Sleep

20 Weird Strategies to Help You Sleep

From smelling lavender to finding your purpose, give these time-tested tips a try if you find yourself wide awake when it's time for bed.
20 Weird Strategies to Help You Sleep
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Entrepreneur Staff
Staff Writer. Covers leadership, media, technology and culture.
8 min read

When you don’t sleep enough, your mood, focus, health and overall productivity suffer. How can you innovate if you can barely keep your eyes open? If you have trouble winding down at night, we’ve assembled 20 tips to help you get the rest you need. These go beyond taking your devices out of your bedroom, because hopefully by now, we all understand that staring at an illuminated smartphone or tablet will not get us asleep faster.

Related: Arianna Huffington: 'Sleep Deprivation Is the New Smoking'

After you read through our strategies, we want to hear from you: Do you have any odd or unusual tricks that improve your health and sleep? Let us know in the comments.

20 Weird Strategies to Help You Sleep

Mind your beeswax.

Mind your beeswax.
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A recent study out of Japan’s University of Tsukuba found that octacosanol, a component found in wheat germ oil, rice bran oil, sugar cane and beeswax, helped lower stress levels and increased sleep in mice.
20 Weird Strategies to Help You Sleep

Follow the 20-minute rule.

Follow the 20-minute rule.
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If you’re going to try and nap, know that a nap any longer than 20 minutes will throw off your sleep cycle. “If you were to take a 45-minute nap, you're going to catch yourself right in the deeper stages of sleep when your alarm goes off and you're actually going to feel pretty wiped out for a while,” explains MetroNaps co-founder and CEO Christopher Lindholst. Plus, if you oversleep during the day, not only will you be groggy after you wake up, you’ll actually make it harder on yourself when trying to fall asleep at night.

Related: 16 Things That Lack of Sleep Can Do to You, According to Science

20 Weird Strategies to Help You Sleep

Eat breakfast for dinner.

Eat breakfast for dinner.
Image credit: Luis Alejandro Torres/EyeEm | Getty Images
Having foods such as bananas (filled with muscle-relaxing potassium), eggs (high in protein which is known to help aid sleep) and toast (a light source of carbs to regulate blood sugar) before you turn in can help you get better sleep. If you’ve been having some late nights, treat yourself to some brinner.
20 Weird Strategies to Help You Sleep

Cool down.

Cool down.
Image credit: NelleG | Getty Images
If your bedroom is painted in a high-impact color such as red, yellow or orange, your decorating scheme could be sapping your sleep. According to data assembled by furniture company Made.com, cooler colors such as blue, green and gray are ideal for lowering heart rates and blood pressure.
20 Weird Strategies to Help You Sleep

Get some sun.

Get some sun.
Image credit: Harald Eisenberger/LOOK-foto | Getty Images

A recent study from the University of Michigan found that people slept better at night when they logged some time outside. Spending part of your day outside helps you regulate your circadian rhythm, and the sun, like those sunnyside-up eggs, is also a good source of vitamin D.

Related: How Getting up at 5 a.m. Has Improved My Health and Productivity
20 Weird Strategies to Help You Sleep

Find the optimal temperature.

Find the optimal temperature.
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An environment that’s too hot or too cold will have you up in the middle of the night. A nice, middle-of-the-road 60 to 67 degrees is what sleep experts recommend to get the most rest.
20 Weird Strategies to Help You Sleep

Don’t make a stop at the bar.

Don’t make a stop at the bar.
Image credit: Klaus Vedfelt | Getty Images

Even though alcohol might make you sleepy, it doesn’t actually help you sleep -- it just dehydrates you and depletes your energy. “Part of the process of metabolizing alcohol releases byproducts that are stimulating," sleep expert Dr. Holly Phillips told Refinery29. "[That] creates microarousals where you wake up a little bit. You might not even be aware of them, but they disturb sleep and make it hard to get deep sleep."

Related: 5 Steps for Recovering After Pulling an All-Nighter
20 Weird Strategies to Help You Sleep

Give your life meaning.

Give your life meaning.
Image credit: Philipp Nemenz | Getty Images

A recent study out of Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine and Rush University Medical Center in Chicago found that subjects who reported feeling a sense of purpose in their everyday lives had a higher quality of sleep and were up less frequently during the night. So, if you find yourself lying awake, think about what drives you.

20 Weird Strategies to Help You Sleep

Get out of bed.

Get out of bed.
Image credit: Tetra Images | Getty Images

If you can’t fall asleep, it may just be better to get up rather than stare at the ceiling in quiet despair. “When you’re in bed, you’re asleep,” said Michael Grandner, the director of the Sleep and Health Research Program at the University of Arizona College of Medicine, in a recent interview with Time. “If you’re in bed and you’re not asleep, you get out of bed.”

Related: 10 Top Entrepreneurs Reveal Their Health Regimen Secrets

20 Weird Strategies to Help You Sleep

Don’t try to fall asleep.

Don’t try to fall asleep.
Image credit: KatarzynaBialasiewicz | Getty Images

Yes, really. A study from the University of Glasgow asked a group of insomniacs to try to stay awake for as long as possible -- just lying in bed with their eyes open but without a TV, computer or phone to entertain them. After two weeks, they actually fell asleep more quickly than another group of insomniacs that stuck to their normal pre-sleep routines.

20 Weird Strategies to Help You Sleep

Become a kid again.

Become a kid again.
Image credit: Chris Winsor | Getty Images

Rachel Marie E. Salas, a physician and professor of neurology at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, recommended a children’s activity to The New York Post: blowing bubbles. The lighthearted activity is akin to a deep breathing exercise, and it could take your mind off any pre-bedtime anxiety.

Related: 15 Scientifically Proven Ways to Work Smarter, Not Just More

20 Weird Strategies to Help You Sleep

Dim the lights.

Dim the lights.
Image credit: Darren Lehane | Getty Images
Even before you go to bed, make your environment incrementally dimmer to get used to the idea of total darkness. "Melatonin is your hormone of darkness -- it won't flow with the lights on,” said Joyce Walsleben, an adjunct associate professor at the New York University School of Medicine, in an interview with Health magazine. “You want to transition to dark as early as 9:00 or 10:00."
20 Weird Strategies to Help You Sleep

Simply relax your muscles.

Simply relax your muscles.
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The Mayo Clinic recommends a technique called progressive muscle relaxation. All you have to do is tense and then relax each of your muscle groups, starting with your toes and working your way up to your head -- or vice versa. Tense each group of muscles for five seconds, then relax it for 30 seconds.

Related: 8 Sleep and Health Myths You Should Stop Believing
20 Weird Strategies to Help You Sleep

Listen to music.

Listen to music.
Image credit: Nico De Pasquale Photography | Getty Images

A study from Denmark’s Aarhus University found that listening to classical music for 25 minutes to an hour at night led to improved sleep among the participants.

20 Weird Strategies to Help You Sleep

Think about a peaceful, calming place.

Think about a peaceful, calming place.
Image credit: JGI/Jamie Grill | Getty Images

In your mind, go to your favorite place, a tranquil beach or another relaxing location. For best results, The Mayo Clinic advises including as many elements of the setting as possible -- sight, sound, smell and touch.

Related: The Extraordinary Power of Visualizing Success
20 Weird Strategies to Help You Sleep

Stop and smell the lavender.

Stop and smell the lavender.
Image credit: SVGiles | Getty Images
A study from the University of Pennsylvania found that when participants were exposed to the scent of lavender, they reported deeper sleep. Give a candle or the real thing a try in your bedroom and see whether it works for you.
20 Weird Strategies to Help You Sleep

Put on socks.

Put on socks.
Image credit: Anakin Tseng | Getty Images

If your feet are nice and warm, you’ll drift off to sleep sooner. According to the National Sleep Foundation, heating cold extremities prompts the dilation of blood vessels, which signals to the brain that it’s time for bed. So, put on a pair of socks or cozy slippers if you find you’re up in the middle of the night.

Related: 12 Unexpected Things That Are Stealing Your Sleep
20 Weird Strategies to Help You Sleep

Sleep on your own.

Sleep on your own.
Image credit: Pete Barrett | Getty Images

You might think that you have insomnia, but if you sleep next to a partner, that extra body could be the culprit of your sleeplessness. Thirty percent of couples experience a “sleep divorce,” meaning they decide to sleep separately, according to Matthew Walker, director of the Sleep and Neuroimaging Laboratory at the University of California, Berkeley. Walker shared this fact at the 2017 Fortune Brainstorm Health conference.

20 Weird Strategies to Help You Sleep

Think beyond counting sheep.

Think beyond counting sheep.
Image credit: Frederic Cirou | Getty Images

If you’re wide awake at night, sleep expert Neil Stanley recommended to New York Magazine running through meaningless lists to distract your brain. “It can be anything of interest, but of no importance, so you can devote some brain energy to it without clashing into the real world and going straight back to your worries,” Stanley said. “I fly a lot, so I imagine I have my own private jet and how would I arrange the furniture on it. If you're someone who likes going to music festivals, what would your lineup be?

Related: Sleep In and Make Millions: Why You Don't Need to Wake Up at 5 A.M.

20 Weird Strategies to Help You Sleep

Stop looking at the clock.

Stop looking at the clock.
Image credit: KatarzynaBialasiewicz | Getty Images

If you find that you can’t fall asleep, looking at the clock and calculating how much time is left before you have to go to work can actually create more stress, which leads to more insomnia. "The clock serves as a wake prompt," New York University School of Medicine professor Joyce Walsleben told Health magazine. "It heightens your arousal level and ruins the night. You should set the alarm clock and put it out of sight. If the bell hasn't gone off, it's none of your business what time it is; roll over and go back to sleep."

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  • 20 Weird Strategies to Help You Sleep
  • 1. Mind your beeswax.
  • 2. Follow the 20-minute rule.
  • 3. Eat breakfast for dinner.
  • 4. Cool down.
  • 5. Get some sun.
  • 6. Find the optimal temperature.
  • 7. Don’t make a stop at the bar.
  • 8. Give your life meaning.
  • 9. Get out of bed.
  • 10. Don’t try to fall asleep.
  • 11. Become a kid again.
  • 12. Dim the lights.
  • 13. Simply relax your muscles.
  • 14. Listen to music.
  • 15. Think about a peaceful, calming place.
  • 16. Stop and smell the lavender.
  • 17. Put on socks.
  • 18. Sleep on your own.
  • 19. Think beyond counting sheep.
  • 20. Stop looking at the clock.
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