Do Those Internet Sleep Hacks Really Work?

There’s tons of advice online on how to get better sleep. That doesn’t mean any of it is scientifically backed.

Falling asleep within the first few minutes of closing your eyes shouldn’t be that hard. Nevertheless, it is: One in three Americans have trouble falling asleep at night, according to the National Institute of Health. People may have poor sleep routines or struggle to fall asleep due to issues with chronic pain, nicotine usage, hormonal changes, pregnancy and menopause, medication, sleep apnea, or mental health, according to Keisha Sullivan, a doctor of osteopathic medicine, pulmonologist and sleep medicine specialist at Kaiser Permanente in Largo, Maryland.

People turn to the internet for sleep advice, and while some of it is vetted, some of those too-good-to-be-true tricks you find on your social media feed aren’t going to solve your slumber dilemmas.

There’s plenty of advice online on how to have a better night’s sleep, go to sleep quicker and stay asleep longer. That doesn’t mean any of it is correct or scientifically backed.

I gathered up some of the internet’s common sleep hacks and recommendations and asked Sullivan to approve or debunk the conventional sleep wisdom we see online. From the best position for sleeping to the breathing techniques that work, here’s what I learned. 

For more sleep tips, here’s why you should try CBD as a natural sleep aid and how you can stop allergies from ruining your sleep.

10 common sleep tips, approved and debunked

Keep your bedroom temperature between 62-68 degrees Fahrenheit

Sullivan recommends keeping your bedroom even cooler, at 60 to 67 degrees Fahrenheit. Keeping your room between these temperatures will lower your body temperature and help you fall asleep, she explains.

Red lights help produce melatonin

One tip I found online encouraged turning on red wavelength lights at night because this light allegedly produces melatonin, the naturally occurring hormone that helps us get to sleep.

A 2012 study conducted on 20 women athletes found that when the group was exposed to 30 minutes of red light therapy, the group displayed improved sleep, melatonin levels and endurance performance. CNET’s sister site Healthline explained that while the research behind red light and sleep is promising, more research is needed to fully examine its implications.

This tip to have red wavelength lights on at night, according to Sullivan, doesn’t have much scientific backing. She did note that exposure to blue light, like smartphones, tablets and other screens, before bedtime can disrupt your sleep and suppress melatonin production, however.

Stay away from your bed and bedroom until you’re ready to fall asleep

This tip is true. Our brains, no matter how evolved and complex they may be, simply associate different spaces with a select number of actions: you eat in your kitchen, you relax in your living room, you work at your desk and you sleep in your bedroom. Sure, you know that you can do more than one thing in the same space, but our brains don’t.

A good night’s sleep hinges on a good sleep routine, Sullivan explains. Part of that routine includes training your body to recognize the cues for falling asleep. When you spend your day working in your bed or doing other things besides sleeping in your bedroom, you are confusing your body about the action it should be carrying out in that location.

Stop eating three hours before bed, working two hours before bed and using your phone one hour before bed

You don’t have to follow this one to a tee, but it’s important to have some distance between eating and sleeping and tech use and sleeping. Sullivan tells patients to eat their final meal of the day three to four hours before bed, and she recommends putting away all electronics one to two hours before bedtime.

Take warm baths or showers before bed

Taking a warm shower or bath right before bed could help you get to sleep easier. Doing so can cause distal vasodilation, Sullivan explains, which is an “increase of blood flow to extremities that reduces your core body temperature quicker.”

Military method for falling asleep

The military method for good sleep originates from “Relax and Win: Championship Performance,” written by Lloyd Bud Winter. Winter found that pilots in Navy Pre-Flight School could fall asleep in just two minutes through the military method where you practice progressive muscle relaxation. This, according to Sullivan, prepares the body for sleep and allows you to focus by tensing and then relaxing different muscle groups. Studies suggest that this technique may help you fall asleep, Sullivan said.

This article was posted by CNET

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