A sound night’s sleep is one of the pillars of good health, yet it eludes so many Americans. Working hard while cranked up on caffeine and TV, we have trouble falling asleep and staying asleep. Further, the alcohol and cigarettes we use to unwind can cause a loss of deep sleep and rapid eye movement sleep -- both necessary for a healthy sleep cycle.
You have probably heard all the regular advice. Establish a sleep routine. Don't watch TV or work on your devices before bedtime. Only use your bed for sleeping and sex. Keep the room cool and dark. If none of those have worked, here are six unusual approaches that may just do the trick.
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Try Yoga Nidra
Yoga nidra ("yogic sleep" class) will be the easiest yoga class you ever tried. All you do is lie on a yoga mat on the floor, supported by bolsters and covered with blankets, your eyes covered with a lavender eye pillow.
The instructor guides you to become aware of the five koshas (“sheaths” in Sanskrit), which include the physical body and more subtle energetic forces. Your goal is to enter the hypnagogic state between waking and sleep for forty-five minutes. Afterwards, you have experienced a deep state of relaxation that is said to be equal to several hours of sleep, according to Claudia Gukeisen, MA, a Certified Ayurvedic Health Practitioner based in Rhinebeck, New York. Once learn how to do it in class, you can do your own yoga nidra practice at home.
Where You Can Try It: Jennifer Reis teaches a form of yoga nidra she developed called Divine Sleep regularly at Kripalu School of Yoga in Lenox, Massachusetts. Her CD, Divine Sleep Yoga Nidra, is the best-selling CD in the Kripalu Shop.
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Drink Golden Milk
Golden Milk is a traditional Ayurvedic sleep tonic rich turmeric, which also reduces inflammation. Gently simmer 1/2 cup of milk (whole cow’s milk or your choice of soy, almond or coconut milk from the refrigerated section) and 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut milk from a can. Simmer with at least 1/4 teaspoon each turmeric, cinnamon, and ginger, along with a six whole peppercorns. (You can also add a pinch of saffron.) After a few minutes, remove from the heat, and sip yourself to sleep.
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Run your bath and add a cup of Epsom salts, which are inexpensive and relieve aching muscles. At the last moment, as you get in, add a few drops of a high-quality lavender essential oil to work on both mind and body. Lavender is very relaxing, which is great before bedtime.There are also algae-based marine bath products that don't smell quite as wonderful but are good for detoxification. These are best used after a thorough home body scrub because they penetrate more easily.
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Rub Yourself With Oil
Gently rub your feet (and scalp, if you dare) with warm sesame oil or coconut oil before bed to help ground you for a good night’s sleep. Put on some cozy socks to keep the feet warm as you sleep. Grounding yourself before bed in this way can help get the mind ready to rest. The trick is to use just a little oil and put your socks on right away to protect your sheets.Continue to 5 of 6 below.
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Read Something Wholesome
All the sleep experts say not to read in bed. If you just can't drift off without it, read something wholesome that won't be a thriller. If your spiritual life is important to you, read something soothing and inspirational that speaks to your beliefs. It will calm your mind, and help you drift off, and make your dreams sweeter.
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Use A Lavender Eye Pillow
Invest in a silk lavender eye pillow which puts a little weight on the eyes. It feels good, blocks out any big or small light sources in the room and the lavender smells lovely. Don't worry that it won't stay on. Just let it gently fall off as you sleep.