Last-Minute Gifts for the Sleepless

Oops! Here it is just a few days before Christmas and Hanukkah and I’ve forgotten to write my annual gifts-for-the-sleepless blog.

Well I’ll just post this gift blog now and include items available from online sellers promising 2- and 3-day shipping. (Apologies to readers expecting a post about an insomnia treatment that increases sleep efficiency! I’ll publish that one next week.)

An essential oils diffuser may make a good gift for a person with insomnia
Photo courtesy of Your Best Digs

Oops! Here it is just a few days before Christmas and Hanukkah and I’ve forgotten to write my annual gifts-for-the-sleepless blog.

I’ll just post this gift blog now and include items available from online sellers promising 2- and 3-day shipping. (Apologies to readers expecting a post about an insomnia treatment that increases sleep efficiency! I’ll publish that one next week.)

Essential Oil Diffuser

The National Sleep Foundation says there’s evidence that certain scents are relaxing and may be conducive to sleep: lavender, jasmine, vanilla, rose, and “any scent you love.” Essential oils—natural oils that smell like the plant or other source from which they come—are popular now and, for those who like essential oils, a diffuser is a must. Some diffusers contain an atomizer that produces fine, airborne particles of oil and blows them into the air. Others blend the oil with water and release a cool mist. Diffusers are attractive and reasonably priced, and they make good gifts. Available at Amazon and many big box stores.

Satin-Lined Cap

It doesn’t have to be long and pointy, and it doesn’t have to look like the mop cap worn by Betsy Ross. These days satin-lined beanies are being sold as fashion accessories that can double as nightwear to protect fancy hairdos as well as warm the head on chilly nights. Check out these stylish options and these cute caps: an affordable gift sure to provide your loved one with comfort at night.

Wake-Up Light

In last year’s post I suggested night owls might find it easier to get up if they used a wake-up light. My night owl nephew tried one and was surprised to discover how much easier it was to get out of bed. But his light—made by Philips—begins to brighten 30 minutes before the alarm rings. A light that began to brighten 60 minutes before wake-up time would be even more helpful, he said. A 30- or 40-minute brightening cycle may be fine for the night owl in your life. But late, late night people may do better with the Lumie Bodyclock, which has a longer, more flexible light cycle.

Cashmere Socks

Wearing soft, warm socks to bed may be just the ticket for an insomniac who has trouble falling asleep, especially if during the colder months that person has cold feet. Icy extremities are never sleep friendly. And research shows that warming the feet can sometimes help people fall asleep. It dilates the blood vessels, helping lower core body temperature and hastening sleep. Some wool socks are scratchy, but not cashmere, which is warm and soft. Many choices for men and women online.

No-Drawstring Pajamas

Whoever had the idea of creating pajamas with a drawstring at the waist? Certainly not someone whose sleep is disrupted by bathroom calls at night! Especially if your mate or sweetheart makes several trips to the bathroom, do him or her the favor of getting pajamas with an elasticized waist. Warning’s fair: you may have to hunt a while for this gift and purchase tops and bottoms separately (drawstring pajamas are “in” and elasticized bottoms, apparently “out”). Yet for the persistent shopper they are available from Amazon and other online sellers.

Humidifier

I know: a humidifier is a pretty pedestrian holiday gift! Yet it can be oh so useful for the sleep-challenged in the wintertime. When it’s cold outside, we endure months of forced-air heating and the coughing that results, keeping us awake or waking us up. It actually took me years to realize that humidifiers weren’t only for use when someone was sick. Now we use ours nightly and our nights are quieter—and our sleep, more peaceful—as a result. Available online as well as at all the big box stores and very reasonably priced.

The Savvy Insomniac

Last but not least: Give your friend or family member this A-to-Z guide to improving sleep and stamina. There’s no more comprehensive book about insomnia on the market today. Print and Kindle versions available from Amazon. Epub format available through other online booksellers, including Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and iBookstore.

Can’t find the right gift here? Check out last year’s holiday gift blog or the ones from 2013 and 2014.

More Gifts for the Sleepless

Looking for a gift for a problem sleeper (or are you browsing for sleep-friendly products yourself)? Last year’s holiday gift blog was so popular that I decided to post a similar blog this year.

Most of these items are fairly inexpensive and all can be purchased online. They may be helpful for people with insomnia and other sleep problems. If nothing else they’ll make for comfier nights.

Blue light-blocking glasses can be helpful for people with insomniaLooking for a gift for a problem sleeper (or are you browsing for sleep-friendly products yourself)? Last year’s holiday gift blog was so popular that I decided to post a similar blog this year.

Most of these items are fairly inexpensive and all can be purchased online. They may be helpful for people with insomnia and other sleep problems. If nothing else they’ll make for comfier nights.

Blue Light-Blocking Glasses: Evening use of computers and smartphones can suppress secretion of melatonin and make it harder to fall asleep. Blue-light blocking glasses keep this from happening. Night owls and people who use screens at night should use blue blockers in the evening. Night-shift workers should wear them when they leave work in the morning. Blublocker sells glasses for use outdoors for $49.95. Lenses suitable for both in- and outdoor use are available at LowBlueLights for $70 to $80.

Red Night-Lights: People who are sensitive to light and prone to insomnia should avoid light at night. But darkening the house completely is not always practical. The solution lies in using red lighting, which research shows is unlikely to have any effect on melatonin secretion or sleep. Brownsmark sells three red night-lights, made by Ibis & Orchid Design, for $19.99 apiece. Together with small red bulbs sold at hardware stores, the night-lights make pretty gifts.

Herbal Teas: The jury is still out on the question of how well herbal remedies work for insomnia. But teas containing kava, valerian and passionflower are believed to have anxiety-reducing, sleep-promoting properties. And simply drinking a warm beverage at night is a calming ritual. Yogi sells a “Rest & Relax Variety 6-Pack” for $28.14. For tea-drinking insomniacs, this is as good as it gets.

Calming Essential Oils: Last year’s blog featured lavender oil, found in some studies to relieve anxiety and help with sleep. Lavender is also found in some essential oil blends. DoTERRA’s Serenity contains a mix of lavender, Roman chamomile, ylang ylang, and other oils said to alleviate stress. Its subtle herbaceous smell makes for wonderfully fragrant nights. A 15 ml bottle sells for $40.

Warm Slipper Socks: Feeling too cold at night is never conducive to sleep, but sleep is most likely to occur when your core body temperature is falling. Warming the extremities hastens this process, dilating blood vessels, allowing for the swift release of body heat and in turn promoting slumber. So warm footwear is a must on winter nights. At $49.95 a pair, L.L.Bean’s fleece-lined knit slipper socks are the best I’ve found.

Travel Pillows: Sleeping on planes can be nearly impossible for the sleep challenged, but the right travel pillow can reduce the discomfort of sleeping in a seat. SkyMall offers a wide selection of inflatable pillows suitable for most sleeping positions: reclining backward, leaning to the side or slumping forward over a meal tray. The pillows sell for $20 to $40.

Sleep Tracking Devices: I’ll leave it to Joanna Stern of The Wall Street Journal to review the latest sleep monitors. Keep in mind that these gadgets were designed and work best for normal sleepers. They may not be able to deliver all they promise for people with insomnia. They start at $99.

The Savvy Insomniac: Give your loved one this A-to-Z guide to improving sleep and stamina. No other book about chronic insomnia presents as many solutions and explanations of why and when they’re likely to help. No other provides such insight into a disorder still widely misunderstood. The Savvy Insomniac now sells for $10.36 with free shipping in the US. There’s no better way to fight insomnia than this.

Still looking for the perfect gift? Take a look at last year’s holiday gift blog.

 

Gifts for the Insomniac in Your Life (Maybe It’s You)

I’m leery of many products marketed to people with insomnia.

But there are a few sleep-related products I’ve found to be helpful—or that research suggests hold promise. They’re inexpensive and would make nice holiday gifts for friends or loved ones who have trouble with sleep.

lavender essential oil might be a good gift for someone with insomniaI’m leery of many products marketed to people with insomnia.

A better mattress? Well, duh. If I’m waking up to early-morning backaches, I know it’s time for a visit to Mattress World. (No, it doesn’t have to be a top-of-the-line Tempur-Pedic.)

Sleep tracking devices like Fitbit and Jawbone Up? Think twice. They may acquaint you with sleep and activity patterns, but the sleep-coaching component is not going to offer any more than advice on sleep hygiene or insomnia therapies like CBT.

But there are a few sleep-related products I’ve found to be helpful—or that research suggests hold promise. They’re inexpensive and would make nice holiday gifts for friends or loved ones who have trouble with sleep.

Lavender essential oil: It seems there’s more to aromatherapy these days than wishful thinking. Scientific research is showing that some essential oils have curative properties, and lavender is one. Nurses in Taiwan, for example, reported much lower levels of stress when exposed to the scent of lavender at hospitals where they worked. Essential oils are concentrated. So if you find that lavender works, a single drop on the pillow at night will produce a calming effect. DoTERRA sells a 15 ml bottle for $28. (It’s pretty, too!)

Wicking sleepwear: Night sweats can cause frequent wake-ups, but awakenings can be reduced with pajamas designed to absorb moisture and transfer it to the outer surface of the fabric. Several microfiber fabrics now have the comfort and feel of cotton and were developed to keep wearers cooler and drier. Cool-jams, for example, offers a line of washable, wicking pajama sets. Most sell for under $70.

Foot Warmer: This fleecy, portable pocket measures about 2 by 3 feet. Plug it in, position it on the floor or a bed, place feet inside, and heat it up. The foot warmer is an especially good idea for those who struggle to get to sleep at the beginning of the night. Dilating blood vessels in the feet–which occurs during heating–allows for the swift release of body heat and a lowering of core body temperature, in turn promoting sleep. Frontgate and Brookstone sell foot warmers for about $50.

Backlit alarm clock that’s invisible at night: If she’s counting sheep, she’s probably also a clock-watcher, prone to stealing glances at the clock on her bedside table and counting the hours until she has to get up. A backlit alarm clock that’s invisible at night solves the problem. At night, it displays the time only if pressed on top; otherwise, the clock face is black. Removing time cues cuts down on anxiety and in turn may hasten sleep. Casa and Brookstone sell them for under $26.

SleepPhones: This one-of-a-kind item is a cut above other products designed to deliver music or white noise into the ears of the sleepless and lull them to sleep. Ear buds can be uncomfortable at night, but these wafer-thin speakers encased in a soft fleece headband are virtually undetectable. Via thin cables, the speakers plug into a CD player, MP3 player, or an iPod. SleepPhones cost $39.95. The wireless variety costs $99.95.

Haven’t found the gift you’re looking for? Try these ideas.