12 Unorthodox Sleeping Hacks to Get Some Shut-Eye

Beautiful young woman sleeping in bed at night.

If you have trouble sleeping, you’re not alone. In fact, you’re in the company of over 50 million Americans who struggle to get a good night’s sleep.

Sleep is one of the most important bodily functions, but it’s easy to resign yourself to insomnia when you’ve tried everything to get some shut-eye, and nothing works. Don’t give up just yet because we have some unusual sleeping hacks that might finally help you sleep well.

Common Sleeping Hacks You Should Know

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This list is for those who have tried it all and still struggle to fall or stay asleep. If you’re just now finding it difficult to sleep, consider trying more common sleeping tricks first.

Common solutions include humidifiers, essential oil diffusers, white noise, fresh air, meditation, melatonin tablets, counting backward from 300, and avoiding electronics before bed.

If you’ve tried all these tricks and more with no luck, the rest of this list is for you.

Drink Cherry Juice

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Forget the warm milk and try a generous glass of tart cherry juice instead. It’s not the tastiest, but cherry juice contains tryptophan and melatonin, so it can naturally aid sleep. Some find it more effective than melatonin tablets. Even people with severe insomnia report that cherry juice helps.

Drink one or two cups in the morning and then one cup within an hour before bed. Studies show cherry juice works best for older adults, so this might be your solution if you’re 40 or over.

Paint Your Bedroom

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Colors affect us more than most people realize, so the color of your bedroom might be keeping you awake. The best colors for a calm, sleepy environment are blue, green, and white. Blue and green often evoke feelings of comfort and calmness, while white is the least stimulating color.

Paint your bedroom one of these colors and consider incorporating them into bedroom decor, bedding, furniture, and more. Avoid red, orange, yellow, and black.

Pretend It’s Time for Work

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We all know that tragic feeling when you’re unbelievably comfy in bed in the morning, but you have to tear yourself away from your mattress for work or some other activity.

Recreating this feeling at bedtime can lull you to sleep. Simply imagine it’s actually morning and think about being in bed as a privilege rather than a frustrating challenge.

Sleep the Other Way

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This sounds vague, but we mean flip your body around so your feet are at the head of the bed and your head at the bottom of the bed. There aren’t scientific studies or psychological experiments to back this up. However, the simple switch seems to be a popular tactic among mild insomniacs.

Rock Yourself to Sleep

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Yes, just like a baby, you can rock yourself to sleep. This slow and comforting movement can help calm your nervous system to prepare your body and mind for sleep better. This supposedly works because rocking is one of the first sensations we experience in the womb.

You can rock side to side with your legs pulled to your chest or with your legs straight out while lying down. Try a few rocking positions to see which you prefer, and embrace the familiar and soothing movement.

Hug Your Pillow

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Hugging a pillow, stuffed animal, or other soft object in bed can also create that familiar and soothing feeling. Doing this relieves stress and anxiety, releases oxytocin, and offers a sense of security. You can even try hugging yourself if a soft object doesn’t appeal to you.

Counting Celebrities

Cate Blanchett walks the red carpet ahead of the 'A Star Is Born' screening during the 75th Venice Film Festival at Sala Grande on August 31, 2018 in Venice, Italy.
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You’ve probably heard of counting sheep or counting backward from a high number, but these mind tricks aren’t always enough for restless people. More complex but still boring mind games can be more helpful.

Instead of counting sheep, count random celebrities and keep thinking of new ones! You can do this with anything: candy bars, car models, TV shows, movies, pantry staples, shoe types, Italian foods, mammals, etc. It’s like playing categories with yourself!

Calm Body Scans

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Body scans are a common aspect of meditation. You’ve probably heard meditation can help with sleep, but this is more specific and often easier for people to practice.

Start at your toes and consciously feel every part of your body, one toe at a time, then the top of your foot, then your ankle, and so on, until you reach the crown of your head.

Even better, do a body scan with progressive muscle relaxation. As you scan each body part, actively tense it as much as you can, then stop all muscular engagement and relax it fully. The key here is to take your time; do not rush through the body scan, or it won’t work.

Spritz Your Pillows

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Essential oils are commonly used to combat sleep issues. People use diffusers, dab oil on their wrists, or just take a whiff before lying down. You can take it a step further and spray your pillow and comforter with essential oil.

This is not ideal for everyone, as it might cause headaches for sensitive people. But those who do not respond to small doses of the aromas might find solace and sleep in a more enveloping essential oil experience. Some of the best oils for sleep are lavender, chamomile, and peppermint.

Listen to Foreign Music

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Many insomniacs find silence deafening, so they play music, listen to podcasts, or leave the TV on. While comforting, these things often make it harder to sleep. If you can’t sleep in silence and white noise isn’t for you, consider foreign music in a different language.

Not being able to understand the lyrics can make it easier to keep the music in the background of your mind. Maybe you’ll learn a new language in your sleep, but probably not. Sorry, we’re just here to help you sleep, not become bilingual.

Drink Golden Milk

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Golden milk is another beverage that might help you sleep if plain, warm milk and cherry juice don’t cut it. A mug of golden milk before bed can encourage relaxation and improve sleep.

Also known as turmeric milk or haldi doodh in Hindi, it is a warm Indian drink made with coconut milk (or any other milk you want), turmeric, cinnamon, ginger, black pepper, and nutmeg, but there are many variants you can try.

Legs up the Wall

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Putting your legs up a wall, a.k.a. viparita karani pose in yoga, is one of the most calming positions for the human body. It calms your body and mind, making it ideal for managing racing thoughts and heightened alertness at night. Practice deliberate and slow breathing while holding the pose.

You can do the pose for five to 20 minutes before bed, but don’t fall asleep like this! No, it doesn’t “reverse blood flow,” as some say, since that’s impossible. However, your legs might fall asleep, which is unpleasant.

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Veronica is a lifestyle and culture writer from Boston, MA, with a passion for entertainment, fashion, and food. She graduated from Boston University in 2019 with a bachelor's in English literature. If she's not in the kitchen trying new recipes, she's binging the latest HBO series, catching up on the hottest trends in Vogue, or falling down a research rabbit hole. Her writing experience ranges from global news articles to celebrity gossip pieces to movie reviews and more.
Her byline appears in publications like The Weather Channel, The Daily Meal, The Borgen Project, MSN, Wealth of Geeks, and Not Deer Magazine. She writes about what inspires her — a stylish Wes Anderson film, a clever cleaning hack, a surprising fashion trend. When she’s not writing about life's little joys, she’s keeping her dog away from rabbits and spending too much money on kitchenware.

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