When it comes to a good night’s sleep, a dark, comfortable environment with no blue-light distractions is key, say our experts. As is a nightly wind down routine.
So we tried dozens of sheets, spine-neutralizing pillows, sound machines and more to find the best for your rest.
How we chose our winners
To find our top products in sleep, our editors and staff used and slept with this gear. We tried over 30 products in this category in order to return with our winners. Products underwent a trial period for several nights before being selected as our favorite in the sleep category. We utilized our editors as shopping and trying experts, along with medical professionals, who provided us with information and advice they give their patients.
When we look at any products, especially wellness items, we look at them comprehensively. To be our favorite in the sleep category required fulfilling a multitude of needs. We want to provide you with products that perform well, but we also want to share ones that allow you to upgrade your life. Among other things for this category, we specifically looked at price, breathability and overall quality and effectiveness.
Select Best of Wellness sleep gear winners
Award: Best Sound Machine | Type: All
This compact, no frills sound machine helped our testers get to sleep faster and offers 10 fan sounds, 10 white, pink and brown noise variations and two ocean sounds (calm and surf, our trier’s favorite). The machine offers precise volume control, a timer to automatically turn off the sounds plus an audio connector for headphones or a portable speaker.
“I love this sound machine,” says editorial projects associate, Rebecca Rodriguez, who often struggles with anxiety before bed. “I don’t really need anything fancy out of a sound machine and this one is simple, small and was so relaxing.“
Award: Best Sound Machine | Type: Alarm Clock
Select managing editor Leah Ginsberg likes this hybrid alarm clock and sound machine so much, she bought one after trying it. HoMedic’s alarm clock offers eight relaxation and nature sounds, like campfire, wind chimes and thunderstorm, two guided meditations and four white-noise variations (known as white, pink, brown or grey noise). The “sleep therapy” options play your favorite nature sound for 15 or 30 minutes before switching to a white noise.
“I often have trouble falling asleep, and using this as I went to bed actually helped,” says Ginsberg. “I especially liked the sleep therapy sounds – the babbling brook and grey noise combo in particular.”
Award: Best Meditation App
Our sleep experts say using meditation apps is great to ease your mind into a restful state at any time, not only before bed. Calm (available on most iOs and Android devices) offers meditations, storytelling and soundscapes to help you relax and fall asleep. A premium subscription grants full library access.
“I’ve been using Calm for years. I love the variety of features, from meditations to music to guided stretches and physical movement to relax you,” says social media editor Sadhana Daruvuri. “I also like the daily series, which have a short, digestible format and help me start my day feeling calm and inspired.”
Award: Best Earplugs
A calm, quiet environment is crucial to a good night’s sleep, according to our experts. These silicone, washable earbuds come with different sized ear tips and block noise so well, says city-dweller Ginsberg, she thought she was sleeping in a different apartment. At $25, they’re more expensive than your typical drugstore foam earbuds, but they “kind of changed my life,” says Ginsberg.
“My bedroom is so noisy that I have been researching city windows, which cost thousands of dollars. But sleeping in the Loop earplugs almost completely solved the problem,” says Ginsberg. “I fully intend to buy them again.”
Award: Best Pillowcase | Type: Silk
NBC page Mikhaila Archer uses silk pillowcases regularly, but this option from Slip was the best she’s ever tried. Made from pure mulberry silk, the pillowcase reduces frizz and the appearance of aging, according to the brand.
“I’ve typically bought cheaper options that do the trick (protect my hair, softer on my skin, etc.), but this one is clearly just such better quality,” says Archer.
Award: Best Sheets | Type: Luxury
Oeko-Tex certified (meaning they’re responsibly sourced) and made from long-staple cotton fibers (which are higher-quality than shorter staple cotton), these bed sheets are designed to get softer with each wash, according to Boll & Branch. Our editors find the sheets’ 100% cotton construction thicker than other options, but not too stiff or too soft and very breathable. The sheets come in a range of neutral colors.
“Both of the Boll & Branch options I tested are – and I'm not being hyperbolic – life-changing. I’ve always had nice-ish sheets, but these are the softest and most breathable I’ve ever slept on,” says editor Christina Colizza.
Award: Best Sheets | Type: Budget
A solid budget option, these 400 thread count sheets are 100% cotton and have a sateen weave. They’re Oeko-Tex certified and both editors who tried them found them breathable and cool, and soft, yet crisp. Each set comes with one flat sheet, fitted sheet (that fits both low profile and tall mattresses) and two pillowcases and are available in over 20 colors and patterns.
“I tend to run hot and found these sheets breathable and crisp,” says Colizza. “I also really appreciated the smart “head” and “foot” tags that made making the bed easier. I think they’re a really great deal!”
Award: Best Sheets | Type: All
Made of 100% long-staple Egyptian cotton, these percale weave sheets strike a good middle ground between feeling structured yet smooth to the touch, says reporter Zoe Malin. The Oeko-Tex certified sheets soften with each wash, according to Parachute. The set comes in eight colors with a fitted sheet and two pillowcases but no top sheet.
They’re “very crisp, lightweight and breathable sheets,” says Malin, adding that they washed well, too. “They came out as good as new!”
Award: Best Pillow | Type: Weighted
The experts we spoke to said creating a consistent wind-down routine is crucial to a good night’s sleep. Bearab’y Hugget pillow (size L) can be a tool for that: The weighty foam ball (encased in 100% cotton) has a knot-shaped design to aid in stress relief, according to the brand.
“I love holding it while sitting on the couch or laying with it since I’m a side sleeper,” says Select manager of editorial operations, Shari Uyehara.
Award: Best Pillow | Type: Cooling
The experts we spoke to recommended a pillow that works for your sleep position (side, stomach or back) and neutralizes your spine. Also crucial to a good night’s sleep is creating a temperature-regulated environment that’s not too hot. Pluto’s customizable pillow, made from the brand’s cooling foam, does just that: Users fill out a questionnaire and can customize their cooling pillow to their unique sleep positions and preferences. If you run hot, Pluto will design your pillow with their cool-to-the-touch fibers, according to the brand. If you don’t need the extra cooling, Pluto will ship you a pillow with a eucalyptus surface, for example.
“I’ve probably never spent more than like $30 on a pillow, but after trying this one, I completely understand why investing in a high quality option is worth it,” says Malin. “This pillow is a great thickness and made my head, neck and back feel supported while sleeping.” The pillow Malin slept on is designed for hot sleepers who need a plush feel.
Award: Best Pillow | Type: All
A neutralized spine is crucial to a good night’s sleep, according to our experts. This foam option from Casper is designed with three layers of perforated foam for proper alignment that will also keep you cool throughout the night, according to the brand. Our editors found that the pillow offers great support, while still feeling soft.
"I've slept on a lot of pillows, but there is something about the way that this one supports my head while still feeling cloud-like,” says editorial director Lauren Swanson.
Award: Best Weighted Blanket
A weighted blanket can help you relax and unwind, so long as it doesn’t get too hot, noted the experts we spoke to. This option has an open knit design to combat that issue, making the polyester jersey blanket very breathable and cooling, according to our tester.
“This is the best weighted blanket I’ve ever tried. It’s a manageable weight so I can easily move it around, and it’s soft but not like other fuzzy options that get all over you” says Malin.
Meet our experts
To ensure our product picks are more than just editor-approved, we used a panel of experts, including dermatologists, sleep doctors and personal trainers to give buying advice for each category. Experts did not recommend individual products. When conferring with our unaffiliated panel of experts, we asked them for advice they would give to their patients or clients.
- Dr. W. Christopher Winter is a neurologist, sleep specialist and author of The Rested Child and The Sleep Solution.
- Dr. Shelby Harris is a licensed clinical psychologist, sleep specialist and author of The Women’s Guide to Overcoming Insomnia and the Director of Sleep Health for Sleepopolis.
- Dr. Cheri Mah is a sleep specialist who works independently with sports organizations like the NFL, NBA, NHL and MLB to develop comprehensive sleep optimization programs.