Oh, sleep. As if it wasn’t elusive enough, the whole pandemic situation has certainly put a fresh spin on insomnia for many of us. I’ve been tossing and turning, unable to drift off as the COVID-19 news of the day marinates in my subconscious. Then when I finally do nod off, I go into a post-apocalyptic dreamland – some feel vaguely dire, like the dream where I can’t keep six feet away from others. Others are far more sinister, like the one where I attempted to apply for state benefits and was led through an infected cruise ship and a dark, black sea where mysterious things bumped against me, all in an effort to fill out an application. (I know I’m not alone—in fact, NPR recently featured a site called “i dream of covid” that records people’s subconscious chaos.)
With no definitive end in sight, what are we going to do? Sleep is essential for our mental health and to give our immune system its best chance to fight off the virus, should we actually be exposed to it. If sleep is a perpetual struggle for you too, then check out these two products that just might be your sleep savior:
Dodow is a light metronome designed to sync with your breath — a blue beam of light shines onto your ceiling and steadily expands and contracts during an eight or 20 minute mode. The light is a perfect visual guide for anyone who struggles with timing or focus when doing breathwork; my mind is a busy little monkey and it takes a lot of redirecting to keep on track, and Dodow gives it something to zero in on.
This sleek little device is about the circumference of a wine glass (one beverage that will NOT help you sleep better, contrary to repeated efforts). It’s designed to guide breathwork that hacks our autonomic nervous system (that’s the bugger triggering noradrenaline and giving our brain the jitters) and encourage the baroreflex — the physiological mechanism that makes it possible to chill out (those deep belly breaths help trigger that one). So basically, taming anxiety and inducing relaxation and eventually sleep.
While it’s not a magic bullet, I really appreciate having a tangible thing to focus on in the dark while my mind is churning — and one that won’t disturb my partner, thanks to its silence and the adjustable brightness. I love that it takes up so little space on my nightstand, is totally wireless (comes with three triple A batteries), and is intuitive and buttonless. Simply touch to turn it on, hold to turn it off, or allow it to run its cycle and shut itself off.
Hopefully you’ll already be sleeping. If not, you have 100 days to try it and they’ll refund you if it’s a thumbs down.
Dodow, $59.90 at www.mydodow.com
HATCH BABY REST
My current roommate is a five month old, and we both wouldn’t make it through the night (or daytime naps) without the Hatch Baby Rest. This is another product that will impress you out of the box for its sleek, modern style and intuitive design — a touch of the silver ring on top turns it on (right to your last light, sound, and volume setting, too) and buttons on the bottom give you full control over a library of lovely hues and relaxing sounds chosen by sleep experts. As a die-hard white noise person, my go-to has always been a huge, loud floor fan, but that got the boot as soon as it posed a danger to little fingers in the house. I’ve been through a number of sound machines (the Dohm is lovely but too quiet, another has discernible loops and a god-awful glitch that could raise the dead) and have never heard an electronic sound that’s so realistic, whether it’s the birds chirping, the brook babbling, or the dryer thumping (yup, there’s a dryer setting). We use it every night and with the adjustable volume, it certainly drowns out background noises and even some disturbing thoughts, if you turn it up enough. Choose the color light you like the most (I go with red overnight, but there’s pink, yellow, blue and more) and adjust the brightness to soft glow or full blaze. Other features I haven’t even taken advantage of yet: you can program and adjust with your phone and also set a time-to-rise.
The Hatch Baby Rest consistently pulls in five star ratings (80% of Amazon reviewers gave it five stars, another 9% gave it four… and the rest are just persnickety). Bonus: You can buy pretty coverlets that slip on top to match a nursery or bedroom.
Hatch Baby Rest, $59.99 at www.hatch.co.
I promised a third thing to help you fall asleep, so here’s what I do when all else fails: Frasier reruns. Don’t ask, but it works. ‘Night!