healing foundations

Stress Management

Sleep Aids

Stephanie Papadakis, WellTheory Health Coach

When Would I Need a Sleep Aid?

At times, we need some extra assistance with getting a good night’s sleep. Often, some simple tweaks to our environment is all that is needed. Or, if you travel, traveling with sleep aids so that you can be prepared for electronic lights in the room, outside lights from the parking lot, or noisy hotels can give you that great sleep you need while traveling.

Types of Sleep Aids

  1. Sleep masks can be useful if you’re unable to block light coming into your bedroom especially while traveling. Manta sleep masks are a good brand to try. Things to keep in mind: if you have dry eyes, you may not want a sleep mask resting on your eyes or consider the material used.
  2. Ear plugs can be useful if a sleeping partner snores or there is outside noise. There are silicone ear plugs that mold to the inside of the ear as well as earbuds that play soothing sounds for sleep. Check out this 2022 review to find a type that works for you. If you feel responsible for others in your household either for safety or caring for an infant, having noises muffled may make you uncomfortable or vulnerable, however.
  3. White noise machines can be useful if sounds disturb your sleep. It’s the sudden change in noise that wakes us up, so having a constant noise can prevent being disturbed by noises such as a dog barking or others in the household. There are machines that you can use to select the sound that works best for you. There are also apps that you can use on a digital device that can play the sound of your choosing. Experiment with specific sonic hues. Some people are disturbed by white noise but find brown noise more soothing. You can read about different noise colors at soundofsleep.com.
  4. Black out curtains are designed to not let excess light through your windows. To prevent the most “light leakage,” use non-damaging adhesive velcro to stick on the edges of the window or window sill.
  5. Temperature control mattress covers come in various forms. Check out this review. This might be a more economical alternative if you can't adjust the temperature of your bedroom separately from the rest of the home.
  6. Motion sensor strip lighting can be useful if you wake during the night to use the restroom. The strips will light the floor but not emit enough light to prevent you from falling back to sleep.
  7. Essential oils can be useful for many for sleep. Scents can be powerful triggers. This guide from the Sleep Association has helpful information about using essential oils.

Supplements to Support Sleep

Supplements can be helpful with sleep as a short term aid to reset your circadian rhythm. As with any supplement, be sure to check with your doctor for any contraindications with other medications you may be taking or any conditions that you may have. The following recommendations are team favorites, but are not a good fit for everyone. You can view our favorites in our online dispensary; or join WellTheory to speak with your own care team about what is best for you. We are happy to consider your unique needs and make recommendations.

  1. Magnesium is a mineral that many if not most people are deficient in due to loss of magnesium from our soil and therefore from our food supply. Magnesium is important for hormone regulation as it helps us to feel calm enough to sleep. It’s also critical for the conversion of vitamin D to its active form as well as being critical to over 300 enzymatic processes in the body. If you have issues with muscle cramps, a nice Epsom salt (magnesium sulfate) bath or foot soak at night can help relax tight muscles as well as give needed magnesium for sleep. Otherwise, there are many supplements available. Please speak with your health care practitioner about the proper formulation for you. Do avoid magnesium oxide as it’s poorly absorbed unless you need it to resolve constipation. A great form of magnesium is magnesium glycinate/bisglycinate (overall health) as well as mixtures of magnesium glycinate, threonate, and malate.
  2. Melatonin is a hormone and one of the few, if not only, hormones that you can buy over the counter. Speak with your health care practitioner before modifying your supplement routine. General guidelines are to start with the smallest dose. It can be difficult to find 0.5 milligram (mg) tablets but some stores such as Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods have a kid version of 0.3 mg. Take it 1 hour before bedtime and if there is no effect, try 1 mg. For most people, 1 mg is all that is needed if you only need help resetting your circadian clock.
  3. Herbal teas can be a wonderful way to promote sleep. Having a warm cup of tea can be a welcoming evening ritual to signal it’s time for bed. Sleep-promoting herbal teas are chamomile, valerian root, and passion flower. For a review on herbal teas for sleep, please see this article at the Sleep Foundation. One brand of herbal tea that we highly recommend is Traditional Medicinals.

As you can tell, there are numerous sleep aids available to you. It may seem overwhelming to decide what you need to try in order to get more efficient sleep. That’s where your health care practitioner comes in. At WellTheory, our Care Team can troubleshoot with you to help determine your next steps. Not a current member? Join here to get your individualized support!

Take Action!

If you’ve made your sleep environment as conducive to sleep as possible, worked on your morning and your evening routine, and you’re not seeing improvements in your sleep quality just yet, then give one of these sleep aids a try.

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