Most of us have been there. Sometimes it takes longer for us to get to sleep so we keep thinking and wondering about a lot of random stuff and then finally fall asleep. And other times, we wake up in the middle of the night and we are unable to go back to sleep. Many other disruptions may also keep you up at night. However, quality sleep is essential to life. We need to be fresh in the morning in order to live a productive day. So what should you do when you can’t fall asleep? What kind of methods can you use? Let’s discuss.
First of All...
Before everything else, you have to set your bedroom environment ready for sleep. You can dim your bedroom and house lights about one hour before you actually sleep. It will put you in a mood and help you be more mentally ready for sleep (Although some of us are always ready for that). Then you should keep all your mobile and other devices aside because the blue light of their screens alerts your brain and the brain will try to keep you awake thinking it’s time to wake up. The same theory applies to playing a video game or texting and it will be harder for you to fall asleep. Also, you can try meditating. Not heavy meditation but something as simple as concentrating on your breathing pattern. Aromatherapy can also help you sleep better, while consuming caffeine too close to bed should be avoided. Therefore, before you go to bed, make sure you avoid these disruptions to help set the right mood.
When You Can’t Fall Asleep…
A lot of people spend more time trying to fall asleep than actually staying asleep. If your mind doesn’t have the need to sleep, your body won’t follow. When you go to bed, but can’t fall asleep, you can try the following methods. They could help you fall asleep quicker
The Military Method
This method came to the light with the publication, “Relax and Win: Championship Performance” by Sharon Ackerman. You can fall asleep in two minutes or less if you use this method.
- Relax your facial muscles, the entire face, the mouth, the legs, the thighs and the calves
- Drop and relax your shoulders and place your arms on your sides, untensed
- Relax your chest and exhale
- Clear your mind for 10 seconds
- Imagine a calm and relaxing situation (lying on the beach under the stars with the sound of trees rustling and sea waves crashing on the shore etc.)
- If that does not make you fall asleep, try saying “don’t think” for another 10 seconds
By this time, you should have fallen asleep. However, this method is not always effective for individuals with anxiety or ADHD.
This breathing method is more effective if you practice it right. But if you have respiratory conditions, this method may aggravate your symptoms. So, check with your medical consultant prior to applying this method.
- Slightly part your lips to exhale. Make a whooshing sound while exhaling
- Close your lips, inhale through your nose and count to 4 (mentally)
- Hold your breath for 7 seconds
- Exhale your breath making a whooshing sound for 8 seconds
- Don’t be alert, make it mindless
- Do this procedure for 4 breaths
Telling yourself to stay awake can be a good way to fall asleep faster. This method is also known as paradoxical intention. Studies show that people who used this method fell asleep faster than people who didn’t. For individuals who suffer from insomnia, this is a better method because trying to sleep increases their anxiety level. Paradoxical intention is an effective method if you struggle sleeping almost every day.
Progressive Muscle Relaxation
The goal here is to make your muscles tense and then relax to release that tension. This method brings you tranquility. Before trying progressive muscle relaxation, you can practice releasing tension while exhaling using the 4-7-8 method.
- Raise your eyebrows as high as you can for 5 seconds to tighten your forehead muscles
- Immediately relax the muscles to drop tension
- Wait for 10 seconds
- To make tension in your cheeks, smile widely
- Wait for 10 seconds
- Squint your eyes for 5 seconds and then relax
- Wait for 10 seconds
- Carry out the same procedure for your triceps, chest, thighs and feet
Pretending and telling your brain that you are exhausted can trick you into sleep. Think and feel things you would feel if you were tired. For example, drooping eyes. Before you know it, you will feel them and they will tell your brain that you are exhausted and you will fall asleep in no time.
Consuming a beverage like warm milk with honey can make yourself ready to rest. The same can be said for decaffeinated tea. There are many food items and beverages that can ease and help your sleep routine. Read our ‘Better Food for Better Sleep’ article to know more.
I hope these tips can help you fall asleep faster. Practice good sleep hygiene. Go to sleep every night at the same time, shut down your mobile devices and avoid stimulants before bed. Happy sleeping everyone!