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I love sleep. Love it.
I also love my husband, who not only snores but also goes to bed 3 to 4 hours later than I do. Our different sleeping schedules are actually a net positive in our relationship: We each get a couple of hours of alone time each day (or night) in our modest apartment, which is something we, two introverts, both value.
The one major downside to our arrangement? No matter how hard he tries not to, my husband inevitably wakes me up when he opens our creaky bedroom door and stumbles into bed.
To protect my REM cycles from my marriage, I’ve curated a sleep kit that blocks out whatever noise, light, or other sleep-killing factors may be around me, even when I’m traveling. Without these items, the well-being of my husband (and of everyone else I interact with) would be at risk.
Hammacher Schlemmer’s The Authentic Sleep Sound Machine
This cylindrical device emits a whirring-yet-soothing background noise. Shouting on the street? Muffled TV voices? The clacking of my dog’s claws on the wooden floorboards? Distant sounds.
My mother was an evangelist of this device, and I still have the same one from when I was a kid. This machine is my backup in case an earplug falls out during the night.
Get it via Hammacher Schlemmer ($50)
Bucky 40 Blinks Sleep Mask
This sleep mask is known as the Eye Bra in my household because of its puffed-out fabric. It may look a bit silly, but it solves the unpleasant problem other eye masks have (fabric smushed against your eyelids).
The Eye Bra is crucial for my uninterrupted sleep, as it prevents the light from my husband’s phone from waking me up when he comes to bed. My husband and I both wear the same Eye Bra, with me transferring it over to him in the morning when I wake up so the daylight seeping through our curtains doesn’t bother him.
Get it via Amazon ($9)
Hearos Ultimate Softness Series Earplugs
These earplugs were recommended to me by a friend, who heard about them from another friend whose dad works in the airline industry.
Hearos don’t mess around — they have a noise reduction rating of 32 (the highest you can get is 33), and they cut out all background noise, especially the coughs, conversations, and announcements one must deal with from someone still awake in the other room or from another passenger on a crowded flight. They also stay in place pretty well, an important factor for any earplug’s efficacy.
Get it via Amazon ($9 for 28 pairs)
When I travel, I make sleeping in uncomfortable situations a competitive sport. And like any serious competitive athlete, I have some extra gear to help me perform (aka sleep) to my peak ability.
Cabeau Evolution Classic Travel Pillow
I used to think neck pillows looked dumb. I still think that, in fact, but I’ve reached a point where I’m comfortable looking dumb if it means I’ll be able to sleep.
My Cabeau neck pillow is now a critical item for comfortable plane travel. If I want to sleep on a flight, I throw on my neck pillow right after I pop on my Eye Bra and earplugs. When I’m not sleeping, I put it behind my lower back for lumbar support, which makes any airplane seat much more comfortable.
Get it via Amazon ($30)
Lug Nap Sac
I first used this blanket and mini inflatable pillow combo for a 30-hour Marvel movie marathon my husband convinced me to attend.
Since then, I’ve also found it helpful on long flights. It’s softer and larger than the free airplane blankets and pillows (if I’m lucky enough to get those) and keeps me covered and warm from the neck down.
Get it via Amazon ($24)
Yes, the travel expansion pack takes up a fair amount of carry-on luggage space. And yes, my bed routine makes hearing an alarm in the morning a hit-or-miss thing. But getting hours of uninterrupted sleep makes the effort and the risk well worth it.
Vanessa Armstrong is a freelance writer whose writing has appeared in publications like The LA Times, SYFY WIRE, SELF, Atlas Obscura and /Film. Follow her on Twitter.