Insomnia can be more than just a frustration. Since sleep is vitally important to virtually all aspects of our health, not getting enough can be physically and mentally devastating. If you toss and turn at night struggling to fall asleep, you may be desperate for a cure, and who could blame you?
Well, it turns out that in today’s world, there are some pretty bizarre tricks and techniques that people have used to battle insomnia. The following are six of the many.
Note: Not all of the methods on this list are scientifically backed. The ones that are will have this fact clearly stated. However, anecdotal evidence suggests that they all work for some people, in some situations.
ASMR for insomnia
ASMR stands for autonomous sensory meridian response. This sleep therapy involves using certain sounds to trigger a sleep response in a person. Kate Sztabnik, writing for the Huffington Post, details her experiences watching YouTube videos of people making sounds such as cracking a microphone, whispering and crinkling wrappers. According to Sztabnik, these videos helped her to fall asleep.
These YouTube videos, tagged with the acronym “ASMR” have millions of views. People are certainly finding them helpful, although there is no solid scientific evidence for how or why they work.
Some people suffering from insomnia visit a sleep specialist and get hooked up to a biofeedback device. The person aiming to get better sleep watches their biological signals on a monitor, including the beating of their heart, the patterns of their breath and the wavelengths of their brain. The point of observing these patterns is to train yourself to slow down their rates and to be able to see visual results of the slowing on screen. Once a person has learned how to slow their breathing and heart rates, they can use these techniques at home.
It sounds truly strange, but according to Michael Grander, the director of the University of Arizona College of Medicine – Tucson’s sleep and health research program, sleep restriction is a form of cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBT-I). Grander explains that this practice involves restricting the time you spend in bed when you can’t sleep. So, if you can usually only manage six hours of sleep, you may aim to get only six hours. Eliminate the other two hours of tossing and turning, and stay up instead.
This would limit the amount of sleep you received, of course, but may make you tired enough to sleep better the next night. Once sleep improves, you would be able to spend a longer time in bed, theoretically to fall asleep faster. Grander warns that this type of therapy should only be done with the supervision of a doctor, as side effects can occur.
In the past several years in Japan, some people have attended “sleep concerts,” during which musicians perform sleep-inducing music. You buy a ticket to the show, then sit back in a comfortable chair and get your Z’s during the concert. Albums of these sleep concerts can be purchased so that you can take the experience home to your own bedroom.
A company known as Philips SleepWave has made a product that induces a rocking sensation in order to help people sleep better. The product is a small device that is placed behind each ear. The device then sends pulses into your ear, to make you feel like you are rocking. According to the company’s own studies, this device was effective for reducing insomnia.
However, if a rocking motion is what you’re looking for, you could always try sleeping in a rocking chair or lulling yourself to sleep by rocking in one before bed. Couldn’t hurt to try. Plus, it’s less expensive than an ear device.
Tart cherry juice
This may sound strange, as many people equate drinking a fruit juice as something to do in the morning, but it’s actually backed by some research. A small study performed by researchers at Northumbria University in the United Kingdom found that drinking tart cherry juice before bed raised participant’s melatonin levels.
Melatonin is a hormone that controls sleep-wake cycles. More of it can result in improved sleep quality. Indeed, the researchers found that the participants who drank the cherry juice spent more time in bed, more time asleep and had improved “sleep efficacy.” If you try this, make sure that the juice is 100 percent tart cherry juice. If you have a juicer, you can even make your own! Just make sure to use tart cherries and not sweet cherries.
Do you use any other strange remedies to help you get to sleep? Have any of them worked? Please, do tell!
– Tanya Mead