Ever had to go through not being able to fall asleep despite being exhausted? Or perhaps you finally drop off, but your sleep is restless and constantly interrupted. Either way, you likely know the pain of searching for sleep solutions in the middle of the night. Though there’s no one-size-fits-all answer, cultures around the world have come up with their own ways of making sure they get the rest they need.
China’s Hot Foot Soak
If you like spa pedicures, give this one a try. This nighttime custom has roots in Traditional Chinese Medicine, and it’s a great way to wind down, soothe your tired tootsies, and reap the benefits of a little hot water therapy. All you need is a bathtub or small plastic basin. You can dress up your hot water with different soothing ingredients, like:
• Epsom salt
• skin-safe essential oils, like lavender and rose
• fruit peels
• herbs like mugwort
• According to TCM, this can help reduce the amount of vital energy, or qi, in the mind.
India’s Herbal Remedy
One of the most important herbs of Ayurveda medicine, the traditional medicine of the Indian subcontinent, Ashwagandha has been used for thousands of years. It’s used to reduce stress and anxiety and support the treatment of symptoms related to mental health.
In a 2020 randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled study, 150 healthy adults were given 120 mg of Ashwagandha once daily for six weeks. The study found that Ashwagandha:
• reduced sleep latency (the time it takes to fall asleep)
• improved quality of sleep
• reduced non-restorative sleep
• improved quality of life
A 2021 systematic review and meta-analysis found that Ashwagandha had a “small but significant” impact on sleep, especially for those diagnosed with insomnia. Ashwagandha was also found to improve anxiety and mental alertness.
Finland’s Sauna Steam
Another Nordic tradition is the Finnish practice of enjoying a sauna in the evenings. This raises the body temperature, relaxes muscles, and makes you very sleepy as a result. According to a 2018 review, saunas offer a number of health benefits, including support for:
• congestive heart failure
• peripheral arterial disease
• rheumatoid arthritis
• depression and anxiety
• muscle recovery
Japan’s Shikibuton Tradition
The Shikibuton is a Japanese futon mattress that’s used on the floor. It’s not only space-saving, but it may also offer sleep and health benefits.
Similar to the Korean Yo, you can roll the Shikibuton up and stow it away when you are not using it. It’s typically made with eco-friendly and natural materials, like cotton and wool. While there isn’t much research on the benefits of futon mattresses, like the Shikibuton, it’s believed by some to help prevent or alleviate low back pain and provide support for the spine.
Using Hammocks In South and Central America
If you enjoy swinging away in a hammock outdoors, you may want to consider hanging one in the bedroom. Often overlooked in the United States, hammocks are seen as a legitimate sleeping option in South and Central America. While most studies on the benefits of sleeping in hammocks have been on babies, a 2011 study explored how the rocking motion of hammocks may promote deeper sleep.