8 Tips to fall asleep fast when you can’t
In our face-paced and technology-centric world of today, sleep has become such a luxury that it is estimated that about 30% of the adult population around the world exhibit one or more symptoms of insomnia at any given moment. That is an alarming number given the adverse effects of sleep deprivation and especially, of continuous sleep deprivation that was the subject of this article. Sleep is an essential aspect of life and sleeping well, both in terms of quality and quantity, can have numerous benefits such as better fitness, stronger immunity, improved cognitive and memory performance and lower stress levels (these benefits have been covered in greater detail in a previous article).
A common problem that people have is that they are willing to sleep but just aren’t able to. This isn’t very surprising considering our dependency on electronic gadgets that can delay our sleeping ability as well as our eating and work habits. But, don’t despair yet! In this article, we will explore some very simple tips and techniques to help you fall asleep quickly and enjoy a sound sleep. So, start using them and let us know if you found them useful in your comments below.
Tips and Tricks to fall asleep fast
1. 4-7-8 Breathing technique
The 4-7-8 breathing technique, popularized by Dr. Andrew Weil (a Harvard-trained doctor), is a simple, breathing exercise to effectively deal with a variety of things such as food cravings & anxieties and of course, to help fall asleep. To start the exercise, first exhale completely through your mouth and place the tip of your tongue behind your upper front teeth. Keeping the tongue positioned in this way, perform these 3 simple breathing steps: a) Close your mouth and inhale through the nose for 4 seconds, b) Hold your breath for 7 seconds and c) exhale completely through your mouth for 8 seconds and repeat this process 4-5 times (demo here). The most important step is holding your breath as it results in better oxygen circulation that produces the relaxing effect.
2. Eye strain
A very easy technique to fall asleep when lying in bed is to blink your eyes rapidly for a minute. This exhausts the muscles involved in blinking and strains your eyes. And, as we all have experienced, when our eyes are tired, we tend to fall asleep quicker.
Scents have the power to influence sleep too. The fragrance of lavender, for example, is very calming and has been used to alleviate anxiety and agitation. It is also useful to fall asleep quickly. Lavender scent slows down the nervous system, which relaxes your body and lowers blood pressure, thus facilitating quality sleep. Other scents such as vanilla and jasmine also help promote sound sleep.
Acupressure is a form of alternative therapy based on concept of life energy that involves application of pressure on specific points of the body to promote healing and relaxation. While there are various acupressure points, one of the best that calms the mind and stimulates sleep is the “Third Eye Point”. The point is located between the two eyebrows in the bend where the bridge of the nose meets the forehead. Place your right index or middle finger on this point and applying a little pressure, gently massage the area with your eyes closed until you feel calm, relaxed and drowsy!
5. Read a book
Reading a book is probably one of the easiest methods to fall asleep. When you lie down on your bed and read, your body gets into a resting state while your eyes move regularly to read the words and the brain does the job of interpreting what you read. In a while, both your brain and eye muscles get tired resulting in drowsiness and sleep. However, be careful about what you read. If you start reading something that’s thrilling or action-based, it might induce excitement in your brain and drive sleep away!
6. Warm shower
Cooler surroundings help to quickly fall asleep. However, counterintuitive as it may sound, so does warming the body! After taking a warm shower, when you step into a cooler room your body temperature drops. This temperature drop signals your body that it’s time to rest and slows down metabolic functions (such as heart rate, breathing and digestion) and induces sleep. However, it’s important to take care that you keep your shower short (5-10 mins) and avoid taking a hot shower instead of a warm shower.
7. Happy thoughts
Quite often, while lying in bed we tend to worry about things that bother us or make us anxious. This is counterproductive as it can drive sleep away. Instead, think about a happy memory or a future plan that you feel good about. You may also visualize yourself being somewhere that relaxes you such as a beach or the mountains. These thoughts and sensations give you satisfaction and trick your brain into feeling calm and relaxed, which in turn helps you fall asleep quickly.
8. NO gadgets
Our circadian rhythm is a natural body system that’s designed to regulate our states of sleepiness and wakefulness over the course of a day. The area in the brain responsible for the circadian rhythm is responsive to light and is the reason that enables us to be alert in the morning and sleepy when it’s dark outside. Now, the blue light emitted from electronic gadgets such as cell phones, computers, tablets and televisions suppresses the production of melatonin, a hormone that controls the circadian rhythm. This stimulates your brain and keeps it alert/engaged as it is tricked into thinking that it needs to stay awake, thus making it harder for you to fall asleep. It is, therefore, a good idea to keep away from gadgets for at least 30 minutes before you hit the bed. The more, the better!