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I have an unfortunate relationship with sleep. I’m precious about it, and prioritize it, but I’ve battled situational insomnia for my entire life (probably partly due to being a writer.) During periods of stress or uncertainty, my thoughts cannot turn off, and even if I have a sacred “no artificial light after 8 P.M.” rule in progress, exercised that day, am in formal cozy pajamas, and a sweet, sweet melatonin is halfway through dissolving in my bloodstream, no más. My brain will still oscillate until 3 A.M., as I’m begging for sleep because I’ll be up in three hours for work. It’s just…an unfortunate fact of life for me when I’m stressed out.
The idea of falling asleep on the subway, or being one of those glorious souls who just goes “I dunno, I just get in my bed and…fall asleep” (my father) is so foreign to me—and to many Americans. According to medical studies, 1 in 3 adults across the globe battle insomnia in some way, shape, or form—and that’s not to mention the assortment of other sleep disorders and afflictions, like sleep apnea or resting poorly after consuming sugar, alcohol, or drugs.
Every year, the National Sleep Foundation hosts Sleep Week, a campaign devoted to making Americans aware of the impact that sleep has on your health and well-being. Since we’re allll about health and well-being (and, um, speaking from experience, if I go three days in a row with bad sleep, I immediately fall ill which is why my immune system is absolute trash), PLEIN AIR thought we’d step in to share the best sleep goodies and hacks that leave us rested and prepared for our next adventures. Because frankly, you won’t enjoy the hike if your body’s riddled with exhaustion.
The Best Sleep Goods to Get You Rested Up for Your Next Adventure
- Blackout Mask—Manta Sleep Mask, $35.
- Mattress Topper—Viscosoft 3-Inch Memory Foam Mattress Topper, $160 (was $215).
- Luxurious Bed Sheets—Parachute Home Linen Sheet Set, from $189.
- A Sink-able Pillow—Coop The Original Pillow, $72.
- Super-Soft Pajamas—Lake Pajamas DreamKnit Kimono Pajama Set, $138.
- Alarm Clock—Loftie Alarm Clock, $150.
- Sleep Tracker—Oura Ring, $299.
- The Splurge I’m Dreaming Of—Chilisleep Dock Pro Sleep System, from $977 (was $1,149).
- Coffeemaker—Nespresso VertuoPlus Coffee Machine, $199.
Let me start out by saying that I’m a professional product reviewer. I test dozens of consumer goods for a living, and so I don’t mind going through an assortment in order to determine the best of the best—and nowhere is this more prevalent than when I’m testing sleep products. I tell brands regularly that “if you can make me sleep better, I’ll champion you forever,” and I’m a hard sleeper to please. This is also the one area of my life in which I’m most willing to splurge, because it makes such an exponential difference in improving my well-being. Here are the brands that have made the cut for me.
I generally do not love sleep masks. They slip off my face too easily, and I find that light always sneaks in at the edges. So when I tested this Manta Sleep Blackout Mask—beloved by celebs and shoppers alike—my expectations were low. The difference between this one and others? It has cupped eye sockets so it’s a true blackout mask.
For an additional point of clarity, I don’t do well with blackout curtains. While they make me sleep well and deeply, I have such a hard time getting up in the morning with them. I need the natural morning light to cue my body to begin my wakeup process. So a mask I can easily nudge off at the bleating of my alarm? Perfect. At only $35, the price point is friendly enough to try—and gives you a massive bang for your buck if you take to it the way I did.
Viscosoft 3‑Inch Memory Foam Mattress Topper—$160 (was $215).
Spoiler alert: I’m currently sleeping on a Tuft & Needle mattress topper (I’m a product reviewer, what can I say?!) and while it’s good enough, I long for the sleep I had on this Viscosoft mattress topper, which my body just sinks into. It’s currently in storage in New York City and I count down the days until we’re reunited. It’s high-density memory foam, so it cradles my muscles and joints in all the right ways. It even comes with convenient straps at the corners to most effortlessly cling to your mattress base.
Parachute Home Linen Sheet Set—from $189.
Next, you’ve gotta update your sheets. Sheet choices largely depend on personal preference: soft or textured? Crisp or relaxed? Warm or cooling? For me, linen textures do remarkably well in both summer and winter, both wicking away sweat and keeping me cozy in chilly temps, to the extent that I took my set with me when I headed out to an Airbnb sitch this winter. I love that linen looks even better over time as it wears in, and gets softer with each wash. While I’ve tried quite a few sets from different brands, Parachute takes the cake with their classic, Instagram-favorite Linen Sheet Set, available in multiple (gorgeous) colors and styles.
A pillow’s the first thing I notice while sleeping somewhere new, and unfortunately has the biggest negative impact on my sleep quality. My neck will immediately ache à la The Princess and the Pea if not dense and fluffed to my exact liking. While I was previously loyal to a specific brand on Amazon, I’m infinitely grateful to have stumbled upon an even better memory foam pillow from a direct-to-consumer brand I feel better supporting. The mix of memory foam and microfiber fill makes this pillow incredibly comfortable (and it even comes with extra fill so you can adjust to your particular preferences.) Better yet, it comes with a 100-day risk-free sleep trial so you can decide for yourself. In the middle of the night if I wake up, I can tell which pillow is my Coop purely by feel.
My fam swears by Lake Pajamas, and it’s not just because we’re from the South. From my six-month-old nephew to my (redacted age) mama, we all bundle up and buy Lake Pajamas because of their high quality fits-any-temperature cotton construction and timeless style. I’m currently sleeping inn the DreamKnit Kimono Pajama Set, which has an uber-flattering cut and soft-to-touch texture. For me, I notice that picking out a quality pair of pajamas as opposed to any ol’ sweats cues my body to start shutting down—and these sure look good doing it.
Loftie Alarm Clock—$150.
Fun fact: the Loftie was the first product I ever formally tested way back in 2020. The reason why? I logically know that keeping my phone in another room will let me sleep better at night—it’s a life hack often touted by productivity gurus and sleep experts—but in practice I just can’t do it. Not only do I need my alarm, but I might want to wind down or get myself to sleep with an audiobook on the sleep timer (a helpful cure when my brain won’t stop running because then I physically *can’t* think beyond entertainment, without staring at blue light.) Admittedly, I had a major hangup over the price tag—$150 for an alarm clock?!!
But here’s where the Loftie wins me over. Not only is it packed with meditations, sound baths, alarm noises you’ll actually want to wake up to, and more, but it’s always updating. Your content will only ever get better via the Loftie, as the brand is always expanding its library—so no, you won’t reach a day a year from now where that same ol’ noise doesn’t rouse you for work. It also has a two-toned alarm: one for gently waking you and another, firmer sound for *getting you out of bed*. You can also set your alarm remotely via the app, and it nowadays comes with an accompanying (pricey) sunrise and sunset lamp that syncs to your alarm clock and programming. I’ve been trying out the Hatch Restore ($130), its main competitor, for the past few months, and have found myself majorly regretting not taking the Loftie in my bag with me to Utah. I miss it, and the Hatch is just so clunky and hard to use in comparison; the app is nowhere near as user-friendly.
Concerned about the splurge? If you’re a person who struggles to commit to a new habit, I recommend splurging to force you to get off your phone at night; after all, you spent the money on it. If you’re less likely to be motivated in that way, you can always start with an entry-level clock for a month or two, see if you stick with it, then buy the Loftie when you’re ready for the permanent upgrade.
I’m a big believer that if you can track something, you can improve it, and I 100 percent emphasize this when it comes to sleep tracking. Tracking your sleep quality can help you understand factors that degrade it—for example, if you notice your sleep quality drops ten points for every glass of wine—while tracking bedtimes, wake times, and more can also help you to improve your habits to best optimize your rest. Plus, I love having an external factor to tell me when I need to slow down. If I got a rotten sleep two nights in a row, I know not to attempt that tough HIIT workout today or else I’ll likely get sick. Investing in a sleep tracker has allowed me to put my health first when “going by feel” ultimately fails me, and helps me see the bigger picture of where I should give myself a break. While I’ve tried the Apple Watch, Garmin, and Whoop 4.0, the Oura Ring is consistently lauded as the best of the best when it comes to sleep and recovery tracking specifically. Also, while I ultimately dropped my Whoop membership due to its $30/month cost, the Oura Ring membership is free for your first month and only $6 after—less than that latte I need after a shitty night’s sleep.
Chilisleep Dock Pro Sleep System—$977 (was $1,149).
If you struggle with temperature while you sleep and coolin’ sheets just aren’t cuttin’ it anymore, let me introduce you to the object of my lust: the Chilisleep Dock Pro Sleep System. This fancy thermal mattress topper can provide rapid cooling and warming to your bed at night, allowing you to customize the exact temperature that lets you sleep best. As a bonus, if you have a partner, you can program the device to warm or cool sides of the bed differently, allowing you each to get the sleep you desire. If you connect to the SleepMe app to allow the device to track your sleep data, it can even automatically adjust the temperature for you throughout the night depending on how you’re resting. I. Need. It.
Finally, let me introduce you to my favorite morning hack. At some point last year, I saw a tweet that said if you put a coffeemaker by your bedside, you felt every morning as if you were in a little Italian bed and breakfast. Consider me sold. Naturally, I had to try it out—and reader, I am never going back.
As soon as my alarm goes off, I roll over and start my coffee, resting until it’s finished. When my coffee’s ready, I’ll sit in bed until I’ve finished drinking it. This gives me a little bit of buffer time before my wakeup and having to do (shudder) activities, plus provides me with the boost of caffeine I need to tackle my first tasks of the day. For me, this ritual serves a similar purpose to meditation or gratitude journaling many use as their keystone habit to start their day off on a positive note. It’s simple, luxurious, and has a small footprint on my bedside table.
I prefer the Nespresso for having rich, delicious coffee I can take black or with cream (the crema is just delicious) and I love experimenting with new flavors. The machine itself is single-serving, easy to use, has excellent customer service, and feels high-quality and much more expensive than it is. And yes, I’ve shuttled it around quite a bit; this baby has made it into my carry-on when moving via plane, and still functions just as well. I highly recommend instituting this habit, especially if you have trouble sleeping or waking up. It’s just a small joy to look forward to every morning and makes a world of difference.