"My Bedtime Weakness"
AnnaLynne McCord has a dirty little health secret: On a good night, she gets about four hours of sleep. We asked her what she thought was keeping her from getting enough zzz's and consulted sleep expert Michael Breus, Ph.D., the author of Beauty Sleep, for advice. The result is a five-step wind-down routine that will help AnnaLynne-and you-nod off gently and easily.
1. DESIGN A BEDTIME RITUAL
Do something relaxing in a dimly lit room for at least 15 minutes before bed, suggests Breus, "It can be as simple as washing your face and brushing your teeth, as long as the routine is calming and always the same," he says. "That way your brain associates these activities with bedtime."
2. TRY A SINUS RINSE
"I get congested at night," says AnnaLynne, who sometimes uses Breathe Right Strips to help. According to Breus, the strips are good in a pinch, but using a neti pot (which allows you to pour warm saline water directly into your nasal passages, washing away mucus and allergens) right before bed offers long-term results. Try the SinusCleanse Neti Pot Nasal Wash Kit ($15; target.com).
3. POWER DOWN TECHNOLOGY
AnnaLynne keeps her BlackBerry by her bedside, where she gets texts from friends all night long. "I use it as an alarm clock, so I don't want to put it in another room," she says. Breus' solution is to set the device to bedside mode. "The alarm will still go off, but texts will be blocked," he says.
4. WEAR A MASK
"Eye masks are helpful for people with sleep issues, especially those who work irregular hours and sometimes sleep during the day," says Breus. He likes the Escape mask ($15; dreamessentials.com). "It's contoured, so there's no pressure on the eyes, making it very comfortable yet fully able to block light."
5. DO RELAXATION EXERCISES
Once you climb into bed, get rid of tension and clear your mind by breathing deeply from your belly. You can also try counting backward from 300. Set the stage for relaxation by spritzing your pillow with an aromatherapy lavender spray, like Dr. Andrew Weil for Origins Night Health Bedtime Spray ($25; origins.com), or using a sound machine set to a mode you find soothing, like rain or ocean sounds. One we love: HoMedics Sound Spa Premier ($40; homedics.com).