This nighttime routine can help you sleep better. Really

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Stressful times call for simple and easy self-care strategies—which may be why night affirmations for sleep are surging in popularity. Night affirmations, aka bedtime affirmations, are positive statements you can quietly say to yourself, write out, or repeat in your head to support a good night’s sleep.

If your wind-down routine has nothing on racing thoughts fueled by doom-scrolling or Sunday scaries, night affirmations could help ease your mind by rooting you in the present and reminding you that you can fall asleep.

“When you create a bedtime affirmation practice, you make peace and calm a priority,” says Valerie Knopik, PhD, psychologist and teacher for Yoga Medicine Online. “This is thought to change your pre-sleep thoughts, and by extension, make peaceful sleep more of a reality.”

Learn about the science behind night affirmations for sleep and how to add them to your bedtime routine.

How night affirmations work

Changing the way you think about sleep may help improve your ability to sleep, says Barbaranne Branca, PhD, certified neuropsychologist and mindfulness meditation teacher at Studio Be in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania.

“When you create a bedtime affirmation practice, you make peace and calm a priority.”

Brain scans of people practicing night affirmations show increased activity in neural pathways—connections between different parts of the brain—linked to corresponding behavior changes in the future, per a 2015 study in Social, Cognitive, and Affective Neuroscience.

Night affirmations can help you take advantage of neuroplasticity, or your brain’s ability to strengthen certain pathways, to ease your stressboost your self-esteem, and up your ability to adopt healthy habits.

 

Night affirmations are positive statements you can quietly say to yourself, write out, or repeat in your head to support a good night’s sleep.

 

This nighttime routine can help you sleep better. Really

While researchers have performed many studies on rodents and cats, we’re only just beginning to learn about what happens when dogs drift off.

We’re also still sorting out how to even define what counts as “sleep” in animals like jellyfish and ants. While you may have heard that some creatures like flies, bullfrogs, and fish never sleep, the more we learn, the more it seems that most if not all living things rely on some form of shut-eye to survive.

Here’s what we know so far about the animal kingdom’s master snoozers, its most sleep-deprived members, surprising sleep habits, and more.

 

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This nighttime routine can help you sleep better. Really

Some of the smallest and most cuddly mammals are also super-snoozers. What animals sleep the most?

These four animals sleep a lot:

 

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This nighttime routine can help you sleep better. Really

Koalas are famous snoozers for good reason: They can sleep up to 22 hours a day, according to the Australian Koala Foundation. These cute marsupials spend most of their lives in snooze town because digesting eucalyptus leaves (which are high in toxins and low in nutrients) takes a lot of energy.

 

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This nighttime routine can help you sleep better. Really

One of the biggest sleepers in the world happens to be, you guessed it, the sloth. These lovable, slow-moving creatures sleep upwards of 15 hours a day.  When they’re not sleeping, sloths hang out in trees, moving in and out of the shade to regulate their body temperature.

 

artem avramenko / istockphoto

 

This nighttime routine can help you sleep better. Really

Maxing out at four inches in length, little brown bats are small but mighty sleepers. They snooze about 19 hours each day to conserve energy—while hanging upside down, of course.

 

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This nighttime routine can help you sleep better. Really

For the six hours they’re awake, opossums stay busy climbing trees, knocking over trash cans, and dining on roadkill. But the other 18 hours of the day they dedicate to their beauty rest.

 

JoanBudai / istockphoto

 

This nighttime routine can help you sleep better. Really

The lightest sleepers in the animal kingdom include high-flying migratory birds and some of the largest mammals on earth, likely because they had to adapt to stay alert.

Here are the top four animals that run on impressively few Z’s:

 

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This nighttime routine can help you sleep better. Really

While they soar over the ocean for months on end, large seabirds called Great Frigatebirds only log about 40 minutes of sleep per day—and that’s spread out in 12-second mini-naps.

 

Michel VIARD / istockphoto

 

This nighttime routine can help you sleep better. Really

These majestic giants only doze off for about two hours each day, typically while they’re still standing or leaning against a tree or rock for support.

 

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This nighttime routine can help you sleep better. Really

 

While horses spend a fair amount of time resting, they only log about three hours of sleep per day.

 

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This nighttime routine can help you sleep better. Really

Like elephants, giraffes often snooze while standing by locking their legs in place for sporadic power naps that are only a few minutes long. All in all, these add up to a mere four and a half hours of sleep per day.

Dolphins allow only one half of their brain to sleep at a time because their breathing isn’t automatic.

 

Byrdyak / istockphoto

 

This nighttime routine can help you sleep better. Really

If you thought you or your partner had some weird sleep habits, these animals might have you beat. Here are some of the most intriguing facts about animals’ sleep cycles, schedules, rituals, and dreams.

Dolphins only half sleep

Dolphins can’t just fall asleep. If they fully lost consciousness, they’d stop breathing and drown. The fix? Dolphins flick off one half of their brain to “sleep” while the other half and the corresponding eye on the opposite side of their body remain alert.

Birds sleep with one eye open

Like dolphins, many birds sleep with one half of their brain so they can get rest and stay on the lookout for predators with just one eye. Even cooler? When ducks sleep in rows, those on the edges keep one eye open, while those in the middle close both eyes for a full night’s rest, per an experiment performed by sleep researchers at Indiana State University.

Snails have one of the strangest known sleep schedules

College students have nothing on the great pond snail. While many animals have pretty set circadian rhythms, these snails’ sleep cycles are all over the place: They take about seven naps in a 13 to 15 hour period and then launch into near-constant activity for the next 30+ hours.

Sea otters wrap themselves up in seaweed beds

If they couldn’t get any more adorable, sea otters sometimes hold paws or twist themselves or their pups up in kelp to avoid drifting away while they’re snoozing. These floating sleep circles are called rafts of otters, and the largest one ever found had about one thousand otters all cuddled up together (awww!).

Octopuses change colors in their sleep

It’s a stunning sight: While octopuses are in rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, the same sleep stage humans have dreams in, their bodies can rapidly flash from one color and pattern to another. More research is needed to understand why this might happen, but since octopuses often use color changes for camouflage during the day, it’s possible they’re having dreams too.

What animal sleep habits can teach us about our own sleep

If you’ve ever had to wake up a crying dog from what seemed like a nightmare or watched your cat’s paws twitch as she napped, you’ve probably wondered just how common animals’ sleep experiences are to ours. As it turns out, mammals all share the same basic sleep cycle, including REM sleep. Studies of animals’ brains could also give us insight into the roots of sleep disorders and potential treatments for humans.

One thing we may never know is exactly what our pets are dreaming about. But for what it’s worth, one Harvard psychologist says it’s likely that animals’ dreams are similar to ours—which means your fur baby could be dreaming of your smiling face.

Looking to learn more about animal sleep? Find out how many hours dogs sleepwhat’s with your dog’s odd sleeping positionswhy cats sleep so long, and what your cat’s sleeping positions can tell you.

This article originally appeared on Saatva.com and was syndicated by MediaFeed.org.

 

Andrey Babeshkin / istockphoto

 

How to use night affirmations for sleep

Use nighttime affirmations as a final step in your evening ritual to get yourself into the right mindset for sleep. After you’ve crawled into bed, repeat your chosen affirmation with thoughtfulness and presence about 10 times, advises Branca. Repeat as necessary for about three minutes, giving your mind and body permission to rest.

Keep in mind that night affirmations won’t make negative thoughts or feelings magically disappear—and that’s OK. “Think of your mind as a muscle,” says Knopik. “You’re strengthening the positive thought patterns that serve you.” Practice and patience are key.

Best night affirmations for sleep

To get started with night affirmations, use these prompts.

I release today

Hung up over a bad day? “Give yourself permission to leave the burdens and stresses of the day behind in order to start fresh and renewed tomorrow,” says Knopik. “The less you carry, the lighter you become, and the easier it is for sleep to carry you.”

I choose calm and peace

It’s easy to get overwhelmed with a flood of negative emotions, especially when the list of stressors you’re dealing with during the day is long. This nighttime affirmation gives you permission to choose peace over anxiety, says Knopik.

I am not my thoughts

When your thoughts take over, it can feel as if they’re your only reality and they’re in control. Repeat this night affirmation to remind yourself you’re not your thoughts and you have the power to observe them without latching on, says Knopik.

I am grateful

A great theme for bedtime affirmations is gratitude, says Knopik. Ending your day with feelings of gratefulness can help lower your blood pressure, increase your optimism, and improve the quality and duration of your sleep.

I am doing the best I can

Stressed out about work? Use nighttime affirmations to replace negative self-talk with positive statements, says Branca. Beyond “I am doing the best that I can, customize your night affirmations to address specific concerns.

For example, if you’re worried about giving a presentation, remind yourself of your qualifications and previous successes by repeating the following: “I am well-educated and prepared, and I have all the abilities I need to do a good job tomorrow.”

I can do this

When negative thoughts about sleep are the problem, it might help to simply remind yourself you’re capable of getting a good night’s sleep.

If you’ve tried night affirmations for a week or so and you’re still struggling night after night, you may have a sleep disorder such as insomnia or sleep apnea. Since sleep is vital for your health and well-being, don’t hesitate to reach out to a healthcare provider for help.

This article originally appeared on Saatva.com and was syndicated by MediaFeed.org.

Featured Image Credit: DepositPhotos.com.

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