How to Fall Asleep Faster?
Even if you take care of your sleep hygiene, not always things go to plan when it’s time to fall asleep. The most common reason why we keep turning restlessly in bed is because of racing thoughts and restless mind. What can you do to calm down your mind and body once the lights have been turned off? We recommend trying these tips:
1. Counting sheep
It might feel silly that counting sheep could help you fall asleep, but it actually can be helpful. Some researchers have found that occupying the thoughts with something menial makes falling asleep easier. Working on something insignificant is a signal to your brain that they are not needed anymore that day. It also makes it harder to start focusing or worrying about something that might be counterproductive to falling asleep. You can count other things as well, such as other animals, fruits, or stuff that starts with a particular letter or are a specific color. Or, you can play a few rounds of tic tac toe in your mind.
2. Distracting your mind
It might not always feel fruitful or particularly intriguing to count sheep. You can also try to distract your thoughts by picturing calming imagery in your mind. Focusing on a pleasant and peaceful scenario helps your mind ease up and calm down. Isn’t it nice to fall asleep to a cotton candy cloud or a serene beach?
3. Relaxing your body
To relax your mind, you can try relaxing your body first. Relaxed muscles and body can increase your quality of sleep and make it easier to fall asleep. To catch your z’s, you can try a small relaxing exercise in your bed.
Still can't fall asleep?
If you can’t fall asleep, don’t roll around your bed for too long. Instead get out of bed and catch up on some reading or other calming activity. Your bed should be for sleeping only, not for rolling in it restlessly. When your body associates the bed as a relaxing and sleepy place, most likely falling asleep gets easier as well. If you can’t sleep and choose to get out of bed, remember to avoid bright lighting and too stimulating activities (checking on your phone is a bad idea). Get back to bed once you start feeling tired again. Try not to worry too much – you’ll fall asleep once it is time.
Example Habits to try:
Demiralp, M., Oflaz, F., & Komurcu, S. (2010). Effects of relaxation training on sleep quality and fatigue in patients with breast cancer undergoing adjuvant chemotherapy. Journal of Clinical Nursing, 19(7–8), 1073–1083.
Harvey, A. G., & Payne, S. (2002). The management of unwanted pre-sleep thoughts in insomnia: Distraction with imagery versus general distraction. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 40(3), 267–277.