Sleep is one of those things we all chase after but can’t seem to ever fully catch and keep. It’s hard, what with there being so many distractions, temptations, and just not enough hours in the day and all. That's why getting eight hours of shut eye is a permanent fixture on most people’s short-term to-do list.
In response, beauty brands have come out with products that are meant to help you count sheep. Lush revived its “Sleepy” body lotion this summer, a purple-colored product that claims to help you “instantly feel at ease.” Murad launched an oral spray that helps to “regulate your body’s circadian rhythm, promoting deep, restful sleep.” There are also HUM’s beauty supplements that “promote a restful beauty sleep.” They all have similar claims, but the question is: Do they work?
They definitely help, cosmetic chemist Ni’Kita Wilson tells us. One of the main ingredients in Lush’s “Sleepy” product is lavender, which has been proven to help people relax. Same goes for oils like chamomile and neroli. “We don't know why these work, so there is still more discovery to be done, but science is pointing to aromatherapy being effective in getting a better night's sleep,” she says. We have a bit of an unhealthy (or healthy, depending) obsession with lavender, so here are some other products you can incorporate into your routine to help you make your way to a better slumber.
Melatonin, which is present in both the Murad spray and the HUM beauty supplements, is also beneficial. “Melatonin is an important ingredient if people are having trouble falling asleep and having trouble maintaining sleep,” NYC sleep expert Dr. Martha Cortes tells us. “Melatonin is a hormone and what it does is it causes the homeostasis to stay more asleep.” Wilson adds, though, that studies have shown that the ingredient helps to improve the sleep of insomniacs but doesn’t have an effect on normal sleepers. So, serious non-sleepers only!
Another ingredient Dr. Cortes likes is Vitamin B (which HUM has also), which is “good for soothing and calming people,” she explains. She’s also a fan of magnesium, which can be found in Epsom salts (that you can mix with, say, a lavender foaming bath product for some serious R&R). “Very often, in our society, part of the problem of the sleeping issue is that they're not relaxed, they're stressed out,” Dr. Cortes says. “So, magnesium is a deficiency that can occur… I usually have people take Epsom baths because the magnesium is absorbed through the skin and it will relax the muscles.” You can also spray your muscles with this magnesium oil if baths aren’t your thing.
But no amount of lavender, melatonin, magnesium, or vitamin B will help if you don’t also form a habit around sleeping. It’s all null and void without a comedown routine, Dr. Cortes explains. That means, sticking to a regular sleep schedule. Eating healthy food before going to sleep and not drinking alcohol or caffeine before laying down. Dr. Cortes says: “The whole thing with sleep is you really have to prepare yourself… put all of the blue lights away. Put the television away. It's a ceremony of preparation.”