Counting Sheep: Six Evening Rituals to Help You Fall Asleep

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Six to eight hours of sleep is the daily norm for anyone who wants to stay physically and psychologically healthy. The lack of nightly rest threatens to heighten the risk of contracting serious illnesses, from viral infections to diabetes, heart disease, thyroid malfunction, cognitive irregularities, and even cancer.

Not only is the amount of sleep important, but also the deepness of our sleep. The real “reboot” of our brain and body occurs only in the so-called deep sleep phase, and if it’s short or nonexistent, then it doesn’t matter how much time we spend in bed. The benefit of such “rest” is minimal. We collected a few recommendations to help you relax in the evening and increase the chances of sound and truly healthy, healing sleep. 

  • Drink a glass of warm milk with honey

Science has proven this folk remedy effective: experts at the USA National Sleep Foundation proved that warm milk with honey truly acts as a light sedative. Milk has a lot of tryptophan in it, which has a sedative effect and increases the production of serotonin. Natural honey has many carbohydrates, which help “deliver” the tryptophan to their destinations more quickly. If you don’t like milk or honey, you can achieve the same effect by eating a turkey sandwich or eating a banana with a glass of milk or ice cream.

  • Put away all the gadgets

You should remove all cell phones, tablets, laptops, and other electronic devices from your bedroom and not use them for at least an hour before bedtime. The blue light emitted from the screens of these devices represses the production of melatonin, the hormone which regulates the circadian rhythms responsible for our sleep. The more we use our smartphones or tablet before sleep, the harder it will be to fall asleep and worsen sleep quality.

  • Try doing some relaxing exercises

Would you like to fall asleep 18 minutes faster and lengthen your deep sleep phase by at least 48 minutes? Research done by the American Geriatrics Society confirms that yoga, meditation, and other relaxing activities done an hour before bedtime help us to fall asleep faster and sleep more deeply. By the way, drawing, crafts, and journaling also count as relaxing activities, as does anything which helps to relax and distract yourself from everyday stress and worry.

  • Create your own evening ritual

Going to bed and waking up at the same time, reading in bed, or listening to relaxing music are habits that act as a sedative, “hinting” to our brain that it’s time to go to bed. Specialists at the USA National Sleep Foundation claim that rituals are not only effective with children but with adults as well, and if you choose your own evening rituals, within two weeks, it will be easier for you to fall asleep, and you will sleep better.

  • Take a hot bath

A hot bath for our whole body and even a warm foot bath help us fall asleep more quickly. On average, the time it takes to fall asleep decreased by 30 minutes, according to the authors of research published in the Journal of Physiological Anthropology. Moreover, your sleep itself becomes more serene, and the light sleep phase decreases while the deep sleep phase increases.

  • Drink a glass of herbal tea

Chamomile infusions help us relax and calm down; these flowers contain flavonoid apigenin which calms the brain. Chamomile tea is especially beneficial for women going through menopause since it reduces the number of night awakenings, increases the length of sleep, and lowers anxiety, which often increases during this period. 

If you experience difficulty falling asleep or with the quality of your sleep for more than two weeks and these suggestions do not help, you should definitely see a doctor. Sometimes insomnia can be a symptom of a serious illness. However, if you are healthy and you can’t fall asleep because of everyday stress, anxiety, or overstimulation, then our suggestions should help deal with it and help you fall asleep quickly and easily – no sheep involved!

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