Getting a good night’s rest does more than tame tiredness: A new study found sleep enhances virus-fighting T cells, increasing their ability to latch on to infected cells by 133 percent. Plus, research suggests ample sleep can enhance the immune system’s response to the Covid vaccine and optimize its effectiveness. So, how can you snooze soundly?
Take a breather.
Pausing for a 10-minute break anytime during the day to focus on breathing deeply helps you doze off 20 minutes faster at night and spend up to 85 percent more time in uninterrupted slumber, suggests a University of Minnesota study. Experts say deep breathing and focusing on the present quiets the daytime troubling thoughts that can resurface at night and trigger restlessness.
To do: With eyes closed, inhale for three seconds, hold for two seconds, then exhale for four seconds, all while noticing the rise and fall of your chest
Pour yourself a cold one.
Enjoy a frosty mug of your favorite beer (regular or nonalcoholic), and you could drift off 50 percent faster and sleep 27 percent more soundly, Spanish researchers report. The reason: Hops in the brew enhance the brain’s levels of GABA, an amino acid that quiets the central nervous system to calm mind and body, ensuring sound sleep.
Treat your feet.
Massaging your feet before bed triggers an uptick in sleep-promoting serotonin. Indeed, researchers reporting in The Journal of Caring Science determined that a 10-minute rubdown before bed cut sleep disruptions by 48 percent the very first night.
Tip: Try using a vanilla-scented cream or lotion for your foot rub. In a British study, folks who inhaled the aroma fell asleep 20 minutes faster.
Try an ancient herb.
Drifting off 20 minutes faster and clocking 49 more minutes of uninterrupted sleep a night may be as simple as taking 250 to 300 milligrams of ashwagandha (Buy on Amazon, $10.04) twice daily, suggests a study in the journal Cureus. Study authors explain that the ancient herb helps the body better adapt to stress, easing the anxiety that’s a top trigger for insomnia. Note: Check with a doctor before supplementing.
This article originally appeared in our print magazine.