You probably already know that sleep is absolutely essential for good health. While you are asleep your body and mind have time to restore and recover.
But have you ever found yourself eyes wide open at 1 am unable to fall asleep? You toss and turn thinking about your work, your family, and your long to-do list for the next day. But the more stressed you are about trying to fall asleep, the harder it is to actually do it.
60% of adults report that they have trouble sleeping at least one night a week. People try home remedies, pills, teas, and prescription drugs to aid their sleep cycle. So it probably wouldn't surprise you to hear that sleep is a billion-dollar industry.
But before you contribute your hard-earned money to products that may not even work, read these strategies instead.
1. The Military Method
This is a strategy used by United States Navy pilots to help them fall asleep in less than two minutes. Here are the steps:
- Relax all the muscles in your face and inside your mouth, and your jaw
- Drop your shoulders releasing all tension. Let your hands fall to the side of your body
- Take one deep breath and as you exhale relax your chest
- Relax the muscles in your legs starting with the thighs all the way down to your calves
- Clear your mind for 10 seconds while you imagine peaceful, relaxing scenery
- Repeat a calming mantra for 10 seconds
- Fall asleep!
2. The 4-7-8 Breathing Technique
This breathing technique is designed to use mediation and relaxation techniques together. First, press the tip of your tongue against the roof of your mouth behind your front teeth. Keep that position throughout the next steps:
- Allow your lips to part and breathe audibly as you exhale
- Close your lips and inhale through the nose. Count to 4 in your head.
- Hold your breath for 7 seconds
- Exhale audibly for 8 seconds
- Stay mindful and focus on your breath as you start another cycle
- Complete this cycle 4 to 5 times
- Fall asleep!
3. Progressive Relaxation
Progressive relaxation or progressive muscle relaxation is a process of tensing each muscle and then releasing the tension. Here's how it works:
- Inhale and contract one muscle group for 5 seconds (start with the muscles in your face all the way down to your toes)
- Exhale and release the tension of that muscle group
- Relax for 10 to 15 seconds and then move to the next muscle group
- As you tighten and release focus on how you feel and imagine the stress being released from your body
- Gradually work your way through every muscle group
- Fall asleep!
A Few Other Tips
If these strategies don't work you may need to adjust other lifestyle behaviors to get better sleep. You can try to establish a consistent bedtime routine and avoid technology for at least 30 minutes before you go to bed. Exercising regularly can also promote healthy sleep and a proper circadian rhythm.
What do you have to lose? Try these techniques and sleep better tonight!