7 Tricks for Getting a Better Night’s Sleep

Logging eight hours of sleep per night can take as much as three years off your real age. Sleep deprivation, on the other hand, lowers circulation, causing you to look pale and washed out. Here’s how to get the sleep you need to wake up glowing: 1. Take herbs: Sometimes, to kick insomnia and get back on a better sleep cycle, all you need is to break the pattern. Alternatively, try valerian herbal tea or the combo of chamomile and valerian. If your body clock is off, try getting some natural morning sunlight on you, do some exercise during the day, don’t stay up until the wee hours of the morning cleaning house, and set aside time to wind down before bedtime. 2. Try a bedtime snack: The bestbedtime snack is one that has both complex carbohydrates and a little protein, plus some calcium. Calcium helps the brain use the amino acid tryptophan to manufacture melatonin. This explains why dairy products, which contain both tryptophan and calcium, are one of the top sleep-inducing foods. And by combining carbohydrate together with a small amount of protein, your brain produces serotonin, the pleasure hormone with strong ties to mood.  

3. Get out of the bedroom: We all think that if we lie in bed long enough, sleep will come. Instead, our minds tend to get busier and our muscles tenser as we stress over being awake. Give it a rest. If you can’t get to sleep within 20 minutes, slip out of bed and go to a safe haven—a place that’s comfy, has dim lighting, and no distractions. Just sit comfortably. Or do your breathing exercises. Or read. No e-mail, television or other electronics, though. The point is to give your mind-body a respite from trying so hard to nod off. After 20 minutes or so, go back to bed and see what happens when you’re more relaxed. Repeat once or twice if necessary.
4. Try corpse pose: Assuming the yoga corpse pose (savasana) is, well, a little like playing dead. Basically, you lie on your back on a cushioned surface, legs slightly rotated out, arms at your sides but not touching your body, palms up. Then slowly s-i-n-k into the pose, breathing naturally and letting your whole body go limp. Stay in this position for a few minutes, or for as long as you like.
5. R-e-l-a-x: Progressive relaxation, an effective technique that’s been used since the 1930s, couldn’t be simpler. It’s also worked for me ever since I was a homesick kid at sleep-away camp for the first time and couldn’t sleep at all. A counselor taught it to me and I still use it when I need to. What to do: Stretch out in bed and, one by one, squeeze and release all the muscles in your body, starting with your scalp and working down to your toes. Ironically, tightly tensing up your muscles before relaxing them helps them relax more than just plain relaxing them.
6. Let scent send you to sleep: Aromas widely considered to be relaxing are rose, lavender, vanilla and lemongrass, but different ones work for different people (some people find lavender stimulating). If one calms you, keep a sachet near your pillow at night to whiff at will, or use a scented hand lotion.

7. Don’t take your to-do list to bed: Write down the next day’s list early in the evening and stick it in your bag or on the fridge. Then you won’t start anxiously making mental notes the minute your head hits the pillow.




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