Ah, you've done it again. You were meant to hit the sack hours ago but you couldn't stop binge-watching Netflix, checking your emails and/or catching up on housework. Or maybe you just couldn't say no to that evening caffeine fix and now you're tossing and turning, with your precious sleep window slowly closing. Whatever the reason, time is running out for you to get a good night’s sleep and tomorrow morning will pay for it.
We understand that getting enough sleep each night is serious business, which is why we turned to science to round up 5 proven ways that you can catch those zzz’s faster than ever. Study them today, practice them tonight, and wake up refreshed tomorrow.
It may sound ironic but one of the best ways to fall asleep is by trying not to, according to a study by the University of Glasgow. The study found that insomniacs who laid in bed and tried to stay awake with their eyes open fell asleep faster and became less anxious about sleep than participants who didn't consciously try to stay awake.
If this method doesn’t work for you, try getting out of bed and doing something for 5-10 minutes, like walking around the house or colouring. Performing a non-sleep related activity can help you feel less anxious about sleep so you return to bed calmer and more relaxed.
Ever feel like your mind knows it's time for bed, but your body's on another planet? To get the two in sync, have a warm shower or bath before bed. Studies have shown that moving from the warm water to cooler air results in temperature fluctuations that prepare the body for sleep. As a bonus, warm showers and baths also relax your joints and muscles and improve your circulation, which makes for a more effective sleep.
If you take your socks off before climbing into bed, then you’re doing it all wrong. A Swiss study found that nothing brings on sleep quicker than warm hands and feet. The study had participants place a hot water bottle at their feet which resulted in shifting blood from their core to their extremities to cool down their body. Like our shower example above, this temperature shift helps prepare the body for sleep, but don’t feel obliged to bring a hot water bottle to bed every night. Wearing socks can have a similar effect.
Everyone has a fear of sleeping through their alarm and being late for work, but the habit of checking your clock, phone or watch when you wake up throughout the night could be depriving you of previous sleep, according to Dr. Nathaniel F. Watson, president of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. Dr. Watson says that checking the time results in worrying about how much time you have left until you wake, creating anxiety that keeps you up even longer. To prevent this, turn over any devices that display the time and practice some relaxation methods before you fall asleep to help calm your mind, like listening to classical music, practicing some yoga poses or even blowing bubbles.
Finally, if you’re intent on passing out the second you hit the pillow, try the famous 4-7-8 breathing exercise developed by Dr. Weil to help with everything from reducing tension and stress to killing food cravings. Best of all, it’s renowned for inducing sleep within just 60 seconds! According to Dr. Weil, it works by allowing the lungs to become fully charged with air, allowing more oxygen into the body which promotes a calm state. Here are his official instructions:
1. Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound.
2. Close your mouth and inhale quietly through your nose to a mental count of four.
3. Hold your breath for a count of seven.
4. Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound to a count of eight.
5. This is one breath.
Now inhale again and repeat the cycle three more times for a total of four breaths.
Ready to try one of these methods out?
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