IF you have sleep difficulties, you’ve likely tried an abundance of tricks to help you nod off.
But have you tried reading a child’s book or doing a headstand?
A psychologist has revealed seven unusual techniques that just might be the trick to get you sleepy.
Everyone has nights that are less restful than others.
But if it’s a common occurrence for you to lie awake rolling around in bed, you could have insomnia.
The symptoms of insomnia include difficulty dozing off, lying awake for a long time at night, waking up several times every night and not feeling refreshed when you get up.
For some people, occasional bouts of insomnia will come and go, while others could have it for months or even years at a time.
There are different types of insomnia, with short periods known as transient, and bouts lasting months and affecting daily life known as chronic.
Insomnia will affect around one in three Brits at some point.
Katherine Hall, a psychologist in sleep from Somnus Therapy, teamed up with retailer Happy Beds to suggest what these people can do:
1. Do a headstand
If you’ve been lying awake for hours with no luck getting to sleep, it may sound ludicrous to get up and do a headstand.
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But yoga poses have been shown to be highly effective for people with insomnia, according to a 2004 study published in the journal Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback.
Katerine said: “Headstands help circulate refreshed blood to your brain, specifically the master glands – the pituitary and hypothalamus.
“It also helps detoxify the adrenal glands to help expel negative thoughts and promote more positive thinking.
“Practice by supporting yourself against the wall until you gain enough balance and core strength to try a freestanding headstand.”
2. A kid’s bedtime story
“Bedtime stories aren’t just for children,” Katherine said.
“Reading a book or telling yourself a fantasy story in your mind helps reduce stress.
“Choose a niche like mystery, romance, or sci-fi. Avoid non-fiction books that shift your brain into problem-solving mode.
“Fictional stories mimic dreams, helping your mind prepare for sleep.”
Katherine says to avoid reading from a digital device, like a Kindle, because the light emitted from screens may keep you awake.
She said: “Blue light can delay the release of the sleep hormone melatonin and reset the internal clock to an even later schedule.”
3. Squeeze your muscles
A technique called progressive muscle relaxation can mimic the feeling of a massage, Katherine said.
It involves squeezing the muscles as tightly as you can for a few seconds before releasing. The sudden drop of tension in the body helps you to appreciate the feeling of being relaxed.
Katierine said: “There are three steps in this process: first, take a deep breath.
“Second, squeeze a specific muscle group and hold, then lastly, release.
“Start at your toes and slowly move up your entire body, focusing on a single muscle group at a time including your toes, calves, thighs, stomach, buttocks, arms, shoulders, neck, and face.”
4. Turn the heating off
You may think a warm and cosy room is your idea of a sleepy haven.
But this may do more harm than good, as Katherine said making sure you are cool at bedtime is imperative to get to sleep.
She said: “Temperature control is one of the most important elements of achieving quality sleep. Most people achieve optimal sleep in a room that’s 65 degrees.
“Cool surroundings prevent your body from overheating.
“Try sleeping in lightweight pyjamas or without any clothes. Don’t use a heavy blanket or too many blankets.
“Research also shows that a cooler temperature provides a deeper Non-Rapid Eye Movement (NREM) sleep, which means a more restorative sleep!”
5. Warm your feet
A nifty trick to get you in the mood for sleep is to warm your feet up before bed.
This will help the body’s core temperature to drop.
By warming your feet and lowering your core temperature, you’re signalling to your brain that it’s time for be
Katherine said: “While this may sound like a bad thing, it’s actually an important part of the sleep process.
“Your body’s core temperature naturally drops between 1 and 2 degrees (Fahrenheit) in preparation for sleep.
“By warming your feet and lowering your core temperature, you’re signalling to your brain that it’s time for bed. Research also suggests that warm skin, including the skin on your feet, can help you fall asleep faster.”
Katherine said although you want a cool environment to sleep in, you don’t want the feet to feel frozen.
She said: “Cold feet restrict blood vessels and lead to poor circulation.
“Studies show that wearing socks to bed can improve blood flow through a process called distal vasodilation. As the blood vessels in your feet warm-up or dilate, your core temperature begins to drop.”
6. Go camping
Circadian rhythms are what dictate our “body clock”.
When the sun goes down, the brain produces chemicals that make you sleepy. The opposite occurs when the sun rises in the morning.
But modern day life can put this into haywire, thanks to late nights or lie ins.
Katherine said: “Your body’s circadian rhythm, or sleep cycle, is dependent on exposure to light.
“By getting outdoors and into nature, you can set your sleep cycle to follow the natural rhythm of day and night, including the rising and setting of the sun.”
7. Try to stay awake
We’ve all been there – it’s past midnight and you still can’t sleep, which is making you frustrated and worried, which is further making it hard to sleep.
“It may sound counterintuitive but to fall asleep faster, you may want to try and stay awake for as long as possible,” Katherine said.
This technique is called paradoxical intention, and it encourages you to lie in bed without doing anything to try to fall asleep.
Katherine said: “The idea is to tackle the worry that comes with lying in bed awake and to normalise it in your mind.
“Once you've faced this fear, anxiety reduces and you’ll soon find that you are drifting off to sleep.
“This is also referred to as remaining passively awake. It’s all about being aware and accepting any negative thoughts or worries that usually keep you awake, instead of fighting or blocking them.
“With paradoxical intention, you learn to stop spending energy on getting rid of what you don’t want, and start putting energy into what you do want…sleep!”
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