In this blog post, we will share some tips on how to fall asleep. We will explain different ways on how to fall asleep, from meditation to sleeping positions, and everything in between. After reading this post, you should be able to fall asleep faster and easier.
Before we begin, please keep in mind that this doesn’t replace medical guidance and direction from medical professionals. If you have chronic issues with sleep, talk to your doctor to see if there are any underlying health issues that need to be addressed.
Finding the right sleeping position is a simple step to having quality sleep. People who suffer from pain or other health problems may require a specific position, while others may have to try different positions each night to find the ideal position for them. The four main sleeping positions are:
- Fetal position
- Side sleeping
- Stomach sleeping
- Flat on your back
The fetal position is preferred by 40% of sleepers, especially women. The fetal position allows the spine to rest in a natural alignment, which can help prevent pain in the morning. The fetal position is also a great way to reduce snoring, and research has shown that sleeping in the fetal position might help prevent Alzheimer’s since the brain clears waste better in this position. If you decide to sleep in the fetal position, make sure your body feels loose. Any tightness can inhibit deep breathing, making it difficult to fall into a deeper sleep.
Another popular sleeping position is the side sleeper position. As the name suggests, you are sleeping on your side. The main difference between side sleeper and the fetal position is that you are more likely to be sleeping in a straight line compared to bending your knees in the fetal position. Like the fetal position, you will only gain the advantages if you have proper body alignment. Sleeping on your side can help lower the pain in your joints and lower back, and can also reduce snoring, which can help prevent long-term complications. If you consider yourself a side sleeper, you likely sleep exclusively on your left or right side. According to medical research, sleeping on your left side provides better benefits than sleeping on your right, as more organs are on the right side of the body.
In terms of any health and comfort benefits, you’ll be hard pressed to find any if you sleep on your stomach. If done right, sleeping on your stomach can ease snoring. Unfortunately, that’s about the only benefit that exists for stomach sleepers. Those who suffer back pain should avoid sleeping on their stomach at all costs, as the natural alignment of your spine is compromised. On top of that, your neck will likely be facing one direction all night, causing neck pain. And finally, let’s look into sleeping on your back. Sleeping on your back helps prevent back, hip and knee pain since your back is lying flat, creating the proper spinal alignment. Sleeping on your back has also been shown to help prevent wrinkles on your skin, since your face isn’t sinking into the pillow. Sleeping on your back, however, does have some major drawbacks. If you are a heavy snorer or suffer from sleep apnea, sleeping on your back can make things worse. Also, if you suffer any kind of back pain, sleeping on your back should be avoided.
Having the right sleep position may help you stay asleep and wake up pain free. But what about getting to sleep? If you are experiencing difficulty with falling asleep, there are different methods available for you to try! A very popular sleep method is known as the military method. This method was created by the U.S Navy to help pilots fall asleep in two minutes or less. Here’s how you perform the military method:
- Relax your entire face, including the muscles inside your mouth.
- Drop your shoulders to release tension and let your hands drop to the side of your body.
- Exhale, relaxing your chest.
- Relax your legs, thighs and calves.
- Clear your mind for 10 seconds by imagining a relaxing scene.
If this doesn’t work, try saying the words “don’t think” repeatedly for 10 seconds. You should fall asleep after completing this step! If this method doesn’t work, you may need to work on either your breathing or muscle relaxation. Those who have conditions such as ADHD or anxiety may have a harder time with this.
One other method you can try is the 4-7-8 breathing method. It’s important to note that anyone with breathing conditions, such as asthma or COPD, should check with their doctor before trying this, as it may aggravate symptoms. To do the 4-7-8 breathing exercise:
- Part your lips slightly and make a whooshing sound as you exhale through your mouth.
- Close your lips and inhale silently through your nose. Count to 4.
- Hold your breath for 7 seconds.
- Exhale (with a whoosh sound) for 8 seconds.
When you are trying the 4-7-8 breathing method, try to practice it mindlessly. Being too alert and overthinking it will make it harder to work. Try this cycle for four full breaths. If you feel the relaxation coming earlier than expected, let your body sleep.
A key to falling asleep quickly is to have a mind at ease. Meditation is often touted to helping people calm down and relax. In addition to helping relieve stress, meditation can also help:
- Increase melatonin levels
- Increase serotonin
- Reduce your heart rate and blood pressure
- Activate parts of the brain that control sleep
There are three kinds of well-known meditation methods. These are mindfulness meditation, where you focus on the present, guided meditation, where someone guides you through the process, and body scan meditation, where you focus on each part of your body. Here’s how to do mindfulness meditation:
- Remove all distractions. Lie in a comfortable position.
- Focus on your breathing. Inhale for 10 seconds, hold your breath for 10 seconds, and
- exhale for 10 seconds. Repeat this process five times.
- Inhale and tense your body. Pause, relax and exhale. Repeat five times.
- Notice your breath and body. If anything feels tight, relax it as best as possible.
- If any thoughts enter your mind, slowly return to focusing on your breathing.
To do body scan meditation:
- Remove all distractions. Lie in a comfortable position.
- Close your eyes and breathe slowly. Begin to focus on the weight of your body on the bed.
- Start focusing on your face and relax all the muscles. Slowly move down your body, focusing on each muscle group and relaxing it.
- If any thoughts enter your mind, slowly return to focusing on your body. If you want to, you can repeat the process in reverse, starting from your feet and ending at your head.
Exercise is crucial for a healthier lifestyle. On top of helping control your weight and prevent medical conditions, it can also help you get to sleep faster and wake up less frequently. Three types of exercises you should consider are aerobic (cardio), strength training and yoga. Aerobic exercises such as running, cycling and swimming are shown to help improve sleep and help with insomnia. Building muscles with shoulder presses, bicep curls and other strengthening exercises help improve your quality of sleep. The stretching and breathing exercises from yoga help relieve stress to get you to fall asleep more easily. When selecting an exercise program, make sure you select something that you’ll stick with. And make sure you complete your exercises one to two hours before going to bed, as aerobic exercises release endorphins that keep you awake, and all exercises raise the core body temperature which takes about 30 to 90 minutes before it begins to fall.
Following the idea of exercise, having a proper diet is equally important to maintaining a healthier lifestyle. What you eat and when you eat it can change how easily you fall asleep and the quality of your sleep. Fortunately, there are some foods you can have before going to bed to improve your sleep. Complex carbs, such as popcorn, oatmeal, or whole-wheat crackers are good bedtime snacks, as long as you keep the servings to a minimum. Almonds and walnuts contain melatonin, which regulates the sleep/wake cycle. Having a handful of these nuts can increase the blood levels of melatonin, helping you have a better sleep. Again, keep the servings to a minimum. And finally, the old tip of having a warm glass of milk does show promise. Scientific evidence insides milk has tryptophan and melatonin. The idea of warm milk can provide a soothing backdrop to relax before going to bed.
For many of us, listening to music can be relaxing and a method to unwind after a long and stressful day. Music can also help drift us to sleep if the selection is done right. According to the Sleep Foundation, listening to good music can slow your heart rate and breathing down, lower blood pressure, and possibly relax your muscles. When selecting the music you want to use to fall asleep, you’ll want to avoid anything that has a fast beat or any lyrics. Aim for slower tunes that have a rhythm of 60 to 80 beats per minute (BPM). Classical, jazz, or folk music are your best bets. Once you start incorporating music into your pre bedtime routine, make sure you stick to it. Doing so will allow your body to get ready for sleep.
Creating the proper sleeping environment
Last but not least, you’ll want to optimize your sleeping environment. Your room should be for two things and two things only: sleep and romance. If you have a television in your room, you may want to take it out of your room. This goes for any other electronic devices, such as your cell phone, laptop and/or tablet. These kinds of devices emit blue light, which can slow down melatonin production.
You’ll want to make sure that your bedroom is dark, quiet and cool. Avoid keeping any artificial light on (a lamp for example) and turn over your phone if you insist on keeping it in your room. You want to keep your room quiet as inconsistent sound or silence can be disruptive. If you can’t avoid noises, you can try using a sound machine that drowns out other noises. And finally, you will want to keep your room at a cool temperature. The ideal temperature is around 60-67 degrees, as it helps cool your body to fall asleep.
Getting a good night’s sleep is important. This rings especially true in today’s climate. While the stress and nerves are higher than usual, getting ample sleep can help maintain mental balance, and maintain one’s health. If you are having issues falling asleep, you’re not alone. But as we covered here, there are plenty of tips available to help you fall asleep and maintain quality sleep. Finding the right sleeping position, practicing different methods to fall asleep, and maintaining a routine of exercise and proper diet can ultimately help you get the sleep you need.