a woman lays in bed looking at the alarm clock

Why Can't I Sleep?

You've tried all the usual tricks to catch those elusive Z's: sticking to a consistent bedtime, cutting out caffeine and daytime naps, hitting the gym regularly, and banishing screens before bed. But despite your best efforts, a good night's sleep remains just out of reach. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, somewhere between 50 and 70 million Americans aren't getting the rest they need, and around 4 percent rely on prescription medication for shut-eye.

Nathaniel Watson, M.D., co-director of the University of Washington Sleep Center in Seattle, and past president of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, advises that the amount of sleep you need varies from person to person. The key is waking up feeling refreshed and alert, sans caffeine, no matter how many hours you clock.

So, here you are, in the dead of night, tossing and turning, trying to calculate just how much sleep you'll manage to obtain under different scenarios. "If I nod off in the next 10 minutes, I'll squeeze in five hours," you calculate, or perhaps, "I'll skip the gym in the morning and catch an extra 45 minutes."

But before you resign yourself to a sleepless night, there's hope. Many have discovered that the secret to a restful slumber lies in calming your mind in the half-hour leading up to bedtime. And one powerful way to do this is by stimulating your vagus nerve.

The vagus nerve is like the conductor of your parasympathetic nervous system, orchestrating your body's rest and digest functions. Activating this nerve promotes calmness, hormone balance, a positive mood, anti-inflammatory effects, immunity, and overall health benefits.

So, how can you activate your vagus nerve and set the stage for a better night's sleep? Here are six simple practices you can implement into tonight’s bedtime routine:

Deep Breathing: Take slow, rhythmic breaths from your diaphragm to stimulate and tone the vagus nerve.

Humming: Humming tunes or the sound 'OM' can mechanically stimulate the vagus nerve, thanks to its connection to the vocal cords.

Speaking: Engaging in conversation can also help tone your vagus nerve due to its connection to the vocal cords.

Cold Water Face Wash: Splashing cold water on your face may seem simple, but it stimulates the vagus nerve, though the exact mechanism is still a mystery.

Meditation: Particularly loving-kindness meditation, which fosters goodwill towards yourself and others, has been shown to improve vagal tone.

Xen by Neuvana: Using Xen by Neuvana, a revolutionary science-backed device designed to deliver gentle electrical stimulation to the vagus nerve, can activate your body's natural relaxation response and promote better sleep.

The implications of these simple practices on your overall health are profound. By improving your sleep, you give your brain and body the chance to recover from the day's stresses. With better sleep, you're likely to handle daily stressors more gracefully, making life more enjoyable for yourself and those around you. So why not give vagus nerve stimulation a try? Your health, sleep, and well-being may thank you for it.