I was a textbook insomniac when I was younger. I’ll never forget tossing and turning for hours on end, staring at my haphazardly painted lavender wall, thoughts racing, praying for the blissful comfort of a deep sleep. My parents tried everything—warm milk (only somewhat effective), singing me to sleep (which stopped being an option once I became a teenager and it was a bit weird for my mom to sing traditional Chinese songs to me in bed each night), and finally, out of frustration, yelling at me to go back in my room and just “close my eyes” (heads up: not effective). Thankfully, as I grew older and subsequently more tired, my insomniac tendencies faded away in a haze of late nights and never-ending commitments. Finally, sleep became an escape, a respite—something I looked forward to and could actually achieve every night when I finally crashed into bed with exhaustion.
In recent months, however, my sleepless tendencies crept back. Maybe it’s from stress; maybe it’s just a normal part of the adult experience (“how to fall asleep” does get thousands of searches on Google a month). Either way, I found myself staring at my now-white walls once again, praying for sleep and growing more stressed with every passing moment that it eludes me. I tried breathing exercises, but they didn’t work for me. I always felt slightly like I was drowning. I counted sheep. I listened to soothing music. I prayed. Nothing worked. When I did sleep, I often found myself waking up throughout the night, overheated and disoriented. Then I'd looked at my room, with clothes haphazardly strewn around, some on my bed, and realize that the place where I spent 50% of my life was the opposite of zen and peaceful. I also happened to start getting a ton of pitches about new products—from pajamas to comforters—that promised to help me sleep blissfully. I made it my mission to make my bedroom the most comfortable sleeping environment possible, and sure enough, it worked. Ahead, find the unexpected sleep products that worked for me, plus some picks from my fellow editors.