Sleep Health

6 Secrets to Getting a Great Night’s Sleep

Fast fixes for sweeter, deeper sleep.

One of the upsides of recent events? Two out of three of us report having more time for sleep! Even better: Experts say these easy strategies ensure you wake up refreshed. If you’re looking for ways to fall asleep faster, sleep more deeply, and stay asleep longer, try these science-backed tricks tonight.

Can’t fall asleep? Try magnolia bark.

“If you’re wired at bedtime, magnolia bark could ease anxiety, inducing sleep as quickly and effectively as Valium — without side effects,” says Michael J. Breus, Ph.D., author of The Power of When (Buy on Amazon, $13.84). Thanks goes to a magnolia bark compound (honokiol) that lowers levels of adrenaline. The study-proven dose: 200 mg. to 400 mg. at bedtime, paired with a snack to improve absorption. Note: Check with a doctor before supplementing.

Toss and turn? Give feet a treat.

Immerse your tootsies in a hot footbath for 20 minutes before bed, and you’ll drift off twice as quickly, cut middle-of-the-night awakenings by 55 percent, plus sleep 123 percent more deeply all night long, suggests research in the Journal of Social Health. Study authors say a sudden spike in foot temperature stimulates the brain region that calms muscles and nerves.

Wake up too early? Have a sweet snack.

Kiwis are a sleep-deepening superhero! Canadian researchers say two sweet, tart kiwis each evening can help you sleep 54 percent more deeply, plus stay asleep up to 65 minutes longer. Explains Breus, kiwis are rich in serotonin — a calming hormone that helps your entire central nervous system relax.

Bad dreams? Write a happy script.

Focus on happy images when you curl up under the covers, and you’ll cut risk of bad dreams by 58 percent, plus improve sleep quality by 62 percent, Australian researchers say. Explains psychiatrist Ron Kirov, M.D., positive thoughts train your brain to dream positive too.

Restless sleep? Drink up.

Even mild dehydration can lower levels of the sleep hormone melatonin. That ’s why British researchers say sipping six glasses of liquids daily can cut restless sleep by 45 percent.

Aches and pains keeping you awake? Try this.

If achy knees and hips are keeping you from sleep, lift your legs in the air and gently pedal your feet (as if riding a bicycle) for two minutes. University of Connecticut researchers say this simple motion flushes pain-triggering fluids out of those joints, helping you drift off up to 30 minutes sooner.

This story originally appeared in our print magazine.

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