It’s been a long and stressful day, and the only thing on your mind has been bed. You’ve promised yourself an early night so you can wake up tomorrow feeling totally refreshed. By 10pm the lights are out and you’re all tucked in, peacefully drifting off to… hours of tossing and turning!
If this sounds like you, and the pattern is getting a little tiring (‘scuse the pun), learn how you can get to sleep fast using these techniques.
1. Train your brain
This theory suggests you can get to sleep fast by consciously changing the way you think about sleep. The first step to this training is to take a 20 minute nap during the day whenever you feel drowsy. This way, your brain gets used to the idea that sleep time is limited and should be maximised. Over time, you should find you can quickly drop off to sleep as soon as you climb into bed.
2. Keep your bed cool
The optimal temperature for sleep is between 18-20°C. If your sleep environment is too hot, your body will find it harder to lower your core temperature, so it takes a lot longer to fall asleep. With the weather warming up, it’s a good idea to swap your winter duvet for summer bedding. You can also look at investing in a mattress with temperature regulating materials, such as natural latex.
3. Use essential oils
If you find it hard to switch your mind off at the end of the day, try using essential oils. Sprinkle a few drops of lavender oil on your pillow. The calming scent is proven to ease stress and anxiety, allowing you to easily drift off to sleep.
4. The 4-7-8 technique
The 4-7-8 technique is a breathing exercise used in yoga. By delivering more oxygen to your parasympathetic nervous system, using this technique can be very powerful in helping you to get to sleep fast.
5. Turn out the lights
The blue light emitted from phones and laptops fools our minds into thinking it’s still daytime. This prevents our bodies from releasing the hormone melatonin, which is needed to fall asleep. If you want to get to sleep fast night after night, it’s essential to make your bed a tech-free zone. You should also limit any other sources of artificial light sneaking into your bedroom, such as street lights.
6. Hide your clock
A ticking clock in the middle of the night is an insomniac’s worst enemy. The more we worry about lack of sleep, the harder it is to get the sleeping thing done! To tackle restless nights, hide away your clock and resist checking the time on electronic devices.
7. Use distraction techniques
By focusing all your attention on a repetitive task, you clear your mind from worries which usually keep you up. If fluffy white sheep jumping over a fence doesn’t work for you, psychologists recommend counting backwards from 300 in 3s.
8. Try progressive muscle relaxation
This relaxation exercise is a simple yet highly effective way to prepare your body for rest. It requires consciously tensing your muscles for 20-30 seconds, and then releasing. Start with your toes, and then repeat the exercise with each body part, finishing with releasing tension in your facial muscles.
9. Take a hot bath
If you come home from a late shift at work, or a particularly strenuous gym sesh, you need to allow yourself sufficient time to wind down before climbing into bed. Having a hot bath encourages your whole body and mind to relax. The drop in temperature when you get out of the tub also mimics the way your body naturally cools down when preparing to go to sleep.
10. Try to stay awake
It’s counter-intuitive, but psychologists suggest that the best solution to get to sleep fast is to stay awake. The idea is to make sure your mind associates your bed as a place for sleep – nothing else. So if you’re wide awake and staring at the ceiling, get up and try reading a book or doing a puzzle. When you start naturally nodding off, you’re ready to hop back into bed.
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