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How to get a better night's sleep starting tonight

We've sourced the most effective sleep aides (like cool pillows, chamomile tea and earplugs) and some newer innovations (like a Vancouver-made lavender drink and a biohacking ring) to get ready for bed.
Mike Hill Getty Images
Fall asleep faster (and stay asleep longer) with the right bedtime routine.

We know what we are supposed to do: shut off screens an hour before bedtime, avoid caffeine later in the day, sleep in a cool, dark room, and try calm things to wind down, like deep breathing exercises, reading, and staring at the ceiling worrying about climate change. (OK wait, not that last one.)

To help ease the body and mind into optimal resting conditions, we’ve researched some new health tech and sourced comfy cool pillows, blackout shades, aromatherapy room sprays, eye masks, and earplugs that make sleeping beside a snorer a little more tolerable.

PUT A RING ON IT

Oura ring.

If the Oura ring sounds familiar, it may be because you’ve seen it on Kim Kardashian's or Gwyneth Paltrow’s Instagram stories, where the two post their sleep results in a battle of the well-rested celebrities. Available in Canada at Indigo, the ring looks sleek on the outside; on the inside, it's outfitted with cutting-edge tech that uses body data to formulate three scores: sleep (measures things like REM and restlessness), activity (i.e., inactivity, training frequency) and readiness score (based on things like your previous night’s sleep quality and resting heart rate). A good night’s rest is crucial to overall health and can be affected by things like stress — we know Canadians aren’t getting enough sleep (unlike Kim Kardashian, who logs a solid nine hours a night).

Who it's ideal for: Anyone who wants to biohack their dreams.

Why we're endorsing it: Ingenuity, design, tech.

Where it could use improvements: It’s pricey; Indigo currently doesn’t have the gold version.

Size/weight/dimensions: 6-13 (ring size).

ALL PILLOW, NO FIGHT

We could talk (and talk and talk) about pillows, but for this specific need, we’ve focused on cool pillows. 

Therapeutic pillow.

For those who run hot at night, a cool gel pillow is cold comfort. There are several great ones on the market, like this Therapedic Cooling Gel & Memory Foam pillow (pictured above, from Bed Bath & Beyond), with a soft knit cover, and the smooth Gel Cool pillow from Sleep Country that’s suitable for all sleepers (back, side, front) and has a machine-washable cover.  

Blu Sleep pillow

The highly rated Blu Sleep pillow is made in Italy and Canada and has ventilation holes and a water-based gel construction, with 3,000 times more breathability than other memory foam pillows. It’s available at Sleep Country and on Amazon.

For a more customized sleep experience (and a great dupe for the My Pillow), the GhostPillow is stuffed with shredded memory foam and microfibre (which can be adjusted to firmness preference by adding more or taking some out). It moulds to the body but doesn’t lose its shape and has an icy cool cover. Available in a two-pack at GhostBed.

HERBAL NIGHTCAPS

Blume lavender drink.

Vancouver-based wellness company Blume’s Blue Lavender Blend is made with coconut milk and spirulina. Mix the powder with water, then add hot or cold milk (or almond oat milk) and a sweetener (like maple syrup) to taste. The all-natural blend purports to help with digestion, inflammation and relaxation.

Night night tea.

Chamomile tea is a standard recommendation in sleep advice. This “night night” variety set from David’s Tea has blends specifically made for unwinding, like Serenity Now, Calming Chamomile, Tulsi Tranquility, Mother’s Little Helper and Valerian Nights.

Celestial Seasonings Tea.

Celestial Sleepytime Tea is so effective it put those bears into hibernation. (Walmart has a low price for a box of 40.)

LIGHTS OUT

Cellular blackout blinds.

These blackout cellular shades are highly customizable and get rave reviews for quality and effectiveness, keeping rooms dark and insulating windows (cool in the summer, warm in the winter). There are lots of fabrics to choose from (and samples can be ordered to ensure it fits a room). Options like cordless (safer for pets and kids) and motorization (great for spots that are out of reach) are available for a fee. Available at blinds.ca.

Who it's ideal for: Anyone whose blinds or curtains aren’t cutting it.  

Why we're endorsing it: Customizable, Canadian company, variety of colour options.

Where it could use improvements: Different options have different pricing.

Size/weight/dimensions: Depends on selection.

Roman blackout shades.

Cellular shades are by far the most popular kind of blackout shades, but there are a few other options, like this Roman shade from Lowe’s (one size available online), these cordless Roman shades (pictured) from Amazon (available in four colours), and this portable option that is hung and adjusted with suction cups.

SLEEP SPRAY, EARPLUGS AND EYE MASKS

Silk sleep mask.

If hanging shades is not an option, these sleep masks help block out distracting light. This silk weave mask from Simons (pictured) has an elastic headband, and this double pack of lightweight masks from Amazon is economical. For those who prefer a fabric with more cushion, this one is cotton-terry fabric (available at Indigo).  

Macks Sound Asleep earplugs.

If a snoring partner is causing you to lose sleep, earplugs could be a relationship and sanity saver. For sleep-specific earplugs, Mack’s Sound Asleep earplugs (pictured) are designed from soft foam, ideal for wearing for a long period of time. These PharmaSystems U Hear soft foam earplugs are effective and come in a bulk pack (noise reduction is 33 decibels). 

Deep Sleep Pillow Spray.

Lavender is the go-to essential oil for rest and relaxation and a few spritzes before lights out is a calming addition to any nighttime routine. There are soothing options from Saje, a Deep Sleep Pillow Spray from Sephora (pictured) and a fresh Lemon Lavender option from Plant Therapy.