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8 Sleep Aids To Try When You're Stressed

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Daley Quinn is a beauty, health, and lifestyle journalist with extensive experience reviewing health and wellness products and services. Here, she shares the sleep aids that are helping her get some rest amid the stress of COVID-19.

Between the kids back in school, a monumental election coming up, and, of course, a global pandemic, it’s safe to say that 2020 has been one incredibly stressful year. With lots of stress usually comes a lot less sleep—some sleep neurologists have dubbed 2020’s sleeplessness the year of “COVID-Somnia.”

I’m someone who has always suffered from insomnia (thanks, Mom), but my sleepless nights have reached new heights since the pandemic began about eight months ago. My issue has always been that it was hard for me to fall asleep, but not difficult to stay asleep. These days, I can’t stop my mind from racing before bed, and I wake up all too frequently throughout the night with slight bouts of anxiety and fear.

While I try not to get too reliant on taking melatonin every night, I do find that various sleep aids have been incredibly helpful in putting my mind at ease and helping me get some sleep during these crazy times. Below, you’ll find my favorite sleep supplements, as well as some other sleep aids I cannot sleep without (some of these I actually take along when I’m traveling, including my clunky white noise maker). 

HUM Beauty zzZz Sleep Aid, $15

Blame it on the mask, but I’m convinced that the “maskne” many of us are experiencing is due to a major spike in stress and a lot less beauty sleep. I love this supplement from HUM because it not only features melatonin to help you sleep, but it also features vitamin B6 (which aids in the production of serotonin, a neurotransmitter to help regulate sleep patterns) and calcium (which contains an amino acid that the body uses to product melatonin). Plus, I love that these are sugar-free and gummy-free—if you’re someone who is sensitive to any form of sweeteners before bed, this supplement is for you. 

Marpac Dohm The Original White Noise Machine, $45

I will never get over my affinity for my Dohm—I like to take it with me on most of my trips, and I’ve managed to get my whole family involved with the Dohm obsession. There’s really just no comparing the fans used within the Dohm to a white noise app you might download on your phone. I believe the Dohm blocks out noise so much better than an app, and I’ve had mine for close to 10 years. Considering I’m such a light sleeper, this machine has helped me from waking up from sudden noises in the middle of the night. 

Natural Vitality Calm Magnesium Citrate Supplement, $23

While this magnesium supplement doesn’t necessarily put me to sleep, it definitely helps me to relax and put my mind at ease before bed. Magnesium has been proven to help improve your sleep performance, and I find this powder to be a relaxing addition to my nighttime routine. To prevent frequent trips to the bathroom throughout the night, I like to add this to a little bit of hot water and drink it about an hour before I turn the lights out, usually when I’m watching my favorite Bravo TV show or reading a good book.   

Barner Blue Light Glasses, $71

From Zoom meetings and Facetime calls to Netflix binging and bored-out-of-our-minds social media scrolling, it’s without question that the amount of time we’ve been spending in front of screens has risen significantly since the pandemic began. I recently began wearing blue light glasses starting a few hours before bed, and I believe they are really helping my brain to “power down” and get ready for sleep, even while watching TV or scrolling through Instagram. I love this pair from Barner because it not only blocks 40% of the blue light on the 430nm to 450nm spectrum and 100% of the blue light at 410nm, but they also look really chic and trendy, too.

Lord Jones Royal Oil, Hemp-Derived CBD, $100

I like to use this formula when I’m feeling extra-anxious and just need to chill out before bed—it works within a matter of minutes. This potent oil contains a whopping 1,000 milligrams of CBD per bottle, or approximately 40 milligrams of CBD per full dropper, and has a higher dose of CBD than other oils or tinctures you might find on the market, hence the heftier price tag.

You can apply this topically and/or ingest the oil, but it’s important to note that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not yet approved CBD oil for consumption. If you do try CBD oil and find that it upsets your stomach or causes other side effects, discontinue use.

Edens Garden Lavender Essential Oil Roll-On, $9

I am a firm believer in the power of essential oils to alter your mood, and my lavender roll-on routine pre-lights out is no exception. It’s gotten to the point where I find it hard to sleep if I haven’t smelled lavender right before bed. I love rolling this lavender essential oil roll-on onto my wrists, inside my arms, and on my temples, and then breathing it in with controlled, meditation-like breaths. It helps signal to my brain that it’s time to sleep and calms down all the chatter in my mind.

OLLY Restful Sleep Gummies, $16

These are my favorite sleep supplements, hands down. I’m not sure if it’s the three milligrams of melatonin, the 100 milligrams of l-theanine, or the various botanical extracts packed into these fruity little gummies, but there’s something about these sleep supplements that differ from others that I’ve tried, because they put me to sleep very fast. The recommended dosage is to take two gummies 30 minutes before bed, but I find that even one gummy will knock me out pretty fast.  

Howard Leight by Honeywell Laser Lite High Visibility Disposable Foam Earplugs, $10/50-count

On the nights when my boyfriend snores loudly or the late-night construction outside my window won’t stop, I turn to these foam earplugs. Usually, my Dohm will be able to block out most noises and prevent me from waking up, but sometimes I need a little extra help. I like the feel of these disposable foam earplugs, and find that their vibrant color makes it easier to find them amongst my sheets if they end up falling out in the middle of the night. 

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  1. Abbasi B, Kimiagar M, Sadeghniiat K, Shirazi MM, Hedayati M, Rashidkhani B. The effect of magnesium supplementation on primary insomnia in elderly: A double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial. J Res Med Sci. 2012 Dec;17(12):1161-9.