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15 Science-Backed Ways to Fall Asleep Faster

“Unless any medical conditions or medications are the cause of your sleeplessness, the most common culprit is anxiety”, says one of the expert from National Sleep Foundation.

If you’re anxious and worried, it’s very difficult to relax and fall asleep. When you’re not sleeping well, you’ll be more anxious and you’ll have a harder time regulating emotion. It feeds on itself.

Try the following 15-scientifically-supported methods that prepare your body for slumber faster than you believe.

Tip 1: Try to force yourself to stay awake

A small study conducted at the University of Glasgow found that sleep-onset insomniacs who were instructed to lay in bed and try to stay awake with their eyes open fell asleep quicker than participants told to fall asleep without this “paradoxical intention” (PI).

Participants in the PI group fell asleep easier and showed less sleep performance anxiety.

“I always tell people sleep is the one thing in life where the harder you try and the harder you work at it, the more likely it is you’ll fail. Reverse psychology is not a long-term solution, but it can help.” says one Toronto research professor.  

Tip 2: Get up and do something for 10 minutes

If you wake up in the night and can’t get back to sleep within 15 minutes or so, get out of bed and do an activity that requires your hands and your head, like a jigsaw puzzle or a coloring book, says professor for the Public Understanding of Psychology.

Stay away from the TV and digital screens, whose blue light has been proven to suppress melatonin, a sleep-inducing hormone. “The key is to avoid associating your bed with being awake,” the professor adds.

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Tip 3: Hide your clock

You toss and turn, trying to fall asleep, watching the minutes tick toward morning on your bedside clock. Does this scenario sound familiar? Do yourself a favor- Hide the clock.

Constantly checking the time only increases your stress, making it harder to turn down the dial on your nervous system and fall asleep. “If you stare at the clock, it increases your stress and worry about not falling asleep,” says Justine T., the professor from Oslo.

Tip 4: Cool your room

Did you know your internal body temperature is integral to regulating your biological body clock? When you’re falling asleep, your body temperature drops slightly, which some experts believe actually helps the process along, according to the Harvard Medical School. The National Sleep Foundation recommends a bedroom temperature of 63 -70 °F (17 –21 ° C) for the most sleep-friendly conditions.

“The secret is cool, dark, comfortable bedrooms,” Justine T. “Darkness cues the brain to make melatonin, which tells your interior clock that it’s time to sleep. Melatonin cools your internal body temperature, which reaches its lowest point between 2 - 4 a.m.”

Tip 5: Immerse your face 30 seconds in very cold water

If you’re anxious or distressed at bedtime, the best medicine may be a face full of ice-cold water. When you’re in a full-on state, your nervous system desperately needs to be reset to help you calm down.

Submerging your face in a bowl of cold water triggers an involuntary phenomenon called the Mammalian Dive Reflex, which lowers your heart rate and blood pressure. Then it’s off to bed with a soothed system.

Tip 6: Don’t sleep with cold feet

Researchers from a Sweden published a journal that warm feet and hands were the best predictor of rapid sleep onset. In the study, participants placed a hot water bottle at their feet, which widened the blood vessels on the surface of the skin, thereby increasing heat loss. Shifting blood flow from your core to your extremities cools down your body, working in concert with melatonin. This significantly helped to sleep way faster than when not placing the hot water bottle.

Tip 7: Take a warm shower before bed

Warming your body up with a hot shower an hour before bed and then stepping into cooler air will cause your body temperature to drop more quickly. Studies show that this rapid temperature decrease slows your metabolism faster and prepares your body for sleep.

Showers can also be very relaxing. If you shower every night around the same time, making it part of a consistent bedtime routine, you’ll see the most sleep value from it. This helps your body to expect what’s coming next.

Tip 8: Use the “4-7-8” method

The best-selling author Dr. Sam Martin the “4-7-8” breathing technique is claimed to help you fall asleep in under couple of minute. The method is said to relax you by increasing the amount of oxygen in your blood stream, slowing your heart rate, and releasing more carbon dioxide from the lungs. According to Dr. Martin this is how you do it,

  1. Place the tip of your tongue against the ridge of tissue just behind your upper front teeth, and keep it there through the entire exercise.
  2. Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound.
  3. Close your mouth and inhale quietly through your nose to a mental count of 
  4. Hold your breath for a count of 7.

Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound to a count of 8. Repeat the cycle 3 more times and it should help you to fall sleep quickly.

Tip 9: Picture your favorite place

Rather than counting sheep, visualize an environment that makes you feel calm and happy. The key to success is thinking of a scene that’s engaging enough to distract you from your thoughts and worries for a while.

In an Oxford University study published in the journal Behavior Research and Therapy, insomniacs who were instructed to imagine a relaxing scene, such as a beach or a waterfall or long drive or vacation, fell asleep 20 minutes faster than insomniacs who were told to count sheep or do nothing special at all.

“As adults, finding ways to manage stress can get lost, but it is so important.” says Justine T., the professor from Oslo.

Tip 10: Try Massage therapy pillow

Massage at home has become a new norm in today’s light-fast environment. For that reason people who prefer massage at home are growing exponentially.

Massage therapy pillow helps to lose muscle knots and relieve tension. It is commonly used by those who have trouble falling asleep and it also helps with relaxation.

A systematic review of 14 studies revealed that the use of massage pillow was effective in improving sleep quality by 35%. Additionally, it showed that just 15-20 minutes of massage at home 3-4 times a week has very positive effects on sleep.

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Tip 11: Listen to music

Studies have shown that classical music or any music that has a slow rhythm of 60 to 80 beats per minute can help lull you to sleep.

In a 2015 study, students aged 20 to 41 who listened to relaxing classical music for 25 minutes before bed showed significant improvement in sleep quality. Bonus: They also reported decreased symptoms of depression.

Tip 12: Blow bubbles

Got grandkids? That means you probably have a plastic bottle of bubbles around the house. The benefits of blowing them before bed are two-fold. Bubbles are slightly hypnotic to look at and require a process of deep breathing to blow, said Michael J., a professor of neurology.

“It’s like a deep breathing exercise, which helps calm your body and mind,” he says. “And since it’s such a silly activity, it can also take your mind off of any potential sleep-thwarting thoughts.”

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Tip 13: Eat dinner by candlelight

When it comes to sleep, the less blue light you expose yourself to in the hours before bedtime, the better. Light of any kind can suppress your body’s production of melatonin, but blue light waves do so more powerfully, thereby shifting sleep-friendly circadian rhythms, says Harvard Health Publications.

Besides electronic devices like tablets and smartphones, the biggest blue-light offenders in your home are likely fluorescent light bulbs and LED lights, which many people use because of their energy efficiency and powerful light. Give yourself a romantic break from all the blue and eat dinner by candlelight.

 Tip 14: Practice progressive relaxation

Recommended by the National Sleep Foundation as a way to fall asleep fast, progressive muscle relaxation involves slowly tensing and then relaxing each muscle in your body to help your body relax. The clinic describes the technique as follows:

Start by tensing and relaxing the muscles in your toes and progressively working your way up to your neck and head. You can also start with your head and neck and work down to your toes. Tense your muscles for at least 5 seconds and then relax for 30 seconds, and repeat.

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Tip 15: Give yourself acupressure

Derived from acupuncture, acupressure is an alternative medicine technique based in the Chinese medical theory that a network of energy flows through specific points in your body. Pressing on these points is meant to restore balance and regulate your mind, body and spirit. A faculty member from leading natural health university suggests these acupressure techniques to alleviate sleeplessness,

  • Between your eyebrows, there is a small depression on the level of your brows, right above the nose. Apply gentle pressure to that point for a minute.
  • Between your first and second toes, on top of the foot, there is a depression. Press that area for a few minutes until you feel a dull ache. 
  • Imagine that your foot has three sections, beginning at the tips of your toes and ending at the back of your heel. Find the distance one-third back from the tips of your toes and press on the sole of your foot for a few minutes. 
  • Massage both of your ears for a minute.

 

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