It’s 2:00 a.m. and I’m staring at the ceiling, fully awake. I close my eyes for the 50th time, repeating a mantra in my head: This time I will sleep. This time I will sleep.
Opening one eyelid, I squint at the digital numbers on my bedside clock and mentally calculate how much sleep I will get if I fall asleep now. Realizing I am no closer to sleep, I get more nervous and kiss goodbye any chances I had for a restful night.
So, what exactly happens there? Why are these nightmarish situations recurring? Have you ever intentionally watched how you take care of yourself or how you undermine your chances to live a healthy, happy life?
Roughly 45 percent of Americans report poor or insufficient sleep. Almost half of us are repeating the nightly ritual I detailed above. While there may possibly be medical reasons many aren’t sleeping, oftentimes, it’s our daily choices which interfere with the coveted shut-eye. Below are four major areas to mindfully alter if you want to fall blissfully (and quickly) asleep.
4 Hacks To Help You Fall Asleep In Under 15 Minutes
By: Alex Moore
Hack Your Daytime Routine
Studies have found that exercise improves, significantly, the sleep of those with chronic insomnia. They’ve also found that a moderate-intensity workout shortened the time it took to fall asleep. Hit the pavement for just 5 minutes of sprint-running and you’re headed for a peaceful night.
Get a shot of sun
Getting outside in the bright sunlight also positively affects how quickly we fall asleep. According to Dan Pardi, a researcher with the Behavioral Sciences Department at Stanford University, “we’re not getting enough bright light exposure during the day, and then in the evening, we’re getting too much artificial light exposure.”
He says it throws off our circadian rhythms, the pattern in which our brains wake and sleep in connection with the sun rising and setting. Fresh air is my favorite of all these sleeping hacks. There’s nothing like the feeling of falling into bed after a day in the sun.
Eating certain foods before bed are a sure-fire way to keep yourself counting sheep until the wee hours of the morning. Alcohol and caffeine are two of the most well-known culprits to affect your slumber. While it may seem that you fall asleep more quickly after drinking alcohol, it will be an interrupted sleep with many periods of waking. Caffeine can act as a stimulant up to six hours before hitting the sheets, so a good rule of thumb is to limit your caffeine intake to the morning hours.
Hack Your Bedtime Routine
No social media
Many (most) nights, I end my day by sitting in bed perusing Facebook on my phone, checking e-mails, and watching YouTube videos. I am literally stimulating my brain until the very last second before I close my eyes. This is not exactly the way to wind down before bed.
A warm shower
If you make just a few changes to your nighttime routine, you will see a significant improvement in how quickly you fall asleep. Taking a warm shower at the same time every night can be an effective way to signal your brain to begin powering down.
Meditate or read something soothing
Reading a book or meditating for 15 minutes before bedtime eases your mind into a state of calm and relaxation. Let go of any stress you may be holding onto that may hinder your sleep.
Use the 4-7-8 breathing technique to improve your oxygen intake. This technique consists of breathing in for the count of four, holding for a seven-count and exhaling for an eight-count. Repeat this technique four times and you’ll be snoozing in no time.
Hack Your Environment
Make your room brisk
The temperature of the bedroom is a major factor in quality sleep. This article from Sleep.org claims that the ideal sleeping temperature is between 60-67 degrees Fahrenheit. Your body temp needs to drop to achieve optimal sleep, and a too-warm room will keep you tossing and turning all night long.
No blue or green digital alarm clocks
Artificial light is another reason you could be struggling to drift quickly off. If you have a digital alarm clock on your bedside table, make sure you choose one with red lighting. An amber hue will not disturb your sleeping patterns like a blue or green color will. In this same vein, cover all blue/green lights from power cords or electronics with black electrical tape.
Hack Your Bed
Correct your sleeping position
Mattresses can be solely responsible for why you are a chronic insomniac.
Michael Decker, PhD, RN, associate professor at Georgia State University, and spokesman for the American Academy of Sleep Medicine says, “When you lie on any part of your body for an extended period of time, the weight of it reduces the flow of blood through those blood vessels, which deprives the skin of oxygen and nutrients.”
Your brain responds by sending a signal to have you roll over, but this disrupts your sleep.
Change your bed setting
With a great mattress, you reduce the pressure on your body and stay asleep longer. Do your research to find the right mattress for you. If you only sleep on your side, you will want to find what kind of mattress is best for side sleepers. Get this right and you’ll improve the amount of quality snoozing you’ll get each night.
If you’re like me, you’re so tired of being tired! Nurturing ourselves the best we can is a duty to the inner person handling all the hard work in there. Who else should we first rely on, if not our own selves?
Once we start taking more care of ourselves, we open the gates to more happiness. And sleeping well is quite the essential ingredient to our happiness.
So, let’s all try a few of these sleeping hacks to transform how we go to bed. Nip that tossing and turning in the bud and say hello to a new normal of restful nights and energetic days!
Do you have any tricks to help you fall asleep quickly? Share with us in the comments!
Alex Moore of the SewingMachineJudge is a business major who has figured out the immense value of thrifting and DIY-ing.
He writes about it on every occasion he finds, guest blogging for several online magazines. Find more about Alex on Twitter.
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