It happens to everyone—at least occasionally. You slip into bed at the end of a long day, expecting to quickly go to sleep. But instead, your head hits the pillow and you're suddenly wide awake. Skip the tossing, turning, and worrying about how exhausted you’ll be in the morning, and try a few strategies that can safely, and naturally, get you back on track. With just a couple minutes of self-care, powerful remedies can have you drifting off in a relaxed state of slumber.
01 of 07
Slip on Some Socks
It might seem crazy, but a visit to the Land of Nod starts with a trip to your sock drawer. Sleep researchers say wearing socks to bed reduces the time needed to achieve a full slumber, and keeps you there longer, too. The reasoning behind this theory suggests that your body naturally increases blood flow to your extremities when you sleep, thus lowering your core temperature. Keeping your feet warm dilates the blood vessels in this region, making it easier for your body to perform this function and causing you to fall asleep sooner. Keep a special pair of fuzzy socks by your bedside just for nighttime wear. Then, slip them on each night as part of your bedtime routine to help your brain associate the socks with relaxation.
02 of 07
Perform Earlobe Massage
If your chattering mind is keeping you awake, you’ll find sweet relief with an easy move from traditional Chinese medicine. Acupressure points on your ears each correspond to various energy meridians in this form of healing. And, blockages in the meridians create a state of imbalance in the body. By rubbing your ears between your thumb and index finger, you clear the energy channel and promote relaxation. Pay special attention to the upper, outer ear and the point where the neck muscles meet the jaw in front of the ear. Massage these points gently with your fingers for two to three minutes, then finish with a gentle downward tug on the earlobes.
03 of 07
Shrug off Stress
A stressful day can produce high cortisol levels in the body, making it difficult to relax enough to induce sleep. Luckily, the solution resides in your shoulders. The muscles in your neck, shoulders, and upper back are prime repositories for tension accompanied by stiffness and aching, making it hard to get comfortable. This easy move releases that pressure, allowing you to relax:
- First, inhale deeply and slowly while lifting your shoulders towards your ears in a shrugging motion.
- Hold your breath in this position for a few seconds.
- Exhale slowly, while lowering your shoulders to their normal position.
- Repeat this action five times for a sedating effect.
04 of 07
Soothe Your Head
Another easy self-massage technique used in Chinese medicine focuses on the acupressure points on the head. This strategy helps both to relieve anxiety and to encourage sleep. To do so, place the tips of your index fingers in the middle of your forehead and gently draw the fingers out to your temples. Repeat this motion several times, working your fingers from the center of your forehead, above your eyebrows, and out to your temples. This massaging action helps activate the energy meridians located along this line, relieving the tension of the day.Continue to 5 of 7 below.
05 of 07
Try a Mudra
Mudras (pronounced moo-dras) come from Eastern yogic traditions, offering a centuries-old way to balance the body's energy and stabilize mood. Most mudras involve the simple positioning of hands and fingers to create a calming flow of energy (similar to acupressure points). A helpful mudra for sleepless nights involves lying on your back, with your hands resting on your thighs. Next, curl your thumbs inside loosely clenched fists, then bring your hands together, below your waist, so that your fists nearly touch. Lift your ring and pinkie fingers, steepling them against each other, and breathe while holding this position for several minutes. This Shakti mudra helps with chronic insomnia, especially if practiced daily.
06 of 07
Massage Your Body
Although nothing beats having someone else massage you, you can certainly achieve relaxing effects by doing it yourself. And, self-massage helps promote your body’s production of melatonin—the hormone that regulates your sleep cycle. To perform an Ayurvedic massage to balance your doshas (mind, body, and spirit), first apply a natural oil (sunflower, coconut, or sesame) into your hands. Starting at your feet, massage the oil into your skin in stroking, circular motions. Move up your legs, along your arms, your hands, and onto your torso, spending a few minutes in each area and reapplying oil, as needed. After five to 10 minutes, finish with a scalp and face massage (with or without oil). Self-massage is best performed after an evening bath or shower. Make it part of your evening-time ritual to promote circulation, digestion, and relaxation, all which aid in sleep.
07 of 07
Deep breathing has long been used as a meditative method to soothe tension. So, next time you’re having trouble sleeping, relax your body by slowly taking in ten deep breaths, letting your belly expand while your lungs inflate fully. As you slowly breathe out, your brain calms down, lowering your heart rate and blood pressure, while reducing anxiety. Don't worry if thoughts come in or out while you're breathing. Just let them go and concentrate on the breath, as they surface. Continue breathing in this way for at least five minutes. The result is a peaceful sleep.