One of the most common problems of the modern life is insomnia. Insomnia is defined as lack of sleep or sleeplessness. It is usually described as trouble in initiating sleep or maintaining the full sleep cycle for at least one month. Anxiety and prolonged stress are identified as the main causes of insomnia.
However, sleeplessness can cause serious medical conditions, including heart disease and psychological issues such as depression and substance abuse. The article describes some natural ways to fall asleep fast.
How to Fall Asleep Fast?
Keep the room dark and turn off electronics
Darkness stimulates the pineal gland to secrete melatonin which allows the body to initiate the sleep cycle. That’s how the internal body clock act in a mechanism called “the circadian rhythm”. Researchers discovered blue light from TV screens and smartphones inhibit this sleep initiating mechanism which makes falling asleep harder.
To reduce the blue light effect, all you have to do is to turn off all the electronics in the bedroom. If you need any source of light in the bedroom, try to use warm colors such as red or yellow as studies show they have less effect on circadian rhythm.
“Stimulus Control” therapy
The main goal of this therapy is to restore the connection between sleep and bed by instructing the patient to not involve in any other non sleep activities while they are in bed. The patient is instructed to:
Go to sleep only when they feel sleepy
Use bedroom and bed only for sex and sleep
Avoid forcing sleep and to relate bed and sleep with a happy and positive feeling
The patient is instructed to get up from bed once they are unable to fall asleep in 15-30 minutes. The insomniac should move to another room and engage in a light activity other than turning on any electronic device since blue screens exacerbate insomnia. Also, the patient should get up from bed each morning at the same time regardless of how much they slept last night. The person should also avoid napping during daytime.
Force sleep deprivation
How to fall asleep fast if you sleep deprive yourself? As contradictory as this method sounds, it actually works very well in inducing sleep. A small study performed at Glasgow University reported that patients who tried to stay awake by keeping their eyes open fell asleep faster than the ones who were told to try to fall asleep. This is basic reverse psychology. Sleep deprivation therapy allows for sleep impulses to accumulate, resulting in faster sleep initiation.
Try the “4-7-8” trick
The trick is a simple breathing exercise performed to fall asleep faster. It is thought that this exercise helps the body to excrete carbon dioxide from the lungs while adequately oxygenating the blood. The method results in decreasing heart rate thus helps in sleep initiation. Dr. Andrew Weil, author of best-selling books and the alternative medicine guru explains the method as follows:
Place your tongue just behind your upper front teeth and keep it in place for the rest of the steps.
Through your mouth, exhale the air completely.
After closing your mouth, inhale through your nose while counting to four mentally.
Hold the breath and count till 7.
Exhale again through the mouth, making a sound of whoosh to a count of eight.
Repeat for 3 more times for a total of 4 breaths.
Take a warm shower an hour before bedtime
What is better than a hot shower after a tough day? It helps you to relax and unwind. Moreover, your body temperature is elevated by taking a hot shower and then by stepping outside into cool air, the temperature of your body drops fast. According to studies this rapid decrease in temperature slows down the body’s basal metabolism and prepares it for sleep. Also, if you start showering before sleep consistently at the same time, your body will learn that sleep comes after that hot shower.
Keep the room cool
Experts on how to fall asleep fast in Harvard Medical School believe that lowering the room’s temperature before sleep actually helps insomniacs to fall asleep. This method is efficient because they believe that when the person starts falling asleep the internal body temperature decreases slightly, which help in the sleeping process. According to the recommendations of The National Sleep Foundation the most sleep-friendly room temperature is between 60 and 67 degrees F.
Try to listen to soothing music
Besides alleviating depression, studies showed that listening to classical music for 45 minutes before bedtime improved sleep quality significantly.
Try the progressive relaxation method
Progressive relaxation of the body muscles involves consequent tensing and relaxing each muscle in the body to help in the relaxation of your body. This technique is advised by the National Sleep Foundation, as well as Mayo Clinic as a method to fall asleep fast. The technique is described below:
Start at your toe muscles by tensing and relaxing repeatedly then work progressively up to your upper body parts. You may start from your head and neck and work your way down till you reach your toes. Take 5 seconds contracting each muscle then relax it for another 30 seconds. Progressive relaxation produces a satisfactory result in combination with other therapies.
Keep a sleep diary
Your sleep is affected by your diet and daily routine. Keeping a sleep diary can help you find out the culprit behind your sleeplessness. Each day, record the amount of caffeine intake, when did you exercise, how much did you exercise, what did you eat, when did you go to bed and your wake up time and what is your total time of sleep etc. Once you have logged the details for several weeks into your diary, make the connection yourself to avoid the reason and find a way of how to fall asleep fast, or show it to a sleep specialist during a consultation.