Consumer Reports: The best ways to beat insomnia

Posted at 11:56 AM, Jan 05, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-05 11:56:54-05

Americans spent more than $40 billion last year searching for the elusive good night's sleep.

The marketplace has exploded with plenty of options to help get your Zzz's on, but are they really great gadgets or just sleep gimmicks?

Infomercials can be tempting, if you're desperate for some shut-eye.

The 60-dollar My Pillow promises "deeper, longer REM sleep." But there are no clinical studies to support this.

How about the 150-dollar Sleep Shepherd? It's basically a beanie with built-in speakers. It claims to monitor brain waves and drown out distractions.

"The research that it accurately monitors brain activity is pretty thin, but hearing the rhythmic sounds can be soothing," says Sue Byrne with Consumer Reports.

In fact, white-noise machines like the 50-dollar Marpac Dohm DS  help most people who've tried them sleep better, according to a Consumer Reports survey.

Apps like White Noise and My Noise let you get soothing sounds on your smartphone for free.

"You should also think about why you can't sleep. Electronics devices like smartphones and laptops emit blue light, which slows the production of the sleep hormone melatonin and keeps you awake," Byrne said.

Pricey glasses promise to block blue light and they do block some.

When Consumer Reports tested glasses in this special light-measuring sphere, they found the glasses that actually blocked out the most blue light are the Uvex Skyper Safety Glasses with orange lenses which cost just eight dollars.

So, what's the best way to beat insomnia?

Quit smoking, cut back on caffeine and alcohol and turn off screens long before you head to bed.