Does Counting Sheep Help You Fall Asleep? No, But This Might

Does counting sheep to fall asleep actually work? Experts don't think so and recommend this visual instead.

If you’ve regularly struggled with sleeping, chances are, you’ve tried it all. The fragrances, the strict routines, the pillows you just ‘needed’, and, of course, counting sheep.

Counting sheep is one of the most commonly recommended sleep tricks. Just watch them jump over a fence, one by one, until you eventually drop off. Right? Well, no. As any insomniac will tell you, those fluffy, lively sheep do very little in the way of actually making you drop off.

However, in an interview with Matthew Walker, a sleep expert, professor of neuroscience at UC Berkeley, and founder of the Center for Human Sleep Science, the health experts at ZOE may have discovered the visualising sleep hack that actually works.

What to try instead of counting sheep to sleep

Walker said while counting sheep doesn’t work, “there is an alternative mental strategy.” Yes, it’s true that visualising sheep jumping gleefully over a fence doesn’t work but visualisation is still a useful tool for slipping into a deep slumber.

It turns out that, according to Walker, if you’re struggling to sleep, you should go for a walk. Sort of.

Walker said that we should take ourselves on a walk that we know ‘really well.’

He explained: “Maybe it’s a walk in the woods or in the forest, or a hike or a walk on the beach. and then try to really visualise that to the point of, this is me leaving my front door, I’m walking down the steps, off I go.

“And if you do it in granular detail and move through it, the next thing you remember is your alarm going off the next morning because you’ve fallen asleep and it seems to be an quite effective tool.”

As for tackling poor sleep in general, Walker said: “I would say if you could just focus on one thing, go to bed at the same time, wake up at the same time, no matter whether it’s the weekday or the weekend, and I’m pretty religious like this.”

Go to bed at the same time each night and enjoy a mental walk once you’re there. Got it.