We need sleep because of its regulatory functions, and neglecting to get a sufficient amount of rest can lead to dire repercussions like heart disease, high blood pressure and increased risk for strokes. Despite sleep's importance to our health, many of us still don't get enough of it; in 2015, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention declared sleep insufficiency as a public health issue.
If you're part of the estimated 50 to 70 million Americans afflicted with sleep issues, there is some hope: There are plenty of products you can purchase to help you doze off and get a restful seven to eight hours of sleep. Here are five of the best things you should include in your sleep regiment for a better night's rest.
1. Noise reduction or "white noise" machines
According to the National Sleep Foundation, a white noise machine can help reduce background "peak" noises disrupting your sleep: "Creating a constant ambient sound could help mask activity from inside and outside the house."
2. Cooling bed linens and pajamas
According to the NSF, temperature and cloth materials like cotton, linen and silk— that make up pillows, mattresses, and clothing — often dictate whether you get a restful sleep. The NSF recommends choosing bedsheets and pajamas with "breathable cotton fabric so that you don't overheat."
3. Sleep masks
Humans prefer sleeping in the dark, and sleep masks are one of the simplest ways to prevent the physiological and psychological effects of light from hindering your sleep.
In the same vein as sleep masks, but not quite as restrictive or claustrophobic: You can block outside light coming in through your window (whether it's an illuminated street lamp or a bright, full moon) with a good, opaque curtain.
5. Aromatherapy — particularly lavender
The NSF notes that the scent of lavender has been proven to "decrease heart rate and blood pressure, potentially putting you in a more relaxed state." If you prefer perfuming the room with candles, just be sure to put the flame out before you doze off. Better yet, light the candle in anticipation for your bedtime — an inadvertent bedroom fire will obviously disrupt your sleep.
Bonus: Remove distractions from your room for a better sleep.
Let's be honest: The reason you remain awake tossing and turning is probably due to overstimulation stemming from your bright-ass phone, bright-ass laptop and bright-ass television. Lower the brightness on your electronics if you use them right before sleep, or simply set them aside and remove the temptation altogether.
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