11 Tricks to Actually Help You Fall Asleep — Once and for All
The nightly struggle to fall asleep is real. In fact, so many people have (around 60 million!), the has categorized lack of sleep as a public health problem. In other words, we're basically all turning intoThe Walking Dead— there's one more thing to keep you up at night.
Sure, it's annoying when insomnia strikes. But given the fact no one is handing out gold medals or giant bonuses for being a good sleeper (go you, getting that eight hours in!), it's probably something that falls on your Can't Deal Right Now list of priorities. But, actually, "sleep is not a luxury — it's a necessity," says Nancy Rothstein, a sleep expert in Chicago. "Without proper rest, research shows the negative consequences are significant. Our performance, health, decision-making abilities, relationships, mood, and much more can suffer." Zombies, remember? You should be aiming for seven to nine hours of slumber a night, according to The National Sleep Foundation.
You may have tried a couple of things to get rid of your restlessness, like drinking less coffee, downing a melatonin pill, conducting a late-night Google search on your phone about how to fall asleep in which the advice tells you not to be on your phone. And maybe you decided that nothingreallyworks in the battle to get more beauty sleep, so you'll just suffer through. But you haven't triedeverything.
Whether you're a chronic night owl or occasional insomniac, these science- and expert-approved tips will help take you from wired to tired.
1. Try the 4-7-8 Breathing Trick
This may have popped up on your Facebook feed a couple of times — and you scrolled right past it, becausepug photos! But this breathing technique created by Andrew Weil, M.D., a Harvard-trained doctor with a focus on holistic health, has serious pass-out-in-bed cred.
To give it a try: Breathe in deeply through your nose for four seconds. Hold your breath for seven seconds. Exhale through your mouth for eight seconds. Repeat as needed (although rumor has it, you won't last for more than 60 seconds before dozing off).
2. Tuck Away Your Tech
You've heard this before, but have you actually done it? "We all have trouble putting our phones, laptops and tablets to bed," Rothstein says. "These devices may have changed our behaviors, but our biology has not changed, and getting enough sleep is still important."
Not only is the blue light from the screen blocking your body's ability to produce melatonin, a hormone you need to fall asleep, but if you're scrolling through social media at midnight, that can lead to anxiety. If you want to drift off to dreamland IRL, put your gadgets where you can't reach them.
3. Eat Walnuts or a Banana
If you're already immersed in the tossing-and-turning battle, it's probably too late, but if you've got a few hours, try downing a handful of walnuts. The nuts contain tryptophan — something you probably associate with turkey — but it's actually an amino acid found in many foods that your body needs to produce serotonin and melatonin (basically, the stuff dreams are made of). The same is true of bananas, lean protein and dairy, Rothstein says.
4. ...But Avoid a Big Meal Before Hitting the Sheets
"Eating too large of a meal, especially one that's protein-rich, high in fat, or spicy, before bed can make it difficult to sleep," Rothstein says. "You're putting demands on your digestive system that are designed to occur when you're awake. Furthermore, it's not easy to digest food while you're lying down."A light snack is fine, just make sure it doesn't have any hidden caffeine in it.
5. Nix Your Nightcap
A glass of wine may seem like the delicious equivalent of a sleeping pill, but that's not necessarily the case, Rothstein says.
"Alcohol can actually wreak havoc on your sleep," she says. "Even if it initially helps you doze off, it can interrupt your sleep cycles and you'll likely wake back up. Ideally, you should cut yourself off within four hours of when you plan to go to sleep." To hit your sleep sweet spot, go for a cup of calming tea instead.
6. Keep Tabs On the Moon
Could a full moon be messing with your chances of getting a full night's rest? Maybe. A small study published inCurrent Biologyfound that participants took longer to fall asleep on nights when the moon was at its peak phase. Consider closing your blinds or popping some melatonin when the lunar cycle is at its brightest.
7. Create a Bedtime Ritual
Turns out, go, go, go, go, sleep — doesn't really work. "You need to prepare to go to bed just like you would prepare for work or anything else," Rothstein says. How you choose to unwind is up to you, but some good ideas: taking a warm bath, doing a few yoga poses, or writing down what you're grateful for or anything that's bothering you.
8. Skip Your Intense Workout
Permission to ditch the gym — granted! At least, in the late p.m. hours, anyway. "Exercising within three hours of going to bed can stimulate the body and make it hard to fall asleep," Rothstein says. Endorphins give you a surge of energy, and when your body temperature is elevated, it's hard to rep those Zzzs. A little light stretching is okay, but it's best to hit up the treadmill in the morning.
9. Put Pissed Off Vibes to Bed First
If you got into a heated argument with your partner, and then hop into the sheets together, chances are you won't be able to fall asleep, according to a study published in the journalSocial Personality and Psychological Science. Not even stealing the covers is going to help chill you out. Try to talk things out so you can tucker out.
10. Masturbate or Have Sex — Or Do Both (Why Not?!)
For some people, sex or masturbation can help release stress hormones, which produces a calming effect...hello, sleep!
11. Leave the Scene
Watching the minutes tick by. Constantly tossing and turning. It's frustrating! The angrier you get, the more stress hormones start buzzing through your body. Instead of staying in bed where you can't forget about the fact that you can't sleep, get up. Read a book or sip on a warm, soothing drink — anything that won't stimulate your mind.
Video: 11 EXCELLENT TRICKS WITH BATTERIES
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