I have a really bad habit that I have to confess: Every time I lie down to go to sleep, I spend at least 20 minutes on my phone — if not more — before I actually shut my eyes and doze off. Believe me, I know I shouldn't do this, but what can I say? I'm the kind of person whose brain immediately starts firing on all cylinders once I'm under the covers and the lights are turned off. It's like my body has no idea how to wind down. But then I tried the Casper Glow, aka a fancy nightlight that promises a better night's sleep, and, well, let's just say it had a truly unexpected effect on my bedtime routine.
I'll admit, when I first set up my Casper Glow light, I was a little skeptical about it having any noticeable effects on me, my ability to sleep, or even my bedroom aesthetic. It's a pretty simple product: The Glow is a cylindrical light that's "specifically created to help us wind down naturally, for better, deeper sleep," according to the product's fact sheet. It fits neatly on a nightstand, and the light can easily be turned on or off by flipping the lamp upside down. Once the lamp is on, the warm light slowly fades over a 45-minute period (but you can customize that countdown if you want it to be shorter or longer). You can also dim or brighten the light manually by simply turning the lamp left or right, or you can pair it with the Casper Glow app on your phone to control the light settings remotely from your device.
What's more, you can even use the Casper Glow to help you wake up in the morning. Once it's paired with your phone, you can set a "wake-up time," and the Glow will slowly start to brighten over the course of a half hour (or, again, any customized time you want) to gradually ease you out of your slumber.
The Glow seemed pretty self-explanatory to me, so I was a bit surprised when my boyfriend Greg took interest in it as I was setting the lamp up in our bedroom. "What's that?" he asked me. "This fancy smart nightlight thing," I muttered back, bracing for some kind of complaint. You know how some people are picky eaters? Greg is a picky sleeper. He needs (like, needs as in needs, or else he quite literally will not sleep) two pillows beneath his head, two pillows between his knees, and two different white noise machines on in the background in order to get a restful night's sleep. Hey, at least he doesn't snore (for the most part, anyway).
Even though I was initially worried that the Glow might "disrupt" Greg's very carefully curated bedroom environment, he was genuinely intrigued by the nightlight and immediately helped me complete the setup process. That night, we flipped the light on and settled under the covers, eager to see if we might actually notice the gradual fading of the Glow's, well, glow. Spoiler: we didn't.
Why didn't we notice the light fading, you may ask? Honestly, because we were too busy chatting — you know, ~pillow talk~.
Here's the thing about pillow talk for me, though: I usually don't like it. I mean, I love having deep conversations in bed, but you know what else I love? Going to sleep on time and not thinking about really profound, heavy topics when I'm trying to relax (my brain already has trouble calming down at night, remember?). So like, on a Saturday night? Sure, let's pillow-talk all freaking night. But on a Tuesday at 11 p.m.? Sorry, but your girl needs to turn her brain off and rest.
Greg, on the other hand, absolutely loves to talk until we fall asleep, regardless of what day it is or what time it is. Sometimes I'll indulge him, but most of the time, I'll admit, I just get a little frustrated when he tries to open up a conversation after we've crawled into bed for the night.
To my surprise, though, with the Casper Glow sitting pretty on my nightstand, I actually felt really cozy and calm, rather than wired and wide awake. For the first time in months, I didn't want to look at my phone until my eyes burned with exhaustion. Instead, I cuddled up next to Greg, and our quiet conversation just flowed, until we'd both sunken down beneath the covers and the Glow silently went dark.
Did I wake up feeling like a changed woman the next morning? No, not exactly. And even though I've been using the Glow every night for the last two weeks or so, I still haven't really noticed any significant changes in how quickly I fall asleep, the quality of my rest, or anything like that. But you know what is kind of different these days? The way I fall asleep, and, surprisingly enough, my relationship with my SO.
I haven't completely eliminated my bedtime phone-scrolling habit, but I'm happy to say I'm not using it as a crutch every single night. Instead, I try to look at the Glow as a kind of cue that it's time to wind down for the night; it's time to let my bubbling thoughts settle to a steady simmer, and rest my head with the person I love most in the world.
As for my relationship with Greg, don't get me wrong — we love each other very, very much. But we're both dedicated to our work and our own personal projects, which means that, sometimes, we forget to check in with each other and simply talk about our day. Shockingly enough, a nightlight of all things managed to remind us of how important those conversations are, even if they only last a few minutes.
According to Mary Helen Rogers, vice president of marketing and communications for the Better Sleep Council, taking time to wind down before bed helps you turn off your mind's worries and stresses, "which is important if you want to sleep well." She tells Elite Daily in an email, "Taking the time to [unwind before bed] can be a great part of a daily routine that you do before bed every night. If you get into the habit of doing these activities every single night, they signal to your body that sleep is coming and helps your body and mind relax."
For me, the Glow has become not just a cue for unwinding, but also a reminder to enjoy my boyfriend's company, especially in bed. When you've been with someone for a long time, it's easy to forget just how comforting their presence is, how safe and relaxed the mere sound of their voice makes you feel. And as Rogers tells Elite Daily, having a little pillow talk with someone you love really can benefit your sleep: "Oxytocin (aka the cuddle chemical or the love hormone) is a chemical compound produced in the brain that prompts feelings of empathy, trust, relaxation, and reduced anxiety. Levels of oxytocin rise when we make physical contact with another human being," she explains. "So when you hop into bed and spoon with your honey or take it to the next level of intimacy, the chemical is released and you feel calm and protected. In turn, feeling safe and secure helps you to fall asleep more easily which gives you more time to cycle through the stages of deep, restorative sleep."
For what it's worth, you absolutely don't need to spend money to help your body wind down before bed, and it's certainly not necessary if you want to reconnect with someone you love, either.
Rogers tells Elite Daily that chamomile tea can be a great sleep aid, "because its sedative effect comes from a flavonoid called apigenin that helps create a calming response in the brain so that we feel sleepy." Additionally, Dr. Catherine Darley, natural sleep expert and member of the Sleep Cycle Institute, tells Elite Daily that relaxing activities, like reading a book you're really into, listening to music, journaling, or gently stretching in low light, can all help you de-stress and unwind at the end of the day.
And as far as pillow talk goes, again, you definitely don't need something like the Glow to make it happen. Malin Eriksson, an expert with the alarm clock app Sleep Cycle, recommends approaching bedtime conversations with your partner with positive questions and topics, like "What did you do today that made you happy?" or "What did you learn today?" or even "What happened today that you're feeling really grateful for?"
If you're curious about trying the Casper Glow, you can buy it online for $89 a pop (or you can buy a two-in-one deal for $169). There are also other fading nightlights out there to choose from, like this warm white light lamp on Amazon, which includes a sleep timer, a variety of colors, and boasts plenty of positive customer reviews.