No one can deny the power of a good night’s sleep. You wake up feeling refreshed, rejuvenated, and ready to tackle anything that might come your way.
But for all its benefits, getting better sleep is easier said than done.
The 2020 Puffy Sleep Survey found that 59% of respondents lock in less than 6 hours of sleep per night, which is far below the recommended average of 8.
Sleep is essential for overall physical and mental health and it’s necessary to do it right before you hit rock bottom and face the dangerous consequences of sleep deprivation.
Getting better sleep might seem like an impossible goal, especially if you’re prone to tossing and turning as soon as the lights are out, but there are some effective ways to catch quality z’s.
Next time you find yourself lying awake, try these tips to fall asleep quicker:
1. The Military Sleep Technique
The military sleep technique is used by the U.S. Army to help soldiers get better sleep even when they’re in less than optimal conditions.
The method, which was first described in the 1981 book Relax and Win: Championship Performance by Lloyd Bud Winter, is meant to help soldiers fall asleep within two minutes.
After six weeks of practice, almost all soldiers were able to fall asleep in under two minutes. Here’s how it works.
- Fully relax your facial muscles by tightening them first and letting them loosen naturally.
- Lower your shoulders as far down as you can and relax your arms.
- Focus on the sounds of your breath as you breathe in and out. As you breathe, let the other muscles in your body relax, starting from your chest and going all the down to your legs. By this point, you shouldn’t be holding any tension in your body.
- Keep your body relaxed and spend 10 seconds trying to clear your mind.
- If the thoughts keep coming, envision a relaxing scenario. It can be anything as long as it’s something that puts you at peace. In case the visualization doesn’t work, chant “don’t think, don’t think, don’t think” for 10 seconds instead.
The technique might take some getting used to, but after a few weeks of consistent practice, you may find that you’re able to get better sleep in as little as two minutes.
2. The 4-7-8 Breathing Method
Advocates claim the 4-7-8 breathing technique can help you fall asleep within a minute. But in addition to getting better sleep, breathing techniques are a great way to manage anxiety and stress.
This method is beneficial because most people unconsciously hold their breaths during the day, which causes tension.
The breathing technique is as straightforward as it sounds. You inhale for four seconds, hold your breath for seven seconds, and exhale for eight seconds.
For best results, do it twice a day and repeat the pattern four times.
If you’re unable to hold your breath for that long when you’re starting out, try to practice it in smaller increments.
The alternative pattern is breathing in for 2 seconds, holding the breath for 3.5 seconds, and exhaling for 4 seconds.
3. Try Reverse Psychology
There might be nights when nothing works, and you just can’t bring yourself to fall asleep. The worst part is that the more you force yourself to fall asleep, the longer you stay awake.
During those instances, the best thing might just be to try some reverse psychology on yourself and force yourself to stay awake instead.
It might sound counterintuitive, especially when you’re trying to get better sleep, but attempting to stay awake could help you doze off faster.
This is known as paradoxical intention, and it works by reducing any performance anxiety you may have about falling asleep.
Get a Good Night’s Sleep
Sleepless nights are a common problem, but the good night’s sleep you’ve been craving is well within your reach.
Follow these simple steps and practice healthy sleep hygiene habits as a starting point.
While these techniques may help, they’re not a verified cure for chronic insomnia. If you struggle to get a good night’s sleep on a regular basis, consider consulting a medical professional.