We've all been there. You snuggle down under the covers and wait for sleep — and wait and wait and wait. Millions of adults struggle with sleep disorders, which can reduce your productivity and raise your risk of illness. If counting sheep just isn't cutting it, use our five simple steps to get more rest.
1. Nibble These Before Napping
The CDC recommends avoiding large meals before bedtime, but if you're constantly up late at night, chow down on cherries to help you sleep better. This rosy red fruit contains phytochemicals like melatonin, which is a known sleep aid that your body secretes at night to help you fall asleep and stay asleep. For insomniacs who need a melatonin boost, doctors can prescribe the chemical in pill form, but you can also find it in foods like tomatoes, olives, barley, rice and walnuts. Milk is also naturally high in melatonin, possibly to help give mothers a respite from fussy babies.
2. Sample Songs
Listening to music before bed can help you fall asleep. Studies in the Journal of Advanced Nursing suggest that music is a beneficial (and non-pharmalogical!) method of improving your ability to fall asleep and the quality of your shuteye. Next time you're having trouble getting some zzzs, turn on some soothing music and let the calming beats lull you into dreamland.
3. Sniff Lavender
A little lavender oil on your pillow before bed could help you fall asleep. Research suggests, though doesn't prove, that aromatic wafts of lavender offer relief for insomniacs, according to studies in the journal Chronobiology International and the European Journal of Integrative Medicine. The scent of chamomile and ylang-ylang, a plant native to the Philippines, may also induce sleepiness, according to the journal Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine.
4. Turn Down the Temp
When you go to bed for the night, check your room temperature. People generally sleep better when it's cool, about 61 degrees to 66 degrees Fahrenheit .For normal sleepers, the drop in core temperature is marked by an increase in temperature in the hands and feet, as the blood vessels dilate and the body radiates heat. So turn down the thermostat to save time falling asleep — and save money on your electricity bill! That is, unless you're going commando, in which case researchers suggest cranking the heat to between 86 degrees and 90 degrees Farenheit.
5. Curl Your Toes
Curling (and uncurling) your toes while lying in bed can help you fall asleep faster. 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. Give it a try next time you're ready for bed!