Nobody likes to lie awake at night staring at the ceiling because they can’t sleep. Not only is it annoying at the time, but it can ruin your productivity the next day.
Sometimes counting sheep just doesn’t do the trick when you’re trying to sleep. Here are 10 tips to help you fall asleep fast.
1/17 – Try to stay awake
This one might sound a bit silly or basic but staying awake can help you sleep! Using this reverse psychology technique isn’t necessarily a long-term solution for your sleeping problems, but it can work for the odd night where you just can’t drift off.
Studies have shown that if you consciously try to stay awake in bed with your eyes open then it can be easier to fall asleep, just don’t be looking at your phone while you’re trying this technique!
2/17 – Take a shower
Having a warm shower before bed might not be a viable option for those of you who don’t want to waste water but love a morning shower, but a hot shower before bed can do wonders for your sleep.
Moving quickly from a hot environment into a cold environment about an hour before sleep slows your metabolism down more quickly than just going to bed, meaning that your body prepares for sleep faster. Going from a hot shower to a cooler room is one of the best ways of doing this.
Keeping an evening shower in a set night time routine is the best way to ensure that you get good quality sleep when practicing this technique.
3/17 – Use the 4-7-8 method
This is a relatively modern breathing technique that is being championed by fitness and wellness bloggers worldwide. It’s supposed to slow your heart rate while providing the lungs with more oxygen.
The way to use this technique is as follows:
Place your tongue directly behind your front teeth at the top of your mouth
Exhale as much air as possible through your mouth
Close your mouth and inhale through your nose, counting to four in your head
Hold your breath for seven seconds
Exhale completely counting to eight
Repeat three more times
Some experts claim that this technique can help you to fall asleep in less than a minute when done correctly!
4/17 – Listen to music
Not heavy metal at full volume, but slow, rhythmic music that has between 60-80 beats per minute. Listening to music like this for up to 45 minutes before bed can not only improve sleep quality but it can also reduce symptoms of depression.
Heavy, rapidly rhythmic beats, and “dance music” are not on this list though as they can have an energizing and stimulating effect on your energy levels.
Classical music is generally the best type of music to listen to when using this technique, but it shouldn’t be too difficult to find a slow song no matter which genre of music you like.
5/17 – The military method
A technique developed by the US Navy, this technique is said to work even if you’re sitting up, have caffeine in your system or even if there’s gunfire in the background! It takes around six weeks to master but once you’re an expert it can work in as little as ten seconds. To use this technique, you must:
Relax your entire face, even your mouth
Drop your shoulders to release tension and let your hands drop to your sides
Relax your legs, thighs and calves
Clear your mind for 10 seconds, or repeat the words “don’t think” for ten seconds
There is scientific evidence that the breathing and muscle relaxation techniques used in the military method work so it’s worth practicing over and over.
6/17 – Lower the room temperature
Unless you have air conditioning this one may be difficult to do, especially in summer. Cooling the room temperature has a similar effect as a hot shower before bed as it aids in the slowing of your metabolism before sleep.
Generally, a good temperature to set your room to is between fifteen and twenty-three degrees Celsius, but obviously this technique comes down to personal preference.
7/17 – Hide your clock
Waking up in the middle of the night isn’t unusual, but if you can’t get back to sleep after this happens then you could be in for a long day. If you wake up in the middle of the night and check the clock it’s easier to obsess over time, and harder to get back to sleep.
If you remove your clock from your room the chances of “clock-watching” and obsessing over the time is limited If you absolutely have to set an alarm, then you can either turn your clock around or place it on the other side of the room out of sight. If your clock has an LCD light or the dreaded “blue light”, which is known to trigger insomnia by messing with your brainwaves, shield the light from where you can see it in the darkened room. You may not be aware of it, but your brain knows it’s there. And don’t even think of using your mobile!
8/17 – Avoid Naps
If you’re sleeping poorly at night, it might be tempting to catch some z’s during the day to make up for that. Doing this can unfortunately be the start of a vicious cycle of poor sleep as regular or late naps are proven to decrease night time sleep quality and length.
If you absolutely must nap, try to limit it to thirty minutes or less early in the day, but that best way to avoid the bad effects of napping is to avoid them all together.
Those who nap frequently are also more likely to be depressed, overweight and unfit, so napping isn’t just bad for your sleep quality, it’s also bad for your physical wellbeing!
9/17 – Use Lavender
Lavender doesn’t just smell great, it can help to lower blood pressure and generally relax you. If you smell lavender for two minutes at a time in three 10-minute intervals, you can increase the amount of deep sleep you have and wake up feeling much more well rested the next morning.
If you’re breathing the lavender in deeply it can also have the added effect of also acting as a deep breathing exercise, helping you to relax further.
10/17 – Wear Socks in Bed
For some people nothing feels weirder than wearing socks to bed, but one of the best ways to get to sleep quickly is to keep your hands and feet warm. This is especially true in winter when the extremities get cold.
Good blood flow to your extremities cools down your core, slowing your metabolism and making it easier to fall asleep. Wearing socks decreases heat loss through your feet meaning that blood flow to the area will remain strong.
11/17 – Drink chamomile tea
Even more popular than a lavender oil, chamomile herb brewed into tea has been used for centuries as a gentle sleep aid. Chamomile also has anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties., and the tea brewed from German Chamomile (sweeter), or Roman Chamomile (extremely bitter) , has a relaxing and calming effect enabling the body to enter a state of sleep easier. It is safe to give to children and babies too.
12/17 – Valerian
Valerian can be used for non-prolonged use. Unlike other sleep-inducing “sedatives” you cannot overdose or become dependent on it, but using it for longer than six weeks or more, can start making you feel “foggy”, dizzy or drowsy and not very clear-headed. Known for inducing sleepiness, it’s not recommended in combination with alcohol, or pharmaceutical sedatives.
13/17 – Melatonin
This one is a clear no brainer – it is a synthetic version of the very neurochemical that your brain produces to induce a state of sleep. There is clear clinical evidence that melatonin can decrease “sleep latency” (the time it takes your brainwaves to enter a delta wave, or sleep state), increases feelings of “sleepiness,” and help to regulate your general sleep pattern by regulating the regular cyclic production of melatonin in your brain.
14/17 – Regulate your bedroom temperature
It is a scientific fact that entering a sleep state is close to impossible for most people if your body temperature is outside of an optimal range. A room temperature of between 65 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit seems best for most people as a body that is too hot or too cold cannot fall asleep. Studies have found that room temperature can affect sleep quality more than external noise.
15/17 – Clear your mind
Like the Military Method, and meditation, this can be learned quite easily. You don’t have to get all zen, and become a yogi to meditate yourself into a relaxed state. Merely decluttering your mind of errant thoughts, tomorrow’s problems, and overthinking can relax you enough to start the descent into the delta (Sleep state) brainwaves. Start by focusing (not too hard – sleep is not a math problem) on one light subject or thought. Follow that thought. Keep following… and fall asleep.
16/17 – Don’t over-hydrate before bed
Remember how your parents were never happy when you asked for that umpteenth glass of water before bed. Well, they knew that a “full bladder” doesn’t help your quality of sleep at all.
Drinking large amounts of liquids before bed can lead to similar symptoms, though some people are more sensitive than others.
Although hydration is usually healthy and recommended, minimizing your fluid intake in the last few hours before you attempt to sleep may make for a deeper sleep, and pay your last visit to the bathroom just before you hop into bed.
*Nocturia is the medical term for excessive urination during the night can affect sleep quality and daytime energy.
17/17 – Are you comfortable?
Obvious, isn’t it? Are you tossing and turning because your mattress is saggy or lumpy, or just too hard? Before you think you have a sleep disorder because you toss and turn every night, get a second opinion on the state of your mattress. Sometimes you get used to being uncomfortable in such small increments, that it feels normal and you think the tossing and turning is not insomnia, but because you are sleeping like a contortionist!