12 Random-But-Useful Sleep Gadgets (All Tested by Editors)
Just when we thought our bouts of Coronasomnia were ending, 2022 gave us new reasons to stare at the ceiling all night long. If you’re struggling to get some shut-eye, you’re not alone—70 million Americans suffer from chronic sleep problems, according to the CDC—and we’re right there with you. Over the past few years, we’ve tried out every kind of sleep gadget we can get our hands on. Here are the ones we recommend to all of our friends (you included).
Certain pillows are best for hot sleepers, or side sleepers or back sleepers—but what about those of us who are, uh, a little bit of everything? That’s where the Marlow pillow comes in. It has a breathable mesh cover and cooling foam to keep night sweats at bay, and it features a hidden zipper that lets you adjust the pillow’s firmness (without having to take out filling, like some brands require). The chopped memory foam cradles your head without ever feeling too stiff, too. Don’t take our word for it, though—the pillow comes with a one-year return policy and two-year warranty, in case it’s not quite Goldilocks enough for you.
2. Oura RingBest for Understanding Your Sleep Habits
Maybe the Oura ring’s been on your radar since Prince Harry started sporting it in 2018. Maybe you’re all “Or-what?!” Here’s the TL;DR—the $299 ring features a sensor that syncs with an app, collecting data about your body whenever you’re wearing it…including that recurring nightmare where you and the Duke of Sussex show up at the Invictus Games wearing the same ensemble (the horror!). It can tell you the exact minute you fall asleep and grades each night’s sleep, which our editor found oddly invigorating. Suddenly, it was a game against herself to see what adjustments she could make to her routine to sleep longer and better. And, out of all the products she’s tested—including a diffuser nose ring—it’s been her top pick.
You’ve heard that weighted blankets can reduce anxiety, help you fall asleep faster and give you a general sense of calm, but which one is best? We’ve tried tons, and time after time, we keep going back to Bearaby. Not only is the chunky knit aesthetically pleasing, but it keeps the weight evenly distributed (unlike the pellet-filled styles, which can bunch up). Plus, it’s soft and breathable.
When we casually asked a sleep consultant what she swears by for a better night’s rest, she didn’t hesitate: a sleep mask. A well-fitting one that blocks out all light is her travel must-have, and after trying more than a dozen this past year—including lavender-scented and multiple weighted mask varieties—we have to say: Brooklinen’s Mulberry Silk eye mask gets our vote. It doesn’t press too hard on your lids or squeeze your skull, it stays put when you toss and turn, and your hair doesn’t get snagged in it. A win all around.
At first spritz, it can feel like you’re misting yourself with water—then the cooling sensation takes over. Kindra says its fragrance-free mist is designed with hyaluronic acid and its proprietary InstaCalm3 complex to help you stay cool (and moisturized) for up to two hours after use, and our resident Hot Sleeper agrees, though she was asleep well before the two-hour mark to confirm the full extent of its benefits.
While it’s not technically a sleep gadget, a smart thermostat can do wonders for helping you sleep. After Matthew Walker, director of the Center for Human Sleep Science at the University of California, Berkeley and author of Why We Sleep, recommended setting the thermostat a bit lower—65 to 68 degrees—at night, since your body needs to lower its temperature to drift to sleep, we saw an immediate change in how quickly we drifted off, especially in the summertime. A smart thermostat can be scheduled to gradually drop the temp, based on your preferred bedtime, making it one less thing you need to worry about each night.
Pillow mists tend to disappear immediately, and for the safety of you, your home and everything you hold dear, you know not to fall asleep with a lit candle. But what if a soothing scent really helps you hit the hay? Friend, you need a diffuser. Pura is a plug-in, perfected—it syncs with an app, so you can schedule when the scent is released (and for how long). It doubles as a nightlight (that, again, with the app you can switch to any color imaginable) and it frees up precious nightstand space. And while we’ll always be partial to the Capri Blue Volcano scent, the brand partnered with Malouf to release specially formulated Rest and Rise scents designed to help you catch some Z’s and wake up feeling alert and at ease.
We love the ease of having a mattress delivered to our door, but we’ve been burned by too-stiff—or worse, pancake-y—ones in the past. That’s why we were pleasantly surprised by Nest’s pillow-top Sparrow mattress. (And, four months later, continue to be impressed.) It’s designed for couples, featuring individual coils that isolate movement, so when your partner tosses, you feel nothing—truly. What’s more, you can swap out the inner layer of foam to adjust its firmness. And you can replace that layer over time, extending the mattress’s overall lifespan, making it an eco-friendlier option too. It’s pricey, but so far, it’s proven to be worth every penny.
Let’s cut straight to it: There’s no strong scientific evidence that rubbing magnesium oil on yourself actually penetrates the skin. But, in the realm of ‘If It Works for You and Doesn’t Harm Anyone,’ we tried it—and, anecdotally, wound up falling asleep quickly and peacefully. Our editors rave about The Nue Co.’s soothing-yet-sophisticated scent, which is a blend of lavender and arnica oils.
If oils leave you feeling a little too greasy but you still want to dabble with magnesium oil, check out Asutra’s Dream the Night Away lotion. It’s infused with magnesium and that other much-touted sleep aid, melatonin. According to the Sleep Foundation, your body receives more melatonin transdermally than say, via gummies, since you lose a lot of the supplement’s benefits during the metabolic process. So this one-two punch is worth a shot. In our experience, the lemongrass scent was soothing and the formula moisturizing. It wasn’t a wonder balm that totally prevented sleepless nights (can anything, though?), but it did help us unwind—especially after particularly anxiety-inducing days.
11. Nest MiniBest Multipurpose White Noise Machine
You don’t need a special white noise machine. Heck, in a pinch we’ve played a 10-hour video from YouTube off our phones (thanks, rowdy spring breakers in room 231). With a Nest Mini, you don’t have to get out of bed to play hours of white noise, or ocean sounds or gentle thunderstorms or whatever you’re into. Simply say, “Hey Google, play [insert preferred sounds here]” and you’re good to go. Before you know it, you’ll be asking it to tell you the weather, a cheesy joke and a bedtime story, too. (You’ve been warned…but also, talk about versatile!)
12. SOM Sleep DrinkBest Last-Ditch Effort
Four years later, and editors still rave about how well SOM Sleep, a melatonin-, magnesium- and l-theanine-infused drink puts them to sleep. Four out of five editors found that they fell asleep quickly, stayed asleep and didn’t feel groggy when they rose the next morning. However, they all agreed they wouldn’t drink the whole can—nor would they do so on the regular. This is more of a Bust-Open-Fridge-in-Case-of-Emergency situation. (Oh, and pro tip: Spring for the Original, even if it has some sugar—the sweetness gives the berry drink a much-needed flavor boost.)