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Working the night shift is often demanding and challenging. Working while the world sleeps and sleeping while the world is awake isn’t exactly ideal. Moreover, shift work quickly becomes dangerous if you don’t prioritize your sleep schedule and quality. In fact, many shift workers are at risk of Shift Work Sleep Disorder, a condition that includes both cognitive and physical impairments that can cause dangerous workplace errors and accidents. So what does the best sleep schedule for night shift workers look like? It includes firm boundaries around bedtime – even if it falls in the middle of the day. Blocking out disruptive noise and light are both vital for preventing sleep deprivation. Moreover, refrain from working back-to-back day and night shifts that further disrupt your internal clock and lead to worsened sleep deprivation. Finally, address sleep-disordered breathing known to cause snoring that fragments sleep!
If you can’t fall asleep without the sound of your bedroom fan regardless of the temperature, you’re already harnessing the power of sound to fall asleep faster. The sound of a bedroom fan refers to white noise – a soothing, static sound that drowns out other disruptive noises, like the sound of passing cars on the street. White noise isn’t the only sound color that promotes better sleep, though. Brown, pink, and green noise (nature sounds) are also known to help ease the brain into relaxation, encouraging the onset of sleep. White, brown, and pink noise apps allow you to harness the rainbow of sound colors right from your smartphone. Podcasts and audiobooks help to distract your mind from anxious thoughts that may otherwise keep you awake – as long as you pick a soothing podcast topic or book genre. Moreover, music is proven to shift brainwaves into alpha brainwaves that lead to relaxation. Binaural beats take it a step further, helping the brain shift into delta brainwaves that occur during deep sleep. Guided meditations offer an easy-to-follow script that can help us drift into sleep, too.
Always feeling tired and groggy? Constant fatigue may be linked to a hidden hormonal imbalance. Our endocrine system helps to regulate our hormones, which are sensitive to changes in our sleep routine. Conversely, our hormones control our energy, metabolism, and even our moods – all of which play a role in the quality of our sleep. Therefore, our hormones and sleep patterns both affect one another. Breaking this cycle lies in understanding the endocrine system and balancing both hormones and sleep patterns to correct the issue. For example, the endocrine system controls almost every process within the body. Within it are our adrenal glands and pineal gland, the smallest endocrine gland. When the adrenal glands are overworked, anxiety follows, keeping us up at night. Moreover, the pineal gland controls the release of the sleep hormone melatonin based on exposure to light within the environment obtained through the eyes. To balance our fatigue, we must balance our hormones, and vice-versa.
Supplements fill in the gaps of our nutrition. Wherever our food intake is lacking, vitamins and supplements can help to maintain and boost our health and well-being. What’s more, sometimes they’re necessary. Calcium helps maintain healthy bone density, while prenatal vitamins like folic acid reduce the risk of birth defects in pregnant women, That said, some supplements are proven to cause sleep disruptions. For example, weight loss supplements usually contain caffeine known to keep us up at night. The timing and dosage of certain vitamins matter, too. Taking vitamin C too closely to bedtime fragments our rest, while a high intake of vitamin D and insomnia are closely linked. In summary, if you want better rest, there are certain vitamins and supplements that you should steer clear of entirely or closely monitor your dosage of to ensure your best sleep yet.
Red light therapy has recently gained popularity as a secret weapon for biohacking your way toward wound healing, wrinkle reduction, and more. It’s even used in medical settings to promote faster recovery or combat the side effects of chemotherapy. Whether you purchase your own red lights to use at home or you visit a red light therapy salon, the benefits are seemingly endless. The science behind how red light improves health lies in the way that the wavelengths of red light affect our cells. Red light encourages our cells to produce more energy within the mitochondria, allowing for faster regeneration and repair. Moreover, skin health isn’t the only perk of red light healing. Sleep quality is also proven to improve massively in those who regularly use red light therapy. Red light promotes the secretion of melatonin, a sleep hormone that helps us wind down in the evening. On the other hand, different spectrums of light (like blue light) are proven to interrupt melatonin production, making red light a solid evening light source for your best sleep yet.
Everyone knows that driving under the influence of alcohol is dangerous for everyone on the road. But did you know that tired driving is just as harmful? In fact, drowsy driving is responsible for 21 percent of all fatal accidents. When we’re sleep deprived, our concentration, reaction times, and problem-solving abilities all take a hit. This dramatically increases our risk of making fatal errors that lead to accidents on the road. Moreover, research has revealed that being awake for 17 hours leads to impairment equivalent to having a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.05%. In most Western European countries, this is considered the legal drinking limit. Staying awake for 24 hours is the same as having a BAC of 0.10%, well over the legal drinking limit of 0.08% in the United States. Therefore, it’s important to recognize the symptoms of severe sleep debt and avoid getting behind the wheel if you’re running low on sleep. Your life and safety literally depend on it.
There’s a reason we feel better after a long hug with a loved one. It's the same reason that babies feel comfort when swaddled up tight. This soothing sensation is known as deep pressure stimulation – and it’s a game changer when it comes to managing our nervous system. Deep pressure stimulation soothes the body by activating the parasympathetic nervous system, taking us from a state of stress and overwhelm to a state of relaxation and calm. A weighted blanket provides calming, deep pressure that we can take anywhere, anytime. Using a weighted blanket allows us to reap the benefits of deep pressure stimulation for better sleep, emotional regulation, and more – all without having to hug a loved one all day long. Boost feel-good chemicals dopamine and oxytocin while lowering cortisol with the deep pressure stimulation achieved through using a weighted blanket. Just be sure to select the right material, filling type, size, and weight for optimal results and comfort.
You’re probably mindful of what you eat before bed to ensure that you sleep well. For example, eating carbs before bed or consuming caffeine late in the day are thought to lead to poor sleep. That said, what you eat in the morning is just as important. Eating breakfast on a regular basis is proven to lower your risk of both type 2 diabetes and obesity. However, only a very small percentage of us eat breakfast regularly. Breaking our overnight fast with a nutritious breakfast replenishes glucose levels and helps to boost energy and alertness for optimal performance. What’s more, selecting and eating a healthy breakfast cues our internal clock to gear up for the day, leading to better sleep after nightfall. If you don’t already eat breakfast, learn to incorporate a morning meal into your day. Be sure to opt for nutritious, sleep-promoting foods filled with protein and other vitamins and minerals that will help keep you energized and feeling your best.
The vagus nerve is the longest cranial nerve within the body, responsible for helping regulate almost every day-to-day process including digestion, sleep, and overall well-being. It’s also connected to our ability to show compassion and empathy for others. When our vagus nerve isn’t functioning as it should, it’s often called “low vagal tone.” This dysfunction leads to inflammation, anxiety, poor sleep, and even digestive issues like irritable bowel syndrome. Therefore, boosting vagal tone with vagus nerve exercises for digestion and improved sleep can make all of the difference in how we feel. For example, humming and singing are thought to activate the parasympathetic nervous system and, in turn, our vagus nerve. Breathwork is another hidden gem for improving vagal tone by shifting the body from a state of fight or flight into a state of rest and relaxation.
It might be the norm to share a bed with your partner, but a snoring partner and sleep deprivation are closely linked. In fact, spouses of snoring partners wake up 21 times per hour each night when compared to spouses of non-snorers. These disruptions quickly add up, causing massive sleep debt. Aside from being dangerous, sleep debt and deprivation are thought to make us more reactive, impulsive, and grouchy, which is a recipe for even more relationship disasters. If your sleeping schedules or preferences are different, there are a few solutions to improve your relationship and sleep quality. For one, switching your sleep patterns from one long chunk into two or more sections may provide more flexibility with your schedule. Plus, it’s how we naturally slept prior to the industrial revolution. If there’s no other option, you and your partner may benefit from sleeping in separate beds. Although it sounds like a drastic option, a temporary sleep divorce may be necessary to get your health back on track. The Scandinavian sleep method offers a compromise that involves sleeping with two separate blankets rather than one. Moreover, addressing the root cause of your partner’s snoring can solve your sleep disruptions altogether. Typically, mouth breathing is a common culprit - and over 60 percent of us do it habitually rather than breathing through our noses.
Naps are a seemingly regular part of childhood. But for many adults, there just isn’t enough time in the day to nap. Despite that, the majority of adults across the globe are seriously sleep-deprived. Napping is a quick, simple way to fill in some of the gaps and pay off sleep debt. In fact, a NASA study found that napping improves working memory performance, helping to reduce workplace errors while enhancing focus and attention. That said, the timing and duration of your nap matter. If you nap too long, you might wake up in the middle of a sleep cycle. This leads to grogginess upon waking, often called sleep inertia. Whether you’re interested in short cat naps or longer naps (like a 45-minute nap or 90-minute nap), rest assured that there are benefits to both. If you only have 15 minutes to snooze, you should utilize it and attempt to rest. However, if you can swing a nap that’s an hour and a half long, go for it! Just be sure to wake up at the 1.5-hour mark, or you may be left feeling groggier than before you laid down. Consuming caffeine before napping may help you feel more alert upon waking regardless of nap duration - as long as caffeine doesn’t affect you negatively in general.
Being a student quickly leads to overwhelm and stress due to a heavy workload. With so much to accomplish each day, sleep may take a backseat to other tasks. If you’re not making sleep a priority, you’re not alone. More than half of all college students admit that they’re chronically sleep deprived. However, the dangers linked to a lack of sleep are no joke. And even more concerning, running short on sleep can seriously harm your memory and concentration, leading to poor academic performance. Therefore, skipping sleep means that you’re lowering your ability to achieve your highest success as a student. That’s why we’ve rounded up sleep hacks to help build the best night routine for students that promotes academic excellence. For example, that all-nighter that you think will help you get a better score on tomorrow’s exam may actually decrease your score. And that evening coffee that you rely on to get through homework? It’s keeping you awake at night and throwing off your sleep patterns.