Almost half of U.S. adults 60 and older have Insomnia. Want to coax yourself into dreamland as soon as you hit the sack? Want To Fall Asleep Faster? Try the following easy methods, that include relaxation techniques, distraction exercises, and more ways to prepare your body for slumber.
Try to force yourself to stay awake
Is there anything reverse psychology isn’t good for? In this case, it may alleviate excessive sleep anxiety. 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.
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. 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.
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.
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. Recommended bedroom temperature is between 60 and 67 degrees F for the most sleep-friendly conditions. The secret is cool, dark, comfortable bedrooms. 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 and 4 a.m.
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 precipitously. 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. Then your body has an expectation of what’s coming next.
Wear socks to bed
Warm feet and hands were the best predictor of rapid sleep onset. Put a hot water bottle at your 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.
Immerse your face in very cold water for 30 seconds
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.
Use the “4-7-8” method
The “4-7-8” breathing technique is purported to help you fall asleep in under a 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. Here’s how you do it:
- 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.
- Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound.
- Close your mouth and inhale quietly through your nose to a mental count of four.
- Hold your breath for a count of seven.
- Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound to a count of eight.
- Repeat the cycle three more times for a total of four breaths.
Scent your bedroom with lavender
Not only does lavender smell lovely, but the aroma of this flowering herb may also relax your nerves, lower your blood pressure, and put you in a relaxed state. Sniff lavender oil for two minutes at three, 10-minute intervals before bedtime increased your amount of deep sleep and you will feel more vigorous in the morning.
Picture your favorite place
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. Insomniacs who imagine a relaxing scene, such as a beach or a waterfall, fell asleep 20 minutes faster than insomniacs who want to count sheep or do nothing special at all.
Listen to music
Classical music, or any music that has a slow rhythm of 60 to 80 beats per minute, can help lull you to sleep.
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. Besides electronic devices like tablets and smartphones, the biggest blue-light offenders in your home are likely fluorescent lightbulbs 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.
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.
Practice progressive relaxation
Progressive muscle relaxation involves slowly tensing and then relaxing each muscle in your body to help your body relax. 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 five seconds and then relax for 30 seconds, and repeat.
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. 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.