Do This With Your Toes To Fall Asleep Fast

You're lying in bed, staring up at the ceiling, and hoping that any minute now, a wave of sleep will hit you like a ton of bricks. If you've been staring at that ceiling for a while now, you're in good company with the 43% of participants who reported in a recent WebMD survey that it takes them over a half-hour to fall asleep. Out of 2,000 participants, the average sleep latency time was found to be 29.8 minutes.

Experts say that a healthy sleep latency time is approximately 20 minutes. So what's keeping so many Americans up past their bedtime? Sleep disorders, obesity, frequent bathroom trips, physical pain, worrying, and nightmares were just a few of the numerous reasons cited by survey participants. A lack of sleep can have both short-term and long-term effects on our health. Those who sleep less than seven hours nightly may be more prone to developing certain health issues like diabetes, heart disease, stroke, or mental health disorders.

There are numerous medications, supplements, devices, and apps all catering to this issue of sleep that plagues so many Americans. However, your ticket to faster sleep may already be at your disposal — and all it involves is a simple toe-curling exercise.

Curling your toes produces similar relaxing effects as a foot massage

To help yourself hit the hay without the aid of medications or gadgets, try laying back in bed and curling your toes down towards your feet. Hold this position for a few seconds before releasing the tension, and repeat as needed. According to Mattress Advisor, the repetitive motion of curling and releasing your toes physically and mentally grounds us, allowing for easeful relaxation into sleep. In fact, experts say this exercise produces the same soothing sensations experienced with a foot massage. Over the years, ample research has shown a connection between foot massage and improvements in sleep.

In a 2006 study published in the Journal of Korean Academy of Nursing, researchers looked at the effects of foot massage on 50 seniors residing in nursing homes in regards to sleep disturbances, depression disorder, and related physiological markers. When it came to sleep, the study findings showed that participants who received twelve 30-minute foot massage sessions experienced a boost in sleep quality in comparison to those who did not receive the intervention. The intervention group also proved to have fewer depression disorder symptoms and greater levels of serotonin, a hormone that is known to play a role in both mood and sleep (via Cleveland Clinic).

The potential benefits of foot reflexology on sleep

Researchers from a 2020 study published in the scientific journal JAN conducted a meta-analysis using data from nearly 4,000 adult participants gathered across more than 40 scientific articles. The study findings revealed that foot massage lowered the likelihood of participant sleep problems compared to those who did not receive foot reflexology treatment.

Similarly, a more recent 2022 study published in Menopause found that post-menopausal Turkish women who received a foot massage every day for a week scored lower on the Fatigue Severity Scale (FSS) compared to those in the control group. Those in the experimental group also appeared to get more sleep than those who did not receive foot massages. Women in the experimental group slept an average of eight hours daily, while individuals in the control group slept approximately seven hours.

While receiving a nightly foot massage to help us fall asleep may sound heavenly (and a little expensive), it seems that a repetitive curling of the toes may also do the trick. Even better, there's no purchase required.