We’re obsessed with it. We think about it morning, noon, and night…especially at night. Lying awake, fantasizing about what it would be like, feel like…to be fast asleep.
That’s right, folks, it’s National Sleep Awareness month and we’re talking about our favorite passive pastime that sometimes feels just out of reach: how to (finally!) get a great night’s sleep.
Last year around this time, we wrote about the benefits of creating a sleep routine, a string of end of the day rituals to help signal to your brain and body that it’s time to close up shop for the day. Today, I still (mostly) practice what I preached back then:
Shut off electronic devices like phones and TVs about an hour before bed
Swap in warm, low wattage lights for the bedside
Put on some sleepy jazz standards
Light up a cozy-scented candle or spritz a little pillow mist
But my nightly routine is not foolproof and like a lot of people out there, I’m still searching for the “magic bullet” solution to kill my too-frequent insomnia.
The great news is there is no dearth of new studies and revelations and theories and advice on getting a great night’s sleep. Some of it is a little “out there” and some of it feels like “why didn’t I think of that sooner?”
We rounded up some of our favorite sleep revelations we’ve collected in the last year – some I can vouch for, some of which just sounded fun. Give ‘em a whirl. Who knows? Maybe something will strike your fancy and help you achieve the sleep of your dreams.
Set adrift on Shipping News bliss
If you prefer cozy ambient noise over a sterile white noise machine
The Shipping Forecast, a BBC radio program featuring weather reports detailing the gales and tides around the British Isles, has been an institution since it was established in 1861. Each individual transmission is limited to 380 words at most, but when heard in multi-hour long compilations, the Shipping Forecast is rather poetic and sonorously hypnotic. There are plans to sunset the maritime weather broadcasts this year, but a simple google search yields many compilations on YouTube and even some sleep apps have their own version.
Spin a yarn to catch some Zs
Dulcet voices read low-stakes stories to divert your attention from the day’s stress
People who say silly things like “you’re much too old for bedtime stories” couldn’t be more wrong. In the last half decade or so, tech companies specializing in mental wellness and meditation have accumulated a library of comfy bedtime stories, sometimes read by celebrities, to help lull adults into a lovely sleep.
"I sleep so much better now," says a user of the app Calm. "Even if I've got a lot on at work and I'm thinking about various things – like what I've got to do tomorrow. I think it's a comfort blanket."
Snug as a bug in a digital rug
Replicate homely vibes from any destination on earth and beyond
We’re all pretty familiar with the endless crackling fireplaces streaming on YouTube – a staple during the holidays – but did you know about the endless ambient digital rooms? I just discovered these in the last year and they’re such a mood, they’ve become a fixture in my nightly routine. I’ve spent rainy evenings in a hobbit’s house, took shelter from a blizzard in a luxe Aspen retreat, and read novels by a crackling fireplace tucked in the corner of a moody library. The videos run for hours so you don’t have to worry about falling asleep and running out of a soundtrack for your dreams.
The Soothing, Digital Rooms of YouTube
New York Times
Put a sock on it
The humble sock could help regulate body temp for optimized sleep
“Have a pair of big, fluffy socks that you designate for sleep," suggests Dr. Christopher Winter, board-certified sleep medicine researcher of Charlottesville Neurology and Sleep Medicine and author of The Sleep Solution: Why Your Sleep Is Broken and How To Fix It.
It’s not for everyone, but have you tried wearing socks? Multiple studies and enough research show that for some people, it can become a game-changing addition to their nighttime routine. Studies show that people with warm hands and feet are more likely to fall asleep quickly, and that wearing socks to bed can help people fall asleep faster and sleep longer. Stockinged feet help with circulation, causing blood vessels to widen and lower the core body temperature, which can encourage the body's natural cool-down process to promote better sleep. This works best with room temperatures between 60°F and 68°F.
Maybe it’s something you ate
Old school sleep remedies backed up with seriously sleepy science
It’s not a placebo. Those classic bedtime snacks and warm drinks really do help signal your body that it’s time to sleep. Next time you’re feeling peckish and peevish, try one of these snacks to sweep away stress and get some quality Zs.
Warm milk contains tryptophan, an amino acid that can increase the production of sleep-inducing chemicals like serotonin and melatonin. (Sleep Foundation)
Chamomile tea has natural sedative properties that can help you relax and fall asleep more easily. (Insider)
Tart cherry juice is high in melatonin, a hormone that regulates sleep-wake cycles. (Today)
Bananas are a good source of magnesium and potassium, which can help relax muscles and promote sleep. (Healthline)
Oatmeal is a good source of complex carbohydrates, which can help increase the production of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that promotes relaxation and sleep. (Resperate)
Almonds are a good source of magnesium, which can help relax your muscles and promote better sleep. (Healthline)