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Not-so-fun fact: These days, people are not sleeping as well as they used to. The Better Sleep Council recently revealed that sleep quality declined for Americans after COVID-19 arrived. Now, more than 50 percent of people describe their sleep quality as either poor or fair.
There’s only so much you can do to ease the stress that comes with living through a global pandemic. But experts say there are a few things you and your family can do to improve your sleep, including a cool hack you probably haven’t used since you were a kid.
For adults and kids, it’s important to have a sleep routine before bed, Aneesa Das, MD, sleep medicine expert at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, tells Yahoo Life. “It needs to be fairly specific and repetitive,” she says. “These steps cue our bodies that it’s time to sleep.
”Every bedtime routine is different, but Das recommends doing things like brushing your teeth, putting on your PJs, and laying out your clothes for the next day. “Dim the lights. Eat early and not right before bed.
And, while it’s tempting to work and hang out in bed right now, Das advises against spending a ton of time in bed when you’re not sleeping. “You want to keep the bedroom for sleep and intimacy only,” she says.
Still not sleeping as well as you used to? There’s a hack you can try: using guided imagery to help you fall asleep. That can range from using a meditation app to listening to an audiobook, Das says.
It seems random, but sleep medicine doctors actually use this tool on patients. “When somebody has insomnia or difficulty falling asleep, one of the tools we use is guided imagery,” Das says. “Guided imagery is a way to take your brain to another place so that you’re not focusing on your stressors.”
And, if it’s in the form of hearing someone read a story to you, that’s more than OK. “A story allows you to escape your daily stressors and get lost in something else. It puts you in a relaxing mood, and can signal to you that it’s bedtime,” Das says.
Want to try it out for yourself? Here are some options for grownups and kids.
This audiobook is hilariously designed to be boring enough to make you conk out. The book features short stories with titles like The Motion of Sand Dunes, The Administrative Bureaucracy of the Byzantine Empire, White Noise: A Technical Explanation, and many more. Don’t miss snooze-inducing crowd-pleasers like A Staring Contest with Fifty Cats, Some Interesting Mathematical Theorems, and The Dullest Entries from Interesting Diaries.
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This collection of 10 bedtime stories is designed to help you de-stress and relieve anxiety at bedtime. The story collection was specifically tailored to recreate the feeling of being read to at night as a kid. And, while the stories are fun, the ultimate goal is to make you nod off.
This audiobook contains a slew of guided meditations, and there’s a meditation for every need. Each of the meditations, guided imagery, and relaxation techniques work to help make you more self-aware, while soothing your stressed and anxious mind before you fall asleep.
Don’t have Audible? Sign up for a free trial here.
Ben Holden, editor of the best-selling book Poems That Make Grown Men Cry, tells stories that are a mix of classics and more modern tales. The stories are a mix of poems, short stories, and even fairy tales from famous writers like William Shakespeare, Haruki Murakami, Charles Dickens, and Nora Ephron.
This audiobook provides fun guided imagery for kids, without them even realizing that they’re being encouraged to settle down for bed. Kids are guided through visual meditation and are encouraged to use their imagination to explore the secret magical world that exists under their bed—in their imagination.
Calm’s Sleep Stories offer up a range of different tales to help you chill out and nod off. Stories include such zen-sounding tales as Among the Birds of Yosemite, Painting with Bob Ross, The Sierra Nevada, and The Sequoia. The gentle tales also use soothing music to help get you to bed.
If stress is the reason you’re not sleeping, this is the audiobook for you. Bedtime Stories for Stressed Out Adults tells short tales, excerpts, and poems that are specifically chosen to help soothe your mind. The book features classic stories by Oscar Wilde, Guy de Maupassant, and Katherine Mansfield, that are all designed to make your mind slow down and appreciate the little things in life...as you fall asleep, of course.
There are only so many books you can read before you need to go about the rest of your evening. This guided meditation can help quiet down busy minds. This audiobook is tailored to help your child slowly fall to sleep, while telling five different stories that teach the importance of morals and values, and reconnect kids with their imagination.
Audible partnered with Diddy, Nick Jonas, Arianna Huffington, and a team of educators, motivational speakers, sound experts and more to curate a playlist of audio experiences designed to help you peacefully drift off to sleep. The best part? It’s totally free.
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