We all have that friend who seems to fall asleep in just seconds and leaves the rest of us tossing and turning in sleep over events like camps. We all want to be this friend, to just get into bed, lay our head on the pillow and poof! We are off to slumber land. However we are often tossing and turning for what seems like eternity trying to find the right position to sleep in, the best way to angle your pillow or that spot on in your bed that is just the right temperature, among other preferences. Here are a couple of tips to help ease this struggle and have you falling asleep in record time.
Good before-bed habits
The activities we engage in before we go to sleep have a great influence on our state of mind and body when we are going to bed. This makes it important to cultivate habits that communicate rest to our body to ensure we are relaxed when we finally decide to sleep. Some of these habits are:
- Take a hot shower or bath. This actually lowers your body core temperature which communicates to your system that it is time to sleep.
- Avoid using your TV, phone or other similar devices right before you sleep. These devices reduce the melatonin levels in your body, which is the hormone majorly required for sleep.
- Avoid eating large meals or drinks with caffeine or nicotine. Large meals and caffeinated drinks stimulate your body, and get you ready to work, which is the exact opposite of what you are trying to achieve.
- Put away the clock. The ability to know how much time has passed by while you are in bed leads to anxiety of the, ‘why haven’t I fallen asleep yet?’ kind which is extremely counterproductive.
This involves relaxing your body muscles to release the tension that you have been gathering during the day. You can begin by doing slow long stretches, stretch your upper body that is your neck, your upper and lower arms and backas you work your way to your lower body that is your thighs, and feet. This is not a work out, so you don’t need to put a lot of effort and skill into it, just do a lazy body stretch before getting into bed.
Once you are in your bed,start by relaxing your face; slowly close your eyes and relax your face muscles that is your jaw, tongue and around your eyes. By relaxing, I mean to consciously stop being stiff, just be aware of those muscles and slowly let the tension and awareness fade away. This should be followed by working your way down and doing the same relaxation technique for the muscles around your neck, that small part between your necks and back that hurts like hell after a hard day, your shoulders, your back all the way down through your thighs to your toes.
This short exercise is essentially a mental massage, you are telling your body that the time for work is over and it is now time to relax. In this way you are communicating to it that it is time to fall asleep.
One of the most common reasons for tossing and turning at night is running thoughts that seem to have a mind of their own. I have a deadline due tomorrow; something about Susan’s tone when she talked to me was off; did I leave the front door unlocked? (Though, you should probably head to confirm this one, just in case). The key to falling asleep quickly is setting your mind at ease and quieting all mental noise down, just like you switch your bedroom lights off.
The first step to mental relaxation is clearing your thoughts. You can consciously do this by inhaling and exhaling while focusing on your breathing. Once you have a clear mind, fill it with clear and relaxing thoughts like slowly swimming in a lake, swinging on a canoe, whatever makes you feel relaxed. You also have the option of keeping your mind clear by really trying not to think.
This one is prettyobvious, but we underestimate how much our comfort affects not only how fast we fall asleep but also the quality of sleep. If say you fall asleep on an uncomfortable bed, then it takes ages to fall asleep and you still wake up with terrible discomfort, feeling like you had only been half asleep for the better part of the night. A few simple and achievable tips to increase your comfort as you sleep include:
- Get a good quality nectar mattress, comfortable pillows and soft beddings. This assures you that once you fall asleep that is it, no waking up in the middle of the night because of discomfort or worse, waking up feeling more exhausted than when you went to sleep.
- Getting thick curtains that limit the amount of light that enters your sleeping space as much as possible.
- Ensuring your room is the right temperature and having the right beddings for the time of the year.
In order to lose weight, one has to work out for weeks, sometimes months to achieve desired results, and research has shown that sleep is just as important to the development of the human body as exercise and diet. Just like going to the gym to tone your abs, developing good sleeping habits is not an easy task. It is definitely worth it, but not as easy as reading these tips and using them once. It has been recorded that over 70% of people who took on both the physical and mental relaxation techniques saw results in the form of great ease in falling asleep, better sleeping patterns, less fatigue in the morning among others after 6 weeks of practice, so if it is still difficult after the first few days, keep at it.