A good night’s sleep is vital for daily productivity, while a lack of sleep may have major health implications and possibly shorten your lifespan! If you find falling asleep a challenge, give up on counting sheep. There are several other effective ways to help you get some peaceful shut eye.
1) Breathing Method That Induces Sleep In Minutes
There is an old technique gaining new popularity; it’s called the 4-7-8 method and is reported to help its users to fall to sleep in just a few minutes. It was recently featured on Oprah and CBS This Morning. The 4-7-8 method is an ancient Indian breathing technique that has helped people fall asleep long before there were over-the-counter sleep medicines. Moreover, it’s all natural, has no side effects and it super simple to learn. The method involves just 3 simple steps repeated 4 times in succession:
1) Inhale for 4 seconds
2) Hold that breath for 7 seconds
3) Exhale slowly for 8 seconds.
If you are interested in learning more about the 4-7-8 Breathing Method, we’ve provided a free short instructional video later on in the article.
2) Get Adequate Exercise
Health experts emphasize the importance of exercise and how it can help with weight loss, improve cardiac health, and reduce stress. It can also help you go to sleep better at night. By burning off stress, you can rest better come bedtime. It also burns off calories you may have consumed during the day, thereby allowing your body to rest, rather than to spend energy on undigested food. Just make sure you exercise earlier in the day. Exercising within 3 hours of bedtime can backfire, as it will have the adrenaline pumping and may keep you awake at night. If you do all your physical exercise earlier in the day, you will be ready for a good night’s rest by evening.
3) Set a Routine and Follow it
While you may be aware of the importance of a regular routine for children, people of any age can benefit significantly by following a regular routine. Our bodies are wired naturally to follow rhythm and a steady routine goes hand in hand with that concept. 83% of Americans have the ability to do this based upon a normal work schedule. Others who have alternating shifts may not have that luxury. But if you are fortunate enough to have a steady schedule, try making your sleep and wake time part of your regular routine, even on your days off from work. Going to bed at about the same time every night and then waking at close to the same time every morning will help you fall asleep more quickly and get a better night’s sleep, thereby waking refreshed.
4) Leave Your Worries Behind
If you go to bed thinking about what you didn’t get done today or everything that you need to do tomorrow or the rest of the week, you aren’t going to sleep well. Instead of leaving racing thoughts running through your head, take the time to sit down and write out a list of things that you need to do. Then you don’t have to think about taking care of them at night. This will put your mind at ease, knowing you have a list written out that you need not keep in your head at bedtime. Bedtime is the worst time to start thinking and worrying. This fires up brain cells and makes your brain become active, when it should be winding down for the day. So, write it down and put it out of your mind for the night.
5) Try to Avoid Naps
Many people get great benefit from naps, but for those of us with sleep issues, sometimes that power nap can interfere with a good night’s sleep. At one time or another everyone gets exhausted and feel they just need to lie down for a while. If you absolutely cannot make it through the day without a nap, limit how long you do it. You shouldn’t nap more than 20 minutes at a time during the day. And, if you do require an occasional nap, try not to make a habit of it. Otherwise, you can disrupt your entire sleep pattern and may have trouble falling asleep at an earlier hour, thereby limiting your total hours of nighttime sleep. By limiting your napping, you can help yourself get a good night’s rest when you go to bed because you’ll more than likely be tired enough to fall asleep and stay sleeping for a full night’s rest.
6) Turn off Electronics
While technology can be a good thing, it can also impact us negatively as well. While you may think that going online or watching TV can be relaxing, your brain may react to it differently. TVs and computers are stimulants that cause your brain to become active and awake. By stimulating it right before you go to bed, you are sending mixed signals and you might be depriving yourself of a good night’s sleep in the process. Shut everything off a while before you plan to go to bed so you can get to sleep more quickly. Even if you feel you may not fall asleep without watching television or reading something online, try it. You may be surprised how quickly you fall asleep in the peaceful quietness.
7) Make the Room Dark Enough
It’s a natural reaction for your brain to respond to light stimulus, such as that of the sun coming up. This signals that it’s time to wake up. Keeping lights dim or completely off is another way to encourage a restful sleep. Light stimulates the brain and can also interfere with sleep hormones. Even a small amount of light can impact your ability to fall asleep quickly. It may also interfere with falling into a deep and restful sleep. Try wearing an eye mask to block out all light. If your alarm clock is illuminated, turn it around so the light doesn’t impact you while you are trying to sleep. Even dim lights can keep you awake at night. This includes electronic device screens, such as cell phones, tablets, and computers. Don’t keep them where the screen light could interrupt falling asleep.
8) Make it Quiet and Peaceful
Just like light, sound is a stimulant that can keep you awake, especially if it’s something that is noisy or has a lot of talking going on. You may want to eliminate noise altogether if it impairs your ability to fall asleep. If you are one of those people who find noise soothing, try turning on the radio softly or getting a white noise machine. You may want to choose a soothing sound to block out any background noise that may be disturbing you. Relaxation recordings, such as ocean sounds, birds chirping, or white noise can help some people get relaxed much more quickly and readily. It will also help facilitate falling into a restful sleep, thereby reducing the chances of waking up during the night.
9) Set the Thermostat
Most people sleep much more comfortably if the room is cooler. For many, the ideal temperature for sleeping is 65 degrees. A lower room temperature will decrease your body’s core temperature. This, in turn, will help you go to sleep much more quickly and sleep more soundly. Make sure the thermostat is set to a comfortable temperature before you lie down at night. Oftentimes, if the room temperature increases during sleep, it can cause the body to wake up. Once this happens, it may be difficult to fall asleep right away. So keep your room a constant steady cool temperature. You’ll not only fall asleep faster, you’ll stay asleep longer. If you do get chilly while sleeping, keep an extra blanket handy that you can easily grab and fall back asleep without becoming wide awake.
10) Watch What You Eat
If you go to bed hungry, you will most likely have trouble sleeping. Your rumbling stomach is enough to keep you awake. On the other hand, a heavy meal that is difficult to digest can make falling asleep a challenge as well. Your body will spend time and energy trying to digest food while you’re trying to fall asleep. A good rule of thumb is to eat dinner as early as possible. No one should lie down for 3 hours after a full meal, as a general rule. Try eating a smaller dinner. Then, in between dinner and bedtime, enjoy a light snack that’s easy to digest. When you balance your evening meal and snacks, you will go to bed with a satisfied stomach that is not working overtime to digest and your body will be ready to sleep.
11) Try Aromatherapy
Aromatherapy can be very relaxing and soothing on the senses. There are a variety of scents on the market to use in an evening bath, on your pillow, or in the air. Fragrances such as lavender, vanilla, sandalwood, and marjoram are highly recommended to help with relaxation and sleep. There are many options on the market for aromatherapy diffusers, which have become quite popular in recent times. These allow soft relaxing scents to enter the air gradually and keep that refreshing scent constant without having to burn anything, such as candles, which may cause smoke or other non pleasant odors to linger after they are extinguished. Aromatherapy is also a great stress reliever. When stress is reduced it can allow the body to fall asleep more quickly and stay asleep more peacefully.
12) Watch What You Drink
We have all been told that caffeine interferes with sleep, and that’s true. Some people are more affected by it than others. The older you get, it seems, the earlier in the day should be the cut off for caffeinated beverages. Many people are unaware; however, that alcohol can also impact your restful night’s sleep. While water is good for you, studies show that even drinking too much water right before bedtime can keep you awake as well. You should watch what you drink, how much you drink, and try to avoid drinking too much of anything before bedtime. Even if you go to into a restful sleep, drinking too much water might result in you having to get up frequently for bathroom visits, thereby interrupting your good night’s sleep after all.
4-7-8 Breathing Method Instructional Video
Earlier on, we described the 4-7-8 Breathing Method. Some people learn better through visual instruction, so we felt this would be helpful to post this instructional video from Dr. Weil for reference. Dr. Weil is a leading advocate of holistic breathing practices and believes this technique is an extremely powerful method not only because of its effectiveness in inducing sleep, but he believes it can reduce stress when used on a daily basis. Dr. Weil says that with practice, the effectiveness of the technique increases as you get more comfortable in using it, so it is important to stick with it. Considering this practice only takes around a minute to complete and the potential benefits can be great, we think it is worth trying.