Arianna Huffington wrote a book about it. Blake Lively's trainer says it's his top weight-loss strategy. It’s the hottest beauty secret in the wellness world. Catching Zs is the new green juice.
For decades, we've been told to sleep at the same time every night, avoid caffeine after noon, and drink warm milk before bed, but this isn’t working for up to 70 million people—that’s the number of U.S. adults that suffer from a sleep disorder, according to the American Sleep Association.
So now, folks are getting serious—and we mean serious—about sleep. We're finally appreciating the remarkable mental and physical benefits of a restorative, restful night (and the inner madwoman who emerges when we don't get enough). The Centers for Disease Control has declared insufficient sleep a public health problem, noting that people who suffer from poor-quality or lack of sleep are more likely to suffer from chronic diseases "such as hypertension, diabetes, depression, and obesity, as well as from cancer, increased mortality, and reduced quality of life and productivity.”
To defeat the monster of insomnia, new products are cropping up left and right to help you "hack" your sleep. Here are three to try.
(The Sleep Score is based on my experience consuming product three days in a row. Remember, our bodies are all different so your experience may differ.)
Dirty Lemon's Sleep beverage is formulated with four classic sedative ingredients—magnesium, chamomile, lemon balm, and passionflower—in a liquid base of water, pure lemon juice, and rose water.
Chamomile is arguably the most well-known natural tranquilizer, and its ability to induce sleep is supported both by science and holistic approaches such as aromatherapy. Many people are deficient in magnesium, and research has suggested increasing magnesium levels through supplementation can significantly improve sleep time and quality. Research has credited passionflower with its ability to calm anxious thoughts—it’s even been shown to be as effective as anti-anxiety prescription medication. Lemon balm is also known to ease anxiety and insomnia, while boosting mood and alertness, according to multiple studies.
Dirty Lemon’s Sleep tastes minimally medicinal, with the lemon and rose dominating most of the flavor. (The scent of rose, too, is widely considered to have calming effects.) The 16-ounce bottle takes a while to sip before winding down.
Sleep Score: 8/10. Fell asleep with an hour, but woke up at 3 a.m. to pee after drinking the entire bottle before hitting the sack. Slept decently before and after the bathroom break.
ReBloom is spiked with sleep-promoting natural ingredients, including L-theanine, an amino acid found in green tea known to stimulate relaxation, and valerian, a root from a flowering plant used since the second-century A.D. to alleviate anxiety, restlessness, and insomnia. Valerian root, in modern-day studies, has been shown to help people fall sleep more quickly as well as boost the overall quality of the siesta. ReBloom also includes melatonin, the “sleep hormone” that regulates your natural sleep cycles (you can consume melatonin by eating foods like bananas and oats). Like Dirty Lemon, Rebloom contains lavender, chamomile, and magnesium.
At 2.5 ounces a bottle, ReBloom is easy to imbibe. The palatable herbal flavor is like taking a shot of lightly sweetened tea.
Sleep Score: 9/10. Dozed off about half an hour after consuming, and stayed deeply asleep until waking up two hours earlier than usual. Felt more rested and refreshed the next day.
Prefer something solid? Want to drift off to Dreamland instead of simply snoozing in total blackness? Dream Bars, which are like CLIF Bars-turned-natural-sleep-aid, are made with organic ingredients meant to help encourage improved mood and REM sleep (this flavor in particular contains lavender, chamomile, passionflower, and lemon balm as well as bananas and oats, both of which contain melatonin). There’s also potassium and magnesium to stimulate relaxation, and pumpkin and sunflower seeds to boost serotonin synapses.
Although these bars are meant to help you sleep, the company seems to be more focused on dreaming, or as the product packaging says, evoking an “active dream practice as a miraculous gateway to soulful self work and boundless creativity.” According to Dream Bars, a substance called theobromine in cacao nibs helps uplift mood, increases blood flow to your brain, and encourage vivid dreaming.
The Banana Lavender Dream Bar is a great alternative to dessert if you have a sweet tooth since it helps you snooze (as opposed to keeping you awake on a sugar high). The banana flavor is the most evident, but you can taste hints of the other ingredients, notably lavender, cacao, and sunflower seeds.
Sleep Score: 7/10. Fell asleep about two hours after finishing the bar and felt stress-free and pleasant in between. Sleep quality was good, although waking up was a bit hard. Dream clarity or intensity didn’t change.
Considering the expansive ripple effect that transpires after a great night’s sleep—a boost in energy, happier mood, and an overall healthier body—it’s time to prioritize your sleep habits. These sleep aids might not work for everyone, especially those with severe cases of insomnia, but if eating or swigging a little something can help you slumber, that’s a small price to pay. Will you give it a shot?
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