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The Best Products For Insomnia + How They Work To Improve Sleep

Emma Loewe
Author:
September 21, 2022
Emma Loewe
mbg Sustainability + Health Director
By Emma Loewe
mbg Sustainability + Health Director
Emma Loewe is the Senior Sustainability Editor at mindbodygreen and the author of "Return to Nature: The New Science of How Natural Landscapes Restore Us."
best tools for insomnia
Image by mbg creative / oura ring
September 21, 2022
Our editors have independently chosen the products listed on this page. If you purchase something mentioned in this article, we may earn a small commission.

Prioritizing sleep is one of the healthiest things we can do, as everything from heart health to brain function can benefit from a good night's rest.

While there's no magic number for how much sleep we all need, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends that adults get at least seven hours of shut-eye every day. The quality of your sleep is essential too, and you'll want to spend around 20% of your snooze in deep REM sleep, where most dreams occur, memories are consolidated, and the brain recharges.

It sounds doable enough, but busy schedules, stressful routines, and other facets of modern life mean that about one-third of Americans aren't getting enough sleep1 on a consistent basis, and 70 million Americans2 suffer from sleep issues, according to the CDC.

If you, too, are dealing with occasional insomnia and having trouble falling and/or staying asleep, the first step is to clean up your nighty routine: Be sure to stick to a regular sleep schedule, keep your bedroom cool and dark, avoid screens before bed, and lay off heavy foods at night. While the best sleep tips tend to be free, there are also plenty of tools out there that can help you improve your sleep naturally—without needing to take any medications that cause grogginess and fogginess.

While they won't necessarily treat chronic insomnia (you should see a sleep specialist if the issue is getting in the way of your life), these products are all science-backed to help promote shut-eye. Ready, set, snooze.

How we picked.

Expert advice

Here at mbg, we write about sleep a lot and are constantly consulting with sleep doctors and researchers to learn about how to maximize it. The tools you'll find on this list all have the approval of the experts in our wheelhouse.

Research

Your sleep is precious, so we don't believe in recommending sleep products that aren't supported by science. Every tool on our list has research to back it up—and you can find a description of it in each product's "how it works" section.

Reviews

Of course, these tools need to prove useful for real people with real sleep issues. We pored over hundreds of customer reviews to find the ones that are helping people fall asleep faster, stay asleep longer, wake up more energized, or ideally all of the above.

Price

Not everyone has a fortune to shell out on the latest sleep gadget, so we made sure to include products that fit every budget. After all, some of the best sleep aids are super simple and cheap (looking at you, eye masks!).

mbg's picks for the best products for insomnia of 2022

Best sunrise alarm clock: Hatch Restore

Hatch Restore
VIEW ON Hatch | $130VIEW ON Amazon | $130

Pros:

  • 60-night trial period
  • Portable
  • Accompanying app has sleep meditations and sounds

Cons:

  • Some note that the setup can be tricky
  • Clock feature might cause stress about bedtime

Why it works

  • Uses circadian-friendly lighting to help your body fall asleep faster and wake up more refreshed
Price: $$

Instead of jolting yourself awake with a loud alarm, sunrise clocks mimic the light of the sun for a more gradual wake-up. The Hatch is one option that also comes with some serious perks at nighttime: It emits a soft, yellow reading light that won't disrupt your circadian rhythm or get in the way of melatonin production before bed. (Harsh blue lights—like the ones from your phone—can suppress the all-important hormone of darkness.)

Plus, its accompanying app has a selection of meditations and calming sounds to lull you to sleep. In a recent clinical trial, 59% of Hatch users felt less stressed after using the machine's suite of features.

While it's certainly more expensive than your average alarm, reviewers note that the Hatch's high-quality speaker, soothing light, and comprehensive app make it well worth the investment. A lot of people also appreciate that it's portable, so you can bring it with you to improve sleep as you travel. Just note that if you're someone who stresses out when you're not able to fall asleep on time, you might not want to keep a clock next to your bed.

Best sound machine: Dohm Classic The Original White Noise Machine

Dohm Classic The Original White Noise Machine
VIEW ON Amazon | $47

Pros:

  • Lightweight & portable
  • Durable

Cons:

  • Doesn't come with as many sounds as other noise machines

Why it works

  • Emits sounds that mask disruptive noises in your bedroom
Price: $

Stray noises like honking horns and heavy winds have a way of waking us up, and some may find it difficult to fall back asleep afterwards. Noise machines emit different frequencies of noise to drown out these sounds and help you stay asleep through more of the evening to reach those all-important deeper sleep stages. Turning one on can also be a helpful cue that it's time to get to bed.

This machine from Dohm is one of our favorite sound machines for sleep thanks to its classic design that's been helping people drown out noise for decades. It's durable, portable (weighing less than 2 pounds), and customizable, so you can choose the tone and volume of noise that's most soothing to you and your sleep environment that night. While the device doesn't have as many of the fancy features or sound presets as a high-tech machine, it's affordable and very intuitive to use.

Best blackout curtains: Deconovo Blackout Curtains

Deconovo Blackout Curtains
VIEW ON Deconovo | $23VIEW ON Amazon | $25

Pros:

  • Light-blocking
  • Noise-blocking
  • Come in 20 colors

Cons:

  • Made from synthetic materials
  • Not machine washable

Why it works

  • Blocks light that can suppress your melatonin production at night
Price: $

There's a reason that many physicians and sleep experts swear by using blackout curtains in their bedrooms. "The science behind this is that darkness helps your body produce the hormone melatonin, which helps maintain your circadian rhythm and sleep through the night," longevity specialist Seema Bonney, M.D. previously told mbg. Once morning comes, you can open them up for a quick burst of energizing sunlight, which suppresses melatonin production.

Bonney personally recommends Deconovo's thick, insulated curtains because they're so good at blocking both light and sound. Sold in a set of two, they're also easy to install and come in 20 colorways to go with any decor. The only downside is that they can only be washed by hand and they're made from 100% polyester so they aren't the most eco-friendly option.

Best mattress topper: Sleep On Latex Pure Green Natural Latex Mattress Topper

Sleep On Latex Pure Green Natural Latex Mattress Topper
VIEW ON Amazon | $250

Pros:

  • Multiple thickness options
  • Made from natural & organic materials
  • 5-year warranty

Cons:

  • Some reviewers note the latex has a slight odor

Why it works

  • Helps keep core body temperature low to make us feel sleepy
Price: $$$

Research shows that we sleep best in colder conditions, which is why many hot sleepers suffer from occasional insomnia. Cooling mattress toppers can help bring your body temperature down as you sleep, and they're a lot more affordable than a brand new mattress. "Cooling mattress toppers regulate temperature through passive cooling... [They] dissipate body heat and maintain a comfortable sleep surface," Po-Chang Hsu, M.D., M.S., a medical content expert at Sleeping Ocean, previously told mbg.

Experts agree that natural materials tend to be more breathable, moisture-wicking, and sustainable than synthetic ones like polyester and synthetic foam—making this 100% natural latex pick from Sleep On Latex a great option. It comes in multiple thicknesses (1-inch, 2-inch, or 3-inch) and firmess levels (soft, medium, or firm) so you can find the most comfortable fit for your sleep position and preferences. Sleep On Latex also offers a generous warranty so you can stay cool for years to come.

Best pillow: Avocado Molded Latex Pillow

Avocado Molded Latex Pillow
VIEW ON Avocado | $248

Pros:

  • Made from supportive & cooling materials
  • Company is carbon negative

Cons:

  • Expensive
  • Might be too firm for some sleepers

Why it works

  • Supports the spine's natural curvature to ease neck stiffness and pain
Price: $$$

If you constantly wake up with neck stiffness and pain, there's a chance your pillow is to blame. Switching over to one that's ergonomically designed to cradle the head while you sleep will help promote deeper and more comfortable zzz's. Research shows that the ideal pillow for neck pain should be soft but not too high, provide neck support, and be allergy-tested and washable.

After searching high and low for a pillow that fits the bill, we found this option from the sustainable brand Avocado. Suitable for back, stomach, and side sleepers, its organic latex shell stays supportive over time and doesn't bottom out like softer down or memory foam options (though it may feel slightly too firm for some sleepers). Plus, it's naturally cooling, like our other favorite cooling pillows.

Best eye mask: IMAK Compression Pain Relief Mask and Eye Pillow

IMAK Compression Pain Relief Mask and Eye Pillow
VIEW ON Amazon | $15

Pros:

  • More affordable than blackout curtains
  • Apply light pressure to the eyes
  • Blocks out all light

Cons:

  • Hand wash only
  • Thin band needs to be tightened over time

Why it works

  • Blocks light that can suppress your melatonin production at night
Price: $

You'll notice that a lot of the options on this list work to limit light exposure at night, and that's because you really can't underestimate the importance of darkness for sleep. "If you have light exposure at night too close to bedtime it's almost like your brain is seeing a sunrise at a time when it should be seeing a sunset," Daniel Rifkin, M.D., the medical director of Sleep Medicine Centers of Western New York, previously told mbg. If you don't feel like shelling out for blackout curtains, eye masks can serve a similar purpose of blocking light as you sleep (though beware, they may fall off depending on how much you move around at night).

This option from IMAK is one of the best eye masks out there for sleep, since it not only blocks light but applies comfortable pressure to the eyes as you snooze. Though they aren't machine washable and their band might need to be tightened over time, for less than $20, they're a shockingly effective sleep tool.

Best PJs: Lunya Washable Silk Set

Lunya Washable Silk Set
VIEW ON Lunya | $188

Pros:

  • Machine-washable
  • Made from naturally cooling & breathable materials

Cons:

  • Expensive

Why it works

  • Can help your body get warmer or cooler as needed throughout the night
Price: $$

While pajamas may feel like they're more about style than substance, experts agree that they can make a real difference in overall sleep quality. Nishi Bhopal, M.D., a board-certified integrative psychiatrist and sleep doctor, previously told mbg that loose-fitting PJs made from natural materials tend to be best for rest since they are so lightweight and breathable.

Silk is one luxe PJ material that's worth the splurge, since it's incredibly soft and comfortable. And this set from cult favorite Lunya tops our list of the best of the best silk PJ sets out there, thanks to its machine-washable materials, worn-in feel, and unique cut that's designed to keep you cool throughout the night.

Best weighted blanket: Casper Weighted Blanket

Casper Weighted Blanket
VIEW ON Casper | $99

Pros:

  • Breathable cotton cover makes it more cooling
  • Comes in 3 weight options

Cons:

  • Might still be too hot for some sleepers

Why it works

  • Provide light pressure to activate the parasympathetic nervous system
Price: $$

Weighted blankets have stress-relieving benefits that can help you calm down for bed. "As far as how they work, it's thought that weighted blankets provide deep pressure stimulation, which activates the parasympathetic, or 'rest-and-digest' part of the nervous system," Nishi Bhopal, M.D., previously explained to mbg. And while all that weight may sound like a recipe for a hot, sweaty slumber, some weighted blankets are designed to be cooling.

Casper's model, for example, is covered in a breathable cotton shell to help circulate air away from your body and keep you cool. The quilted blanket also comes in three weight options so you can customize it for your needs. (The common recommendation is selecting a design that's about 10% of your body weight.)

Best sleep tracker: Oura Ring Generation 3

Oura Ring Generation 3
VIEW ON Oura | $299

Pros:

  • Lightweight & comfortable design
  • Records key sleep metrics

Cons:

  • Some people with sleep issues will find it stressful to use a tracking device

Why it works

  • Provides insights you can use to improve your sleep hygiene
Price: $$$

Sleep trackers can give you a more detailed picture of your sleep quality each night. While they might too prove stressful for those who tend to get hung up after a night of poor sleep, others will find them helpful for honing in on healthier sleep habits. For example, if you notice that you always spend less time in REM sleep after drinking alcohol before bed, you can be more selective about that after-dinner glass of wine.

The Oura Ring is one of the most popular sleep trackers out there, and for good reason. It measures average resting heart rate, body temperature, and pulse to accurately estimate the amount of time you spend in different sleep stages each night. The Generation 3 ring also features an extended battery life, period prediction feature, and more detailed sleep insights—but remains super unintrusive and comfortable to wear as you snooze and go about your day.

Best nightlight: Philips Gradient Signe Table Lamp

Philips Gradient Signe Table Lamp
VIEW ON Amazon | $200VIEW ON Philips | $220

Pros:

  • Adjustable brightness
  • Unlimited color hues

Cons:

  • Expensive

Why it works

  • Better mimics lighting in nature to help regulate the circadian rhythm
Price: $$$

If your bedside lamp emits a bright, blue-tinted light, it's time for an upgrade. Soft lighting in a yellow hue is far superior for promoting relaxation, according to circadian rhythm specialists. Ideally, this light will also run on a dimmer so it mimics a gradual sunset.

Philip's Gradient Signe Table Lamp does all that and more, allowing you to choose your perfect light color and control its brightness using your voice or an accompanying app. The sleek, thin light can also give off gradients of light, like those of a sunset or sunrise in nature. While it's expensive, the price goes down for every additional lamp you buy, so it's not a bad idea to stock up on one for the living or an other room where you tend to spend time at night.

Best journal: Moleskine Classic Notebook

Moleskine Classic Notebook
VIEW ON Amazon | $17

Pros:

  • Durable & timeless design
  • Bleed-proof paper

Cons:

  • Some people might find journaling on fears makes them even more stressed

Why it works

  • Writing down your worries before bed can help quiet down mental chatter that keeps you up at night
Price: $

Sometimes, the mind has a way of revving up at the exact moment we want it to calm down: when we get into bed. When this happens, grabbing a paper and pen for a "brain dump" can help you feel more mentally clear. As sleep medicine specialist Shelby Harris, PsyD, DBSM previously explained to mbg, writing down a list of to-do's and/or worries is clinically shown to help people get into the right headspace for sleep.

Though it won't work for everyone, bedtime writing is a worthy exercise to try—and what better place to do it than in a classic Moleskin? A favorite journal of writers everywhere, Moleskins feature a classic, durable design and luxuriously smooth, bleed-proof paper. Whatever bedtime fears you throw their way, these journals can take them.

Best meditation app: Headspace

Headspace
VIEW ON Headspace | $70/year

Pros:

  • Offers wide range of sleep meditations
  • 14-day free trial period

Cons:

  • More experienced meditators might find it too 101

Why it works

  • Meditation can help improve sleep quality by reducing stress
Price: $

There's research to show that meditation can improve sleep quality by giving us the tools necessary to disengage from inner chatter and detach from stress. If you're someone who tends to lie awake at night lost in anxious thoughts, it's worth a shot.

We at mbg consider Headspace the best meditation app for beginner meditators because of its intuitive and user-friendly design, breadth of guided meditation options, and emphasis on teaching the foundations of mindfulness. You can try out the wide range of bedtime meditations on the Headspace app for free for 14 days before committing to a monthly or yearly subscription. Just resist the urge to scroll through your phone after, which will defeat the purpose!

Best blue light blockers: TrueDark Twilights Classic

TrueDark Twilights Classic
VIEW ON TrueDark | $82

Pros:

  • Wrap-around frames to block all blue light
  • Support natural melatonin release

Cons:

  • Funny looking

Why it works

  • Block blue light to support melatonin production and regulate the circadian rhythm
Price: $$

In an ideal world, it would be easy to avoid electronics (and the stimulating blue light they emit) in the hours leading up to bedtime. But alas, sometimes the temptation to scroll through social media becomes too much, and you end up using your phone or computer later than you should. That's where blue light-blocking glasses come to the rescue, and research shows they can be very effective at improving sleep by inducing melatonin production.

This glasses option from TrueDark—though silly looking—is extremely effective. Unlike similar glasses, they have wrap-around frames that block light from every angle. I, like other happy customers, personally notice a huge difference when I wear these before bed. When I have them on, my tech doesn't give me a second wind and I'm able to fall asleep faster.

FAQ

What products will help me sleep better?

Everyone's ideal sleep product will be a bit different, but the options on this list—from blackout curtains for blocking light to a journal for storing your stressful thoughts—are a great place to start.

What helps insomnia fast?

Unfortunately, there are no quick fixes for insomnia. Improving sleep takes time, but experts agree that maintaining a consistent bedtime and wakeup time, getting plenty of sun during the day and darkness at night, and avoiding alcohol, caffeine, and heavy foods later in the day are great places to start. If insomnia symptoms persist, you should see a doctor to rule out any underlying issues.

The takeaway.

Occasional insomnia is often spurred by stress, light exposure, unhealthy bedtime habits—or a mixture of all three. These 13 tools can help get to the root of these sleep disruptions so you can snooze the night away a little easier. While they won't single-handedly treat a sleep disorder (and you should see a doctor about any ongoing sleep issues), they all come science-backed and expert-recommended. Next stop: Your deepest sleep ever.

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Emma Loewe
Emma Loewe
mbg Sustainability + Health Director

Emma Loewe is the Sustainability Health Director at mindbodygreen and the author of Return to Nature: The New Science of How Natural Landscapes Restore Us. She is also the co-author of The Spirit Almanac: A Modern Guide To Ancient Self Care, which she wrote alongside Lindsay Kellner.

Emma received her B.A. in Environmental Science & Policy with a specialty in environmental communications from Duke University. In addition to penning over 1,000 articles on mbg, her work has appeared on Bloomberg News, Marie Claire, Bustle, and Forbes. She has covered everything from the water crisis in California to the rise of urban beekeeping to a group of doctors prescribing binaural beats for anxiety. She's spoken about the intersection of self-care and sustainability on podcasts and live events alongside environmental thought leaders like Marci Zaroff, Gay Browne, and Summer Rayne Oakes.