Want to cut back on your sugar? It helps to count sheep.
Sleeping at least seven hours a night may help you eat less sugar, per new research in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. The study found that when people who historically slept about 5 to 7 hours per night upped their sleep time by an hour, they naturally consumed about 10 fewer grams of added sugar per day—that's 2.5 teaspoons.
That's not the only compelling link between getting more shut-eye and eating healthier—some studies have shown it can also help with weight-loss.
But trying to get more sleep isn’t always easy. We’ve all been there: instead of peacefully drifting off, you’re mentally ticking through your to-do list or reliving an argument from earlier in the day—and before you know it, it’s 2 a.m. and sleep is nowhere on the horizon.
Thankfully, there are ways to get around this all-too-common dilemma. One of the best things you can do is to make your space more comforting—and prime yourself to relax and rest when you're in there. That means kicking out the gadgets that are designed to grab your attention (hello, smartphone) and filling the space with sleep-aids instead.
Here, our 7 favorite things to help you relax, and get a better night’s sleep.
Aromatherapy Diffuser and Lavender Oil
This aromatherapy diffuser is under $20 and transformed my bedroom into a relaxing spa-like oasis. Lavender oil can often alleviate anxiety and restlessness more effectively than prescription medication, so that seems like a natural choice for your diffuser if you’re after some shut-eye (I like this one for $21 because it’s organic, therapeutic grade, and the large bottle will last you for months.)
Real Sleep by Real Simple Mattress in a Box
When Real Simple asked if I wanted to test out their Real Sleep mattress, I thought "why not?" I'd been looking for a new mattress anyway.
But I was surprised by the box that showed up on my doorstep. My initial thought? “There’s no way a mattress could fit in here.” It was large and heavy, though I could easily bring it into my apartment by myself.
To my surprise, there definitely was a memory foam mattress in there. After cutting off the plastic and unrolling it, my new mattress started to take shape. I hoisted it on my bed, not really sure what to expect in the way of comfort.
I was pleasantly surprised—the 10-inch thick memory foam is incredibly soft, and it conforms to your body’s shape (I’m a side sleeper, and I actually felt supported!). My favorite part? The mattress keeps you cool (a must because I get so hot at night). I had an amazing night’s sleep, and my usually restless dog didn’t wake up once. ($540-$1,035, here)
Sleep Aid Light Bulb
This light bulb is top-rated on Amazon. According to the product description, this sleep aid light uses NASA technology to “support your body’s natural melatonin production.” It reportedly also emits fewer blue light waves—the ones that disrupt your circadian rhythm—helping you to fall asleep faster, stay asleep longer, and have a more restful night’s sleep. ($16, Amazon)
White Noise Machine
If you’re like me and you live downtown, in a noisy apartment, or on a bustling street, you know how distracting all the clatter can be come bedtime. A white noise machine has saved my sanity (because my downstairs neighbor LOVES to sing late at night). This one from Amazon has multiple settings—20+ white noise sound options or fan sounds—and has over 7,300 4+ star reviews, so you know it’s good. ($50, Amazon)
A Sleep-Inducing Snack
Turns out, the food we eat can help us get more z’s. This recipe packs three snooze-worthy foods into one delicious dessert—so go ahead and have that midnight snack.
If you’re someone who can only sleep in the pitch black, these curtains are a must. They block 95% of light and 100% of UV light. Come sunrise your bedroom will still look like the dark vampiric oasis you’ve always dreamed of. ($26.99, Amazon)
Valerian Root Tea
Valerian root means business, y’all. It’s an herb that smells like rotten feet, but it’ll knock you out cold. Thankfully, this tea is mixed with other pungent herbs like peppermint and lemon balm to take the stinky edge off. ($4, Amazon)
Really Good Sheets
Bedding can make all the difference in a better night’s sleep. Invest in some comfortable, high-quality sheets that’ll make your bed feel like a luxe hotel. These ones are only $25, but the 36,000 4+ star reviews say it all. ($25, Amazon)