We’ve all been there: you got into bed an hour ago, and yet there you are — tossing, turning, struggling to fall asleep. What’s worse, the more frustrated you get that you can’t fall asleep, the harder it is for you to drift off into snoozeland.
The Importance of Sleep
Sleep is obviously super important to your overall well-being. Not only does getting a good night’s sleep ensure your body can restore itself and heal, but it also ensures you have more energy and brainpower for your workday. Sleep even plays a role in your mood. So failing to catch enough Z’s may even take a toll on your mental health.
If you’ve been struggling to get amazing sleep lately, find out why these research-based methods work and incorporate them into your routine. With better sleep, you’ll feel more refreshed, healthier, happier, and more beautiful every day.
Lesser-Known Methods for Better Sleep
It’s totally normal to have some trouble falling asleep now and again. Maybe you have a lot on your mind from work or you’re mulling over events from the day. Or maybe you had a caffeinated beverage late in the afternoon. Whatever the reason, it can happen to anyone. But that doesn’t mean you have to lie there for hours feeling helpless.
In fact, there are a slew of strategies you can use when you need a little extra help drifting off. Of course, avoiding caffeine and the use of electronic devices before bed and going to sleep at the same time every night can be helpful. But even when you’re following some of the more obvious tactics, you might still find it difficult to fall asleep at times. Here are a few more in-depth ways you can try.
Meditate for a calmer mind
Meditation has a myriad of benefits for your body and mind, and it’s a worthwhile practice to incorporate into daily life regardless of your sleep. But it can also help you to relax before bed.
One 2012 study revealed that meditation can boost the levels of melatonin, a hormone that plays a key role in regulating sleep. As such, it can help the brain to achieve a state where it’s easier to fall asleep. In fact, research conducted by the insomnia program at Northwestern Memorial Hospital found that people who practiced meditation saw improvements in both their total sleep time and sleep quality.
If you’re a meditation newbie and not too sure where to start, consider getting some extra help from guided meditations. Solluna’s 7-day meditation series is a perfect place to start. The first day focuses on scanning your body for hidden sources of stress and tension and then easing them with your breath. It’s a perfect choice when you’re struggling to fall asleep. Even better, it’s completely free.
It might be counterintuitive to listen to music when you’re trying to fall asleep. Many people believe they need total silence in order to fall asleep. However, studies have shown time and again that music can improve your ability to fall — and stay — asleep. In fact, some research has shown that music can be used to effectively treat insomnia and other chronic sleep disorders.
A 2008 study published in the Journal of Advanced Nursing showed that students between the ages of 19 and 29 who listened to classical music for 45 minutes before bedtime experienced a significant improvement in their sleep quality. (To boot, they also reported decreased symptoms of depression — how’s that for a bonus?)
Another 2012 study revealed that people who were exposed to soothing music before bedtime experienced deeper and more restful sleep than those who didn’t listen to any music. If you’re wondering what to listen to, Sleep Foundation recommends “a rhythm of about 60 to 80 beats per minute (BPM), which you’re likely to find among classical, jazz, or folk songs.” Don’t just listen to your favorite music before bed — choose one that will relax your body and your mind.
Take advantage of aromatherapy
Smell is a pretty powerful sense. As you may know from sniffing your favorite herb or a nostalgic fragrance, it can totally transform your mood and spark your memory or imagination. Aromatherapy, which entails using essential oils, may help you to fall asleep faster by promoting relaxation. Need proof? A systematic review of 12 studies concluded that aromatherapy was effective in improving sleep quality.
So, which scents are the best for helping you snooze?
Lavender is one stellar pick. A 2013 study stated that lavender oil was helpful in reducing insomnia, especially in women, and helped them stay awake during the day as well.
Experts on Solluna’s podcast have also recommended Roman chamomile as a potent sleep aid.
Consider placing an essential oil diffuser in your bedroom. You may be amazed at how some calming scents can help you to drift off more easily.
Sip a soothing beverage
OK, so you probably know that it’s best to avoid drinking caffeine or alcohol in the evening. (Don’t forget that this includes black and green tea!)
On the other hand, you might want to sip on something soothing if you need some help falling asleep. Here are a few options:
Studies have shown that ingesting magnesium before bed can not only help you fall asleep faster but also help you stay asleep for longer. Moreover, it can counteract high levels of your body’s stress hormone (cortisol).
Magnesium helps to regulate the production of melatonin, which explains its power in regards to relaxation. Not only that, but this mineral has been shown to boost brain levels of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), a brain messenger that can have a calming effect.
It’s very important for your sleep quality that you’re getting enough magnesium, so finding a way to incorporate it into your diet is essential to good sleep.
Think happy thoughts
Our mind can keep us awake, but it’s just as useful in helping us sleep, too. The strategy of “think happy thoughts” may sound idealistic and silly, but finding positive thoughts or visualizing a calming environment can help you fall asleep.
Science supports this strategy, too. A study published in Behavior Research and Therapy revealed that people suffering from insomnia were able to fall asleep faster after using an “imaginary distraction” than those who didn’t use this tactic. Those who conjured up images of a relaxing scene, like a waterfall or a beach, drifted off a whopping 20 minutes earlier.
Researchers determined that this technique worked because it allowed people to occupy their minds with positive thoughts, which then kept them from re-engaging with worries and other negative thoughts during that pre-sleep period.
Here’s a fun fact: Your body temperature helps to regulate your biological clock. Just before you drift off, your body temperature drops a bit, which seems to help to induce sleep. That’s why The National Sleep Foundation recommends keeping your bedroom temperature somewhere around 65 degrees Fahrenheit to promote the most restful sleep.
Of course, you want to find whatever temperature is comfortable for you. Somewhere between 60 and 68 degrees is ideal. If it’s significantly warmer than that in your bedroom, it might be harder for your body to recognize the signals that it’s time to go to sleep.
Try sleeping in a cool environment, maybe with a fan and your windows open depending on where you live. An air filter set to “turbo mode” can make your room cooler and create some beneficial white noise as well.
Solluna Helps You Sleep Better
If you find that you’re regularly struggling to fall asleep, you may benefit from my SleepWell System — a personalized program which includes coaching videos, daily rituals for both morning and night, and other resources that can help you to achieve optimum sleep.
Not only will you learn about how you may be negatively impacting your sleep without even knowing it, but you’ll get so much more insight into how to naturally balance out your sleep cycles and patterns so you can get more restful snooze time.