off automatically, plus a quiet night mode and dimmed screen. This is one of those products we didn’t really know we needed.

Vivida silk blackout eye mask

Best: For blocking out light

Rating: 9.5/10

If you need total darkness to fall and stay asleep, an eye mask can make a serious difference to your sleep environment. Made with 100 per cent Mulberry silk and cushiony padding, this eye mask feels luxuriously soft and comfy across the eyes – you will forget that you even have it on.

It does an exceptional job of filtering out unwanted light. Its adjustable velcro strap accommodates any head size and we were impressed that it stayed put all night. It’s available in four gorgeous shades and also comes with a travel bag.

The verdict: Sleep aids

All the sleep aids we tested have their benefits depending on what keeps you awake. However, the Dreem Distillery CBD anchoring bath soak “The Z’s” does an exceptional job of boosting pre-bedtime relaxation and is the perfect remedy for calming a fraught mind.

When you are in the land of nod, staying at a comfortable temperature plays a vital role in sleep quality. Therefore, the Woolroom chatsworth collection washable wool duvet is highly recommended for a cosy and deep slumber.

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To help you relax, why not give the best mindfulness apps a try

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