Looking to fall asleep fast, or at least faster? I feel you. But falling asleep faster doesn't necessarily translate to getting a better night's sleep.
When it comes to getting a good night's sleep, we've heard it all. From gravity blankets to vegan diets, there are various options when you're having trouble sleeping at night. But if you're not looking to shell out a couple hundred bucks or change your foodie lifestyle, there are easier -- and sometimes weirder -- options.
Check out six of the strangest but also smartest before-bedtime tricks-of-the-trade below.
1. Wear Sunglasses at Night
It may look silly (I mean, if you're not Corey Hart) but it's actually super smart. According to Today.com and a report published in the Journal of Psychiatric Research, wearing amber-tinted glasses for a couple of hours before you go to sleep can help block the blue light from various devices (phones, laptops, iPads, your TV), which in turn, gives your eyes and your brain a rest -- and a head start towards dreamland. I tested this trick by taking turns with two trendy new pairs of sunglasses: The sporty Proshift Sunglasses from Adidas Sport Eyewear, $99 at SportRX.com (above) and the stylish Sunski Moraga Polarized Sunglasses, $58 at Nordstrom.com (below).
Sure enough, a few hours of extra shade before bedtime made a discernible difference. Not only did my eyes feel less dry, they just about immediately closed upon my head hitting the pillow.
2. Blow Bubbles Before Bed
OK, so this trick is actually more about the way blowing bubbles makes your breathing pattern rhythmic and less about the joyfulness of this childhood activity. Still, we can see the peaceful meditative quality of bubble blowing no matter if it's for get-to-sleep-better business or purely pleasurable. So here's the deal: According to the New York Post, Dr. Rachel Marie E. Salas, M.D., a professor of neurology at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, says blowing the sudsy liquid into magical little spheres becomes a deep breathing exercise that helps calm your body and mind. Keep a small jar and wand on your nightstand for easy access. How whimsical!
3. Write in a Diary
It may sound counter-intuitive to focus on a brainpower-heavy activity like writing before bed, but the act of spilling your guts -- about the day's events, longterm worries, daily stress, or even just your next day's to-do list -- can help take a mental load off, thus easing your mind enough to fall asleep without a barrage of interfering thoughts. This concept is different from a sleep log, which you may also find useful, but is more specifically about your sleep pattern itself. It's also different from a dream journal, which we recommend keeping in the morning as soon as you wake up. Many forms of writing can be terrific ways to relax and destress in relation to sleep
4. Roll Your Eyes
This one seems really strange but it actually does make sense. According to Rodale Wellness, the technique of rolling your eyes upward to induce a feeling of relaxation alongside rhythmic breathing was a common practice among hypnotists in the early 1800s. When you roll your eyes upward at a 20 degree angle, the brain automatically shifts into an alpha state of relaxation, which in turn helps people drift off. Also, rolling your eyes is a similar movement to the natural REM ocular motions. It's simple enough to consciously copy, says HowSleepWorks: "First, close your eyes and become aware of your mind and body, and how it feels. Then, roll your eyes down and pay attention to your breathing and notice the relaxing feeling. Then, roll your eyes up, pay attention to your breathing and notice the relaxing feeling."
5. Wear Socks
As a kid in bed, there was nothing I hated more than sweaty hot feet at night. But as an adult, things have changed -- including my body temperature apparently (i.e. now my feet are always cold). Recently, I spoke to a Chinese medicine practitioner who told me I should be wearing socks to bed to keep my feet warm. Her reasoning was more specifically health related: Chinese medicine considers coldness in the body to be a lack of or diminished flow of the body's yang, or fire energy, or as the result of insufficient blood and/or hormonal health issues. However, when it comes to falling asleep, keeping your feet warm is more about practicality.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, research indicates that warm feet and hands are the quickest path to an early onset sleep session. But, it's all very individual, so if you're a naturally overly hot person, you might need to dangle your tootsies outside the covers. Most of us, though, cool down while we sleep and thus require the temperature regulation that our extremities help provide.
6. Do a Headstand
OK, this one might sound like the weirdest tactic of them all. But, give it a chance: Headstands help recirculate blood to your brain, particularly affecting the hypothalamus and pituitary glands, which pretty much control all the rest of your glands. A headstand may also cleanse the adrenal glands, which can help people think more positively and counteract against depression, which leads to better brain health. According to YogaJournal.com, headstands can help fight insomnia because all inversion positions, "such as Salamba Sirsasana (Supported Headstand), Halasana (Plow Pose), and Viparita Karani (Legs-up-the-Wall Pose)—are helpful to practice when you can't get to sleep. If the cause of your insomnia is hormonal, these poses and forward bends are particularly effective." In general, yoga -- headstands included -- is a great way to destress before bed.