1. Health

Give a Gift of Better Sleep

Presents to Help Them Fall Asleep - and Stay Asleep

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Updated December 18, 2012

Sleep can suffer with age, so if you know someone who struggles with insomnia, why not help them sleep better with some of these bedtime gifts? They'll be able to fall asleep faster, and stay asleep longer, thanks to your thoughtfulness.

1. Sound Machine

Sharon Basaraba
One of the simplest ways to modify your bedroom environment for better sleep is to use a sound conditioner. These are small devices that generate or play white noise, or nature sounds like ocean waves and rainfall. Many sleep experts recommend the use of sound machines, and surveys of problem sleepers have revealed that these devices can help almost as much as medication.

2. Sleep Mask

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A sleep mask is a great way to ensure complete darkness, regardless of how late you sleep, or how much sun streams in your bedroom window. I'm a big fan of the Bucky 40 Blinks sleep mask because it's inexpensive ($10-$15), lightweight, and is contoured to fit over your eyelids without touching them. This mask is also wide enough to ensure daylight is blocked, without being tight against your face. The strap has a Velcro closure so you can adjust the mask to a comfortable size.

3. Neck Support Pillow

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Muscle aches and pains can interfere with your sleep, and if you've got neck tension, using a long roll pillow can help you avoid headaches and a stiff neck in the morning. Try using a pillow that's solid enough to offer good support; firm foam or a filling of buckwheat hulls work well. Contoured pillows, many of which are designed to help prevent snoring, can also work for people with neck problems. In a pinch (while traveling, for example), you can use a rolled-up bath towel.

4. Plush Blanket

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As psychiatrist David Neubauer, associate director of the Johns Hopkins Sleep Disorders Center tells me, very few people can simply walk into their bedroom, lie on top of the covers and instantly fall asleep. Sleep involves ritualized behaviors that help you settle down and prepare for the night's slumber, and getting into bed under a plush fleece blanket can keep you cozy, relaxed, and ready to nod off. Soft bedding is an intimate gift that will help your loved one get a better and more comfortable night's sleep.

5. Blackout Curtains

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Many sleep experts blame the abundance of ambient light from electronic devices inside, and street lighting outside, for our difficulty falling -- or staying -- asleep. While you can choose how many chargers with blinking lights you allow in your bedroom, an easy way to limit the amount of light filtering in from outside is to use blackout curtains. These are drapery panels lined with dense fabric designed to block light from entering the bedroom window, and are customary in hotels. Great for people of all ages, including those doing shift work and sleeping during the day, blackout curtains can keep a room dark until they're ready to get out of bed.

6. Sunrise Alarm Clock

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Even an alarm clock with a bright display is too much light for some people, and will interfere with their sleep. Why not a gift of a clock with numbers that can be dimmed? Even better, have them awake to a clock with a light that gradually gets brighter, mimicking a sunrise. Sunrise clocks can provide a gentle push into wakefulness, instead of a jarring end to a fitful night's sleep. Settings often offer a choice of how quickly the clock achieves its full brightness. A great gift for someone who's addicted to their alarm clock's snooze button.

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