5 Underrated & Undiscovered Sleep Hacks You Haven't Tried Yet

5 Underrated & Undiscovered Sleep Hacks You Haven't Tried Yet


Sleep, the silent tool in the toolbox (pun intended) in our quest for a vibrant life, often eludes many, leaving a trail of fatigue and frustration. While countless articles and advice columns preach the gospel of consistent sleep schedules and bedroom sanctuaries, there exists a treasure trove of underrated strategies that rarely grab the spotlight. This article ventures beyond the familiar shores of sleep advice to explore five lesser-known sleep hacks that hold the key to unlocking restful nights. From the subtle art of light manipulation to the cozy embrace of temperature control, these strategies invite you to rethink your nighttime routine. 


Before you begin - always consult your physician before beginning any exercise (or dietary) program(s). This general information is not intended to diagnose any medical condition or to replace your healthcare professional. Consult with your healthcare professional to design an appropriate exercise prescription (or dietary program) that's right for you.



1. Bedtime Snacks that Promote Sleep

Bedtime Snacks to Improve Sleep

Navigating the balance between hunger and fullness can be a huge factor in achieving a restful night's sleep. While indulging in a large meal right before bedtime is a well-known sleep disruptor, opting for a small, nutrient-dense snack can provide the opposite effect, gently coaxing your body into a state of relaxation and readiness for sleep. Foods rich in magnesium, potassium, and tryptophan can enhance the body's natural sleep mechanisms


Some suggestions on how to incorporate sleep-promoting snacks into your nighttime routine:

  • Choose Snacks with Sleep-supportive Nutrients: Look for foods that are high in magnesium (like almonds or spinach), potassium (such as bananas or sweet potatoes), and tryptophan (found in turkey and pumpkin seeds). These nutrients aid in relaxing the body and preparing it for sleep. Combining these foods in small portions can create a powerful snack to encourage sleep. 
  • Timing is Key: Consume your bedtime snack about an hour before you plan to sleep. This timing allows your body to digest the snack sufficiently to utilize the nutrients for muscle relaxation and melatonin production without being so close to bedtime that the digestion disrupts your sleep.
  • Maintain Portion Control: The size of your pre-bed snack should be just enough to satisfy nighttime hunger without causing discomfort or a heavy feeling. Aim for snacks that are around 200 calories or less to avoid overburdening your digestive system. 


A List of Sleep-friendly Snack Ideas:

  1. Greek Yogurt with Blueberries: Greek yogurt is rich in calcium, which can help the brain use the tryptophan found in dairy to produce sleep-inducing melatonin. Blueberries, due to their high vitamin C content, are antioxidants that may help regulate mood and sleep patterns.
  2. A Small Bowl of Whole-Grain Cereal with Milk: Combining complex carbohydrates and calcium can help promote sleep. If you can go with non-fat milk or dairy milk alternatives like oat or almond, go for it. 
  3. A Small Handful of Walnuts: Walnuts are a good source of tryptophan, an amino acid that helps to produce serotonin and melatonin, the "body clock" hormone that sets your sleep-wake cycles. 
  4. Cherry Juice: A small glass of cherry juice can be effective, as cherries are one of the few natural foods to contain melatonin. Opt for tart cherry juice, which has been studied for its sleep-inducing properties.
  5. A Slice of Whole-Grain Toast with Avocado: Offers a satisfying crunch with the creamy, potassium-rich topping of avocado.
  6. Hummus and Whole-Grain Crackers: Hummus contains chickpeas, which are a great source of tryptophan. When paired with whole-grain crackers, the complex carbohydrates help make the tryptophan more available to the brain. 
  7. A few Slices of Turkey on a Whole-Grain Cracker: Provides tryptophan from the turkey and the steadying effect of complex carbohydrates.
  8. Kiwi: Eating one or two kiwis before bedtime may improve sleep quality and duration. Kiwis are rich in serotonin and antioxidants, which can help enhance the quality of sleep.


By thoughtfully selecting your pre-sleep snack, you engage in a subtle yet effective form of nutritional therapy that supports your body's natural transition into sleep. 



2. Advanced Control Over Your Exposure to Light for Deep Sleep

Advanced Light Manipulation for Better Sleep

The delicate dance of light and darkness is important for sleep patterns. Our circadian rhythm, the internal clock that cycles between alertness and sleepiness, is exquisitely sensitive to variations in light. Bright light during the day sharpens our alertness, signaling the body to wake up and seize the day. However, as night falls, our exposure to light - especially the blue light emitted by screens - can trick our brains into delaying sleep, robbing us of rest.

Understanding the impact of light can empower us to control it for better sleep. Minor adjustments to our daily routines can help create a night of deeper, more restful slumber. 


Here's a tailored list of suggestions to optimize your light exposure for enhanced sleep quality:


Daylight Dynamics -

  1. Embrace Morning Sunshine: Aim for 20-30 minutes of natural sunlight each morning. This can help reset your circadian rhythm, improving alertness during the day and sleepiness at night.
  2. Brighten Your Workspace: Use bright, natural-style lighting in your work or living spaces during the day. This keeps your circadian rhythm aligned with the natural day-night cycle.


Evening Light Management -

  1. Dim the Lights: As evening approaches, reduce the intensity of home lighting. Opt for softer, warmer lights to signal your body that bedtime is near.
  2. Blue Light BoundariesLimit exposure to screens at least one hour before bed. Consider using apps or settings that reduce blue light on devices in the evening.
  3. Bedroom Ambiance: Ensure your sleeping environment is free from disruptive light sources. Use blackout curtains or an eye mask to block outside light, and turn off or cover any small LEDs within the room.


Advanced Strategies -

  1. Light Therapy: For those struggling with sleep due to jet lag or shift work, light therapy can effectively adjust your circadian rhythm. A light therapy box or sunrise alarm clock can mimic natural light patterns, helping to reset your internal clock.
  2. Smart Home Lighting: Invest in smart bulbs that automatically adjust the color temperature based on the time of day. These can provide bright daylight mimicry in the morning and warm, dim lighting in the evening.



3. The 4-7-8 Breathing Technique: Pre-sleep Breathing & Muscle Relaxation Techniques

4-7-8 Breathing Technique for Ultimate Sleep Mode

Transforming the period before sleep into a moment of calm can significantly improve the quality of your rest. Amidst the hustle of daily life, our minds and bodies often remain in a state of heightened alertness, which can hinder the transition into sleep. Integrating pre-sleep breathing or muscle relaxation techniques into your nightly routine serves as a gentle nudge towards relaxation, facilitating a smoother passage to the land of dreams. 


Here's a structured approach to integrating these relaxation methods into your evening routine:

  1. Set a Relaxation Schedule & Environment: Allocate a specific time before bed to engage in your chosen relaxation technique. And turn your bedroom into a sanctuary. This is standard practice on other sleep hack lists, but it sets up our breathing technique next.
  2. The 4-7-8 Breathing Technique: This involves breathing in for 4 seconds, holding the breath for 7 seconds, and exhaling slowly for 8 seconds. This pattern can profoundly calm the nervous system. Practice this sequence for four to eight cycles.
  3. Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR): Begin at your feet and work your way up to your face. Tense each muscle group for a few seconds, then release. Notice the contrast between tension and relaxation. This process relaxes your muscles and draws your focus away from the day's stresses.
  4. Guided Imagery: Visualize a peaceful scene or story. Engage all your senses to immerse yourself in this tranquil space. This can shift your mind away from stressors, ushering in a state of calm.
  5. Incorporate Soothing Sounds: Gentle, ambient sounds or soft music can enhance your relaxation practice. 
  6. Limit Distractions: Ensure your relaxation practice is free from interruptions. Turn off your phone or use it in "Do Not Disturb" mode (if you're using a relaxation app).
  7. Reflect on Your Experience: After completing your relaxation technique, take a moment to reflect on how your body and mind feel. This awareness can deepen the effectiveness of the practice over time.
  8. Sleep Journaling: This could be its own step, as jotting down your thoughts and daily experiences in a journal can help clear your mind before sleep.


By dedicating time to pre-sleep relaxation techniques, you're nurturing your body's natural transition to sleep and cultivating a deeper connection to your inner world of peace and calm. 



4. Temperature Regulation to Optimize Sleep

temperature regulation for better sleep

Be the baby wrapped up in a burrito, all warm and cozy. Then, crank the thermostat down! 

The role of temperature in fostering a good night's sleep cannot be overstated. Our body's internal thermostat signals the brain when it's time to rest (a slight drop in core temperature can initiate sleep). Beyond setting your thermostat to a cooler setting, there are more nuanced ways to leverage temperature for improved sleep quality. Among these, wearing socks to bed or using a hot water bottle at your feet stands out as a simple yet effective method to encourage the dilation of blood vessels in the extremities, which in turn facilitates a reduction in core body temperature and signals to your brain that it's time for sleep. 


Here are the top three steps to optimize your sleep environment's temperature for a restful night:

  1. Adjust Your Room Temperature: Aim to keep your bedroom at a cool, comfortable temperature between 60 to 67 degrees Fahrenheit (15 to 19 degrees Celsius). This range is widely regarded as ideal for promoting sleep as it complements the body's natural drop in temperature. Experiment within this range to find what works best for you, as individual preferences may vary.
  2. Utilize Bedding Strategically: Choose bedding materials that support temperature regulation. Lightweight, breathable fabrics like cotton or bamboo promote airflow and prevent overheating. During colder months, consider layering blankets to easily adjust to your comfort level without drastically affecting the room's temperature.
  3. Employ the Power of Warm Feet: Gently warming your feet before bed can expedite the lowering of your core body temperature.


By focusing on these three critical aspects of temperature regulation, you create an environment that supports your body's natural predisposition for sleep. 



5. Use of Aromatherapy For Improved Sleep

aromatherapy for best sleep

Aromatherapy has long been celebrated for its ability to promote relaxation and improve sleep quality. This ancient practice involves using essential oils with unique properties that can influence mood, stress levels, and sleep patterns. Lavender and chamomile (in particular) are renowned for their soothing effects that are great for sleep. While research on aromatherapy's effectiveness offers varied results, anecdotal evidence and centuries of use suggest a profound impact on enhancing the sleep environment and ritual. 


Here are the top three steps to integrating aromatherapy into your nightly routine:

  1. Choose Your Scent Wisely: Select essential oils known for their sleep-promoting properties. Lavender is a popular choice because it decreases heart rate and blood pressure, potentially making it easier to drift off to sleep. Chamomile, with its mild sedative effects, can also be a perfect choice for those looking to calm their minds before bed. 
  2. Opt for Safe Diffusion Methods: Incorporate your chosen essential oil into your bedroom environment using a safe diffusion method. An essential oil diffuser disperses the oil into the air, allowing you to breathe in its aroma as you prepare for sleep. Alternatively, apply a few drops to a cotton ball and place it near your pillow or use a commercially available pillow spray. 
  3. Create a Pre-sleep Aromatherapy Ritual: Consistency enhances the effectiveness of aromatherapy. Develop a pre-sleep ritual that includes aromatherapy to signal to your body and mind that it's time to wind down. Start your diffuser 30 minutes before bedtime, allowing the room to fill with the calming scent as you perform other nighttime routines like reading or meditation. 


Incorporating aromatherapy into your evening can transform your bedroom into a haven of serenity conducive to deep, rejuvenating sleep. 



Restful Nights from Our Unveiled Secrets

The paths less traveled are often the best. This is the case with our guide to more restful sleep. I mean, come on, the list starts with eating a snack before bed!

Sometimes you have to go beyond the common counsel of sleep hygiene for better rest. Each method (though lesser-known) enriches our understanding of sleep's delicate balance. And they work! Try out these "undiscovered strategies" and let us know on social if your sleep becomes better than ever.