Invest in Your Sleep: Budget Sleep Accessories that Pay Off
15th March 2023
Health is wealth, and given that getting enough sleep is linked to improved immune functioning, memory, and heart health (to name just three), investing in your sleep routine seems like it could be one of the best moves you could make.
There’s countless sleep products on the market, designed to help you sleep better, and that's great until you realise how astronomically expensive they can be. Sound familiar? Fortunately, there’s also some seriously effective budget sleep products available too - products that are still just as helpful in promoting a better night's sleep but come without the huge price tag.
To coincide with Sleep Awareness Week, we've compiled a list of some of our favourite product types to help you fall asleep faster, encourage deeper sleep, and to improve overall sleep quality.
How Can We Measure Sleep Quality?
Unlike measuring sleep quantity, which is relatively simple and relies purely on asking how much sleep you got, recording sleep quality is a little more complex. Generally speaking, though, you can gauge your quality of sleep by asking yourself some of the following questions (or using a dedicated app):
- How rested/energised do you feel when you wake in the morning?
- How quickly do you fall asleep when you go to bed? Is it within 30 minutes?
- Do you sleep through the entire night? Or wake up (more than once)?
- If you do happen to wake up, how long does it take to drift back off?
You can probably already tell just from looking at these questions that the quality of sleep is much more nuanced than sleep quantity, so we're going to look at product types that help just as much with the quality aspect as the quantity.
After all, provided your sleep quality is at a good level, improving your sleep quantity is as simple as going to bed earlier at night or setting your alarm to go off later in the morning.
1. Weighted Blankets
Weighted blankets have soared in popularity in recent years, and it's not hard to see why. The premise of these items is as basic as the name suggests - it's a blanket that has some added weight to it. Why do they help sleep? Using a weighted blanket (which can weigh up to 30 lbs) is thought to stimulate the production of the hormone melatonin.
Melatonin is linked to our body's sleep-wake cycle, therefore increased production of the chemical (with the help of a weighted blanket) could lead to sleep being achieved more quickly, with the likelihood of poor sleep and waking up during the night also lessened. Weighted blankets are also said to help with anxiety and other mental health conditions.
Budget price range: £ 20-80
2. Memory Foam Pillow
When memory foam was first invented back in 1966, it was actually done so by NASA researchers, so you know they must have been on to something.
The purpose was to improve the quality of cushioning (and therefore safety) in aircraft cushions. Today, however, memory foam is a material perhaps best known for its use in pillows and mattresses. And whilst this particular type of pillow used to be seriously expensive, there are now plenty of budget options available on the market, too.
How do they help with getting a good night's sleep? These pillows, with their slow spring back foam (the original, less-catchy name for the material), can help your posture as you sleep. Poor sleeping positions can cause tension and stiffness in various parts of your body, including your back and shoulders, and lead to a lower quality of sleep.
Mitigating this poor posture with the use of one of these pillows, therefore, can help with pain reduction in your muscles, as well as helping with improved sleep.
Not for Everyone
It's worth noting that memory foam pillows aren't for everybody. To some people, they can feel too rigid, whilst they can also be less comfortable for people who primarily sleep on their stomachs.
Budget price range: £10-30
3. White Noise Machines
The use of a noise-producing machine might seem counterintuitive when it comes to getting better sleep, but the use of a white noise machine can block out sleep disturbances coming in the form of other background noise - the neighbour's barking dog, the sound of cars passing by outside, or planes flying overhead.
Studies have shown that this environmental noise can have a negative impact on our sleep, both objectively and subjectively. These white noise products help drown said environmental noise out. Conversely, people's quality of sleep has been shown by studies to be improved when white noise has been used, staying asleep uninterrupted, particularly by blocking out high levels of environmental noise.
Work the Night Shift?
These machines can be particularly helpful for those people who work night shifts, and therefore get their sleep at irregular hours during the day. At night, while there might be a degree of environmental noise - and certainly enough to trouble a naturally light sleeper - that's nothing compared with the amount of environmental noise the daytime brings with it.
Budget price range: £20-40
4. Sunrise Alarm Clock
Now, we know what you're thinking. You're here to look for products that help you get the best sleep possible, and we're offering up items that wake you up. But trust us on this one, because there's a logic behind it. Sunrise alarm clocks are thought to help with your body's circadian rhythms: our own 24-hour cycles that our bodies and their various systems go through each day.
By establishing a regular and consistent circadian rhythm, you can in turn help your quality of sleep, and make it easier for yourself to fall asleep in the first place. We're creatures of habit, and nothing typifies that more than our bodies' insatiable appetite for regularity.
By simulating sunsets and, particularly, sunrises, these alarm clocks gradually wake you up with the introduction of light, and finally when the light is at its brightest, with sound.
There are also links between light therapy and your mental health in day-to-day life.
Think About Jet Lag
If you want evidence that our circadian rhythms have an important part to play in our sleep habits, just consider jet lag. You've gone to a different time zone but your body's natural rhythms didn't get the memo. The result? Insomnia.
Budget price range: £20-50
5. Sleep Masks
their other contributions to your relationship. If your partner is covering more of the bills, be mindful of how you appreciate and support them without beating yourself up about it.
The Bottom Line
One of the ultimate budget sleep tools is the humble sleep mask. If a restless night is second nature to you at this point, and you'd really, really like some more sleep, then why not chuck on one of these fabric items as part of your nightly routine? Will it help you fall asleep? Quite possibly. By wearing an eye mask, you place yourself into extreme darkness and block out any artificial light.
By doing this, you can encourage deep sleep as, according to Healthline, "intrusive light can result in shallower periods of sleep". Similarly to the sunrise alarm clock, these masks can help the biological clock within our body to keep running 'on time'. Artificial light can disrupt that clock, and therefore our sleep, so anything that better blocks that light out can have a beneficial impact.
Budget Price Range: £2-20
6. Sleep & Meditation Apps
There are countless sleep and meditation apps available to download to your phone. While it's usually good advice to leave your phone in another room before sleeping, some apps could be promoting sleep quality and help calm a racing mind.
Simply stick on some comfortable sleep headphones and queue up a mindfulness meditation to drift off, or, alternatively, you can find all kinds of relaxing sleep stories to unwind with.
Final Thoughts on Achieving Restful Sleep
Falling asleep can be difficult, no matter how many sheep you count. But with the help of even one of the products we've listed above, you can hopefully reduce that difficulty falling asleep, so that you sleep all night long. All that's left for us to say? Sweet dreams!