10 Tricks for Falling Asleep Naturally
Posted Monday, Mar 12, 2012 by
Having trouble falling asleep? Insomnia is an increasingly common problem. As Americans, we’re working longer and harder than ever. Daily demands are particularly high for people trying to hold down a job while also working for a college degree. The catch-22 is that we can’t perform well without a good night’s sleep, but we can’t get that good night’s sleep because we need to constantly perform well.
It’s enough to keep you awake at night.
Fortunately, there are some simple things you can do to fall asleep — and stay asleep — every night. And they don’t involve drugs, which may work in the short term, but carry serious risks over time.
Here are 10 tricks for naturally falling asleep fast:
1. Establish a regular sleep/wake routine. The body has an internal clock that likes to keep a regular rhythm. Create a schedule for going to sleep and waking up at the same time every day, including weekends. Allow a minimum of 6.5 hours of sleep nightly — seven to eight if you can manage it.
2. Choose bed sheets with high thread counts and natural fibers. Good cotton sheets can be expensive, but the investment is worth it. They’ll better absorb perspiration and help you sleep better.
3. Avoid eating before bedtime. Your last meal/snack should be at least two to three hours before you go to bed. Food gives you energy, and energy keeps you awake. Also avoid anything spicy/fatty in the hours before bed, as these can cause indigestion and heartburn, which are definitely sleep-killers.
4. Avoid physical activity in the two to three hours before bedtime. Evenings may be a convenient time to exercise, but pumping your body full of endorphins is a lousy way to prepare yourself for sleep.
5. Don’t bring the Internet to bed. Laptops, iPhones, videogames, etc., are all no-nos. Same for TV. If you’re into e-books, Kindles with “e-ink” are preferable to iPads and other tablets with glowing screens that only serve to stimulate the brain.
6. Stay cool. Most people sleep best when the bedroom is slightly cool (63-65 degrees Fahrenheit). If you’re uncomfortable at that temperature, compensate by throwing on another blanket or two. The extra weight can be very soothing.
7. Stay away from the light. When it comes to sleeping, darkness is your friend. Try to black out as many light sources as you can, both external (street lights) and internal (glowing clock faces, computer power lights). If all else fails, try a sleeping mask. They may look silly, but you won’t see yourself with your eyes closed.
8. Drown out distracting noises. If your sleeping area is prone to noise from external sources (traffic, neighboring apartments, etc.), you can try to drown them out with either a white noise machine or just a small electric fan. The steady rumble of either device can help lull the brain into a sleep state.
9. Practice deep breathing exercises. While laying in bed, inhale deeply for four seconds, hold in the air for four seconds, then exhale for four seconds. Repeat for several minutes … if you haven’t already fallen asleep first.
10. Think silly thoughts. You know how dreams seem absurd when you remember them the next morning? You can give your subconscious a head start by intentionally thinking about ridiculous things. Start with an image — like a pink elephant — and start free associating. Elephant = circus = trapeze = flying = Superman = kryptonite = glowing rocks = Indiana Jones… It’ll be morning before you know it.
After a good night’s sleep, you’ll be refreshed and ready to take on the day. Your mind will be sharper. You’ll have more energy. And, if you’re a student studying for an online degree program or at a traditional school, you’ll likely find you’ve retained more of the information you studied the previous day.
Now that’s something to sleep on.