How much sleep do you get a night? If the answer is “not enough,” you’re certainly not alone. Unfortunately, many of us struggle to fall asleep, others to stay asleep…leading to stress on the body, which results in a whole host of negative side effects: weight gain, premature aging, hair loss, hormone imbalances and lowered immune function. In some instances, lack of sleep can even lead to infertility.
By now we’ve all heard the common advice: drink a warm glass of milk, exercise during the day, make sure the room is completely dark. However, we’ve stumbled upon some less common tricks to help:
It’s a common misconception: A quick drink before bed will help induce sleep. However, what really happens is though the alcohol does initially act as a sedative, later into the night, it behaves differently. According to a 2015 study from the University Of Melbourne, “The quality of sleep you get is significantly altered and disrupted.” Furthermore, a study from the London Sleep Centre confirmed this, finding that “at all dosages, alcohol causes a more consolidated first half sleep and an increase in sleep disruption in the second half of sleep.”
Smell The Lavender
Perhaps the most popular herb for sleep is lavender, as it’s been used throughout history for healing and relaxation. In fact, the Greek physician Dioscorides wrote about lavender’s many benefits as early as the 1st century. Smelling lavender helps us relax by slowing down our heart rate, decreasing our blood pressure and lowering skin temperature. Actually, in Germany, lavender tea has been approved as treatment for insomnia.
Say you wake up in the middle of the night, the best thing to do, ironically, is to try to stay awake. At least, that’s according to a sleep study from the University of Glasgow. Participants were separated into two groups: the first was told to do what they normally did when being awoken; the second group was instructed to try to stay awake (without the assistance of a TV or computer)–a behavior called paradoxical intention. Surprisingly, the latter had a “significant reduction in sleep effort and sleep performance anxiety,” the study’s authors wrote. “Patients realized when they try to remain awake, they feel sleepier,” said study author Colin Espie.
Although only 8% of Americans sleep in the nude, according to a 2012 pool, it may be better to opt for the au naturel approach to sleep. In another poll, 57% of those who sleep naked said they were happy in their relationships. Psychotherapist Fran Walfish offers this explanation, “When you and your partner both sleep naked, the skin-to-skin contact will release oxytocins.” Walfish adds, “You may have more sex, and we all know orgasms are mother’s best answer to insomnia…better than Ambien!” So, there’s that.