File this under news you probably could’ve guessed: According to a January study in the Journal of Affective Disorders, the quality of your sleep determines whether or not you’re going to be in a positive or negative mood the next day. It’s not exactly surprising news, but it serves as a good reminder that getting a good night’s sleep is very important to your health. (And, according to The New York Times, a good night’s sleep is the new status symbol.) So while you know that avoiding caffeine and electronics before bedtime will help you catch some quality zzz’s, we asked a handful of sleep experts for their favorite — and most unexpected — sleeping tips:
Focus on staying awake
“I know it sounds counterintuitive,” says Dr. Sujay Kansagra, director of Duke University’s Pediatric Neurology Sleep Medicine Program and sleep health consultant for Mattress Firm, “but it actually works.” Dr. Kansagra says this technique known as paradoxical intent. “It lessens anxiety, giving your mind a chance to relax enough to fall asleep,” Kansagra says. Science backs this theory up: According to a 2005 study at the University of Glasgow, participants who focused on staying awake had an easier time falling — and staying — asleep than those who focused their efforts on trying to sleep.
Try magnesium spray
Magnesium is one of those vitamins that is known for its sleep-friendly properties. And while it can be found in foods such as nuts, seeds and even dark chocolate, you can also get your fix another way: Via a spray. Magnesium oil is said to be even stronger than when it’s found in food or pill forms. “It helps relax muscles and decrease cortisol levels,” says Martin-Rawls-Meehan, CEO and founder of sleep technology and mattress company Reverie. “A few sprays on the forehead and chest before going to bed really works,” he adds. And because magnesium naturally helps your muscles relax, the oil could also help with those suffering from restless legs syndrome—another cause of sleeplessness.
Separate your sheets
If you sleep with a partner then you know then you’ve probably had to deal a case of stolen covers in the middle of the night. Waking up sheetless can seriously disrupt your sleep, but Dr. Robert Oexman, director of the Sleep to Live Institute in North Carolina has a simple solution: Separate your sheets. “Avoid a fight over the blankets by using your own,” he says. “You can have one fitted sheet, but for each side of the bed use your own top sheet and blanket,” he adds. “Simply cover it with a duvet, and no one will see the difference.”
Pour a glass of tart cherry juice
According to Dr. Caroline Apovian, the Director of the Nutrition and Weight Management Center at the Boston Medical Center, tart cherry juice is the perfect pre-bedtime drink. “It’s the world’s richest natural source of melatonin,” she says. Melatonin is a hormone that helps regulate the sleep-wake cycle, and in a recent study, participants who drank tart cherry juice (about 1 ounce of juice concentrate mixed with 7 ounces of water) saw an increase in their melatonin content as well as significant increases in time in bed, total sleep time and sleep efficiency.
Kevin Aeh is a New York City-based writer and editor. He has written for Time Out New York, Refinery29, New York Magazine’s Vulture blog, Furthermore from Equinox and more.