Counting Sheep: 6 evening rituals to help you fall asleep


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 “re-boot” 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 which will help you to relax in the evening and increase the chances of sound and truly healthy, healing, sleep. 

Drink a glass of warm milk with honey

This folk remedy has been proven effective by science: 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 a large amount of carbohydrates which help to “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 icecream.

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 smartphone or tablet before sleep, the harder it will be to fall asleep, and the worse the quality of sleep.

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 footbath also help us to fall asleep more quickly. On average the time it takes to fall asleep decreases 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 truly help us to 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 and increases the length of sleep, as well as 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 definitely help deal with that and help you fall asleep quickly and easily – no sheep involved!

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