Hmmm … What to do if you can’t sleep?
Well, there are a lot of things you can do when you can’t sleep. (Preferably not just continue to lie there wide awake and increasingly stressed). Some tactics work better than others, but it’s definitely worth figuring out which approaches work best for you because sleep deprivation can have seriously negative health and wellness consequences. Harmful effects of inadequate sleep include: an increased risk of depression, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and dementia, to name just a few. In order to avoid the nasty repercussions of prolonged sleep deprivation, you’ll want to figure out a game plan to take on sleeplessness.
We’ve compiled just a few scientifically-proven sleep-enhancing tricks for you to test out. It’s up to you to discover which one (or multiple!) of these sleep-inducing tips works for you. Whether you eat, drink, listen to, breathe in, or just imagine the insomnia remedies suggested below, here are some of the best go-tos when you’ve got the-can’t-sleep blues.
What to do if you can’t sleep: 5 tricks
Discover your one-way ticket to dreamland, below …
1) Eat walnuts
Who knew a nut could help you sleep?! (We know, it’s nuts!). But in fact, walnuts can help us sleep. Why? Walnuts are a good source of tryptophan, a sleep-enhancing amino acid that helps make serotonin and melatonin — hormones we need to sleep. Through making these hormones, tryptophan helps us set our circadian rhythm (our natural sleep/wake cycles). But that’s not all! University of Texas researchers also found that walnuts contain their own source of melatonin. Walnuts’ double link to melatonin makes them a great culinary solution when it comes to what to do if you can’t sleep.
2) Drink chamomile teaChamomile tea is a tried-and-true natural remedy used to reduce inflammation, decrease anxiety, and treat insomnia. Part of chamomile’s tranquilizing effect likely comes from an antioxidant called apigenin, of which chamomile tea contains a significant amount. The brain receptors to which apigenin binds may help lower anxiety and instigate sleep.
One study of people with chronic insomnia demonstrated that participants who received 270 mg of chamomile extract twice daily for about a month fell asleep roughly 15 minutes faster than participants who didn’t ingest the extract. Study participants who consumed chamomile extract also woke up fewer times during the night.
3) Practice a breathing relaxation exercise
Studies show that doing a relaxation exercise before bed can improve sleep quality. This calms and clears our mind and relaxes our body. Guided meditations induced through breath work can be particularly effective. Try the guided breathing meditation exercise below, recorded and produced by the UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center.
4) Listen to gentle sleep sounds
Sounds can help us (or hinder us!) when it comes to sleeping. Listen to the scientifically-proven, deeply soothing ambient sleep sounds of Endel to fall asleep more quickly and sleep more deeply. Five albums of sleep sounds, each an hour in length and composed purely and solely of sounds proven to enhance sleep, are now available for download across streaming services. Click the “play” button below for a listening preview of the Sleep: Clear Night, Cloudy Night, Rainy Night, Foggy Morning, and Cloudy Afternoon playlists. Choose “listen” in the top right corner if you wish to view and/or download the full album.
Clear Night Playlist Preview
Cloudy Night Playlist Preview
Rainy Night Playlist Preview
Foggy Morning Playlist Preview
Cloudy Afternoon Playlist Preview
5) Visualize good things
The National Sleep Foundation counts visualization as an effective tactic for what to do when you can’t sleep. Here’s what’s important: “The key is to find something that allows you to focus your attention and let go of other thoughts. Begin to create this scenario in your mind. Visualize all the details of the image or story, as slowly and carefully as you can.” It can also help lower our heart rate and blood pressure if what we’re visualizing is relaxing in a positive way. Try the guided positive visualization below to drift into dreamland with a positive, life-enhancing vision filling your mind for the *sweetest dreams*!