Do these products really help you relax?

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Publish Date
Thursday, 5 April 2018, 9:20AM

Follow NZH Lifestyle's Trial and Error series where we try out the latest in food, viral trends, and beauty hacks so you don't have to.

These days we all seem to lead such busy lives that finding a moment of calm in the chaos can often feel impossible.

So what if a product or an app could give you better sleep, instant relaxation, or help you be more present?

We took three stressed out colleagues and had them trial two products and an app that all promised to help them relax:

1. Dermalogica Sound Sleep Cocoon

A night cream which claims to optimise skin recovery and contain motion activated essential oils to help you sleep.

2. Matakana Botanicals' sniff boxes

These contain "aroma beads" infused with essential oils and offer a relaxing or energising scent.

3. Moment app

Moment tracks the hours you spend on your phone and encourages you to spend less time scrolling and more time, you guessed it, "in the moment".

So do any of these things actually work? We put them through a rigorous Trial and Error test to find out.

Dermalogica Sound Sleep Cocoon

Dermalogica sound sleep cocoon. Photo / Dermalogica

• Did it work?

Liana:

As well as applying this cream to your face before bed, it's recommended you listen to the "binaural beats" to relax your mind and prepare your body for deep, restful sleep. I listened for one night but was so distracted by the sounds I had to turn it off.

I ditched the beats but kept up with the cream and did feel more blissful as I fell asleep. I think that's down to the scent of the cream. Not only is the smell calming but I woke up with amazingly soft skin. That's a win for me!

Siena:

I definitely slept better during the week I used it but that was also a week in which I overhauled my diet and started trying to implement more of a sleep routine, so it's more likely because of those things.

But I will say my quality of sleep has been surprisingly better than usual - I suffer a bit of insomnia and have a lot of trouble staying asleep once I finally manage to nod off. With this product I slept through and woke up feeling rested (which never happens).

Jenni:

The first thing I noticed about this product was the smell - it did make me feel instantly relaxed. I managed to get a great sleep the first night and felt it helped me fall asleep faster.

My skin felt great through the week and each day I woke up with a noticeably brighter complexion.

• Would you use it again?

Liana:

I've been using this product well past our Trial & Error test week, so it's safe to say I'm obsessed! It is quite pricey though (RRP$149) so I think I'd ration it and limit myself to one a year.

Siena:

I'm definitely going to keep using it just because I want to see if it keeps working whatever magic it might be working. However, once this bottle runs out I don't know if I'll be willing to shell out the cash for another (I'm very cheap).

Jenni:

I will 100 per cent keep using the Sound Sleep Cocoon because I really noticed a difference in my sleep. It has quickly become a staple in my nighttime routine and I make sure to take a few deep breaths of the product before massaging it into my skin. Dreamy!

Matakana Botanicals sniff boxes

Matakana Botanicals sniff boxes. Photo / Matakana Botanicals

• Did it work?

Liana:

I love the theory of how these work and I'm open to trying anything that will make me feel less stressed or more focused.

But while these little sniff boxes do smell delicious I'm undecided as to whether they actually work or if it's all in my head.

Siena:

Nope. Then again I'm a sceptic and I don't really get how scents could improve my sleep or focus. I had the "Focus" one on my desk at work and sometimes just left it open to get the full effect throughout the day. I'd would deep-breathe with the "Sleep" one before bed. Spoiler alert: The "full effect" was basically nada.

Jenni:

I tried out the de-stress sniff box and loved it. I kept it on my desk and would take a moment to stop and take a few deep breaths of it when I felt stressed or panicky.

I found this really helped when I felt anxious, and even just the ritual of taking a second to stop and breathe in the aroma was enough to calm me down.

• Would you use it again?

Liana:

Whether it's in my head or not, I've found myself continuing to take a sniff a few times a day. My favourite scent is "Focus" a blend of bergamot, lemon and cinnamon which is supposed to "restore clarity of thought".

Making a few seconds in my day to take a couple of deep breaths, whether through the sniff box or not, does seem to do a world of good.

Siena:

I'll keep them around. They smell really damn good. But will you find me taking a minute to breathe in bergamot, lemon and cinnamon while I'm on deadline? Unlikely.

Jenni:

I'd certainly use this again and leave it on my desk for whenever I need it. I'd highly recommend these to anyone who has a tendency to be anxious, or has a busy lifestyle.

Moment app

The Moment app. Photo / In the moment

• Did it work?

Liana:

Totally. This app has really opened my eyes to how often I'm on my phone. The average was 5 hours 8 minutes a day. One day I reached an embarrassingly high 10 hours 53 minutes! Though, in my defense, it was my day off and I was at home, unwell in bed. So what else is there to do but browse Instagram (my most-used app) and watch cute animal videos on Facebook?

Siena:

I still haven't really fathomed what the Moment app is supposed to help with other than shaming me for my excessive phone use. It'd be helpful if you could set a limit and then after that it would turn your phone off or penalise you somehow, but otherwise, it's just kind of ... there.

Jenni

This little app did my head in. I knew I was bad with how much time I spend on my phone, but having this running in the background made me more stressed. I felt guilty when I saw that time bar entering the red zone.

Learning I spend nearly one full day a week - disgusting, I know - on my phone was a real shock and did make me rethink how that is affecting my life.

• Would you use it again?

Liana:

I mean, I probably should. I feel ashamed of those awfully high usage times and really could do with a message popping up on my screen telling me to put down my phone.

Siena:

Probably not. Honestly, knowing that I wasted nearly four hours of my Saturday on my phone doesn't add anything to my life. It just makes me feel the opposite of zen.

Jenni:

I think I would let it continue to run in the background and I'll certainly be limiting how much time I spend on my phone from now on.

But at the end of the day, we have enough people in our lives judging us, do we really need an app taunting us too?