Tired of the tried and tested methods that don’t seem to help you fall asleep? The latest trends in sleep therapy range from pure and simple to power-driven and scientific. Here are five new trends that may help you get more zzzzzz’s… and don’t involve drugs or counting sheep.
1. HIGH-TECH SLEEP SCIENCE. You’ve heard you’re supposed to take the TV out of your bedroom and shut off technology hours before bedtime to get a good night’s rest. But certain digital devices are now welcome in the bedroom. New “smart mattresses” help control temperature and offer feedback about your REM cycles to create the optimal sleep environment. The Beautyrest Sleeptracker uses sensors and a personalized “sleep coach” to track and help improve your sleep, and Serta’s SleepGPS & Motion Custom II has sensory technology that tracks heart rate, breathing and body movement to control a wake-up alarm that gently wakes you only when your body is most receptive (when in lighter sleep).
2. SLEEPY WATER. If you’d rather drink your way into a drowsy state – alcohol-free! – Dream Water is a new brand of “water” that combines GABA or gamma-aminobutyric acid to help you relax and reduce anxiety, melatonin (manmade supplement) that regulates your natural cycle of sleeping and waking, and 5-HTP, 5-hydroxytryptophan, which promotes sleep and improves sleep quality by stimulating the body’s natural melatonin. Dream Water is available on Amazon.
3. BEDTIME LOTIONS ‘N POTIONS. You might already use aromatherapy, but if want to get all of your herbal sleep scents in one fell swoop rather than an individual dose in an atomizer, Sleep Body Lotion might work. It includes substantial amounts of lavender and chamomile essential oils that lull you to sleep while also soothing your skin. Or maybe spritz Deep Sleep Pillow Spray onto your pillow for a similar effect. It’s a blend of lavender, vetivert and wild chamomile essential oils. Both are available online from the New York company net-a-porter.com.
4. EAT YOUR WAY TO SLUMBERLAND. Foods are also in the news as natural sleep aids. You know that turkey and chicken have an amino acid called L-tryptophan that aids sleep because of the way it works on neurotransmitter chemicals in the brain. But poultry certainly isn’t the only food that induces drowsiness. Foods including cherries, pistachios, yams, prunes, cheese, nut butter, leafy greens, potatoes and whole grains can all encourage your body to calm down into a relaxed state that prepares you for a deeper sleep experience. (See recipe.)
5. THE RIGHT NUTRIENTS. Certain vitamins and minerals are especially important for a good night’s sleep. According to 2013 and 2014 research, short sleep times are found in people who have too little magnesium, vitamin C, lycopene and lutein. A vitamin C deficiency is linked to waking up more often during the night. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3703747/ Selenium and calcium are too low in those having difficulty falling asleep. Vitamin D (and enough water) is vital to maintain deep sleep. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3866235/
FALL ASLEEP WITH THIS RECIPE
Make your own sleep enhancer? Nobody said sleep aids couldn’t be gourmet.
CHICKEN WITH YAMS, QUINOA, PRUNES & PISTACHIOS
3 cups cooked chicken (one whole chicken)
1/2 lemon, juice and zest
3 tablespoons virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon grainy mustard
1 tablespoon honey
1 bay leaf
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 small onion, finely chopped
1/4 cup quinoa
2 cups yams, roasted (1 large yam)
1 cup pitted prunes, roughly chopped
1/2 cup roasted pistachios, chopped
1. Cook chicken (or buy precooked), and roast yams in oven.
2. While they are cooking, heat 2 tablespoons oil in medium skillet over medium heat. Add onion, and sauté until translucent. Add quinoa and garlic and cook 2 minutes until it begins to turn golden. Stir in 1 cup water, add bay leaf and salt, cover, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer 15 to 18 minutes, or until quinoa is tender.
2. Remove bay leaf. On low heat, stir in 1 tablespoon olive oil, prunes, honey, mustard, lemon juice and cayenne. Simmer 5 minutes.
3. Dice yams and roughly chop chicken into pieces.
4. Fold roasted yams and cooked chicken into the simmering mixture.
5. Remove from heat and stir in ¾ of the pistachios and lemon zest. Let sit 5 minutes.
6. Then garnish with parsley, chopped green onion or other herb and the rest of the pistachios, and serve.