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Better Sleep: The Gift that Keeps on Giving

Better Sleep: The Gift that Keeps on Giving

Kids know exactly what they want for the holidays and are happy to tell their parents, friends, relatives—even total strangers. Adults are another matter. They might shrug their shoulders, answer vaguely, have just one idea for many people, provide an expensive list to a person with a frugal budget, or a small, inexpensive list to people wishing to be more generous.

What do the majority of adults wish they had more of? The answer is quality sleep. This is because the average adult gets 6.8 hours of sleep on weeknights and 7.8 hours on weekends, according to a global study by the World Economic Forum. The study also found that two in three adults wake up at least once during the night and only 10 percent report sleeping well. This means that most adults are getting less than the minimal seven hours of recommended sleep.

A good night’s sleep affects many aspects of peoples’ lives. Lack of sleep is tied to reduced productivity and concentration, poor calorie regulation during the day as sleep patterns affect the hormones that regulate appetite, improved athletic performance, lower risk of heart disease, a stronger immune system, and a reduced chance of being depressed.

Below are four tips, and corresponding gift suggestions in different budget ranges for the gift of a good night’s sleep.

Tip #1: Calm down before bedtime

People who are stressed find it harder to fall asleep and sleep soundly. Everyone calms down in different ways, but here are a few ways that might help.

Lower-priced gifts:

Herbal tea bedtime: The Republic of Tea’s caffeine-free herbal tea, called get relaxed, contains aromas of lavender, rose petals, and chamomile, all meant to promote calmness and help induce sleep. Cost: About $10 for 36 tea bags.

Essential oils: The use of essential oils to treat disease dates back to ancient times. Aromatherapy, the modern term for this treatment, is often associated with less stress and reduced feelings of depression. Essential oils for sleep include lavender, vanilla, rose, sandalwood and citrus. Essential oils can be rubbed on the skin, put in a bath, and diffused into the air. One bottle costs about $15.

More expensive:

Weighted blanket: It’s hard to calm down when you are tossing and turning. That’s why both kids and adults sometimes prefer a weighted blanket. Weighted blankets weigh from seven to twenty-five pounds. Some sleep experts liken it to swaddling a newborn to soothe them.  Cost: Starting at $30.  

Tip #2: Keep the bedroom dark

Your body works on a circadian rhythm, a 24-hour cycle of sleeping and waking that responds to external cues. One of the biggest cues is light. When it is dark, it is your body’s signal to sleep. Here are a few ways to create a dark and safe sleep environment.

Lower-priced gifts:

Sleep mask: If you and your spouse don’t both want a pitch-black room, or one person goes to bed earlier and doesn’t want their sleep interrupted, consider a sleep mask. They not only provide darkness, but also the comfort of silk. While cheap options are readily available for about $10, there are also fancier options costing as much as $50.

Eclipse curtains: If you sleep alone, or your spouse also wants a dark room, consider eclipse curtains. Like their namesake astronomical events that causes the earth to get to various stages of darkness, eclipse curtains come in different varieties ranging from light filtering to absolute zero light coming in. At this time of year, the curtains cost about $20 for a set of two panels.

More expensive:

Underbed motion light: A dark room is good for sleeping, but not always for safety. If you are worried about going to the bathroom in a middle of the night, consider a motion sensor bed light that turns on when someone gets out of bed and lights the way without disturbing the other person in the room. Cost: About $35.

Tip #3: Keep the bedroom quiet

It is ideal to sleep in a quiet place, but quiet can be hard to find. Sleep apnea is a common disease among adults. Symptoms include loud snoring. Many people also live in cities, where nighttime noise is a constant. Here are some potential solutions.

Lower-priced gifts:

Earplugs: The cheapest earplugs come in packs of 20 or more and are little more than foam, but when they fit, they can muffle a lot of noise. Cost: As little as $15 for 60 pairs.

Bluetooth sleep mask: This mask combines a dark room with a personalized white noise experience. Cost: $20

More expensive:

White noise machine: This machine plays ocean, fan and other soothing sounds on a timer, masking outside sound and making it easier to fall asleep, and stay asleep. Cost: $45

Noise cancelling earbuds: Just as some people prefer to sleep in total darkness, others require total silence. These earbuds are the answer. Cost: $225.

Tip #4: Keep the bedroom the right temperature

Humans are warm blooded, but that doesn’t mean we want to be too warm. In fact, when we sleep, it is better to be cooler. How cool is a personal preference, which can make nighttime room temperature a challenge for couples. Here are two gifts that could help.

More expensive:

Heated mattress pad: This cushioning mattress pad has two zones, one for each couple, and 10 different heat settings. Cost: $100- $180 depending on size.

Smart bed: If you and are your spouse are struggling to find a mattress that has both of you sleeping well, consider a smart bed. This mattress tracks your sleep cycles, heart rate and respiratory rate, has adjustable heat settings, and wakes you in the optimal period in your sleep cycle. It might be a little too 1984 for some, but for others, it might be just what the doctor ordered. 

Everyone has a different nighttime routine to help them fall asleep and most of those routines involve some or all of the tips above. Think about where your friends and family live and the challenges they face with falling asleep. If none of the above gifts seem appropriate, consider a custom pillow that Pluto will craft based on a questionnaire. Or, for the children on your list, the constellation night light, which projects the night sky on their ceiling. The gift of sleep is appreciated by people of all ages.