The Strange (but Effective) Sleep Tips We Learned From Byrdie Readers
Sleep—we crave it and we need it, but we never seem to get enough of it. A new Consumer Reports survey of 4023 adults found that 27% of Americans suffer from insomnia while 68%—the equivalent of 164 million people—struggle with sleep at least once a week. These are sobering statistics, which is why we’re dedicating the next few days to this ever-elusive, never-can-have-enough part of our lives. Welcome to Byrdie’s first-ever Sleep Week, wherein you can expect detailed accounts of our own editors’ sleep trials and tribulations, the latest products to help you nod off, and all the new relevant research. Suffice to say, we’re obsessed with getting more shut-eye (the quality kind, too), and hopefully our obsession will ensure you wake up more mornings feeling well rested and less like you want to hurl your alarm clock across the room. Read (and rest) up!
You’ve tried the meditation apps, downed the chamomile tea, massaged your pressure points, and dutifully inhaled the sweet scent of lavender. But for some of us, the perfect sleep formula—and, in turn, a night of decent shut-eye—remains as evasive as ever. Isn’t it a cruel trick when you feel worn out just by the mere effort of falling asleep… and still sleep won’t come?
Since we’re well past rehashing the usual advice, we decided to turn to our secret Facebook group, The Beauty Line, for some tried-and-true pointers. It turns out you all love talking about sleep as much as we do: Immediately after we put the ask out, tip after genius tip rolled in, ranging from must-know products to unconventional rituals. Testing out all of them might take awhile—but then again, there are worse long-term experiments to embark upon, no?
From electro-therapy headbands to a simple pillow swap, keep scrolling for tons of sleep tips you haven’t tried before, all from real women.
Put your brain to task—or on the flip side, read a really boring book.
"On really tough nights, I do math problems in my head." — Emily
"Melatonin works, but I also find that if I read before bed, I fall asleep faster. It helps if you read something boring—and only if it's an actual book, since the light from your phone or a computer can actually keep you awake longer." — Steph
"Reading a teen novel, always. Anything too thrilling or stimulating keeps me up, so I try to stick to a couple of dogeared Harry Potter books." — Lisa
Try a muscle relaxant.
The Fay Farm CBD Muscle Rub ($15)
"I massage a CBD balm into any tense or sore parts of my body—cannabinoids (CBDs) are a non-psychoactive byproduct of the marijuana plant, and since the ingredient is shown to offer significant relief for pain and stress, more and more topical products are hitting the market. I've found it to be a godsend when PMS cramps are keeping me awake. That coupled with Whole Foods' store-brand sleep supplement has been knocking me out lately." —Victoria
"I swear by Salonpas pads ($10) on my neck and back—they relax my muscles and have me sleeping like a baby." — Sacha
Listen (or watch) something you find soothing—even if it's a little offbeat.
Marpac DOHM Sound Machine ($45)
"My DOHM sound machine is LIFE." — Paige
"I cannot fall asleep to white noise, but for some reason, the ambient sound of a dryer or dishwasher running completely knocks me out. (The app Ambiance, $3, has a whole library of these type of household noises.) In the same vein, I can fall asleep the moment I sit down on an airplane. It's that same whooshing sound. Yes, I'm aware that it's weird." — Victoria
"I listen to any podcast that features Amy Adams—I just find her voice so soothing that it puts me right to sleep. The downside is that I never actually hear the content of her interview. Another option: Hugh Laurie reading a Roald Dahl book." — Cristina
"Does anyone else watch makeup tutorial clips on Instagram to relax when they can't sleep? Or do I just have a serious makeup addiction where watching people put on makeup is soothing to me?" — Kate
"I always rely on a white-noise machine, but I really swear by the Sleep With Me podcast at a low volume. He intentionally drones on with boring, nonsense stories in a soothing voice. They're not interesting enough to hold your attention; it just sounds like when I was young and fell asleep to the noise of my parents talking in the dining room downstairs. It may be too weird for some people, but it really helps me." — Paige
"My cat's purring!" — Maricely
"I listen to any crime-type show (e.g., Dateline, 48 Hours, Snapped) with my eyes closed." — Anna
"As a baby, my mom had piano music on. Nowadays, it's good lyrics that help. You know that feeling where you are listening to lyrics, zone out, and have to restart the song because you missed it? Trying to focus on the lyrics and allowing myself to zone out is what shuts my mind off." — Kat
Experiment with different breathing and body techniques.
"When I have trouble sleeping, I do a body tension exercise. I start with my feet and clench them for about 10 seconds, trying to isolate that area and keep everything else (relatively) relaxed. Then release, move to your calves, then thighs, all the way up to your face. At the end, you take 10 seconds to try to tense up your whole body and then release. It works for me every time!" — Kayla
"I use the Breathe app for meditation." — Emma
"Meditation in bed—I use the Stop, Breathe & Think app. It's a way to build a good habit, and it helps me slow down and unwind." — Aisha
"I use a breathing technique called 4-7-8, and it has worked for me and my friends—especially those of us with anxiety." — Nirvana
Don't underestimate the power of a well-made bed.
"My Casper mattress, my lavender spray, and my blacked out eye mask have created a trifecta of life-changing sleep." — Katrina
"Separate beds." — Rina
"Lower your pillows so it won't make your neck uncomfortable." — Thái
Cool down your core body temperature.
Tiger Balm Ointment ($8)
"I apply loads of Tiger Balm to the back of my neck and chest—it makes me feel so relaxed and COLD, which is very essential." — Danielle
"Generally, sleepiness is triggered when your body core temperature drops. So I take a hot bath to raise the temperature, and then when I get out, it drops, and I get sleepy." — Rhonda
"I always sleep with one leg out and always have a window open—just a crack!" — Sophie
"I use a fan even in the winter. I don't even use it for the white noise. I use it to keep the air circulating." — Laci
Try magnesium or other natural sleep aids.
Natural Vitality Natural Calm Anti-Stress Drink ($13)
"Drinking magnesium or taking a magnesium pill before sleep works wonders for me." — Melissa
"Linden Leaves Tea ($2). It's completely natural—the boxes of the Badia version are so inexpensive and work every time. It leaves you relaxed without any gross morning hangover feeling." — Joselle
"If I'm having a lot of trouble I take a ZMA supplement." — Emma
"Topical magnesium on the soles of your feet post bath. Works like a charm." — Melissa
How dark can you go?
Slip Silk Sleep Mask ($45)
"My Slip sleep mask is everything." — Erin
"Pitch-black, cannot-see-my-hand-in-front-of-my-face, bat-cave-re-creating blackout blinds. Why does it work? Biology. Your body is conditioned to produce hormones to be alert in response to light. If your bedroom is in a city and you're letting in light pollution, then you are not getting a break. Invest in blackout blinds." — Tahera
"A very dark room and/or an eye mask. If an eye mask isn't available (I've lost a few or forgotten to travel with one), a piece of clothing works well in its place!" — Julie
Find your perfect aromatherapy formula.
This Works Deep Sleep Pillow Spray ($29)
"The brand This Works has an array of products, but I've used the one called Deep Pillow Spray—it has essential oils along with other [sleep-inducing ingredients]. It really works, ha!" — Raquel
"I spritz my sheets with lavender oil mist and have a lavender candle on my nightstand." — Gaba
"A drop of peppermint or lavender in the humidifier." — Justine
"My beloved Muji diffuser with some lavender oil and boom! I'm dead, I'm asleep. I don't know, but it seriously makes me pass out." — Danielle
The big takeaway: Don't be afraid to experiment until you find something that works.
Fisher Wallace Stimulator Headband ($699)
"I bought a Fisher Wallace electrotherapy headband, and it DEFINITELY works. No more Lunesta for me!" — Emily
"I find that even just making a bulleted list of things I'm anxious about—both legitimate and really stupid—helps me fall asleep, especially when I don't think I'm anxious at all." — Paige
"I write down three things I'm grateful for." — Tamsin
"If my face is in front of the TV or my phone half an hour before bed, there's no way I'm falling asleep in any short order. I have my pre-bed routine that includes setting up my French press and kettle, laying out my supplements for the morning, getting any prep-able breakfast items prepped and of course, my skin routine. That's usually enough to get me into the bedtime swing and staying away from the TV is easy."
Now that you've heard from real women, check out a pro's tips for falling asleep faster.