Five Weird Ways to Get to Sleep

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  • By Robin Westen

    We’ve all heard the same old blah-blah-blah when it comes to promoting a good night’s sleep such as keeping the room dark and taking a hot bath before bedtime. Of course, these tips can work. But what if they don’t? Here are unconventional but effective ways to promote shut-eye:
  • Play the Didgeridoo Playing thehe Australian wind instrument works if sleep apnea is keeping you awake. According to a study from Switzerland, four months of learning to play the didgeridoo worked for patients with moderate sleep apnea. They got a better night’s sleep and reduced their daytime sleepiness. How? Playing the instrument strengthens the upper airway and prevents it from narrowing as you inhale. A common cause of apnea is a narrow airway.
  • Count in Reverse And not just from ten to one. You have to count backwards starting in the thousands and doing it in 7’s. Researchers say it works because you’ll be concentrating on one monotonous task, thereby calming your mind from anxious, sleep-killing thoughts.
  • Sing, Sing, Sing It turns out singing disrupts the auditory channel that sends messages and keeps us awake. How? The average person can handle only one sound track at a time. Choose a song you know very well. You can whisper it if you're afraid of waking your partner.
  • Curl Your Toes Curl your toes tightly for a count of seven, and then relax. Repeat through each muscle group, working up from your toes to your neck. This technique brings deep relaxation to your body and mind.
  • Write it Down Keep a pen and pad on your bedside table. If an important thought sticks in your mind, or awakens you in the middle of the night, just write it down, roll over, and forget about it until the morning.

    Robin Westen is ThirdAge's Medical Director. Check for her daily updates. Her latest book, co-authored with Dr. Alyssa Dweck, is "V is for Vagina." Click here to comment on this article or give us your own sleep tips.