As our lives continue to get busier and brighter, more and more people are struggling to fall asleep at night. If you’re one of those people, here are three tips to help you drift off to sleep quickly and comfortably.
Lights Off, Phone Off
Bright lights and technology play a large part in sleep patterns. The human brain is wired to use the sun to know naturally when it’s time to wake up and go to sleep. The increased use of technology, particularly mobile phones, tablets, and laptop computers, is wreaking havoc on internal body clocks.
Melatonin, a chemical produced in the body at the onset of night time, tells the body when it’s time to start “shutting down” and getting ready to sleep. When people spend their evenings and bedtime staring at an intensely bright phone screen, their bodies just don’t know what to think.
Using your phone before bed can delay your ability to properly fall asleep by up to an hour. An easy tip (or not, depending on how addicted you are to your phone) is to try not to use your phone, tablet, or computer from about an hour before you plan on going to bed. Also, dimming the lights or turning off the television early can also help.
In an ideal world, you could lie down in bed, close your eyes, and think of absolutely nothing as you drift into a perfect sleep. In reality, dozens of things pop in and out of your head, and that only seems to get worse the moment your head hits the pillow. So try to embrace the distraction.
Thinking can help you fall asleep, but the key is to keep it specific and not to let your mind wander. Pick an object. Anything that is boring but familiar is best: your dining table, favourite pair of shoes, or even a tennis ball.
Now the key to help you sleep is to think about it slowly and in as much detail as possible. Try to imagine each grain of the wood and the shape of the table legs. Imagine the details on the tennis ball’s surface as it lies still on the floor. Keep focusing on the single object and keep all the other thoughts at bay, and you’ll fall asleep in no time.
When you’re trying to fall asleep, it helps to stay calm and be consistent. Being aware of, and controlling, your breathing is a simple way to do both. Take a deep breath and then slowly exhale through your nose.
Once you’ve let all the air go, slowly and smoothly breathe in again through your nose. Focus on inhaling steadily. Once you’ve breathed in completely count “one” in your head. Again, slowly breath out through your nose, and once you’ve exhaled completely, count “two.”
Continue doing this and counting only once you have breathed in or out fully. It’s important to focus on breathing steadily between each count because this acts just like thinking of the details of a table or a tennis ball — it stops your mind from wandering.
Try out these three methods to fall asleep faster. Eventually, “lights out” will truly mean lights out.