By Alexandra Sifferlin
Anyone who’s ever Googled “how to fall asleep” knows about the endless supply of sleep hygiene advice: tips, like “take a shower before bed” or “don’t eat after 6 p.m.”, that are meant to help clean up your bedtime routine and enhance sleep quality. Though some might be helpful, people who truly can’t fall asleep—like the 70 million Americans who have a sleep disorder—need more than small changes.
“Sleep hygiene is like being told to wash your hands: it can prevent an infection, but it can’t treat one,” says Michael Grandner, director of the sleep and health research program at the University of Arizona College of Medicine—Tucson. “If you cross the line to a sleep disorder, you need some help.”
Below are some of the strange-sounding, sleeping pill-free therapies a doctor may prescribe for people who can’t sleep.
Stimulus control: People tend to do stimulating things in bed that have nothing to do with sleep, like reading and watching TV. Try adopting a “bed = sleep” mantra. “When you’re in bed, you’re asleep,” says Grandner. “If you’re in bed and you’re not asleep, you get out of bed.”