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Natural Sleeping Pill Alternatives; 21 Science-Backed Options

Natural Sleeping Pill Alternatives; 21 Science-Backed Options

Sleep problems are all to common, and so is the desire for natural sleeping pill alternatives.

They may work for many sleep sufferers, but no one could blame you if you didn’t want to wade into the waters of prescription sleep medications. Beyond the very real potential of developing dependence on certain types of medications, including benzodiazepines like Ativan and Xanax, there’s also the long list of side effects: dizziness, drowsiness at all hours of the day, digestive problems, headaches, heartburn, impairment, memory issues — at the (literal) end of the day, you might not feel like it’s worth it.

Then there are the sometimes-murky waters of natural supplements, as well. Melatonin is the most-recommended supplement for sleep, but long-term use may interrupt your body’s natural production of this sleep chemical. Scientists have researched which natural supplements could be dangerous. Kava kava has been linked to liver damage, passion flower has a risk of causing gene mutations and is unsafe for pregnant women, and rutaecarpine could increase your risk for heart attacks. And even if they don’t pose any potential threat to your health, plenty of acclaimed natural sleep aids may not work —  wild lettuce, St. John’s wort, catnip, iron, lemon balm, and others either aren’t more effective than a placebo or just don’t have much evidence to support their effectiveness.

What natural sleeping pill alternatives work?

What’s backed up with evidence? Thankfully, with sleep problems on the rise, more medical professionals are studying the chemicals and substances that can reduce anxiety, help you get to sleep faster, lengthen the time you spend sleeping, and make you feel less tired when you wake up. Some of the oldest folk and natural remedies for better sleep have been shown to be effective in labs and research trials, and better research on dietary science has led to a better understanding of how foods affects our sleep.

Pairing better routines with your natural sleeping pill alternatives

Your routines are important for your sleep, and often one of the best places to make a change for better sleep. Pairing a natural sleeping pill alternative from the list below with positive sleep routines is a great strategy; the two will reinforce each other. Establishing good bedtime routines are important for everyone – young & old. Previously we have shown that among kids the implementation of a posttive bedtime routine can shown benefits in first three nights (Mindell 2017). Creating a healthy and consistent bedtime routine that includes a natural sleeping pill alternative both ensure that you take your natural alternative each night and helps your body and mind prepare for sleep.

If you want to try any of these supplements, be sure to talk to your doctor first — as with any treatment, you could be taking medications or have a condition that interacts even with natural substances. Here are 21 of the best natural sleeping pill alternatives; natural remedies for better sleep:

1. Lavender

Lavender contains linalool, a chemical that appears to have a sedative effect when taken orally. But lavender is best known for its aromatherapeutic scent, which in research trials helped both adults with insomnia and those without to feel drowsy, fall asleep, and sleep better. Some people also have success putting a few drops of lavender oil on their pillow, but beware if you have sensitive skin — linalool can be irritating. To try lavender as a natural sleep remedy, use an essential oil diffuser or put a few drops into your humidifier and enjoy the aroma in a well-ventilated room for thirty minutes before (or heck, while) you head to bed.

2. Gingko biloba

The medical uses of the leaves of this Chinese tree have been widely-studied with promising results. In addition to improving sleep quality by reducing anxiety, patients who took gingko biloba specifically for sleep reported better-quality sleep and an overall increase in sleep.

3. Chamomile

This daisy-like wildflower has been a staple in herbal medicine dating back to ancient Egypt, where it was used to cure fever. Its most common use today is as a mild sedative, and it’s usually prepared as a tea or as an essential oil for aromatherapy. Chamomile contains a plant chemical, apigenin, that works with molecules in the brain that are related to anxiety reduction. Apigenin can’t be taken on its own, but can be consumed through food sources like chamomile. Research on chamomile is still in its early stages, but small studies have shown chamomile to be effective both as a tea and in aromatherapy.

4. L-Tryptophan

You may remember hearing that your post-Thanksgiving food hangover had something to do with the amino acid tryptophan. Although it is present in many protein-heavy foods (like turkey), that post-Thanksgiving coma probably has more to do with eating a lot of heavy food. There is something to the old wives’ tale, however: Tryptophan produces melatonin in the brain, has been studied as a sleep inducer since the 1960s, and has been proven as a reliable, effective natural sleep remedy. Studies show that especially for people with mild insomnia, doses of 1g or greater can help increase sleepiness and decrease the time it takes to fall asleep.

5. Glycine

You might remember glycine from high school chemistry: it’s the simplest amino acid, and it’s the primary compound in collagen, which is found in a wide variety of foods (like bone broth, fish, and berries, to name a few). It’s important for a number of brain and body functions, but in studies, a 3g dose of glycine an hour before sleep is reported to improve sleep quality and reduce fatigue the next day.

6. L-Theanine

L-Theanine, like glycine and tryptophan, is an amino acid. In terms of sleep science, the similarities end there, though: Theanine is far less common in the human diet, and its effect on sleep is less direct. Theanine increases levels of GABA, a chemical in the brain that reduces nervous physical activity. Patients report a state of relaxation and reduced stress, and studies show that theanine supplements can reduce tossing and turning. You can take theanine as a supplement, and the only place it’s found in high concentrations in the human diet is green tea.

7. California Poppy

California’s bright-orange state flower has some promising preliminary research to support its use for anxious sleep sufferers, in particular. Patients in a trial that used California poppy to treat anxiety said their anxiety improved over the course of a month while taking it as a supplement, which is promising for people who can’t sleep because of racing thoughts. Talk to your doctor about taking California Poppy as a supplement, though — it can interact with certain prescription medications.

8. Calcium

You’re probably familiar with calcium mainly as it relates to bone health. Calcium is also an important nutrient for overall health, too. Calcium helps the brain use tryptophan to produce melatonin, and studies have shown calcium levels to be higher during the REM cycle, the deepest cycle of sleep. Making sure that you’re getting enough calcium can reduce your wakefulness during the night.

9. 5-HTP

The name stands for “5-hydroxytryptophan,” which isn’t nearly as complicated as it sounds. Tryptophan is converted into 5-HTP in the body, and 5-HTP is then converted into serotonin, one of the “feel-good” brain chemicals. For that reason, depression can — in some cases — be caused by a lack of tryptophan in the diet and 5-HTP in the body, and can interrupt sleep. In one study, 5-HTP has been shown to decrease the amount of time it takes to fall asleep.

10. Magnesium

It’s especially important for vegetarians and vegans to watch their magnesium intake: a lack of magnesium can contribute to anxiety, stress, and sleep disorders. In addition, magnesium acts as a natural muscle relaxant, helping to ease your body into sleep. It’s best taken with calcium, but make sure you talk to your doctor before taking supplemental doses of magnesium — high amounts of it can cause some unpleasant digestive symptoms.

11. Hops

Yep, those hops — the hops used to make beer — have been used to induce sleep for over a millennium. There isn’t a scientific consensus on its effectiveness yet. In small studies, women and university students who consumed hops as a supplement reported improvement in the quality of their sleep and reduced anxiety. Keep in mind that alcohol can actually interrupt your sleep, so hops are best consumed as a tincture, in powdered form, or even in non-alcoholic beer. Bottoms up!

12. Valerian Root

This foul-smelling root has been used as a natural remedy for better sleep since the time of ancient Greece and Rome, and was even used in England to soothe stress caused by air raids during World War II. Doctors don’t know how it acts on the brain yet. It’s possible that a number of chemical compounds in valerian work together to produce its sedative effects. Although there isn’t a consensus on valerian, the best research done on its soothing qualities showed significantly improved sleep.

13. Curcumin

Curcumin is the compound that gives turmeric its beautiful golden yellow hue, and it’s caused turmeric to gain popularity in wellness circles over the last few years due to its well-researched anti-inflammatory effects. Inflammation, as it happens, is also thought to play a role in mood disorders, so researchers have taken an interest in curcumin’s potential to treat anxiety. Patients in small preliminary studies reported a significant decrease in anxious symptoms that can also cause sleeplessness. It’s hard for the body to absorb curcumin on its own, but pairing it with black pepper can help.

14. Echinacea

Fun fact: The name “echinacea” is derived from the Greek word for “hedgehog,” due to the flower’s spiny petals. You might know it best as a treatment for the common cold, but one study showed that echinacea may have significant anti-anxiety effects when taken in low doses, as well. Store your echinacea in a cool, dark place — sunlight and heat can cause it to lose some of its active chemicals.

15. Ashwagandha

The root of this Indian shrub has been held in wide esteem for its anti-anxiety effects in Ayurvedic medicine for millennia. Research bears out that chemicals in Ashwagandha may reduce the perception of stress significantly and might decrease the influence of corticosteroid on your body. On its own, that can help you sleep better. But it’s also showing some preliminary potential for the treatment of insomnia. Like valerian, watch out for the smell of this root — the name “ashwagandha” translates (apparently correctly) to “smells like horse.”

16. Carbs

Great news! Bread can help you sleep. No, really — when you eat carbohydrates, your body responds by releasing insulin, which can help tryptophan be absorbed in the brain. High-glycemic foods also cause your blood sugar levels to quickly spike and then quickly fall, shortening the amount of time it takes to fall asleep. In one study, people who ate jasmine rice fell asleep faster than when they ate other rice types, so it might be worth the splurge over your usual brown rice.

17. Dairy

More great news! Cheese can also help you sleep. Any dairy product, in fact, contains high amounts of calcium and tryptophan, and could contribute to an overall plan to help you get some shut-eye. Between cheese, rice, and curcumin, a curry with paneer and jasmine rice seems like the perfect pre-sleep meal!

18. Dark leafy greens

Dark leafy greens contain a boatload of nutrients, and they might be particularly important for vegans looking to gear their diet toward better sleep. Greens like kale, spinach, chard, bok choy, and mustard greens contain loads of calcium that dairy-eaters normally get through milk, cheese, and yogurt.

19. Tart cherry juice

Tryptophan occurs most commonly in animal products, making it another natural remedy for better sleep that’s hard for vegetarians and vegans to get through their diets. Thankfully, cherry juice — especially tart cherry juice — does contain tryptophan, and researchers from the Universities of Pennsylvania and Rochester found that research subjects who drank tart cherry juice reported better sleep than a placebo group.

20. Kiwi

If you love kiwi, you’ll be happy to know that daily consumption may be a natural remedy to help you sleep better. Researchers at Taiwain’s University of Taipei found in a small study that subjects who ate kiwi daily reported falling asleep faster, better sleep, feeling less tired in the morning, and increased time sleeping.

21. Bananas

Bananas are a powerhouse of sleep-related chemicals. In addition to being another vegan option for tryptophan, they also contain potassium and magnesium, which act as natural muscle relaxants. Eat one thirty minutes before bed, or prepare yourself a cup of banana tea by cutting off the ends and boiling the whole rest of the banana for 8-10 minutes an hour before bed.

This article on natural sleeping pill alternatives is related to the Somn Body Sleep Factor. Learn more about the Somn Assessment and Sleep Factors

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Science of Sleep and Aging; How sleep changes with age

This scientific article on the Science of Sleep & Aging; How sleep changes with age was written by Jessica Page, a research scientist at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine who researches childhood development and sleep.

At some point or another, we accept that aging is a part of life. We easily notice how getting older affects our behavior, learning, and memory. But many of us overlook the impacts of aging on sleep and, conversely, the impacts of sleep on aging. These two elements of life are deeply intertwined. We’ll explore the science of sleep & aging and and discover the biological changes that underpin sleep.

What Determines Our Need to Sleep?

Before we address the role of aging and sleep, we need to first understand what is sleep and what determines how much we sleep. Sleep is not a passive event, but rather an active process involving physiological changes that occur throughout the brain and body (Guidozzi, 2015). Sleep is governed by two processes (Borbély, 1982): one oversees the time of day to sleep during a 24-hour period (Daan et al., 1984) and the other gauges the need for sleep (Achermann & Borbély, 2011).

Your need for sleep is determined by circadian rhythms and the interaction of these processes defines the timing and duration of your sleep. Throughout the day or with extended wakefulness, our sleep pressure increases and thus, the need for sleep increases (Dijk & Franken, 2005). Yet, many factors such as genetics, feeding, exercise, stress, menstrual cycle, hormones, and medications also influence our sleep need.  

What Is Sleep Composed Of?

Different factors affect specific parts of sleep. Our internal clock, which is present in cells and neurons in the body, is influenced by light-dark cycles as well as eating (Santhi et al. 2016). This clock plays an important role in the sleep/wake cycle and enables the transition of different sleep cycles (Guidozzi, 2015). Circadian rhythms influence not only our sleep but also alertness, mood, hormone release, all of which are controlled by our internal clock (Achermann & Borbély, 2011).

When we fall asleep, we experience two alternating stages, Non-rapid eye movement (NREM) and rapid eye movement (REM) sleep (Iber et al., 2007; Rechtschaffen & Kales, 1968). NREM sleep is further divided into sleep onset, light sleep, and slow wave sleep (SWS) – also called deep sleep (Iber et al., 2007). REM sleep is well-known for periods in which dreaming occurs, as well as bouts of rapid eye movement and lack of muscle tone or strength (Iber et al., 2007).

Over the course of a typical sleep cycle, humans alternate between periods of NREM and REM sleep, lasting between 90 to 120 minutes per stage (Feinberg & Floyd, 1979). Thus, the average adult experiences 4 to 6 NREM-REM sleep cycles. Depending on how long one sleeps, throughout the night with each consecutive cycle, there is less NREM sleep and more REM sleep (Haggenauer et al 2006; Dement and Kleitman, 1957).

Measuring Sleep: How Do I know If I’m Getting “Good Sleep”?

Sleep health is determined by the amount of time it takes to fall asleep, sleep duration, staying asleep (not waking up at night), and consistencies in your sleep routine (Carskadon et al, 2011). While these factors seem straightforward, it can be challenging to know if you are getting “good sleep” and what to do if you’re not. It’s also often difficult to determine how your sleep needs may change with age. Change in sleep is a part of aging and aging impacts your sleep health.

With age, our sleep architecture (or sleep patterns) also change. As a result, our circadian rhythm changes, which then alters our sleep cycles and ultimately our sleep health. Throughout the night we experience a repetition of sleep cycles and though the total amount of sleep generally remains the same, with age we spend more time in lighter stages of NREM sleep and may not experience as much REM or deep sleep (Carskadon et al, 2011). Understanding some of these changes may help you recognize if alterations in sleep quality are due to aging and identify if these changes are a concern.

Sleep for Early Childhood

Sleep patterns change across the lifespan, but the most change is seen in early childhood. Early childhood is characterized by rapid development in brain development and learning (both of which are thought to be supported by sleep). Many people with newborns may feel like their child’s sleep need changes from day-to-day, and rightly so. Newborns don’t have an established circadian rhythm and, as a result, spend upwards to 16 hours of their day sleeping. And, since they have shorter sleep cycles their sleep is spread throughout the day (Davis, Parker, & Montgomery, 2004).

During early childhood, there’s a decline in sleep from 14-16 hours and 2-3 naps in newborns to 10-12 hours and 1 nap in preschool-aged children. Still, we sleep longer in early childhood than any other period of life. This is the case for a couple of reasons: First, our brains are plastic, changing at impressive rates, and this change seems to parallel the changes in our sleep. Second, when we are born our brains are not fully developed and sleep helps our brains restore information that was learned throughout the day (Kurth, Achermann, Rusterholz, & Lebourgeois, 2013).

As children grow older they experience a decrease in REM sleep and an increase in NREM sleep. The change is thought to mirror aging and cortical development (Kurth et al., 2010), social-emotional development (Mindell, Leichman, DuMond & Sadeh, 2016), and language and cognitive development (Page, Lustenberger, & Frohlich, 2018). As children age and spend less time sleeping, they have more opportunities to play and learn new information. The newly learned information is then strengthened and stored during sleep.

Children who do not acquire an adequate amount of sleep or deprived of their daily nap, are not only irritable but show decreases in performance (Kurdziel et al. ,2013) and accuracy (Astill et al., 2014) compared to children who receive an adequate amount of sleep. By the time children begin elementary school, they typically have a set sleep schedule where all of their sleep occurs at night.

Sleep for Adolescence

The transition to adolescence is a period that many of us remember and some may wish to forget. Adolescence can be described as a time of social, emotional, and cognitive transition from childhood to adulthood (Haggenhouer et al 2006) and may be best known as the moment of puberty. This period of life takes place when we’re 10-19-years old, and like early childhood, it’s another time of vast changes in sleep patterns. It’s during this moment in life when gender differences in aging and sleep become more apparent. Girls have a longer sleep duration more deep sleep, fewer wakings and better sleep efficiency than boys (Mehta, Shafi, & Bhat, 2015).

Due to changes in reproductive development and changes in melatonin, a hormone that alters sleep, adolescents experience many changes in their sleep-wake cycle. During this age span, there is reduced deep sleep (N3) and REM sleep as well as an increase in delayed sleep phase. (Jenni and Carskadon, 2004; Jenni et al., 2005; Kurth et al., 2010; Lui et al., 2017). In other words, adolescents are going to bed later and not getting enough of the deep sleep they need to feel rested and refreshed.

Around 10-years of age, children should receive about 10 hours of sleep per day (Jenni & Carskadon, 2007) while teens are advised to get 8 to 10 hours (Short, Weber, Reynolds, Coussens, & Carskadon, 2018). Yet, on average teens are not sleeping enough (Lui et al., 2017). Because of changes in their circadian rhythm, alterations in hormones, along with academic and social obligations such as sports or employment (Lui et al., 2017) adolescents are more likely to have irregular sleep patterns and experience daytime sleepiness. With advances in technology, kids are especially vulnerable to staying up late at night, often in front of a tv screen or a smartphone. What’s more, exposure to light that is emitted by many screens interferes with our internal clock making it more difficult to fall asleep.

Other changes in aging and sleep are due to how our bodies adapt with our circadian rhythm, and the impact on the metabolism (Laposky, Bass, & Kohsaka, 2008; Wolk & Somers, 2007) as well as the menstrual cycle (Kurth et al, 2010; Lui et al., 2017). For young women, the menstrual cycle greatly influences sleep need. Typically, girls experience a decrease in the time from wake to sleep and a higher need for sleep compared to boys.

Excessive daytime sleepiness and the menstrual cycle are associated with increased risk of insomnia (Lui et al., 2017; Noon et al., 2014). Similar to young children, adolescents who get enough “good sleep” perform better in school and experience fewer health problems. It’s important for us to recognize the role of sleep during this hectic moment in life. The reason why a student underperforms or has difficulties in school may potentially have more to do with their sleep rather than their talent and ability.  

Sleep for Adulthood

As we age, it becomes increasingly clear that aging and sleep are experienced differently by men and women. Both human and animal studies show gender and hormones (estrogen, progesterone, testosterone) influence circadian rhythms and are further influenced by environmental, societal and cultural demands (McCoy & Strecker, 2011). It is probably to no surprise that sleep patterns may vary by person (Lauderdale et al., 2006; Nunes et al., 2008; Unruh et al., 2008). In many respects we have some stable features as our circadian rhythm and sleep patterns, yet within those sleep patterns we have fingerprint-like elements that contribute to our ability to achieve “good sleep”.

Most adults with a routine sleep schedule and who sleep well should get around 8 hours of sleep (Carskadon & Dement, 2011). Once asleep, adults typically begin in NREM sleep and transition to REM sleep and throughout the night, there is decreased NREM sleep and an increase in REM sleep (Carskadon & Dement, 2011). Throughout adulthood, during NREM sleep, we experience less slow wave or deep sleep in frontal regions of the brain (Carrier et al., 2011). Frontal brain regions are known for cognitive processes such as reasoning and thinking abstractly. Interestingly, young children show increased slow oscillations and research suggests that the increase of these oscillations in frontal areas mirrors the development of cognitive skill sets (Page, Lustenberger, & Frohlich, 2018). Compared to adulthood, one possible reason why we see rapid change in early development, is due to the development of more sophisticated cognitive skills, occuring in frontal brain regions.   

Sleep need in adulthood

Sleep needs are often a subjective sleep measure. Subjective sleep quality is recognized as an important aspect of a healthy lifestyle, with differences reported between males and females. Females report an increased need for sleep and more complaints of non-refreshing sleep than males (Mehta, Shafi, & Bhat, 2015). And, across the lifespan, females are more likely than males to report dissatisfaction with their sleep (Lui et al., 2017;Mehta, Shafi, & Bhat, 2015). For females, sleep seems to be influenced by hormonal factors, with women typically experiencing more sleep disturbances in connection with the menstrual cycle, pregnancy, and menopause (Pines, 2016). Menstrual cycles are associated with well-known changes in reproductive hormones that may influence sleep. Pregnancy also influences sleep needs, that vary depending on the trimester of the pregnancy and whether there are pre-existing health conditions (Mehta, Shafi, & Bhat, 2015).

Due to increased demands of daily life, other factors influence sleep quality. For example, employment and travel greatly affect our sleep. Prolonged wakefulness can be attenuated by increased bouts of deep sleep. In many instances, employment and daily demands of life make it difficult to obtain quality sleep. Males and females may experience increased anxiety as a result of poor sleep and increased sleep difficulties, but not everyone experiences this (Goldstein-Polkarski et al., 2018). For many reasons, sleep loss, sleep disruptions, and anxiety are known to alter cognitive performance, attention, emotional reactivity, and learning (Lustenberger et al., 2012). However, healthy sleep habits can diminish some of these issues.

Sleep for Old Age

Older adults are often thought to not sleep as well as younger adults. Yet, it is unclear if older adults experience less “good sleep” or simply do not require as much sleep (Mandler, Winer & Walker, 2017). At this stage of life, changes in sleep include earlier bedtimes, longer time to fall asleep, shorter sleep duration, becoming easily awakened, and (consequently) more night awakenings (Mandler, Winer & Walker, 2017).

Because of difficulties experienced during aging and sleep, older adults experience decreased deep sleep known as slow wave sleep (SWS), fewer NREM and REM transitions, and increased time spent awake throughout the night (Conte et al., 2014; Feinberg and Carlson, 1968; Kales et al., 1967; Klerman and Dijk, 2008; Landolt et al., 1996; Ohayon et al., 2004; Redline et al., 2004; Van Cauter et al., 2000; Vienne et al., 2016). Difficulties in sleep have also been associated with decreases in memory performance and more specifically memory consolidation (Fogel & Smith, 2011).

While not all older adults report difficulties with their sleep, some are more likely to take daytime naps (Foley et al., 2007). Though in early childhood these naps are planned, in older age, these naps are typically unplanned (Foley et al., 2007). One reason for this change is due to alterations in nighttime sleep such as increased night waking and decreased deep sleep. These changes may be why 1 in 4 older adults report daytime sleepiness and thus, the need for a daytime nap. Though difficulties sleeping are widely reported among older adults (Ancoli-Israel et al, 2003; Lauderdale et al., 2014) this is not consistent for everyone. One of the biggest challenges with aging and sleep is understanding what health issues are caused by age, by sleep, or by a combination of the two.

Science of Sleep & Aging

Aging and sleep are a necessary part of life. Understanding how these processes occur and the impact on sleep quality will not only help you become more aware of your needs but may help you understand other important processes and identify ways to achieve a better night’s sleep.

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21 Affordable Sleep Gadgets to Help You Sleep Like a Baby

If you’re struggling with a lot of restless nights, no doubt some of the advice you’ll hear is about your sleep hygiene — good nighttime habits and changes to your environment that you can help you sleep better. While sleep medications and sleep supplements require a consultation with your doctor, sleep hygiene is simple strategy that you can take into your own hands immediately. Here we’ll present Affordable Sleep Gadgets to help you get some needed sleep.

Sleep hygiene involves creating an inviting, restful environment — a dark, relaxing, cool room free of distractions and artificial light. It also involves creating good habits, like winding down at the same time every night and finding solutions that help to relieve anxiety and get you into a sleep mindset.

Thankfully, there are plenty of tools for better sleep to help you revamp your home and habits. You can find sleep gadgets at as high of a price point as you’re willing to pay, but the real beauty is that just about any of them can also be purchased for less than $50, and some are even free or close to it. Research and surveys have consistently found that money is one of the biggest stressors keeping people up at night. But, with a few of these small investments, you can start creating a sleep-friendly home right now.

Here are 21 of the most effective & affordable sleep gadgets:

1. Blackout curtains

Light — or lack thereof — is one of the most important factors that affects your sleep. Certain cells in your eyes tell your brain whether it’s day or night, and too much light after sunset can make those cells think it’s still daytime. Blackout curtains are the easiest way to create an environment in your bedroom that will tell your brain it’s night and time to sleep. They come in just about any color you could ask for. Plus,they’re extra-thick, so unlike gauzy curtains, they’ll do just what their name says and create a blackout in your room so you can get better sleep.

2. Eye mask

Sometimes, of course, you’re going to have light sources inside your room: maybe your partner’s phone blinks all night, your roommate likes to have the hall light on, or you’re particularly attached to your digital clock. Eye masks are more than Holly Golightly cute — they’re easy solutions for blocking out light that you can’t banish with curtains. You can get a soft, satin eye mask if you want to go for comfort, or if you’re uncomfortable having something pressing on your eyes, get a raised foam eye mask.

3. White noise machine

Some people can sleep through just about anything, but for others, the sound of traffic, their spouse snoring, or a ceiling fan shifting back and forth all night is enough to keep you wide awake. White noise, a sort of soft static sound, hits the frequency your ear is most drawn to at a low volume to keep your attention away from noisy distractions. A fan favorite is the Marpac Dohm, which allows you to choose the tone and volume of your white noise, making it a truly customizable tool for better sleep.

4. White noise app

If you keep your phone bedside, you may wantt to spring for a white noise app. The aptly-titled White Noise allows you to pick from forty noises, plus it has gentle alarms for an easy morning and a mixing board in the paid version so that you can tailor  your sleep sounds. Pair it with a bluetooth speaker, or with headphones (in case your partner isn’t a fan).

5. Headphone headband

It can be rough trying to sleep with ear buds in, between pads sliding just a little too far into your ear and getting tangled in cords. Fleece headbands with built-in speakers, like these super-affordable Cozy Phones, solve all of those problems so that you can sleep soundly. Your eardrums will thank you!

6. Earplugs

If you prefer soundless nights altogether, ear plugs are a tried-and-true method to block out noise. 3M E-A-R ear plugs are not only designed for loud environments and well-reviewed by people in such professions as dog grooming and industrial manufacturing, they’re affordable as all get-out — one $25 pack of 200 ear plugs can get you  many nights of noiseless sleep.

7. Weatherstrip

One very simple, cheap, and handy tool for better sleep is a weatherstrip, a strip of high-density rubber foam that’s easy to install around your doors. It’s meant to prevent drafts on the outer doors of your home, but if there’s a lot of noise outside your bedroom when when you’re trying to sleep, you can install it around your door, too. Added bonus: It’s easy for even the least handy among us to install, meaning you’ll head to bed with a sense of mastery, too.

8. Essential oils

Research on aromatherapy has shown promising results for reducing anxiety and improving sleep quality. Lavender essential oil in particular has science-backed efficacy for helping people sleep better, but in one study researchers used a blend of lavender, chamomile, and neroli with impressive results. Put a few drops on your pillow, or, if you have sensitive skin, lightly soak a cotton ball and keep it close by.

9. Reed Diffuser

Another way to get the benefits of aromatherapy is to use a reed essential oil diffuser. Reeds pull essential oils from the bottom of the bottle into the air, where the oil evaporates, leaving a subtle, long-lasting scent in the room. You can buy pre-mixed reed diffusers, or if you’re a DIY-er, you can get bottles and reeds to mix your own scents and try one of these recipes for essential oil blends.

10. Pillow Mist

Yet another option for aromatherapy is pillow mist, pre-mixed blends of essential oil that you can lightly spray on your pillows and linens. This mist from Eunoia Naturals combines lavender and calming chamomile. As a similar alternative, if you love Ms. Meyer’s home products, you can also drop by just about any big-box store and get their lavender room mist. Who wouldn’t want to lay down to a sweet-smelling bed — or in a nice-smelling room?

11. Humidifier

Humidifiers have a number of benefits for sleep: They help to moisturize hairs in the nose so that they can move freely and filter out bacteria, they prevent dryness that leads to irritation in your nose and throat, and they alleviate snoring — which will be great whether you’re the one sawing logs or your partner’s snoring is keeping you awake. As an added bonus, you can put a few drops of essential oil in the water before you turn the humidifier on, and some humidifiers produce a faint, soothing white noise. You can find humidifiers at just about any price point, but this super-chic wood-patterned humidifier looks like a vase and would blend into just about any design style for under twenty dollars.

12. Amber light bulb

Even though the sun is yellow, sunlight is blue — as is the light emitted by most light bulbs and electronic devices. Blue light produced by electronics and other light sources can mess with your health, tricking your brain into thinking it’s still daytime and preventing you from winding down for sleep. To counteract its effects, fit your lamps with amber light bulbs, or with Edison bulbs, which also produce a warm color. Amber light mimics the effect of candlelight, which will create an ambiance that’ll help to ease you into sleep.

13. Salt lamp

The claims that salt lamps purify the air or provide health benefits otherwise have been thoroughly debunked, but that doesn’t stop them from being both a very cool piece of home décor and a way to create a dim warm light in your home. You can get the column lamp you’ve probably seen before, or use salt lamp nightlights in your hallways and bathroom to create a restful back-to-sleep environment even if you wake up to use the restroom at night.

14. F.lux

Most phones and tablets have a “Night Shift” feature that regulates the color of the light emitted from devices these days (check your display settings if you haven’t already), but some computers don’t. Thankfully there’s f.lux, a free desktop program that automatically controls the color of the light your computer emits based on the time of day and the schedule you input for it. Now, even if you have to work at night (or, you know, check your social feeds), you can still get a good night’s rest.

15. Curved memory foam pillow

If you experience neck or spinal pain at night, it might be time to reconsider your sleeping position and your pillow. Sleeping on your stomach is rough on your spine, since it causes you to arch your spine and keep your head turned all night. Sleeping with too high a pillow can keep your neck bent forward, causing aches in the morning, but a pillow that’s too low won’t provide enough support for your cervical spine, the part that’s in your neck. Cervical memory foam pillows give your neck plenty of support, whether you’re sleeping on your side or your back. An extra bonus is that most have both a high and low bump so you can use whichever is most comfortable for your neck, but they come in a variety of other supportive shapes as well.

16. Cooling pillow

Wouldn’t it be nice not to worry about which is the “cool side” of the pillow? Temperature is one of the most important factors for good sleep, and sleep scientists at Harvard recommend keeping your home between 60 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. If fans and air conditioning don’t quite do it for you, it might be worthwhile to invest in a pillow with built-in cooling gel. This two-pack of gel-lined pillows is also hypoallergenic, and reviewers rave about how comfortable they are. Your home will keep the gel cool all day, and by the time you lay down to sleep, your pillow will be nice and refreshing for your tired head.

17. Cooling Tencel mattress protector

And then, of course, there are the truly overheated of us, the people who either just can’t get cool or happen to live in Texas. In that case, it might be time to get a mattress protector that contains Tencel, a fabric made from cellulose found in wood pulp that’s soft, strong, absorbent, wicking, and breathable. To give you an idea of how good it is for the sweatiest among us, it’s been used in athletic wear since the nineties, and if you happen to be environmentally inclined it might please you to know that it’s also considered a sustainable fabric. Mattress protectors with tencel promise a night of cooler, better sleep.

18. Pregnancy pillow – even if you’re not pregnant

Pregnancy pillows are like the superhero version of body pillows. They’re shaped like a tight “C” to curve around the shoulder and under the head as well as between the legs to provide support on all sides of the body. It’s especially great if you have a weighted-down pregnancy belly, but it feels a little bit like your pillow is giving you a nice, big hug. Former pregnant folks report using them even after they’ve given birth because they’re such a helpful tool for sleep, but watch out — everyone in your family might want a turn with it.

19. Herbal and green teas

Beyond providing warm comfort at the end of the day, science backs up the use of herbal and green teas as tools for better sleep. Chamomile has shown promising results in one small study, where subjects reported decreased anxiety. Green tea is the only food in the human diet that contains high levels of L-Theanine, an amino acid that research patients said helped to produce a feeling of relaxation. And if you’re feeling particularly DIY, you can always whip up a batch of banana tea by cutting the ends off of a few bananas and boiling them, peel and all. Bananas contain tryptophan, which helps your brain to produce the sleep chemical melatonin, as well as magnesium and potassium, which act as natural muscle relaxants.

20. Weighted blanket

Fans of weighted blankets say that they reduce anxiety at night, which researchers at the State University of New York say is strongly associated with poor sleep. Weighted blankets contain different amounts of plastic pellets — usually between four and twenty pounds — that make the blanket heavy, giving you the feeling that you’re being hugged (a little like a thundershirt for anxious dogs). Weighted blankets can be pricey, historically costing at least $120, but thanks to their growing popularity some great deals are available — this fifteen-pound blanket is just $50.

21. Leg cushion for side sleepers

If you like to sleep on your side, you might be familiar with the knee, leg, and spinal pain that can accompany your preferred sleeping position. Side sleeping poses a few problems. It keeps your knees knocking together all night, for one, but more importantly, having one side of your body flat on the bed forces the other side to curve over, throwing your spine and hips out of whack. Leg cushions designed for side sleepers keep your top leg elevated so that your hips are aligned and your spine stays straight, relieving the pain that can in turn keep you up at night.

We hope you found some useful options across these 21 Affordable Sleep Gadgets to Help You Sleep Like A Baby

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Tips to Beat Jet Lag Fast & Sleep Like a Champ: 11 expert tips

Anyone who’s travelled through multiple time zones has experienced jet lag. You spend months planning your trip and manage to survive the long-haul flight, only to arrive at your destination in an exhausted fog that can last for days. Not fun. You need tips to beat jet lag fast.

Jet lag is no joke and has been classified as a serious sleep disorder. It occurs when your circadian rhythm become desynchronized with your surrounding timezone, causing a myriad of body functions to feel out of whack. That means serious fatigue, mental fog and even ongoing stomach issues. So how do frequent travelers do it? Through years of trial and error, the travel pros have figured out how to hack their biorhythms, quickly adjust to the travel process, and get over jet lag faster. We’ve gathered the 11 best recommendations from travel experts to beat jet lag and get the most out of every trip.

11 tips to beat jet lag fast:

1. Start your trip well rested

Many people recommend staying up the night before a long distance flight to tire yourself out, and sleep on the plane. That’s a very bad idea, and a good way to ensure your jet lag lasts for days. Starting out your trip exhausted means you’re beginning the travel process in sleep deficit. This will make it even more challenging for your body to adjust to a different time zone, as it’s already struggling to keep up with compounding exhaustion. Your body’s natural rhythms will be thrown off before the journey has even begun.

Because of this, seasoned travelers know to prioritize a good night’s rest for two nights before you’re set to take off. That’s right – two full nights! One night of quality sleep is good, but two nights of quality sleep will allow your body to settle into a proper sleep cycle and fully recharge. Getting quality sleep for a few days prior to traveling ensures that your body is prepared to deal with the strain of crossing multiple time zones.

2. Adjust to local time at the start of your flight, not when you arrive

Don’t wait for your plane to hit the tarmac before adjusting to local time. Once you’ve boarded the plane and settled into your seat, check out the time at your destination. If you wear a watch, adjust the time on accordingly. If you primarily use your phone to keep time, use the World Clock feature in most pre-set Clock Apps to set an extra clock for your arrival location.

Once you’ve figured out the time difference, start adjusting your rhythms accordingly. If it’s 11:00 AM when you boarded the plane but 5:00 PM at your location, you might choose to eat your largest meal of the day for lunch, to simulate eating dinner. If it’s 11:00 PM at your destination, try to shut your eyes and get some sleep. It might feel odd to eat before you’re hungry and sleep before you’re tired, but you’re sending signals to your brain that it’s time to adjust to a different cycle. By the time you arrive in your destination, your body will already have begun the process of switching to different rhythm, minimizing any lag time.

3. Simulate your sleep routine

Since you’re trying to readjust your sleep schedule, following your typical sleep routine will be extra important to get quality sleep. (Or, as quality as you can manage in an upright position). Plan ahead, and go through your nightly routines as you would at home. Wash your face, brush your teeth, write in your nightly journal. Most importantly, stay off any screens. Even the screen on the seat back in front of you.

Studies show that the body perceives light from digital screens in the same way it perceives sunlight. Screens stimulate a similarly wakeful response, and will prevent you from settling into a good sleep cycle. Rather than catching up on Netflix, browse through a magazine, listen to a podcast, or start that book you’ve been meaning to get to. Re-timer light therapy glasses are an interesting tool.

4. Get Cozy

Let’s face it; sleeping on a plane is uncomfortable. It’s worth investing in some creature comforts to increase your chances of sleeping well, and staving off terrible jet lag. Be mindful about what your body needs to relax into sleep, and pack the necessary supplies in your carry-on. For example, neck pillows may look silly, but they will stabilize your cervical spine and prevent aches in the morning. Invest in a higher quality memory foam neck pillow with a removable cover, so you can wash it after every trip.

A sleep mask can also help block-out ambient light, which will come in handy if you’re trying to adjust to your destination time and catch some Z’s while it’s still daylight. You can even find weighted sleep masks, which have been shown to promote sleep by stimulating pressure points. And, ear plugs can be a great solution if you’re sensitive to sound, but don’t want to splurge on expensive noise-cancelling headphones.

5. Use natural sleep aids

Seasoned travelers know not to use over-the-counter or prescription sleep medications while traveling, as they often leave you groggy and disoriented once you arrive at your destination. Instead, try a natural sleep aid that won’t have lingering effects. Melatonin is a popular choice, as it’s easy to pack in capsule form and is a naturally occurring hormone that helps regulate sleep-wake cycles. Learn more about the science of how melatonin works to promote sleep.

Herbal tea can also be a great alternative, and is easy to pack and carry with you on the plane. Bring some of your favorite tea with you, and take advantage of the free hot water on nearly all international flights.

6. Drink water

It may sound obvious, but drinking water is one of the best things you can do to keep your body energized and beat jet lag. Modern planes are climate controlled, which means they artificially regulate the air at levels that are slightly less humid and less oxygen rich than a typical environment. A slightly hypoxic environment means your breathing rate will increase, causing you to lose moisture at a quicker rate than normal. In fact, recent studies have shown that during a 10 hour flight, a healthy adult may lose as much as 8% of their body water.

To prevent this from happening, be sure to drink plenty of water while flying. Accept water when offered by the flight stewards. Or, bring an empty water bottle with you to the airport and fill it once you’re through security, so you’ll always have water handy while you’re in-air. And don’t be afraid to get up and use the bathroom. Keeping your body well hydrated will help you sleep better, and will keep your rhythms regulated to prevent serious jet lag. Those bathroom trips will be worth it.

7. Avoid alcohol or coffee

Alcohol and caffeine are diuretics, which means they cause the kidneys to draw in excessive amounts of water. Diuretics contribute to the process of dehydration, causing you to pee out bodily water rather than retain it. And, both caffeine and alcohol are noted sleep disruptors, preventing quality sleep even in the best environments. As much fun as an in-flight glass of wine may be, avoiding alcohol and coffee is the smartest move. By staying hydrated and avoiding sleep inhibitors, you’ll be prepared for a good night’s rest.

8. Get moving

Exercise is a key signal that helps regulate circadian rhythms, and you can utilize movement to biohack jet lag as well. Once you’ve set your clock to the time at your destination, be sure to get up and walk around the plane during times when you should be wakeful. If it’s 2:00 AM your time but 8:00 AM at your destination, get up and take a stroll around the cabin. Stretch at the back of the plane or in the aisles if possible. Even standing for a few minutes will tell your body that it’s time to awaken.

Similarly, exercise is a great way to get on track with local time once you’ve arrived at your destination. Take a jog around your hotel, walk to lunch rather than taking a cab, or rent a bike and go for a ride. Movement will naturally alert your body that it’s time to be wakeful and will, in turn, promote a good night’s sleep once it’s time for bed.

9. Don’t sleep as soon as you arrive

It may be tempting to fall straight into bed after an exhausting day of travel, but this will only prolong the jet lag. Do not allow yourself to go to bed until it’s a normal time to do so at your destination. Falling asleep at 4:00 PM will prevent your circadian rhythms from shifting to align with your destination time. You’ll end up suffering for days – some sources even estimate jet lag can last up to seven days. Don’t allow your entire trip to be affected by jet lag. Stay awake and active until it’s an appropriate time for bed.

10. Go outside

Sunlight is another key signal that regulates the body’s circadian rhythm and one you can easily use to combat jet lag. And since you won’t allow yourself to fall straight to sleep upon arrival, the best way to keep your body awake is by getting some vitamin D. As your brain registers sunlight, it acts on the hypothalamus which regulates the body’s circadian rhythms. In tern, the hypothalamus will adjust the body’s hormones and processes to align with a wakeful state. After a long day of travel, you might want to relax indoors, but getting sunlight is one of the best ways to adjust your body’s rhythms to local time and get over jet lag quickly. Go for a walk to the nearest museum, check out an outdoor market or just hang out at a street-side cafe to get your dose of sunlight.

And the final of your tips to beat jet lag fast…

11. If extreme, get a flight that arrives around bedtime

Sometimes crossing multiple times zones is unavoidable, which means you’ll be at risk for an extra painful bout of jet lag. If you’re planning on enduring the 17 hour ride to Perth, Australia anytime soon, try to select a flight that lands close to bedtime. No matter what happens on your flight, you’ll be able to land and go to bed, then start the next day totally fresh and jet-lag free.

The key to getting over jet lag quickly is to be proactive. Think through your normal daily rhythms, and consider what you need to complete them. What time do you normally go to sleep, and what do you need in order to sleep well? Pack items that will allow you to mimic your daily biorhythms while traveling, then adjust your patterns to match the clock at your destination. With a little planning, you’ll be able to beat jet lag and enjoy your trip like a seasoned pro.

Tips to beat jet lag

Now that you are learned about tips to beat jet lag fast…

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7 Reasons Why to Keep a Sleep Journal for Better Sleep

If you regularly wake up feeling groggy and unprepared to face the day or worse: if you spend most nights in sleepless agony, counting down the hours until your alarm blares; a sleep diary may be the simple solution you’ve been searching for. We’ll explore why to keep a sleep journal, or dairy. Beyond logging the time you crawled into bed and the time you (perhaps begrudgingly) awoke, recording data about your caffeine and alcohol intake, daytime activities, and mood can provide invaluable insight into what’s keeping you from the rest you need.

No matter where you are in your quest for better sleep – whether you’re already working with a doctor to potentially diagnose a sleep disorder, or you hope to find and address unhealthy sleep habits on your own – understanding what keeps you up at night is the key to real rest.

Sleep Journal Basics

Before further examining why a sleep diary will likely boost your z’s, it’s important to grasp how it’s done. You can take an old school paper and pencil approach. Learn more about the Somn Sleep Journal.

• Wake and sleep times
• Quality of sleep
• How many times you awoke throughout the night
• What, if anything, interrupted your slumber
• How many caffeinated and alcoholic drinks you consumed over the course of the day
• What your general mood was like during the day
• The activities you engaged in one hour before bedtime
• What foods you ate in the evening and when
• Any medications you took
• Anything notable about your sleep environment, like room temperature, darkness, and whether or not your bedding was comfortable.

Learn from your journaling

Over time, these insights will allow you to piece together your shuteye puzzle. If you often eat a heavy meal too close to bedtime, for example, your own digestive system may be the sleep thief. If you begin to find that the glow from a streetlamp outside your window frequently wakes you, your particular light sensitivity may be the culprit. Recording and evaluating your habits will shed light, too, on your particular susceptibilities and where you can clean up your sleep hygiene. And good news: sometimes you can problem solve on your own, without the help of a doctor. Eye mask, anyone?

Consistency is Crucial

Remember, skipped sleep journal entries tell you nothing. If you’re serious about getting to the root of your unreliable repose, you need to be diligent. According to Matthew Ebben, PhD, a psychologist specializing in sleep medicine, “A sleep log is a great way to document what someone is feeling about their sleep quality and see if that improves over time.” The operative words? Over time.

So Why Keep a Sleep Journal?

1. Keeping a sleep log will help you understand your own sleep habits.

Most of the time, sleep disorders are not to blame for your trouble snoozing. The real problem is often your sleep habits. If you regularly consume caffeine in the late afternoon, drink wine with a rich dinner, cater to your midnight sweet tooth, go for an evening scroll through Instagram – even if you sleep in a cluttered bedroom and thereby possess a collaterally cluttered brain – you’re blocking yourself from the sleep you need. Honestly assessing whether or not your sleep routine, or lack thereof, is serving you could do wonders for your beauty sleep.

Often, sleep study patients who have not thoroughly analyzed their nightly habits, i.e. those who haven’t bothered to keep a sleep journal, are diagnosed with Insufficient Sleep Syndrome, which essentially means your crummy sleep is a result of the aforementioned voluntary behaviors. With a little reflection on your pre-sleep patterns, you can save yourself a doctor’s visit and a lot of strife. Just take note of any tendencies that don’t align with good sleep hygiene, self-correct, and see if things improve. If not, then seek out a sleep doctor.

2. A sleep journal helps you prioritize shuteye.

This a a big reason why to keep a sleep journal, and it can have immediate benefits. When you become aware of the behaviors that negatively impact your sleep, you adjust. As soon as you start keeping your sleep diary, you’ll start to make conscious choices to improve your nights spent in subconscious dreamland. You’ll choose chamomile tea over a bourbon nightcap. You’ll work out earlier in the day so your body isn’t running on adrenaline when you hop into the sack. You’ll abolish blue light and draw the curtains. You’ll scent your space with lavender and keep your nightstand tidy so your worries don’t stack up like so many half-empty water glasses and a forsaken bottle of melatonin pills. Simply, once you realize how your choices have been negatively impacting you, you’ll make different choices.

3. It will help your doctor diagnose the issue.

If you see a primary care physician or sleep specialist about a potential sleep disorder, he or she will very likely ask you to keep a sleep log for at least two weeks. It’s best to start your sleep log in advance of your visit so your doctor has more information to work with.

If, after you’ve kept a sleep journal for a couple of weeks and adjusted your sleep habits, you’re still having trouble sleeping; you should schedule a consultation with your physician. With your sleep journal as a guide, your doctor will be better able to avoid common misdiagnoses. Women who have sleep apnea, for example, are wrongfully treated for insomnia more often than not. If you show your doctor a sleep log that demonstrates apnea symptoms from the get-go, you can avoid the loop of futile doctor’s visits, ineffective treatments, and inevitable frustration… and fast forward to the healing part.

4. A sleep diary is an effective tool… and there’s science to back it up.

According to Dr. Ebben, keeping a sleep log for at least two weeks is a “wealth of information”, giving patients the opportunity “to find and fix sleep problems”. And, medical professionals across the board agree. In 2012, a coalition of insomnia researchers developed a consensus sleep diary to further standardize what they found to be an incredibly useful tool in addressing circadian rhythm disorders.

5. Keeping a sleep log will encourage you to take charge of your health in other ways, too.

Tracking your own personal data (lifelogging, quantified self tracking, body hacking, what have you) is not a bad habit to get into, and it’s not so much about counting your steps each day or meticulously recording calories: it’s a feeling. What wakes you up at night? Which foods wreak havoc on your digestive system? If you menstruate, when in your cycle do you feel most creative? Everyone’s body is different, and when you start to pay particular attention to the myriad ways your own body reacts to sleep disruptors, you’ll learn to pay attention to what breaks your skin out, makes you bloated, and gives you anxiety. In short, you’ll be better able to understand and nurture your own health across the board.

6. You can monitor whether or not your treatment is working.

If you are, in fact, diagnosed with a sleep disorder, you’ll want to track the effectiveness of your treatment. Sleep apnea treatment, or continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy, is notoriously tough to get used to – many patients prescribed CPAP quit treatment within the first few weeks. However, if you’re struggling with treatment, comparing your pre-treatment sleep log to your post-treatment sleep log can be tremendously reassuring. Just look at how far you’ve come! And if for some reason treatment is not working, you’ll be able to spot that, too.

7. You might actually enjoy keeping a sleep diary

If you write morning pages, keep a bullet journal, or consider yourself a writer – you just might like keeping your sleep log. Make it your own, make it sustainable, and make it fun! There’s no truer form of self-care than learning how to keep yourself healthy and happy. Do it your way.

So whether you keep a sleep log under doctor’s orders, or you’re looking to institute a new journaling practice in the name of optimal sleep and wellbeing; a sleep diary is an easy, effective, and illuminating way to finally get some sleep. And now that you know why to keep a sleep journal…

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Can’t Fall Asleep? 51 Best Tips for When You’re Not Tired

Can’t fall asleep? What’s the deal? You used to sleep just fine, but suddenly and mysteriously, you’re not tired even though it’s late at night and you need to sleep. Many people experience changes in their sleep as they go through changes in their lives, and anxiety or pain can keep us awake when we need rest the most. Don’t worry: If you can’t fall asleep, there are plenty of solutions you can try to get back to bed and wake up rested.

1. Hide your clock

We’ve all been there — it’s 1:30 am, and you know you have to sleep before you get out of bed at six. You close your eyes, try to get back to sleep, but just find yourself worrying about how little sleep you’re going to get. What time is it now? Suddenly, the time is all you can think about. If you already know you’re up later than you want to be, knowing what exact time it is can raise the stakes on getting back to sleep. It’s a vicious cycle. Turn your clock around, and if you have to use your phone, cover the time with your hand.  

2. Make sure your room is cool

The ideal temperature for sound sleep is between 60 and 67°F. If you’re feeling warm, set your thermostat a little lower and turn on your fan.

3. Eliminate light as much as possible

This one is obvious: humans evolved in environments that only had natural light. Our bodies want us to sleep when it’s dark, but these days we have lamps, electronics, headlights, and streetlights that interrupt our sleeping hours. we evolved in an environment where artificial light didn’t exist. Turn off any nearby lights, remove or unplug the electronics in your room that are casting light, and make sure your curtains are closed. In the future, think about investing in blackout curtains, too.

4. Wear an eye mask

Since our eyes can adjust to the dark, blocking your vision entirely with an eye mask can help remove distractions from your line of sight. If you don’t have an eye mask, draping a pillow over just your eyes can help, too.

5. Try a different pillow

You might be having trouble sleeping because you’re not using the right pillow for the way you sleep. A different pillow around the house might be more comfortable.

6. Drink chamomile tea

Studies have shown that chamomile acts as a sedative in the human brain, and drinking something warm can provide some much-needed comfort.

7. Listen to soothing music

Music has a direct effect on the parasympathetic nervous system, which helps you wind down for sleep. Studies have shown that music helps people with both short- and long-term sleep problems, so try turning on some soothing music at a low volume.

8. Or listen to a podcast you love

If you’re having racing thoughts, try listening to one of your favorite podcasts in your headphones. It might distract you from your worries long enough to help you drift off.

9. Or listen to the Sleep With Me podcast

Drew Ackerman’s “Sleep With Me” podcast tells nonsense stories in a low, monotone voice. Fans of the show swear by its ability to take you down a winding path into sleep.

10. Or listen to binaural beats

When sound at two slightly different frequencies are played, one in each ear, your brain hears a beat. These “binaural” beats have been shown in recent studies to help soothe anxiety.

11. Or turn on some white noise

If your pet, child, partner, or home is making noise that’s keeping you up, masking it with white noise can help. Variations on white noise include brown or pink noise that sounds more staticky or deeper — see which one works best for you.

12. Try deep breathing

Taking slow, deep, controlled breaths has long been prescribed as a way to calm down when you can’t fall asleep — and for good reason. Researchers at Stanford recently found that deep breathing acts on a cluster of neurons in the brainstem that are linked to relaxation.

13. Or try the 4-7-8 method

The 4-7-8 method is a more systemized version of deep breathing. To try this technique, breathe in through your nose for a count of four, hold your breath for a count of seven, and exhale evenly for a count of eight.

14. Or try alternate nostril breathing

Many insomniacs swear specifically by left-nostril breathing, in which you cover your right nostril and breathe only through the left. In alternate-nostril breathing, you switch between closing your nostrils, breathing in and out through each. This breathing method helps to bring awareness to your body so you can relax and fall asleep faster when you’re not tired.

15. Or blow bubbles

It might sound a little kooky, but if you have a bottle of bubbles around, it might be worth a try. Johns Hopkins professor and neurologist Rachel Salas, M.D., suggests it as a deep-breathing exercise that might also refocus your attention on something fun.

16. Visualize yourself asleep

While you’re practicing the deep breathing method of your choice, imagine yourself sleeping. Beyond being suggestive to your brain, it’s also a soothing mental image.

17. Or do a counting visualization

Sheep work, sure, but you can get creative and count something you like better than sheep: Drops of water falling on a windowsill, coins going into a piggy bank, or noodles in a colander, or, for instance.

18. Or visualize yourself doing something you’re good at in great detail.

In addition to its meditative qualities, this visualization will point your attention toward a sense of mastery and accomplishment (and away from insecurities or worries).

19. Or make meaningless lists in your head

What are your favorite episodes of your favorite reality show? How about your favorite sandwiches, in order? When you can’t fall asleep because you’re ruminating over negative thoughts, making positive but inconsequential lists can help you get in the right headspace for sleep.

20. Or try positive thinking

If you just can’t distract yourself from those negative thoughts, try reframing them in a positive light. “I can still function when I’m tired,” “I can look forward to a nap,” and “I’ll fall asleep eventually” are more productive and calming than “I’ll never get to sleep.”

21. Do progressive relaxation

In progressive relaxation, you tense and relax your muscles in order from the top of your body to the bottom. In addition to helping your muscles to mimic the kind of relaxation they should feel when you’re falling asleep, over time progressive relaxation may help you cultivate more awareness of your body and how it’s feeling when you’re trying to relax.

22. Or try self-acupressure

The theory behind acupressure is that applying pressure to certain points on your body can stimulate responses like relaxation or sleep. You can perform it on yourself by pressing your thumb on the inside of your wrist about an inch below your hand, on the back of your neck just under your skull, or right between your eyebrows.

23. Or ask your partner to give you a massage

If you can’t fall asleep because of tense muscles, ask your partner to give you a massage (so long as they can fall back to sleep, too!). In addition to helping to relax your muscles, human touch has comforting effects on the brain. If you can’t wake anyone up to help you, you can self-massage with tennis balls or a cane massager.

24. Meditate

In recent years, many studies have found that meditation has positive effects both on the brain and on the body. If you’re awake late at night, now may be as good a time as any to learn how to meditate.

25. Or try centering prayer or a mantra

Centering prayer and mantra meditation both aim to bring your attention and focus to a certain word or phrase. Choose one that has positive personal meaning, and when you find your attention drifting away, bring it back to the word or phrase. In addition to helping you focus on something positive, over time you may find that your mantra helps you to calm down just by thinking of it.

26. Do some cognitive distancing

Often, when thoughts keep us awake, looking at them from a big-picture perspective can help. That’s called cognitive distancing: backing away from the details of your anxieties and looking at them in the context of your past, present, and future. Try telling yourself things like, “I’ve gotten through stressful things before and I’ll get through them again,” or “This will be resolved eventually.”

27. Accept what you can’t change right now

If you’re worried about a big problem in your life, try to remind yourself that there’s probably not much you can do about it at 2 o’clock in the morning. You can always take care of it in the daylight.

28. Write out your anxieties to get it out of your system

Sometimes all we need is to talk out the things that stress us out. When everyone else is asleep, write out the things that are troubling you and set them aside — you might find you can fall asleep faster when you’re not tired if you’ve just had the chance to express yourself.

29. Write out a to-do list for tomorrow

If the day ahead is troubling you, try writing a to-do list to break you day down into small, concrete steps. As a bonus, it’ll be so satisfying to tick them off the list tomorrow!

30. Roll your eyes

If you have kids, you probably remember seeing their eyes roll back when they fall asleep as babies. Yours do too, and some light sleepers find that rolling their eyes a few times can help to nudge their brain into sleep mode.

31. Pretend you’re not trying to fall asleep

Some people find that the easiest way to fall asleep is to tell themselves they’re not trying to fall asleep, but to do something relaxing anyway. Try lying down on the couch and reading a book, for example — you may be asleep sooner than if you try to sleep.

32. Or actually try not to sleep

This can be a roll of the dice, but many light sleepers say that trying not to sleep is less stressful than trying to sleep. Your body needs sleep, so if you try to fight sleep, eventually your body will win out.

33. Read something very boring

Any current or former student knows what it’s like to be dedicated to reading that textbook, but just not being able to keep their eyes open to get through it. Same idea: Find the densest book that you have any kind of interest in, and try to read as far as you can.

34. Get out of bed until you’re tired

If you’re trying to fall asleep when you’re not tired, you might find yourself thinking, “At this point I should just get out of bed.” You might be right! Getting out of bed and doing something until you’re tired can help you to feel less hopeless about falling asleep, and eventually you may find yourself dozing off.

35. Try aromatherapy

The scent of certain essential oils, like lavender, may activate your limbic system and activate your hypothalamus, both of which play a role in promoting positive emotions. Scent your pillow with a little bit of essential oil, use an essential oil diffuser, or put a few drops into your humidifier.

36. Take a hot shower and return to your cold room

Raising your body temperature in the shower and quickly lowering it by lying down in a cool bedroom could help to stimulate the physiological changes you go through when your body prepares for sleep.

37. Do something by candlelight

The dim red glow of firelight is more conducive to sleep than your lightbulbs. Try reading that boring book by candlelight — you may find you’re ready to sleep in no time.

38. Get yourself ready for the next day

As long as you’re up, you could always knock out some of your morning (or afternoon or evening) tasks. That way, you know the day ahead will be a little more manageable — and you might be able to hit the snooze button a few more times than usual.

39. Accomplish something

Promoting a sense of mastery helps to increase confidence, which in turn can help you to feel less anxious. If you’re out of bed, you can do something you do well, knock out a task you normally don’t have time for, or try some creative expression.

40. Do a task you enjoy less than sleeping

Diane Stein, M.D., suggests doing a chore you hate when you can’t sleep. Breaking out a toothbrush and cleaning your grout might just get you over the hump and into sleep.

41. Do some coloring

Coloring books have taken off in the past few years, and for good reason. It’s a tedious, relaxing, and some say meditative task that helps promote creativity and focus. If you can’t sleep and don’t want to read, try breaking out your colored pencils instead.

42. Dip your face in cold water

It might sound weird, but some say that a dip in cold water can help with the kind of panic attacks that keep you up at night. Dipping your face in ice cold (but not freezing) water for thirty seconds is said to trigger the “mammalian dive reflex,” which in turn causes the parasympathetic nervous system to kick in and calm you down. If you’re feeling really anxious, this might be worth a try.

43. Avoid large, late meals

It takes a while for your digestive system to process food, so if you eat your meals late at night, your body will still be working when you’re trying to wind down. Eat big meals earlier in the evening, and if you’re still hungry, have a small (and caffeine-free) snack closer to bedtime.

44. Exercise in the morning

Getting plenty of exercise is a great way to promote better sleep — just make sure to do it early in the day. Exercise increases adrenaline levels, which will make it harder to sleep.

45. Use amber light in the evening instead of blue light

Blue light sends a signal to your brain that it’s still daytime, meaning you should still be awake. Most cell phones, tablets, and computers emit blue light, but thankfully there’s a way to fix that. Most newer cell phones and tablets have a nighttime option in their display settings, and on computers you can install a program like f.lux that automatically displays amber light later in the day.

46. Stop using electronics and screens one hour before bed

Aside from emitting blue light, most of what we do with electronics is stimulating. Put your screens aside for more relaxing tasks at the very end of the day.

47. Create an inviting sleep environment

If you hate the way your bedroom looks and feels, chances are you won’t feel like being in bed. Refreshing your bedroom decor and removing anything from the bedroom that will distract you from sleep can help you to love spending time in bed.

48. Only use the bedroom to sleep

If you have a habit of doing work or chores in your bedroom, you might be signalling to your brain that bedtime is work time. Find another space to get your work done and use your room to relax.

49. Set aside “worry time” during the day and time to relax right before bed

If you’re a chronic worrier, scheduling 10-20 minutes of “worry time” during the daytime can help you to get your worrying out of the way. You can work out what you’re feeling and what you need to do, and create a plan that you can start working on right away, while the rest of the world is awake. Then, schedule an hour to relax at night so that you can ease yourself into sleep.

50. Create a sleep routine

Going to sleep and waking up at the same time every day helps your brain get into the groove of sleeping soundly. Hold yourself to a nighttime schedule and the same wake time every day, even on the weekends, and you may see your sleep improve.

51. Talk to a doctor

When you’ve done everything you can to promote better sleep and you just can’t fall asleep, it’s time to talk to a doctor. Your physician may be able to test you for any physical problems that could be keeping you awake and help create a game plan for dealing with anxieties.

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