- Counting Sheep: As fun as it is to imagine furry sheep while lying in bed, this old wives' tale technique of helping you fall asleep is actually a myth. A study at Oxford University showed that people who counted sheep (compared to those who did nothing at all) actually took longer to fall asleep. What they did find though is that visualization of a relaxing scene helped insomniacs fall asleep 20 minutes sooner. Researchers believe that counting sheep is ineffective because it's too boring and participants stop counting. In comparison, imagining yourself on a tropical island is engaging enough to concentrate on until we tire ourselves out. A separate study showed that insomniacs usually focus on worries before bed, and things they did during the day. Which is why it's important to really wind down and focus on positive, calming thoughts.
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- Rock Yourself to Sleep: No, this doesn't mean blasting rock music before bed. What it does mean is actually swaying yourself to sleep. A study from the University of Geneva examined those who napped on a regular bed and those who napped on a hammock. They hooked participants up to an electroencephalogram (EEG) to monitor their brain activity. What they found is that those that were lying in the hammock fell asleep faster than those in the bed. They also discovered that the swaying motion of the hammock actually helped the participants transition into deeper forms of sleep faster. Looks like the saying rock-a-bye, baby can now be updated to just rock-a-bye!
- Drinking Milk Before Bed: Does it, or doesn't it work? In the July issue of The Oprah Magazine, Dr. Aaron Carroll and Dr. Rachel Vreeman say that there is no scientific evidence to prove that drinking a warm glass of milk before bed will help you snooze. Although milk does contain the amino acid tryptophan that does help you sleep, it only contains trace amounts. Carbohydrates help stimulate the release of insulin, which in turn makes it easier for tryptophan to enter our brains, so snacking on some carbs may help you more than a glass of milk. But if sipping on a glass of warm milk relaxes you and helps soothe you before bed, then do what works for you.