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10 Best Sleep Products to Ease Your Bedtime Anxiety (Inc. 2 Freebies)

We've all experienced a sleepless night from time to time. As someone who has struggled with insomnia my entire life (even as a baby, according to my understandably perplexed family), I have tried everything to improve my sleep. Melatonin pills? Check. Yoga and meditation? Check. Drinking a big glass of tart cherry juice before bed? Check...and all it did was wake me up to use the bathroom.

When you're unable to sleep well night after night, just the thought of bedtime - the tossing! the turning! - can be enough to propel your cycle of insomnia. It doesn't help that every health article seems to scream about the dangers of not getting enough sleep. I'll spare you the lecture - it's not like we're intentionally getting inadequate sleep. You know practicing good sleep hygiene is beneficial, so you try to keep a consistent sleep schedule and avoid caffeine in the evening. What else can you do?

Here are 10 of the best things to help ease your bedtime anxiety, straight from a chronic insomniac. Some are long-term solutions and some will have you catching more zzz's tonight. As an added bonus, some of these products are offering discounted Cyber Monday deals for today only.

Who am I kidding? My inbox has been flooded with "Cyber Monday" specials since Saturday. Heck, even Amerisleep upped the ante and switched to a Black Friday promo code more than a week before Thanksgiving.

10 Sleep Products to Ease Your Bedtime Anxiety (Inc. 2 Freebies)

The Right Pillow for You

The National Sleep Foundation recommends replacing most pillows every 1-2 years. Chances are you're due for an upgrade. Many factors, including your preferred sleep position, determine which pillow is best for you. Luckily, these days there is a perfect pillow for everyone. You're a stomach sleeper who gets too hot? There's a pillow for that. You sleep on your side and have dust allergies? There's a pillow for that. You can even go the glamorous route with a silk or satin pillowcase, which is said to reduce facial wrinkles. Rumor has it that was the deeply guarded secret of Sleeping Beauty.

I used to rotate through an assortment of pillows nightly. One would feel comfortable initially, but I'd wake up with it suddenly seeming too thick or too thin and swap it for another. Eventually, I gave some consideration into what qualities my perfect pillow would have. It would be firm, skinny, and maintain its shape throughout the night. Ah, but such a dream pillow could not possibly exist and who has the time to start their own pillow company, right? A little Amazon research later, I found the Bluewave Bedding Ultra Slim Gel-Infused Memory Foam Pillow (now there's a mouthful) and have been comfier ever since.

The Right Mattress for You

Price varies, though the right mattress for me is around $1,000 for a Queen.

Do you ever lie in bed wondering if your mattress is keeping you awake, perhaps with a spring that's poking you, an unsupportive spot you always fall into, or by causing you to wake with back and neck pain? If so, it's a source of bedtime anxiety. Mattress technology has advanced exponentially over the last few years. The new bed you buy today may be nothing like the one you purchased last time. My husband and I have found that our perfect mattress is the Amerisleep AS3 and I have written several Amerisleep mattress reviews as a result. We love that it doesn't get hot or transfer motion. That last part is especially important to me, as I'm a light sleeper and he gets up daily at the crazy hour of 5 am. It used to be to go to work, but now he goes in later and just putters around the house. Weirdo.

Come to think of it, you might stick me in that 'weirdo' category too based on my next recommendation. If part of your trouble sleeping is that your partner is always in the way, cramping your style, a larger mattress may solve your problem. But we're already sleeping on a King bed, you think. So were we...but I reeeally like to stretch out at night. (And my husband reeeally likes to not be kicked and smacked at night.) Our nontraditional solution? I placed a King mattress and Twin XL mattress side-by-side, creating what I like to refer to as our Superbed. It's the ideal solution for a family with young children or for a gal who likes her space.

funny amerisleep mattress idea
Behold our Superbed (and our dog, Pica, who isn't actually allowed on the bed) in all its (their) ridiculous glory.

Celestial Seasonings Tension Tamer Tea

Just a few cents per cup

Here's a fun fact: Sleepytime is Celestial Seasonings' #1 selling tea, with more than 2 billion (yes, billion) cups sold. The chamomile tea is so beloved at bedtime that there is even a version of Sleepytime offered specifically for kids. You've probably already tried it. And, like me, perhaps you've already tried it and it did absolutely nothing for your insomnia.

Try Celestial Seasonings Tension Tamer tea instead. Unlike their Sleepytime varieties, Tension Tamer includes an extra special ingredient to help you sleep - catnip. I promise it won't give you the urge to run around the house or bat a ball of yarn. According to WebMD, catnip has a relaxing effect on humans. Benefits include reducing anxiety and improving sleep.

Along the same lines, Emergen-C has created a line of drink mixes specifically for insomniacs. It's cleverly called Emergen-Z. If you're a fan of their vitamin C packets like I am, you might consider giving it a try.

Second Alarm Clock

I never used to worry about whether the alarm on my phone would wake me up for work...until the morning it didn't. The screen said the alarm had been going off since 6:30 am (at what was now 8:07 am - oh no!), but my phone was completely silent. I hadn't adjusted any of the settings; it was just a weird fluke. For several nights afterward, I found myself waking early to double check that I hadn't overslept. Finally, it occurred to me to simply set an additional alarm on my tablet.

Weighted Blanket

Approximately $100

A weighted therapy blanket will ease your sleep-related anxiety, as well as your 'anxiety' anxiety. These have been shown to help promote a deeper, more restful sleep, especially for those who have a sensory processing disorder. The first time I heard of using weighted blankets to improve my sleep was in a yoga class. At the end of each session, we would lie down on our mat with the lights turned off. The instructor placed heavy beanbags on each student's hands and on their chest. Strange, right? I was amazed by how relaxing it felt, as if the weight was pushing me into a deep sleep. This portion of the class only lasted about 10 minutes and I always wished we could have just stayed there, sleeping.

The YnM Cooling Bamboo Blanket is Amazon's best-selling weighted blanket and has more than 1,000 positive reviews. There are different blanket weights to choose from, so a smaller person can, and should, go with a lighter option.

Sleep Aid

Just a few cents per night

Sleeping pills have been vilified. Although I found a solution that worked well for me, the Kirkland Signature Sleep Aid from Costco, I avoided taking it whenever possible. I certainly didn't want to be hooked on sleeping pills. (DRUGS!) I'd toss and turn all night, intentionally shunning the little tablet that had helped me in the past.

That changed at a doctor's appointment a few years ago with what is probably the best sleep advice I've ever received. When asked about medications I was taking, I mentioned the sleep aid but was adamant that I rarely used it. My doctor was surprised. I explained that sleep aids are bad for you. "You know what else is really bad for you?" she asked. "Not sleeping."

If you think you may benefit from a prescription or over-the-counter sleep aid, discuss it with your doctor. Don't let some imagined stigma surrounding sleeping pills affect your health.

Blackout Curtains and/or a Sleep Mask

$7.99 and up

You don't think of an eye mask as having a cult-like following and thousands of reviews, but the Alaska Bear Sleep Mask is here to change that notion. My guess is the price (less than $10) has something to do with its success. Unlike other sleep masks, this one is oversized to block light completely, even if it shifts a little while you doze. It is recommended as 'Amazon's Choice' for sleep masks.

Blackout curtains are another must-have for reducing sleep anxiety. You don't want to be stuck awake all night just because of a lousy sliver of light sneaking into your bedroom. Although you may not think it affects you, studies show the presence of light can disrupt sleep. Why take the risk when the problem has such a simple solution? In our new home, I'm actually taking this concept a step further by painting all of the walls of our bedroom (and the ceiling, as soon as I can convince my husband) an inky blue. It's going to be a dark, cozy cocoon.

Polysomnogram (Sleep Study)

Covered by many health insurance plans, though you may have to meet your deductible first 

If you're waking morning after morning feeling unrested, it's a good idea to see a doctor to rule out any medical condition causing your insomnia, such as sleep apnea. It's painless and records your brain waves, heart rate, blood oxygen level, breathing, and movements. There are so many wires, you'll feel like a Christmas tree! After analyzing every little detail of my night in a lab, my sleep study revealed...nothing. Specifically, the results showed that I don't sleep well (I already knew that) but found no reason for it. So why do I recommend this? For many years, I'd wonder when I couldn't sleep if it could be due to restless leg syndrome, sleep apnea, or a million other problems my brain would obsess over at 2 am. My sleep study allowed me to cross many of my worries off my list.

what happens during a sleep study
This is probably your first time seeing what I look like and this is the photo I choose? Also, why did the sleep lab technician color all over my face??

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

$149 for a 26-week online program

After ruling out a medical cause for my chronic insomnia, my doctor recommended I enroll in a Cognitive Behavioral Therapy program, such as SHUTi. It isn't fun - it seems the goal is to punish my brain for not allowing me to sleep all these years. 10 pm bedtime? No, better make that 1 am. And get up an hour earlier while you're at it. Oh, you can't sleep? Get out of bed, any chance of falling asleep be darned. Frustrations aside, CBT is one of the top-rated treatments for chronic insomnia. Sleep experts swear by it, as study after study shows it is more likely to help than anything else. It tackles sleep anxiety and reprograms your brain. The results can last a lifetime.

White Noise

Free for Amazon Prime members

I'm always baffled when I see that people are still paying for white noise machines. In addition to being an unnecessary expense, they take up valuable real estate on your nightstand. There are dozens of free white noise apps available for Apple and Android. If you are an Amazon Prime member, and it seems like everyone is these days, there are many 5-star white noise programs available at no charge. Scrolling through the reviews of Amazon's Midnight Thunderstorm 9 hours for Sleep, you'll find many insomniacs who swear this specific white noise soundtrack puts them to sleep, and keeps them asleep, nightly. It blocks all the little sounds that would otherwise disturb your rest.

If you have a tip for reducing bedtime anxiety, please let me know about it in the comments section below. I'm always on the lookout for ways to improve my sleep.

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