I was a textbook insomniac when I was younger. I’ll never forget tossing and turning for hours on end, staring at my haphazardly painted lavender wall, thoughts racing, praying for the blissful comfort of a deep sleep. My parents tried everything—warm milk (only somewhat effective), singing me to sleep (which stopped being an option once I became a teenager and it was a bit weird for my mom to sing traditional Chinese songs to me in bed each night), and finally, out of frustration, yelling at me to go back in my room and just “close my eyes” (heads up: not effective).
Thankfully, as I grew older and subsequently more tired, my insomniac tendencies faded away in a haze of late nights and never-ending commitments. Finally, sleep became an escape, a respite—something I looked forward to and could actually achieve every night when I finally crashed into bed with exhaustion.
In recent months, however, my sleepless tendencies crept back. Maybe it’s from stress; maybe it’s just a normal part of the adult experience (“how to fall asleep” does get thousands of searches on Google a month). Either way, I found myself staring at my now-white walls once again, praying for sleep and growing more stressed with every passing moment that it eludes me. I tried breathing exercises, but they didn’t work for me. I always felt slightly like I was drowning. I counted sheep. I listened to soothing music.
I prayed. Nothing worked. When I did sleep, I often found myself waking up throughout the night, overheated and disoriented. Then I'd looked at my room, with clothes haphazardly strewn around, some on my bed, and realize that the place where I spent 50% of my life was the opposite of zen and peaceful. I also happened to start getting a ton of pitches about new products—from pajamas to comforters—that promised to help me sleep blissfully. I made it my mission to make my bedroom the most comfortable sleeping environment possible, and sure enough, it worked.
Ahead, find the unexpected sleep products that worked for me, plus some picks from my fellow editors.
When people think of products to help them sleep, usually supplements come to mind. But what you put on your body while you slumber affects the quality of your sleep, I’ve come to learn. A few weeks ago, I got a pitch in my inbox from a brand called Lunya about something called a Cool Muscle Tee ($68) that’s made from its signature TransDry fibers, which actually help move moisture across the surface area of your body, preventing pooling in unwanted places and promising to help keep me cooler and drier at night.
The material is also made with special fibers that have antimicrobial properties and help inhibit the growth of the bacteria that feed on sweat and cause smelliness. Could a T-shirt be the answer to my sweaty nights? In short: yes. The tank feels soft and thin like any other cotton T-shirt at first, but every night I slept in it, I woke up feeling refreshed and not sweaty in the slightest.
I never thought I’d be an essential-oil devotee, but here I am, shaking my essential oil in your face and vowing it actually works. Vitruvi’s chic diffuser is not only extremely Instagrammable but also small enough to fit on my tiny nightstand and the reason I’ve been going to bed each night feeling extremely relaxed. It’s simple: Just fill up the bottle with water, add a few drops of lavender essential oil, and wait for your room to instantly start smelling like a spa. Lavender is scientifically proven to help you relax and de-stress, and inhaling the natural scent from the essential oil (instead of sprays, which often contain a lot of artificial fragrances) has greatly decreased the amount of time it takes for me to fall asleep each night.
As I become more and more adult with each passing year (whatever that means), I've found myself pondering "adult" things—one of which is what's the best comforter on the market? A few months ago, I ordered one that had amazing reviews on Amazon. It’s been—as someone in a boring-but-placid relationship might say—fine. But I wanted more than fine. My body deserves more than fine. So when I went to a press preview for a new comforter called Buffy that’s made from the wood pulp of eucalyptus trees sourced from Germany, I knew immediately that I needed it in my bed.
The finish of the comforter is cool to the touch, silky soft, and supposedly keeps you cooler. Plus, the filling is vegan and made from 100% recycled plastic water bottles—sustainability goals. Sure enough, my Buffy has been instrumental in giving me some of the best sleep of my life. Byrdie’s senior editor, Hallie, has one too, and when I asked her for her thoughts, she said, “It’s really light and airy, cozy but not too heavy, and genuinely felt like a cloud.”
In my quest to make my bed a big, fluffy, comfortable cloud oasis, I also took into account my pillow situation—which, at the time, was kind of sad. Yes, I had my silk pillowcases, but my actual pillows were flattened, cheap ones I had purchased out of desperation the first week I moved to New York. It felt wrong. So I tried out a new pillow from a brand called Sleepgram that promises to conform to me while I toss and turn at night, while also elevating my neck enough to give proper spinal alignment.
I’ll put it shortly: This pillow is now one of my most prized possessions. It’s actually three pillows in one. You can stack the two pillows on top of each other and zip them in if you prefer a firmer effect, or you can unzip the outer and take your pick between the soft- and medium-firmness pillows inside. It’s genius, and my neck has never felt more supported.
I fully believe in the power of supplements but will admit that the gummy variety usually makes me do an eye roll. It's just hard for me to believe that something that tastes so good can actually be good for you. It goes the against the laws of, like, everything. But I stand corrected because Olly's (incredibly delicious) sleep gummies taste like candy and, I swear, actually help me fall asleep each night. That's probably because they're made with melatonin, chamomile, and lemon balm to boost your natural sleep hormones.
Sweet dreams are made of these (couldn't help myself).
Keep scrolling to see some products my fellow editors swear by for a good night's sleep.
Byrdie assistant editor Erin swears by these blue light–blocking glasses to help her sleep, which you can read more about here. Plus, she looks so cute wearing them!
Erin also says she's been taking magnesium and 5-HTP supplements every night, which she swears knock her out. I've asked that she write a story about this, so check back over the next few weeks for more details.
Byrdie social media editor Aimee slathers herself with this lavender-infused sleep balm every night as part of her nightly routine that helps her sleep a full eight hours.
This sleep drink works so well, Byrdie wellness editor and The/Thirty managing editor Victoria wrote a story about how it helps her fall asleep in 10 minutes flat every time.