Few things in life are more frustrating than the inability to fall — or to remain — asleep. The average adult should get at least seven hours of sleep each night, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Doing so is necessary for your physical and mental well-being.
If you have trouble getting a good night’s sleep, you aren’t alone. In fact, the Sleep Health Foundation reveals that one-third of people experience “at least mild insomnia.” And, like you, these frustrated folks are seeking a solution. According to Consumer Reports:
Americans spent an estimated $41 billion on sleep aids and remedies in 2015, and that’s expected to grow to $52 billion by 2020, according to Natana Raj, an analyst with BCC Research in Wellesley, Mass. The rub is that certain solutions don’t work as well as claimed — if they work at all.
Before you resort to pricey sleep solutions that may or may not be effective, try these seven unusual ways to summon some slumber:
Conceal your clocks
It’s OK to lose track of time after you go to bed at night. In fact, constantly checking the clock to see how many hours remain until morning can create stress and further prevent you from catching some shut-eye.
So, cover all the clocks in the bedroom — or remove them altogether. Then, close your eyes and get ready to drift into dreamland. And don’t worry. You can still practice your time-keeping skills during daylight hours.
Eat bananas and cherries
Mom may have told you to unwind with a cup of warm milk before bed, but the beverage is loaded with sugar, which can increase levels of cortisol, also known as the “stress hormone” that is associated with the body’s fight or flight response. Elevated levels of cortisol can keep you awake longer.
Instead, snack on some cherries and bananas in the evening. Cherries contain natural melatonin, known for regulating the body’s circadian rhythm. Bananas are rich in calming magnesium, which can help promote a relaxed, sleep-ready state.
Tense your toes
The secret to falling asleep may lie in your feet! Believe it or not, the simple act of curling and uncurling your toes while lying in bed can release tension from your body and help you nod off. According to Everyday Health:
The repetitive movement helps some people relax, shipping them off to dreamland. The exercise also works with other muscle groups like your legs, abdomen and arms.
Compose your thoughts
Concerns keeping you awake at night? Keep a pad and a pen on your nightstand and jot down any last-minute thoughts just before bedtime, according to research out of Baylor University. It found that people who spent five minutes writing a to-do list fell asleep an average of nine minutes earlier than those who wrote of list of things they had already accomplished.
So, give yourself some time to clear your mind of the day’s events, then add items to your to-do list and gather your thoughts for that upcoming work meeting. You’ll likely find that this method is more reliable than counting sheep!
Dose your pillow
Essential oils can have big-time benefits when it comes to rest and relaxation. Lavender oil is particularly widely touted as a natural sleep aid. Spray some on your pillow approximately 10 minutes before bedtime to help you sleep like a baby, according to Good Health Academy:
You may not want to apply the oil directly to your bedding for fear of oil stains, but you can mix up a solution which will make washing your bedding much easier at the end of the week.
Good Health Academy recommends combining 20 drops of lavender oil with 50 milliliters of filtered or distilled water in a spray bottle.
It may seem kind of strange, but blowing bubbles as you did during childhood can help you fall asleep. So, the next time you buy a bottle for the kids or grandkids, pick up one for yourself.
According to a Men’s Health article republished in the New York Post:
It’s like a deep breathing exercise, which helps calm your body and mind … And since it’s such a silly activity, it can also take your mind off of any potential sleep-thwarting thoughts.
Shed your nightclothes
Want to have an easier time falling and staying asleep? Sleep naked. Trading in your PJs for your birthday suit boasts multiple benefits, according to Lifehack:
A recent Australian study concluded that a drop in core body temperature is needed in order for sleep to initiate normally. The body pushes the heat out from the core like a radiator and releases it. If your body can’t release the heat because of heavy pajamas or socks, you are more likely to suffer from insomnia, because your core won’t be able to release the heat. Sleeping naked allows the heat to release more quickly, and helps you fall asleep faster.
Lifehack also cited an additional study that found that “the regulation of in-bed body temperature could significantly help in reaching a deeper sleep for longer periods of time.”
Do you have more unusual tips for promoting sleep? Share them in comments below or on our Facebook page.