Health Sleep Awards 2021: 43 Products for the Best Sleep Ever

We’ve never had more products and technology designed to help us sleep better. And it looks like we’ll be needing them, considering that more than half of Americans reported an increase in sleep problems since the start of the pandemic, according to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. But the isolation also served as a reminder to maintain our mental and physical health, which includes getting enough quality slumber. “Other than air and water, nothing is more important to immune function than sleep,” notes Michael J. Breus, PhD, a sleep specialist and clinical psychologist based in Manhattan Beach, California. During deep sleep is when our bodies boost our natural killer cells, which are crucial in fighting disease, he explains. Whether your bedroom could use a sleep-friendly update or your bedtime schedule needs a data-driven reboot, these are the innovative products experts swear by for better shut-eye. 
By Petra Guglielmetti
August 10, 2021
Each product we feature has been independently selected and reviewed by our editorial team. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.

Mattresses

These standout designs are the base on which a great night's rest is built. 

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  • Cooling
    Tempur-LUXEbreeze°

    The Breeze° line is lauded by experts across the board for helping to keep you cool all night long, utilizing layers of ventilated material that help to absorb and dissipate your body's heat. The LUXEbreeze° is the coolest of the bunch.

    $4,999.00
    shop it
    tempurpedic.com
  • Stomach Sleepers
    Beautyrest Hybrid 12.5"

    Reduce strain on your neck and spine with a responsive-yet-supportive mattress like this one, which uses 1,000 pocketed coils to support upper memory-foam layers. Extra reinforcement around the perimeter keeps the sleeping surface level from edge to edge.

    $1,900.00
    shop it
    mattressfirm.com
  • Back Sleepers
    Saatva Classic Mattress

    Sold in three levels of firmness, this innerspring hybrid adds a bonus strip of memory foam across the midsection to gently support the hips and keep your spine in proper alignment.

    $1,374.00
    shop it
    saatva.com
  • Pressure Relief
    Avocado Green Mattress With Adjustable Bed Frame Base

    This 100 percent organic mattress uses five zones of differently configured coils to properly support various parts of the body, and the optional adjustable base offers a "zero-gravity" position that elevates the upper body and legs to reduce pressure points and increase circulation. There's even a tension-relieving massage system in the base.

    $2,100.00
    shop it
    avocadogreenmattress.com
  • Side Sleepers
    Bedgear M3

    This modular mattress has removable support components so you can personalize the feel of each side of the bed and tweak it over time. Plus, its top layer contours to your body to smooth out side-sleeping pressure points, like when your elbow or hip pushes into the mattress.

    $2,400.00
    shop it
    bedgear.com
  • Combo Sleepers
    The Purple Mattress

    The unique breathable-gel grid is more responsive than memory foam, allowing the mattress to maintain balanced support no matter what position you sleep in.

    $1,200.00
    shop it
    purple.com

Audio Devices 

Whether it's silence, guided meditation, or white noise that makes sleep happen for you, these products will give you control over your audio environment. 

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  • Bose Sleepbuds II

    Clinically proven to help you fall asleep faster, Bose Sleepbuds II mask noise and play calming sounds of your choice from the Bose Sleep app for a blissful night's rest.

    $250.00
    shop it
    Amazon
  • Watotgafer Sleep Headphones/Mask

    This inexpensive, soft, washable device does double duty as both sleep headphones and a blackout mask.

    $20.00
    shop it
    Amazon
  • Snooz White Noise Sound Machine

    All the soothing white noise of a fan without any breeze (or an unsightly plastic fan!). This device has a real fan inside to create rich, realistic sound, plus has a built-in timer and nightlight. It looks sleek on your nightstand, too.

    $80.00
    shop it
    Amazon
Do I really need eight hours of sleep? 

"If you're asking how much sleep we need on average, that's a reasonable answer. But does everybody need eight hours of sleep? The answer is most certainly no," says W. Chris Winter, MD, a neurologist and sleep expert based in Charlottesville, Virginia, and Health Advisory Board member. "We create anxiety throwing that number around, because there are plenty of people who need less." If you regularly wake up feeling refreshed after seven hours and maintain that energy throughout the day, you've found the amount of sleep you need. 

Mattress Toppers 

Modern mattress toppers employ technology that's anything but fluff: The right one can regulate your bed's microclimate or add just the support you need to your existing mattress. 

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  • Cooling
    Ooler Sleep System

    A separate control unit pumps water through this mattress pad for cooling or heating to your ideal temp (anywhere between 55 and 115 degrees). There's also a dual-control version, great for couples.

    $800.00
    shop it
    chilisleep.com
  • Cooling
    Molecule AirTec Topper

    This cooling pad offers five times the airflow of a typical memory-foam mattress topper, thanks to fibers designed to conduct heat away from the body.

    $250.00
    shop it
    onmolecule.com
  • Pressure Relief
    Bamboo Talalay Latex Topper

    Natural latex is made from the sap of rubber trees, offering a non-synthetic option for relieving tension and supporting limbs. Choose from three levels of firmness.

    $300.00
    shop it
    mattresstopper.com
  • Serta Calming 3" Gel Memory Foam Mattress Topper

    This soothing foam topper comfortably conforms to the body's curves to help reduce pressure on your joints (it feels cool, too). It's also excellent at absorbing motion, minimizing disruptions if you sleep with a partner.

    $150.00
    shop it
    kohls.com

Sheets

There's more than thread count to consider when choosing sheets. The latest and greatest are woven to actively improve your sleep experience, whether you want your set to help dissipate body heat or envelop you in warmth.

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  • Cozy Earth Sheet Set

    Made from bamboo from USDA-certified organic farms, these naturally temperature-regulating sheets wick moisture away and are twice as breathable as many cotton alternatives.

    $295.00
    shop it
    cozyearth.com
  • Sleep Number True Temp Sheets

    Active volcanic sand particles don't sound like something you'd want in your bed, but they're a key component of the latest temperature-regulating textiles. The particles, which either disperse or amplify the infrared heat given off by your body, are embedded into the fibers to keep you at a comfortable sleeping temperature, whether you're prone to night sweats or chills.

    $200.00
    shop it
    sleepnumber.com
  • Brooklinen Luxe Sateen Core Sheet Set

    Sateen is a tight weave, which makes for warmer, heavier sheets—they hold in heat and fend off drafts. A thread count of 480 makes these cotton sateen sheets feel extra luxurious. Bonus: They have "long" and "short" side labels, so making the bed is a breeze.

    $175.00
    shop it
    brooklinen.com
  • L.L. Bean Ultrasoft Comfort Flannel Sheet Set

    The brushed-cotton flannel gets softer with every wash and keeps you toasty in a wonderfully old-fashioned way.

    $120.00
    shop it
    llbean.com
Napping: Good or Bad? 

Studies show that naps are anything but a waste of time—or a sign of laziness. Beyond reducing stress levels during the day, napping can strengthen your immune and cardiovascular systems. "Napping can be a great tool to enhance alertness and productivity in the afternoon," says Rebecca Robbins, PhD, a sleep scientist and instructor in medicine at Harvard Medical School, who points to research that reveals that napping can even boost short-term memory and muscle memory. The key is to set your alarm and stick to it; 20 to 25 minutes is an ideal power nap (you'll avoid entering deep sleep and feeling groggy upon waking—or interfering with nighttime sleep patterns). On the occasional day where you're just totally beat, a longer nap is fine for playing catch-up. "If you're completely sleep-deprived from a long week of short sleep or a night of partial sleep deprivation, a 90-minute nap is recommended," she says. For the most benefit, time your nap about halfway between your morning wake-up time and your bedtime. 

Sleep Trackers

Most sleep trackers don't come close to matching the results you'd get in a sleep lab. Still, experts like that they can attune you to your body's sleep rhythms and trends.

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  • Oura

    This sleek titanium ring is beloved for its ease of use and the accuracy of its biometric sensors. It can measure heart-rate variability, body temperature, and respiratory rate—then use all of this data to gauge how much time you spend in different sleep phases (light, deep, and REM).

    $300.00
    shop it
    ouraring.com
  • Sleep Cycle

    Through analysis of your breathing, snoring, sleep talking, and coughing, this app can identify your sleep cycles, then show you how they correlate with factors like diet and exercise. It can also cue an alarm to wake you gently while you're in your lightest sleep phase, rather than during restorative deep sleep.

    shop it
    sleepcycle.com
  • Withings Sleep Tracking Mat and Steel HR Hybrid Smartwatch

    Put the pad under your mattress for contactless tracking of your heart rate, sleep phases, time spent snoring, and total sleep duration. If you add the hybrid smartwatch, it can wake you using soft vibrations at an optimal time and track your daytime stats for a big-picture view.

    $100.00
    shop it
    withings.com
  • Biostrap Recover Set

    Ideal for those who love to dig deeper into data, this wristband yields more detailed metrics than you'll get from most trackers, including blood oxygen levels and heart-rate variability. Plus, it lets you compare those numbers to the averages for your age group.

    $250.00
    shop it
    shop.biostrap.com
  • Tempur-Ergo Smart Base powered by Sleeptracker-AI

    This smart base senses vibrations associated with snoring and automatically raises your head angle by 12 degrees, to help correct your sleep position for better breathing.

    $1,600.00
    shop it
    tempurpedic.com
Should I try a sleep supplement?

If you've wheeled down the supplements aisle of the grocery store lately, you've likely noticed just how many sleep helpers there are. While there's science behind some, it's tricky to sort the proven from the unstudied. In the case of sleep disorders, doctors might incorporate supplements but will always recommend you work on your big-picture sleep routine first. "My main recommendations for people with insomnia are sleep-hygiene changes and cognitive behavioral therapy. But in certain situations, the two supplements that I will recommend are magnesium—which has been shown to improve sleep quality and quantity—and a small dose of timed-release melatonin, especially for shift workers or people who are just trying to get back onto a regular sleep schedule," says Angela Holliday-Bell, MD, a certified sleep specialist in Arlington, Virginia.

Pillows

The perfect pillow is shaped for your sleep position: Side sleepers need a high profile, back sleepers benefit from medium, and stomach sleepers should stick to something slimmer.

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  • Side Sleepers
    Planet Pillow

    These poufy and responsive organic cotton–covered pillows offer enough loft to support your spine in a side-lying position.

    $30.00
    shop it
    costco.com
  • Side Sleepers
    Layla Sleep Kapok Pillow

    The fiber is made from the seeds of the kapok tree, found in tropical climates, making it a plant-based alternative to down. And, it's "moldable" the same way down is, so it creates a cozy cradle for your neck.

    $110.00
    shop it
    Amazon
  • Back Sleepers
    Beautyrest Black Ice Memory Foam

    If you want a memory foam option that will contour to your head and neck, plus help conduct excess heat away, this sleek pillow will do the trick.

    $130.00
    shop it
    mattressfirm.com
  • Back Sleepers
    Brooklinen Mid-Plush Down Pillow

    Down clusters make this pillow soft yet firm enough to keep your spine in alignment (versus letting your head sink in too deeply).

    $70.00
    shop it
    brooklinen.com
  • Stomach Sleepers
    Pluto Pillow

    Take a quiz to find out your perfect combination of features, and get a pillow that's customized to your particular sleep position, body stats, and preferences. You can test and return it within 100 days for a full refund.

    $95.00
    shop it
    plutopillow.com
  • Stomach Sleepers
    Healthy Sleep Therma-Tech Copper Pillow

    Copper-infused yarns are antimicrobial and hypoallergenic—beneficial when you sleep with your face smooshed into the pillow.

    $160.00
    shop it
    mattressfirm.com
  • Hypoallergenic
    Everpillow

    A zippered organic cotton cover and your choice of naturally hypoallergenic fill: kapok, natural latex, or a blend of both.

    $85.00
    shop it
    infinitemoon.com
  • Body Pillow
    Zoma Body Pillow

    Dial back the pressure of side sleeping (and maintain proper knee/hip alignment) by wrapping yourself around this 52-inch snuggler filled with shredded memory foam and hypoallergenic down-alternative fiber.

    $120.00
    shop it
    zomasleep.com
Why do I snore? 

For reasons ranging from environmental (allergies) to anatomical (the size/shape of your tonsils or tongue), there can be a temporary narrowing in your airway while you're in a sleeping position. The resulting vibrations or fluttering of airway and throat tissues are what cause those sounds we call snoring, says Jade Wu, PhD, board-certified behavioral sleep medicine specialist and researcher at the Duke University School of Medicine. The fix can be as simple as changing your position. One trick: Stick a tennis ball in the back of a tight shirt to prevent yourself from rolling onto your back (prime snoring position). If your snoring remains loud and persistent, consult a doc for testing, as you might have sleep apnea, a potentially serious disorder. 

Snoring Aids

When snoring is a bother, these at-home helpers are a good starting point to guide you back to a better sleep. 

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  • Mute

    This FDA-approved nasal dilator sits just inside the nose and has been shown to improve airflow an average of 38 percent (encouraging you to breathe through the nose versus snore through the mouth). It's designed to be effective even if you have a deviated septum or frequent congestion. "I use these when I drink alcohol—which can interfere with normal breathing and increase the chance of snoring—and only then am I allowed in the bedroom," says Breus.

    $20.00
    shop it
    Amazon
  • SinuSonic

    Hold the mask over your nose and breathe in and out for a couple of minutes a few times a day; light acoustic vibrations and resistant pressure relieve congestion (and, in turn, improve snoring) without the need for decongestants.

    $50.00
    shop it
    Amazon
  • SnoreLab

    If you want to find out what kind of snorer you really are, this app will record and measure the severity of your snoring, compare it across several nights, and monitor the effectiveness of each solution you try.

    shop it
    snorelab.com

Blankets & Comforters 

Remember when your choices were comforter or quilt? Now you can wrap yourself in many textures, from a fuzzy self-heating cuddler to a weighted blanket without the excess heat. 

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  • Coyuchi Tahoe Climate Beneficial Wool Blanket

    Loosely twisted yarns—made from sustainable wool produced and woven in the USA—are what give this beautiful blanket the perfect amount of warmth and drape.

    $450.00
    shop it
    coyuchi.com
  • Sheex Original Performance Down Alternative Comforter

    This hypoallergenic comforter feels like down but is 10 times more breathable and made from thermoregulating fabric that wicks moisture away.

    $300.00
    shop it
    Amazon
  • ChiliBlanket

    All the snuggle, none of the sweat. This plush weighted blanket contains tiny, hidden tubes; when you connect it to its control unit, water floods through the tubes to cool you down or warm you up. You can set a custom temperature anywhere between 55 and 115 degrees.

    $550.00
    shop it
    Amazon
  • Bedgear Dri-Tec Medium Warmth Climacore Blanket

    Designed to help those who toss and turn due to temperature issues, this blanket has hand-filled thermal insulation that promotes more even heat distribution, while its breathable synthetic batting lets moisture easily escape.

    $250.00
    shop it
    bedgear.com
  • Baloo Weighted Blanket

    The feeling of pressure hugging your body can be instantly comforting (sleep experts compare it to the effect of swaddling on newborns). Thus the popularity of weighted blankets. Unlike many, this one's made from natural fibers (100 percent cotton) and is larger than the typical throw—you can get one fit to the top of your bed, in your choice of two weights.

    $170.00
    shop it
    Amazon
Do I need a sleep study?

If you've already tried all the usual sleep-hygiene tips—sticking to a consistent schedule, getting enough activity during the day, and unplugging and dimming the lights before bed—but still struggle to sleep or feel drained rather than rested once you wake, then yes, you'd likely benefit from a sleep study. Also called polysomnography, this procedure will collect data via painless electrodes and can monitor a number of physiological parameters including eye movements, brain waves, and limb movement, says Vivek Cherian, MD, a University of Maryland internal medicine doctor specializing in integrative wellness and behavioral health. The noninvasive study will take place overnight at a sleep center (or, in some cases, at home using sensors you stick on yourself) and may reveal that you have one of 90 distinct sleep disorders, including sleep apnea, insomnia, or restless limb syndrome. You can talk to your primary care doctor about getting a referral or prescription.

Emerging Tech 

These are the latest innovations that have sleep experts excited. 

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  • Wesper Sleep Kit

    Launched in June, this kit lets you consult with a sleep specialist without leaving your bed. You wear two wireless patches overnight, tracking snoring, body position, and breathing dynamics. Then you do a virtual consultation with a sleep specialist and access an app that helps you understand the results—it even includes a time-lapse animation of your night's sleep.

    $200.00
    shop it
    wesper.co
  • Somnox Sleep Robot

    If you're open to a unique sleeping experience, this innovative tech, designed as a physical way to ease anxiety and insomnia, encourages calming breathing in a way that no app is capable of. You can spoon around the robot's soft "body" and feel its rising and falling breath. And as you breath along with the robot, you'll find that your own breath is relaxing, too.

    $500.00
    shop it
    Amazon
  • Google Nest Hub With Sleep Sensing

    The second-generation Google Nest Hub uses radar sleep-tracking technology. Just place the smart display on your nightstand (FYI, it's a camera-free design), and when you wake up, say, "Hey, Google, how did I sleep last night?" You'll get personalized feedback on your sleep stages and bedroom conditions, as well as sleep-better tips from American Academy of Sleep Medicine experts.

    $100.00
    shop it
    store.google.com
  • Somnofy Sleep Assistant

    Research has shown that this at-home radar sleep tracker comes close to replicating the accuracy of a sleep study, where a doctor monitors your brain waves, blood oxygen level, heart rate, breathing, and eye/leg movements. Mollie McGlocklin, creator of the company Sleep Is a Skill, tested the device and conveyed that while the new tech has a few kinks to work out, "it represents a sign of what is coming, innovation-wise, in this arena." Beyond its use on a personal level, this tracker could be a game changer in helping doctors in hospitals and nursing homes more easily evaluate patients' sleep.

    $300.00
    shop it
    somnofy.com
  • Sleep Care Online Home Apnea Test

    Night Owl's DIY sleep study kit uses mini fingertip sensors to diagnose sleep apnea from home: You upload your results to the device's cloud and are given a diagnostic report. You need a prescription to use the product, but you can get one virtually through Sleep Care Online, which offers a telehealth consultation to talk through how to use the sensors and what to do with the results.

    $400.00
    shop it
    sleepcareonline.com

This article originally appeared in the  September 2021 issue of Health Magazine. Click here to subscribe today!

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