Falling asleep is not always as easy as it should be. Too many thoughts in your head, technical devices influencing your brain, unhealthy eating patterns – there are many reasons for sleep problems.
We know this problem ourselves. Especially when you’re travelling and you’re in a new environment, falling asleep can become a challenge. Hence, we’ve asked 12 sleep experts on how to go out like a light.
12 Tactics on How to Go Out Like a Light
Here’s what our experts have said.
Personally, I use on line sleep hypnosis/ guided meditations to help me sleep. I have a very overactive mind, it becomes very cluttered and impairs my ability to sleep. I have found several YouTube presenters (it takes time to find the right one and I am happy to share with you) and now just listening to their voice at the start of the meditations will automatically encourage the feelings of sleep. It is known that meditation/hypnosis is able to alter the brain waves that are associated with the act of sleeping.
I consider also that this is resulting from the actions of positive affirmations (a bit like brain-training) that have become embedded in my subconsciousness, therefore, when I plan to sleep, the body starts to respond automatically – kind of like setting up cues for sleeping. This may be more attributed t a routine but is more likely due to the engagement in the meditation. I now find I rarely hear the end of the recording before I have fallen asleep and I ensure that the setting does not roll over to another recording. Hypnosis is very powerful and self-hypnosis is not difficult but requires a bit of work to see the effects.
Dr.Tracey Evans, Founder at Fitness Savvy
Black out your room
Use either blackout curtains or some form of a sleep mask to ensure there isn’t any light getting to you. Turn off all electronics including TVs and make sure your cell phone is flipped over or dimmed. Light is a major cause of sleep invasion and can keep you from cycling through sleep phases.
Brandon Landgraf, Digital Marketing Manager at Carex Health Brands
Here’s my tip on how to sleep early.
One word: Discipline.
But before you start, ask yourself why you want to do this. Be honest. If you find a compelling reason only then proceed to the next steps:
- Decide on a time to sleep and get up. I normally sleep at 10:00 pm and get up at 5:00 am sharp. Unless it is an emergency, I go to bed at 9:45 pm. No exceptions.
- Initially, you will probably not fall asleep at the decided time. Don’t give up. Force yourself to fall asleep. Don’t have any distractions like cell phones or television around. You can take the help of slow melodious music though.
- When the alarm rings, get up. DO NOT HIT THE SNOOZE BUTTON. Getting up early is like any other exercise routine; if you let yourself slip, you will lose the habit. So force yourself to get up.
- Repeat this process daily until you start yawning around your regular sleep time and wake up without alarms in the morning. Your body is fond of routines. You just need to introduce it to the new one.
Kenny Trinh, CEO of Netbooknews
One suggestion I have is to use a Sunset Simulating light (the opposite of a dawn-simulating alarm clock). These lights slowly morph over about 30 minutes from a full-spectrum daytime glow to a dim red sunset color, before shutting off completely.
- Turn on the sunset simulating alarm clock (e.g. Philips HF3520 light)
- Set it to sunset mode, and for a time of about 30 min
- Spend that time reading or otherwise getting ready for bed (not a tablet
- or phone)
- Let the color-changing light encourage you to close your eyes
- When the light shuts off, close your eyes and fall asleep.
Kayla Young, Content Production Manager at LuxeLuminous
Sleep deprivation in the long-term leads to serious health risks such as heart diseases, diabetes, obesity, and it can also shorten your life expectancy. Restful night sleep is essential for a long and healthy life.
First, consider the factors that are interfering with your sleep, like work stress, family issues, or any illness. If you can not work out on these factors, try to adopt some healthy habits to improve your sleep
Create a routine for sleeping and follow it. Go to bed every day at the same time and maintain your wake up time. You need 7 hours of peaceful sleep every night. Try to maintain the sleep routine accordingly, and even on weekends, do not let it vary much. This will set your body’s clock helping you to create a sleep pattern.
Pay attention to your eating habits. Do not go to bed immediately after food; also, you can not sleep with an empty stomach. Have light meals a few hours before bedtime. Limit your nicotine, caffeine, and alcohol consumption.
Try to relax and clear your mind in the evening. Practice meditation and gratitude before bedtime.
If you are struggling to sleep even after lifestyle changes, consult a doctor to rule out any sleep disorders.
Dr. Rashmi Byakodi, Editor of BestofNutrition
Follow This Sleep Meditation
- Do a round-up of your day. Write down (pen and paper) the 3 most important things you’ve accomplished today, and the 3 most important things you need to accomplish tomorrow.
- Now that you’ve written these down, let them go from your mind. They are ready for you in the morning.
- Shut off any screens, put them away. Preferably far from the bed.
- Don’t use a meditation app, even one designed for sleep. You end up with the device within reach when the meditation is over.
- Shut the lights off, lay down in a comfortable position in bed. Close your eyes.
- Take 5-7 slow, deep breaths in and out through your nose. Focus your attention on the sensation of the breath moving your chest, and each exhale, relaxes your muscles.
- Focus particularly on the muscles around your eyes. Relax them, then relax them again, and again.
- Let your awareness drift from your body, and out into the room. The sounds you hear, the slight movement of air around you. Acknowledge these sensations, and let them fade away as you drift off.
- Sink deeper into your breath, and let it take you away. Move your attention slowly from your head to your toes, and back again. Find any tense areas, and relax them.
- By the time you get to your toes, you will hopefully be asleep. If not, make your way back up to your head, and relax everything.
Alex Grand. Director at Roots of Being
Cool Your Bedroom and Take Lukewarm Showers
Our body’s internal clock is regulated by temperature. During the day, our body’s temperature fluctuates in accordance to our circadian rhythm, directing sleep-wake cycles. In the evening, our body temperature decreases, which induces melatonin secretion, promoting sleep. Various research suggests that taking warm showers before bed can help us fall asleep faster. And that’s not without reason: Taking lukewarm showers can help us induce sleep because we heat our bodies during a shower. Still, the evaporation process that happens afterward is helping us cool them down, signaling our brains it’s time to sleep.
Furthermore, The National Sleep Foundation recommends keeping the temperature of the room from 60 to 67 F to make the best sleep conditions.
Nikola Djordjevic MD, medical advisor for healthcareers.co
Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR)
Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR) is a technique I use to go to sleep quickly. As the co-founder of a startup, there’s often a million things on my mind as I head to bed. But PMR helps me clear my mind, relax my body, and fall asleep quickly.
While laying down in your bed normally, take a minute and focus your mind on your muscles and joints. Become aware of how they feel right then in that moment while at rest.
Bring your breathing to steady, natural, full breaths. Then, slowly and while maintaining your breathing, tense your muscles, from your toes to your brows, until your entire body is tensed.
Hold that tension for 15 to 30 seconds before slowly releasing the tension one muscle group at a time. Let each release last the duration of an exhale before moving to the next muscle. Start with your toes, the soles of your feet, your ankles and calves, and all the way up to the smallest muscles in your face.
When I do this, I can feel the stress that built up in my mind and body during the day just start to melt away. I am asleep before I know it. PMR is often used by those suffering from anxiety and insomnia, too.
Ian Atkins, Co-founder & COO of Choosing Therapy
The 4-7-8 Method
There is a sleeping technique that’s known as “relaxing breath” developed by Dr Andrew Weil. It involves breathing in through your nose for 4 seconds, holding the breath for 7 seconds, then exhaling through your mouth for 8 seconds. This breathing pattern helps reduce anxiety and guides you to sleep by imposing rhythms on the voluntary system that gradually become induced in the involuntary nervous system. This practice can be used to help you fall asleep initially and when you wake up in the middle of the night. It is recommended that you practice this breathing regularly to increase its efficiency.
Step by Step Process:
- Place the tip of your tongue roof of your mouth where your gums and teeth meet
- Inhale through the nose for 4 seconds
- Hold breath for 7 seconds
- Exhale through your mouth for 7 seconds
- Repeat 4-8 times dependent upon regularity of practice.
Rory Parry, Content Manager at Sleep Authorities
Limit Your Caffeine Intake
If you find yourself wide awake after you get into bed, you’re not alone. Many of my patients struggle with this, and I tell them that one of the best things to do to fall asleep faster is to take a close look at caffeine intake throughout the day.
It’s a good idea to aim to drink caffeinated beverages such as coffee, tea, and soda early in the day, and cut yourself off around 2 p.m.
While caffeine’s great to perk you up when you hit that midday lull, it can also keep you up for longer when it’s time to head to bed.
I also tell my patients to try decaffeinated coffees, teas, or sodas. If you’re not ready to go all in on decaf, try half and half – half caffeine and half decaf.
Dr. Christopher Dietz, Physician and Area Medical Director at MedExpress Urgent Care
Spend Less Time in Bed
Many people who struggle with sleep spend too much time in bed in an attempt to get more sleep. This sounds logical — after all, if you spend more time in bed there is more opportunity for sleep.
Unfortunately allocating too much time for sleep usually means you end up going to bed before you are sleepy enough for sleep — and this means it will take a lot longer to fall asleep.
The amount of time you allot for sleep should be similar to your average nightly sleep duration. So, for example, if you typically get about six hours of sleep each night, it’s best not to allot much more than around six-and-a-half hours for sleep. When you know how much time you should be allocating for sleep, use this to create the earliest possible bedtime and a latest possible out of bedtime and keep this consistent every day.
This technique will reduce the amount of time you spend in bed awake and you will help build sleep drive during the day.
This will help you fall asleep faster and strengthen an association between the bed and sleep, making sleep more likely to occur each and every night.
Martin Reed, MEd, CHES®, CCSH, Founder of Insomnia Coach
Reverse Psychology for Sleep
One unconventional way to get to sleep quickly is to use reverse psychology on your brain. You can do this by intentionally trying to stay awake.
Laying in bed and trying to force sleep will typically cause you to become more stressed. Instead of continuing to lay in bed, get up and do some light stretches.
While you stretch, focus on staying awake. Try your best to take your mind off of falling asleep. You can also do this by reading.
When reading, you are forcing your mind to focus, which can cause you to naturally become tired. Soon enough, you’ll fall into a peaceful sleep.
Meg Riley, Certified Sleep Science Coach, and Editor-in-Chief at Sleep Junkie
There are many ways to go out like a light (instead of staying awake for hours). But in the end, it’s about trying and finding the technique that suits you best. We’re curious. What tactics do you use to go out like a light?