You have no idea why, but night after night you have trouble nodding off. These bedtime rituals may help you get some more shut-eye.
1. Take a bubble bath:
The hot water relaxes your muscles and raises your core temperature. When you get out of the tub, you temperature will start to go down, mimicking what your body normally does to trigger melatonin production, says sleep expert Michael Breus, Ph.D. Why bubbles? "They form a layer of insulation on top, which keeps the water hot longer."
2. Pour yourself a bowl:
The classic sleep Rx of cornflakes and milk has scientific-backing. The fast-acting carb in the cereal increases tryptophan levels, upping the zzz-inducing brain chemical serotonin. Milk contains melatonin, a.k.a. the sleep hormone.
3. Turn down the thermostat: It's more comfortable to sleep in a cool room. But you don't want it to be too cold, either. Experiment to find your just-right temp.
Related: 9 Reasons You Can't Sleep (and What to Do About Them)
4. Change up your nightcap: Too much alcohol can disrupt your sleep patterns but tart cherry juice is practically a melatonin cocktail. To score the benefits, drink a mixture of 2 Tbsp. of tart cherry juice concentrate and 8 oz. of water twice a day. Make sure it's Montmorency cherry-that has six times the melatonin of Balaton tart cherry.
5. Try relaxation techniques: The simplest: Climb into bed, turn off the lights, and take a deep breath to a count of four until you feel relaxed.
6. Gobble pumpkin seeds: In addition to tryptophan, pumpkin seeds contain zinc which helps convert tryptophan to slumber-inducing serotonin. For an even bigger boost of these chemicals, mix in carb-rich dried fruit-apples, apricots, or blueberries.
Related: How to Look Like You Slept 8 Hours
7. Get out of bed: In one study of 79 insomniacs, this one directive was enough to help two-thirds of the participants start to sleep well again within a month. It seems counterintuitive, but spending less time in bed may jump-start your sleep drive.
8. Carb up: You don't have to wait until bedtime for your sleepy snack. Having carbs like white rice, pasta or white potatoes at dinner as a side is another way to increase levels of tryptophan, and thus serotonin and melatonin.
What's your secret to falling asleep fast? Let me know in the comments!
-- by Denise Foley
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