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If you have trouble falling asleep at night, you’re not alone. 27% of adults report that they struggle with falling or staying asleep most nights, and 68% report struggling with this issue at least once a week, according to Consumer Reports.
The inability to fall asleep quickly can be very frustrating — so much so that people often work themselves into a frenzy and become energized rather than tired. However, the brain is a powerful muscle, and it is possible to either trick it or train it to help you fall asleep in a timely fashion. Consider these tips to fall asleep the next time you can’t hit the hay fast enough.
After lying in bed for what feels like hours, but has probably only been minutes, you may feel tempted to take a peek at the clock. This is highly advised against.
Tracking time will only feed your worry about falling asleep quicker, especially if you have an important obligation that you need to be well-rested for in the morning. According to a study by NCBI, time monitoring leads to frustration about sleepiness and perpetuates insomnia symptoms. It increases performance anxiety, and in turn,makes it even harder to fall asleep.
Plus, if you don’t have a traditional clock, you may be tempted to check your cell phone clock. Not only is checking your phone risky because you may come across texts, notifications, or other distractions, but the blue light it emits delays the release of your body’s melatonin (which affects your circadian rhythm and increases in quantity when it’s time to sleep).
This breathing technique created by Dr. Andrew Weil is a tried-and-true way to fall asleep quickly. Through a series of breath counts, you relax both your body and mind by increasing oxygen flow through the bloodstream and slowing your heart rate down. This is how it works:
Any type of light — natural or artificial — can make it harder for your brain to shut down for the night and go to sleep. Total darkness tells your brain it’s nighttime and therefore bedtime. This triggers the production of melatonin, which naturally aids sleep.
Lowering the temperature a few degrees can also make a world of difference. If you’ve been lying in bed for a while trying to fall asleep, but can’t, you may start to get stressed and worked up. When this happens, you may start sweating and having uncomfortable hot flashes.
Your core body temperature naturally drops during sleep, and cooling your bedroom can expedite the process and help you sleep through the night. The widely recommended temperature to keep your bedroom is anywhere between 60 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit at night.
Next time you want to fall asleep instantly, try eliminating all sources of light and lowering the thermostat.
It’s the oldest trick in the book, but it works. Deliberately picturing and focusing on a relaxing setting can help calm your brain and in turn relax your body.
A study by NCBI found that “imagery distraction” is associated with shorter sleep onset latency (meaning a shorter amount of time to fall asleep) and less frequent and distressing pre-sleep cognitive activity. This is due to imagery occupying enough "cognitive space" to keep the individual from re-engaging with thoughts, worries, and concerns during the pre-sleep period.
Essentially, using mental imagery to envision a relaxing, happy place when you can’t rest at night may help soothe you to sleep.
Try staying awake. If your brain “gives up” on sleep for a short period of time, it may get tired on its own.
This is called Paradoxical Intention and it’s recommended by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. It involves remaining passively awake while completely avoiding sleep. This helps eliminate performance anxiety, which can inhibit sleep onset.
Psychotherapist Julie Hirst recommends, “Keep your eyes wide open, repeat to yourself ‘I will not sleep’. The brain doesn’t process negatives well, so it interprets this as an instruction to sleep and eye muscles tire quickly as sleep creeps up.”
Telling your mind to stay awake, when what it really wants and needs is sleep, can make it harder to do so. See if this works for you. You may be asleep in no time!
You may have trouble falling asleep for a number of reasons. Your mattress shouldn’t be one of them.
If you need a more comfortable mattress to fall asleep on, bedMATCH™ may be just what you’re looking for. bedMATCH™ uses scientific data and mathematical calculations to determine the perfect mattress for your body type and sleeping needs.
It’s much easier for your brain to fall asleep when your body has a comfortable mattress to fall back on. Keep these tips to fall asleep in mind the next time you struggle drifting off.
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