Tips to Fall Asleep Faster
Did you know that giraffes only need about 2 hours of sleep a day? How great would it be if people needed the same! Unfortunately, we require about 7-8 hours of sleep each night and for nearly 60 million Americans, this is not a simple task. It is estimated that 1 in 3 people will suffer from insomnia at some point in their life. If you or someone you know is experiencing difficulty falling asleep, here are a few great tips that can provide some much needed relief.
Remove Overstimulating & Work-Related Items
If your bedroom has a TV, computer, or work-related items, try relocating these items to another part of the house. The bedroom should be perceived as a place for sleep and relaxation. If your brain thinks of your bedroom as an area where a lot of activities or stressful tasks are done, it can be hard to associate that same room with calmness and sleep at the end of the day. Removing these items will trick your brain into winding down and allow you to relax when you hit the hay.
Loosen Up Tense Muscles
If your body is feeling tense, try this simple progressive relaxation technique backed by the Institute of Naturopathic Sleep Medicine. Begin by closing your eyes and curling up your toes. Now hold them in that tight position for seven seconds and release. Move up your legs to the next muscle group, tense those muscles for seven seconds, and relax. Continue this process, working all the way up to your neck and face. This method works by having you focus all of your attention on one tense area of your body at a time, rather than feeling overwhelmed at the thought of trying to relax your entire body at once.
Removing any light and sound from the bedroom seems like an easy enough tip for falling asleep, right? However, many people find the sound of silence to be even more deafening, thus keeping them up at night. If this is the case for you, try a white noise machine or a phone app. Many of them include a wide range of calming sounds to choose from, including the steady sound of a fan, ocean waves, the crackling of a fireplace, and of course the gentle sounds of light rain. White noise works to calm your brain by drowning out the unpredictable creaks of your home or traffic noises outside that may prevent you from dozing.
The “4-7-8” Method
This remarkably simple breathing technique for falling asleep has had such high success that some refer to it as being “magical.” However, there is actually quite a bit of science behind it. The method goes like this: Breathe in through your nose for four seconds, hold your breath for seven seconds, and then exhale through your mouth for eight. That’s it! If you’re rolling your eyes right now, here’s why it works so well. Stress and anxiety, a couple of the biggest sleep thieves, cause our brains to go into “fight or flight” mode which releases adrenaline into our bodies. Adrenaline of course increases your heart rate which in turn causes quick and shallow breaths. So by forcing your breaths to slow down and become deeper, you are actually lowering your heart rate, and that tells your brain that there’s no need to panic. Simple as that. Give it a try!
Sleep is one of our most basic needs and it plays such a vital role in our overall health. So if counting sheep just isn’t doing the trick, give one of these surefire methods a try and enjoy those much needed zzz’s.
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