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Sleep induction

sleep induction mat, sleep induction
Sleep induction is the deliberate effort to bring on sleep by various techniques or medicinal means, is practiced to lengthen periods of sleep, increase the effectiveness of sleep, and to reduce or prevent insomnia


  • 1 Darkness and quiet
  • 2 Activities
    • 21 Guided imagery
    • 22 Hot bath
    • 23 Sex
    • 24 Yawning
  • 3 Sleeping pills
    • 31 Nonprescription medications
  • 4 Food and drink
    • 41 Alcohol
    • 42 Warm milk
  • 5 See also
  • 6 References

Darkness and quietedit

Dim or dark surroundings with a peaceful, quiet sound level are conducive to sleep1 Retiring to a bedroom, drawing the curtains to block out daylight and closing the door are common methods of achieving this When this is not possible, such as on an airplane, other methods may be used, such as masks and earplugs for sleeping which airlines commonly issue to passengers for this purpose


Guided imageryedit

To relax and encourage sleep, a meditation in the form of guided imagery may be used The stereotypical method is by counting sheep, imagining sheep jumping over a fence, while counting them2

In most depictions of the activity, the person envisions an endless series of identical white sheep jumping over a fence, while counting the number that do so The idea, presumably, is to induce boredom while occupying the mind with something simple, repetitive, and rhythmic, all of which are known to help humans sleep It may also simulate REM sleep, tiring people's eyes

According to a BBC experiment conducted by researchers at Oxford University, counting sheep is actually an inferior means of inducing sleep3

Hot bathedit

The daily sleep/wake cycle is linked to the daily body temperature cycle For this reason, a hot bath which raises the core body temperature has been found to improve the duration and quality of sleep A 30-minute soak in a bath of 40 degrees Celsius 104 °F – which raises the core body temperature by one degree – is suitable for this purpose4


Sex, and specifically orgasm, may have an effect on the ability to fall asleep for some people5 The period after orgasm known as a refractory period is often a time of increased relaxation, attributed to the release of the neurohormones oxytocin and prolactin6


Yawning is commonly associated with imminent sleep, but it seems to be a measure to maintain arousal when sleepy and so prevents sleep rather than inducing it7 Yawning may be a cue that the body is tired and ready for sleep, but deliberate attempts to yawn may have the opposite effect of sleep induction

Sleeping pillsedit

Main article: Hypnotic

Hypnotics, sometimes referred to as sleeping pills, may be prescribed by a physician, but their long-term efficacy is poor and they have numerous adverse effects including daytime drowsiness, accidents, memory disorders and withdrawal symptoms8 If they are to be taken, the preferred choices are benzodiazepines with short-lasting effects such as temazepam or the newer Z-medicines such as zopiclone9 Alternatively, in isolated cases sedatives such as barbiturates may be prescribed

Nonprescription medicationsedit

A number of nonprescription medications have shown to be effective in promoting sleep The amino acid tryptophan and its related compounds 5-HTP and melatonin, have common use, with the prescription medication ramelteon operating on the same biochemical pathway10 The herb valerian can also be effective in gently inducing a relaxed state which is conducive to sleep

Food and drinkedit

An urban legend states that certain foods such as turkey and bananas are rich in tryptophan and thus assist sleep, although this has not been confirmed by research


An alcoholic drink or nightcap is a long-standing folk method which will induce sleep, as alcohol is a sedative However, when the alcohol blood level subsides, there is a rebound effect: the person becomes more alert and so tends to wake up too soon Also, if they continue to sleep, REM sleep is promoted, and this may cause vivid nightmares which can reduce the quality of the sleep11

Warm milkedit

A cup of warm milk or a milk-based drink is traditionally used for sleep induction12 Hot chocolate is traditionally a bedtime drink but this contains high levels of xanthines caffeine and theobromine, which are stimulants and so may be counterproductive Also, a pinch of turmeric powder with warm milk reduces stress and induces sleep13

See alsoedit

  • Hypnotic induction
  • Postprandial somnolence
  • Postprandial dip
  • Caffeine-induced sleep disorder


  1. ^ Seymour Diamond; Donald J Dalessio 1992, The Practicing physician's approach to headache, p 53, ISBN 978-0-683-02506-4 
  2. ^ Martin, Paul Jul 2, 2013 Counting sheep : the science and pleasures of sleep and dreams St Martin's Press ISBN 1466848146  |access-date= requires |url= help
  3. ^ "Counting sheep keeps you up", BBC News, 2002-01-24, retrieved 2010-05-12 
  4. ^ Judith Floyd 1999, "ch 2 Sleep Promotion in Adults", Annual Review of Nursing Research, 17, ISBN 978-0-8261-8236-4 
  5. ^ Saltz, Gail 2007-07-11, Jump in bed: Sex can help you stay healthy, retrieved 2009-08-29, Having fun in bed is not only good for a relationship, but also good for you 
  6. ^ Exton MS, Krüger TH, Koch M, et al April 2001, "Coitus-induced orgasm stimulates prolactin secretion in healthy subjects", Psychoneuroendocrinology, 26 3: 287–94, doi:101016/S0306-45300000053-6, PMID 11166491 
  7. ^ Ronald Baenninger 1997, "On Yawning and its functions" PDF, Psychonomic Bulletin &Review, 4: 198–207, doi:103758/bf03209394 
  8. ^ "Sleep complaints: Whenever possible, avoid the use of sleeping pills", Prescrire Int, 17 97: 206–12, 2008, PMID 19536941 
  9. ^ Sleeping tablets, NHS, retrieved 2014-02-06 
  10. ^ Wurtman RJ, Hefti F, Melamed E 1980, "Precursor control of neurotransmitter synthesis" PDF, Pharmacol Rev, 32 4: 315–35, PMID 6115400, archived from the original PDF on 2007-09-27 
  11. ^ Marc Galanter 1998, The consequences of alcoholism, p 210 et seq, ISBN 978-0-306-45747-0 
  12. ^ Martin Reite; John Ruddy; Kim Nagel 2002-03-27, Concise guide to evaluation and management of sleep disorders, p 98, ISBN 978-1-58562-045-6 
  13. ^ Eisenhauer, Laurel A 1998 Clinical Pharmacology and Nursing Management Philadelphia: Lippincott ISBN 9780397553297 Retrieved 19 October 2016 

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