Bad sleeper? Join the club.
If, like me, you have trouble falling asleep and staying asleep, try coaxing yourself into a sound slumber with one of these methods that sound a little wacky but have the backing of experts.
Take it from a light sleeper who’s tried everything: these are the tricks that actually work.
The 4-7-8 method is a breathing technique designed to help you fall asleep in less than a minute (tried and tested: it gets results). It works by increasing the amount of oxygen in your blood stream, slowing your heart rate down and releasing more carbon dioxide from your lungs. How do you do it? Place the tip of your tongue just behind your upper front teeth (keep it there) and exhale completely through your mouth. Close your mouth and inhale for four seconds, hold your breath for seven seconds and then exhale for eight. Repeat until you fall asleep! You’ll be lucky to make it through five repetitions.
Reverse Psychology Method
If you have trouble sleeping, you’re likely laying in bed feeling anxious about falling asleep, which in turn makes you more anxious. Before you know it, you’re in a never-ending cycle of anxiety. The reverse psychology method actually challenges you to stay awake and keep your eyes wide open. Compelling yourself to stay awake creates a “paradoxical intention” which, studies show, helps you fall asleep more easily and results in less sleep performance anxiety.
Cold Water Method
If it’s anxiety or extreme stress that’s stopping you from sleeping, sometimes all you need is a face full of cold water to help you calm your nervous system down. Do this by submerging your face in a bowl of super-cold water. Crazy, we know, but the cold triggers an involuntary reaction called the Mammalian Dive Reflex, which helps to slow the metabolism, lower your heart rate and blood pressure. Head to bed feeling relaxed (and maybe just a little chilled).
Get Up And Do Something
Woke up in the middle of the night and can’t get back to sleep? Who hasn’t? Professor Richard Wiseman, professor for the Public Understanding of Psychology at the University of Hertfordshire, suggests getting out of bed and doing something that requires your head and hands for ten minutes. The key is to avoid associating your bed with being awake. This is what’s known as a ‘stimulus control theory’. Your body needs to associate lying in bed with going to sleep not a place to worry, eat, think or watch TV. So before you open that laptop to binge on Netflix, haul your butt outta bed and go do something!
Rewind Your Day
Ever tried to remember every single thing you did in the day? It’s tough right? Now try doing it in reverse. Remembering every mundane detail of your day in reverse order clears your mind of worries. Try and recall all the positive moments from your day, from conversations and sights and sounds, right down to the mundane specifics such as a text message from a friend. This helps you to reach a mental state that’s ready for sleep and shifts your brain to the prefrontal cortex which in turn, makes you feel more calm and happy.
Give Yourself Acupressure
A derivative of acupuncture, acupressure is a form of alternative therapy where manual pressure is used to stimulate specific points on the body in relation to your lines of energy. Pressing on these points is thought to restore balance and regulate your mind, body and spirit. There’s a few different points you can try to help you fall asleep faster. The first is between your eyebrows. There’s a small depression between your eyes, at the top of your nose. Gently apply pressure to that spot for a minute and you should feel yourself gradually relax. If that doesn’t work… between your first and second toes, on the top of the foot there’s a small depression. Press that area for a few minutes until you feel a dull ache. And finally, try massaging both of your ears for a minute and voilà! You should be well on your way to snoozeville.
Practice Progressive Relaxtion
Relaxing all your muscles can help to prepare your body for sleep. Who would have thought, right?! When you hit the sack and can’t sleep, why not try a progressive relaxation technique? Try curling your toes tightly for a count of seven and then relax. On another slow breath, curl your foot up toward your knee, then release. Repeat all the way up your body, through your calf muscles, then your thighs, buttocks, belly, chest, arms etc. until you’ve moved all the way up your body. By concentrating on squeezing and releasing each muscle one by one, you should feel your entire body relax enough to drift off into a sound slumber.