Does Counting Sheep Really Help You Fall Asleep?

What does it take for you to fall asleep? Do you need that one comforter, the TV on, or the room at just the right temperature? What do you do if you can’t fall asleep? Have you ever tried counting sheep? Did it work? Today, we are going to dive in to see if counting sheep really does work to help you fall asleep.

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Counting Sheep: Does It Really Work?

With stress, caffeine, and other obstacles to falling asleep, it can sometimes feel nearly impossible to get the z’s you need — even if you’re exhausted. If you’re tired and have a big day the next day, you might be willing to try anything — even counting sheep. A group at Oxford University decided to test this method of falling asleep to see if it really worked and here’s what they found.

The Study

The 2001 study used three groups of diagnosed insomniacs to test this method:

  • One group was to visualize calming scenes
  • One group was to employ their normal sleep routine
  • The last group was to count sheep

The study was conducted over time with the test subjects going about their normal sleep routines on other nights.

The Results

The test subjects who visualized tranquil scenes fell asleep faster than they normally did. While those that counted sheep had a harder time falling asleep. The researchers hypothesized that the reason why counting sheep might not actually help some fall asleep is the anxiety that the practice caused. Though it is hard to say if counting sheep will help you fall asleep it does give reason that it might not be the best way to get those precious hours of sleep.

Then Where Did This Myth Come From?

It may be hard to know where this method came from. However, some say it might have come from the 12 century Spanish text called Disciplina Clericalis, a collection of fables. Others attribute it to ancient shepherds who counted their sheep before going to sleep to make sure all were accounted for — in that case, counting sheep may have worked!

How to Fall Asleep Faster

There are a lot of ways to fall asleep; some ways work for some and not for others, these might actually deter them from falling asleep. However, it seems that there is one thing that is true for everyone and that is having a comfortable bed to sleep in. A bed that fits your comfort needs can make all the difference in the word. Other tips include:

  • A comfortable pillow
  • Keeping your room cool
  • Limiting caffeine and alcohol consumption
  • Exercising regularly
  • Creating a sleep routine
  • Limiting phone and computer use before bed

To learn more about sleeping well, read our recent blog posts “What’s a Sleep Routine,” “How Can I Get Better Sleep?” and “I Can’t Sleep. What Do I Do?” If you need a new mattress, visit our website to learn about the latest deals at Mattress For Less.