From the Magazine

How to Actually Get a Good Night’s Sleep This Holiday

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The hustle and bustle of the holidays makes this the hardest time of year to reach levels of restorative deep sleep. To the rescue: three new science-backed tricks to help you fall asleep faster and slumber more soundly.

Take a shower. 

A 2019 University of Texas study found that folks who took a warm bath or shower two hours before bed fell asleep 36 percent faster and slept more soundly. The intriguing reason it works so well: Warming our skin before bed pulls heat from the core of the body, dropping our internal temperature to levels that mimic deep sleep, according to study authors. And the sweet-spot of 60 to 120 minutes before bed allows your body time to pull and shed heat so you reach the ideal Zzzz temp.

Sip a cherry nightcap.

Ending the night with a shot of tart cherry juice helped insomniacs 65 or older sleep nearly an hour and a half longer, according to a recent double-blind, placebo controlled study published in American Journal of Therapeutics. That’s because tart cherry helps the body maximize tryptophan, the amino acid famously found in turkey that boosts sleepiness after a big feast. “Tryptophan is a building block for melatonin — our body’s natural sleep hormone,” explains sleep medicine physician Thanuja Hamilton, M.D. Tip: Choose an unsweetened juice, since sugar blocks tart cherries’ power to induce sleepiness.

Slumber to ‘pink noise’

Sleeping to “pink noise” — a more soothing version of “white noise” — helped participants in a 2019 study attain the deepest levels of sleep. “Pink noise frequencies are often found in nature, such as in waves lapping on the beach, leaves rustling in the trees or a steady rainfall,” explains Dr. Hamilton. Tune into the YouTube channel SleepySounds, which streams nine hours of lulling pink noise for free.

This story originally appeared in our print magazine.

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