In honour of World Sleep Day, here are five innovative tips to optimise your nightly rest – from sleep-aiding supplements to finding out when your melatonin window is
Of course, it’s not necessary to expound on the physical and mental health benefits of a good night’s sleep – we all know we need it and yet it can prove incredibly elusive. Here, we give you five items that may truly enhance your night, whether that’s getting to sleep, or optimising that rest once you’re there.
I first learnt about the power of the eye mask in a yoga class about a decade ago when, lying in savasana, I was handed a small rectangular bean bag that smelled faintly of both lavender and sweat. I was told to lay it over my closed eyes. The pressure on and around the eyelids slows down the ocular blood supply, I was told, which is also the first thing to shut down when you begin to fall asleep. The result was to enable deeper relaxation while lying in corpse pose; later, in bed, I found that it speeds up the falling asleep process, as well as helping to keep you asleep once the sun comes up, allowing you to catch more of the powerful REM sleep (the larger portion of which comes later in the night, once you’ve soaked up enough non-REM deep sleep). The effects of the mask are likely to have become a Pavlovian response, too – as with any kind of sleep hygiene routine, your body learns to respond to cues accordingly. Today I am marginally bereft when I sleep without a mask – my eyelids feel naked and wibbly, uncapped and thus, unloved.
Long into my search for the perfect eye mask I met Manta Sleep: its masks feature eye cups that offer pressure and a blackout effect without any direct pressure on lashes or the delicate skin around the eye area. The Pro, designed for side-sleepers with slope-edged eye cups, is my favourite and makes you look like a giant space ant – others can be upgraded with relaxing scent stickers or in-built Bluetooth headphones and both warm and cool eye cups. They have wowed everyone I’ve introduced them to.
Slip, the silk accessories brand known for its skin-gentle silk pillowcases that reduce ageing skin friction caused by our pillows, has a range of reliably luxurious silk eye masks (among other things like gentle-on-the-hair silk scrunchies) have introduced a contoured eye mask in a sumptuous silk. Their Spring 2023 La Dolce Vita collection, out on April 1, offers a more glamorous, less sci-fi alternative to the Manta.
There is a plethora of herbal sleep-inducing supplements spanning a variety of good, bad and addictive but what’s nice about JS Health’s PM+ Nighttime Formula is that it tastes like the spa and feels righteously calming. The giant black tablet boasts high doses of lavender and passionflower to promote calmness, relaxation and emotional wellbeing, while magnesium supports muscle function, neuromuscular and nervous system health and maintains efficient energy production. One of these paired with an evening meal set me up with a deliciously long sleep.
No one needs a sleep app to get to sleep, by any means – the fact that we’ve been doing it for centuries might be a clue. But using the Rise app (and discussing it with anyone who will listen) has taught me a crucial lesson about my sleep patterns that I will keep with me for life, long after my subscription finishes: many of us override and misunderstand our sleepiness cues, probably on a daily basis. Monitoring your bed and wake times each day, based on when you put down and pick up your phone (you can adjust settings should your phone usage not offer a faithful representation of this), and in combination with your inputted sleep need (mine is nine hours) and desired natural wake time (7am – I know, ambitious), the app calculates your ideal bedtime based on what it calls your melatonin window. This is a one-hour window during which your melatonin will peak, meaning this is the easiest time for you to fall quickly into a deep sleep; after this hour your melatonin begins to drop and so will the likelihood of easy sleep – you should aim to be asleep by the time the window closes in order to avoid lying in bed awake yet tired.
When I began to pay attention to this window, I realised that I felt sleepiest at its beginning and was taking too long to get to bed. You can likely imagine the scene: I’m watching TV and yawning heavily, there’s still 37 minutes left of the show and I’m also not yet ready for bed. I think: Oh wow, I’m so tired, I’m going to sleep so well tonight – cannot wait! I make it upstairs an hour or so later, moving slowly and smugly, ready to be embraced by delicious slumber, freshly cleansed, creamed and herbal tea-ed. I proceed to lie awake for an hour – I’ve missed the window, it happened far earlier than I’d allowed for. I would have lain in bed confused and disappointed forever and ever, ad infinitum, had I not been introduced to my melatonin window (it’s between 9:55 and 10:55pm, in case you were interested). Knowing what I should be doing helps; actually doing it is another matter, of course.
CBD as an aid for relaxation and stress reduction is not groundbreaking news, but the Dreem Distillery range puts sleep at the forefront of its organically produced CBD formulations. Using a broad-spectrum CBD rather than CBD isolate – a purified form of the hemp plant with various sleep-inducing cannabinoids and terpenes removed to create a more powerful and healing topical ingredient – the brand’s high-strength Night Drops (you take a larger dosage than you would of daytime CBD) and Into the Deep bath oil will relax both mind and body, prepping you perfectly for sleep.
Once finally asleep, the body gets to work – this is when beauty innovator Noble Panacea’s remarkable Organic Super Molecular Vessel (OSMV) technology is at its most impressive. After four decades of mind-blowing research, founder and Nobel Laureate of Chemistry Sir Fraser Stoddart and his team have designed molecules 10,000 times smaller than a single skin cell which, wrapped like an onion, are packaged in order to release highly potent ingredients at designated times. While the skin cycles through processes of detoxification (11pm-4am) and then repair (2am-4am), it’s readiest to receive nourishment at 4am – not the ideal time to get up and reapply a hydration mask – and so the Chronobiology Sleep Mask ensures the skin is absorbing key molecules at each optimal moment. In stage one, detoxing pre- and post-biotics are administered alongside a gently exfoliating PHA; stage two sees a retinol regenerating and repairing cells alongside plumping peptides; in stage three a ceramide NP improves skin barrier function while 2D hyaluronic acid will deliver deep hydration. Delivered in recyclable sachets for each daily dose, the product’s cellular structure is maintained entirely – it’s a sleep cocktail designed for the utmost optimiser who’ll wake up still dewy come morning.