Use Your 5 Senses to Set Yourself Up For Better Sleep

This content was created by the National Sleep Foundation

If you often have trouble falling asleep at night, it’s a good idea to assess whether your bedroom is the relaxing sleep sanctuary that you want it to be. Is it dark enough? Quiet enough? Are your sheets and pillows soft and comfortable enough? If you’re confident that your sleep environment is set up to help you get a good night’s sleep, it’s time to prep your body and mind to do their part. One of the best ways to do this is to recruit your senses in relaxing ways that will facilitate a smooth journey to the Land of Nod. Here’s how:


Using the right visualization techniques in the evening can help you de-stress, unwind, fall asleep, and get better quality zzz’s. Close your eyes, sit quietly, breathe deeply, and imagine a place where you felt truly relaxed or peaceful in the past. Maybe it was while standing on a serene mountaintop or sitting by the ocean. Picture the colors and other aspects of the scene in detail and let the vision in your mind calm you.


Listening to soothing music for 30 to 45 minutes before you turn in for the night can help reduce stress and anxiety, help you fall asleep more easily, and even improve the quality of your sleep. The key is to choose tunes you like that have a slow beat—such as classical music or soft jazz—because your heart rate will slow in response to them, which sets the stage for sleep.


Inhaling the scent of lavender essential oil in the evening can reduce anxiety and enhance the quality of your sleep. Besides reducing the time it takes to fall asleep, the scent of lavender has been found to increase the percentage of deep or slow-wave sleep, which can help you feel better rested in the morning.


Just as swaddling a baby can promote calmness and sleep, harnessing the power of touch can boost the quality of your sleep. Learning how to apply acupressure to yourself along key points of your body can improve your sleep. Meanwhile, sleeping with a weighted blanket— which provides constant tactile stimulation all over the body—can provide calming physiological effects, as well as increasing the amount of time you spend in various stages of sleep.


Having a light bedtime snack can help set you up for a good night’s sleep. Consuming tart cherry juice can increase levels of sleep-inducing melatonin, which can put you in the mood to snooze. Similarly, having a mug of warm milk or a handful of walnuts in the evening can make you sleepy, thanks to the soporific amino acid tryptophan. By contrast, drinking soothing chamomile tea can ease anxiety and depression, which can help you sleep more soundly.