You took a warm bath, read a book and did all of the things that are supposed to help you sleep, but nothing seemed to work. As an athlete, you know how important it is to get enough rest to help your body recover and function at its best. What should you do?
Well, we discovered some interesting ideas you may not know about.
1. Cover up with a weighted blanket.
Laura LeMond believes that weighted blankets help with sleep issues associated with anxiety and sensory-processing disorders.
“They mimic the ‘back in the womb’ experience by putting a slight pressure on the body to create the same sensation a person experiences when they receive a hug,” says LeMond, co-founder of Mosaic Weighted Blankets. “The deep pressure increases serotonin in the brain, and then melatonin is released, which provides a calming effect.”
2. Drink tart cherry juice.
And speaking of melatonin, Dr. Robert Oexman, director of the Sleep to Live Institute, recommends drinking a glass of tart cherry juice before hitting the sack. Cherries affect your melatonin levels, he says.
3. Use your nightmares to feel better, and go back to sleep.
Nancy B. Irwin, a therapist and clinical hypnotist, suggests that we should not be afraid of our nightmares, as they are just a way for our minds to process the day’s events at night when the body slows down.
“Nightmares have a bad reputation but in actuality are quite revealing to what one is attempting to resolve or release from the psyche,” says Irwin. “Dreams, many times, are the mind’s way to attempting to make sense of something that does not make sense and are a gold mine of clues as to how the individual feels about his/her life and self at the time of the dream.”
4. Try catnip. (Yes, the stuff you give cats!)
Amy Landolt, a licensed acupuncturist, gives clients who can’t fall asleep because “their mind is racing” a tea with catnip, skullcap, hops, chamomile, peppermint and yarrow.
5. Soak your feet.
Before bed, try soaking your feet in magnesium-rich Epsom salts and soothing lavender, chamomile and vetiver essential oils, says Landolt. “A magnesium deficiency can increase stress and anxiety, making it harder to go to sleep and stay asleep,” she says.
6. Put your legs up on the wall.
The legs-up-the-wall yoga pose known as Viparita Karani helps calm your nervous system and quiet your mind so it is easier to fall asleep, says Landolt.
7. Set your alarm for sleep.
Michael Breus, PhD, often tells his patients to set an alarm clock to tell them when to go to bed, not just when to wake up.
“This way, they need to go to their bedroom to turn it off,” says Breus, an American Academy of Sleep Medicine fellow. “They see the social cues of their bedroom to remind them to start getting ready for bed.”
8. Wear socks.
Clinical sleep educator Lauri Leadley recommends wearing socks to bed.
“While a lower overall body temperature is ideal for good sleep, warming up the feet causes blood vessels to dilate,” she says. “When this happens, heat redistributes through the rest of the body, telling the brain it’s time for sleep.”
9. Sleep naked.
“Researchers have found that when our bodies can’t reach the optimal core temperature for sleep, it causes insomnia and disrupts sleep,” says Leadley. “Wearing pajamas can keep the body from reaching this optimal temperature and may even lead to overheating during the night.”
10. Wear clothes that wick away sweat.
If you don’t want to sleep naked, Haralee Weintraub has an alternative. She sells sleepwear for women who suffer night sweats. “If you are going through menopause and not sleeping well because of side effects like night sweats, cool garments that draw perspiration away from the skin can help,” she says.
11. Do acupressure on yourself.
According to Joy Martina, PhD, and Roy Martina, MD, authors of “Sleep Your Fat Away,” if you tap lightly on the area above the center of your lip and beneath the bridge of your nose and breathe deeply for several seconds, “you’ll put yourself into a zen state that can help you sleep.”
12. Write down your problems.
Dr. Jonathan Alpert, a New York psychotherapist, recommends writing down all of the things that need to be dealt with on a piece of paper and placing it with your keys for the next day. “This out-of-mind process will help eliminate the chronic worry that so often keeps people up at night,” says Alpert, the author of “Be Fearless: Change Your Life in 28 Days.”
While many of these tips may seem quirky, they just may help you get the restful sleep you need for your active and healthy lifestyle. Try them out, and let us know what works for you!