Insomnia is so prevalent these days, it’s become rare to meet someone who doesn’t suffer in some way. Sleep deprivation is the zeitgeist of our times. It’s no wonder. Our culture is geared to constant stimulation: we’re a society hooked on caffeine, our phones, social media, e-mail, and the perception that we must always be ‘on’.
To compound this reality, it’s a little known fact that women require more sleep than men. When you hear ‘the average adult requirement’ quoted, it’s usually 7 hours. In fact, women normally need 8 hours, while men can get by on 6-7 hours. This is because research shows that our brains are more complex (sorry, guys, it’s true!).
If you’ve had a few bleary days in the past couple of weeks, try these lesser-known strategies to get your forty winks. (And for all the usual suspects, read this).
5 Sleep Techniques You’ve Never Heard Of
Let the Seasons be Your Cue. It’s easy to forget that not long ago, people rose with the sun, and retired when it went down. Hundreds of thousands of years of history are tough to erase from our hardwiring in a few generations. We’re still attuned for this cycle, and your body knows it. In the winter, we need more sleep. Follow that urge to hibernate and go to bed earlier when the days are short.
Give Yourself a Foot Rub. The nerve endings for your entire body end in your feet. Cue your nervous system that it’s time for rest with a simple foot massage. Mix a tablespoon of organic sunflower oil with a few drops of lavender oil and work it into your feet, taking extra time with the big toe (this is where the nerve endings for the brain reside). Cover your feet with socks and climb in to bed.
Drink Lemon Balm or Ashwaganda Tea. These herbs are little-known but act as excellent sleep aids. Buy them loose from a reputable supplier such as a health food store. An hour before bed, steep a teaspoon or two in hot water and let sit for half an hour before drinking. (For another sleep aid recipe, check this out).
Practice Deep Breathing. A proven technique called the “4-7-8 Method” was developed by Dr. Andrew Weil, director of Integrative Medicine at the University of Arizona. Before going to bed, sit in a quiet place, and breathe in deeply through your nose for 4 seconds. Then hold your breath for 7 seconds. Finally, exhale through your mouth for 8 seconds. Repeat this process four or five times, then tuck yourself in.
Drink a Warm Mug of Spiced Milk. You don’t hear much about old-fashioned milk these days. If you aren’t lactose intolerant, this is a time tested method probably used by your grandmother. Warm 2 cups of organic milk and blend in a pinch of nutmeg, which is a natural sedative. The combination of the milk and nutmeg will have you dreaming sweetly in no time!