If you have some sleep patterns problems, you know how exhausting it may be to search for practical solutions! Don't suffer from sorting out all the options. I tried the most working methods for you, and here are my results.
For several months I'd been suffering from insomnia. I went to bed at 9–10 p.m. and fell asleep only by 1 a.m. If I tried to fall asleep at least at 11 p.m., later I woke up just in the middle of the night and could not catch off until the morning. Insomnia greatly harmed my productivity.
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In fact, I may have a period of bad sleep a couple of times a year. Now I'm not considering those cases when I knock down sleep patterns by myself. No, here we're talking about insomnia as an organic distractor: from a disturbed biorhythm1G. Barbato (2021, December). REM Sleep: An Unknown Indicator of Sleep Quality. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. DOI:10.3390/ijerph182412976 to other physiological issues.
Anyway, I decided to try all the most recommended practices to find the best way of how to fall asleep easier. This included breathing exercises and meditation, stretching and soothing music, etc. Let's look at everything in detail.
I've started my fast sleep experiment with relaxing music. Isn't it the most obvious way to beat insomnia? And my answer is - yes, it is!
Granted, music is one of the best insomnia cures. It can inspire and turn on the fantasy, improve your brain activity and reduce anxiety. Just pick up a soothing melody!
Scientists have proven2M. J. Cordi, S. Ackermann, B. Rasch (2019, January). Effects of Relaxing Music on Healthy Sleep. Scientific reports. DOI:10.1038/s41598-019-45608-y that the most beneficial effect on your brain will be the sounds of nature or classical music. But personally, I'm not a big fan of such playlists and found another solution.
In addition to the classics, there are also contemporary performers whose music has an extremely calming effect. On my personal list are Enya and Coldplay. In their albums, you can easily find a piece that takes you to the shores of pleasure. I alternated their compositions with Mozart and forest sounds.
Fall asleep in: 15 minutes.
I was trying the most common options on the internet, such as 4-7-8 breathing, diaphragmatic breathing, and box breathing.
They're all very easy to perform. That's why they've become my favorites lately.
There is nothing complicated in this technique, except for the correct calculation. I did the exercise lying on my back, but you can practice it while sitting. So here are my instructions:
I recommend you use the 4-7-8 method to de-stress or calm down at any time of the day, not just before bed. The more consistently you do this technique - the better it works!
In this technique, everything is as simple as possible. You only need to count up to 4 to get it right. I used this method when I didn't have the strength to strain my brain at the end of the day. So, follow the next steps:
If none of the previous methods worked for you, my recommendation would be diaphragmatic breathing. Doctors say this method involves the entire volume of the lungs. It dramatically improves their natural ventilation.
My instruction for correct performance is:
I must say this particular technique has become my favorite due to its simplicity. I was asleep in a few minutes when I got to this way of breathing.
Yes, I will make a reservation that, at first, I breathed according to the 4-7-8 and box breathing methods. But diaphragmatic breathing softened the body in one more different way. My guess here is the complete removal of muscle tension!
Fall asleep in: 20 minutes.
Every morning I usually wake up sprawled all over the bed. But I fall asleep in a particular position. Why, then, does the body turn into bizarre poses during the night, pulling all the blankets in different directions?
Usually, the body involuntarily turns in a way that suits it. But there are the most comfortable sleeping positions so that all organs are maximally satisfied.
I tried sleeping on my back, on my side, and on my stomach for several days. To my surprise, best of all, I fell asleep on my back.
Later I read about this topic: the back position is the most comfortable and natural for your body. First of all, it relaxes facial muscles and smoothes the skin. Secondly, it relieves stress on the muscles of the back and spine. And finally, the pressure on the stomach is minimal, which helps regulate the acidity.
Fall asleep in: 15 minutes.
Aromatherapy is another option for falling asleep quickly3E. Karadag, S. Samancioglu, D. Ozden, et al. (2017, March). Effects of Aromatherapy on Sleep Quality and Anxiety of Patients. Nursing in Critical Care. DOI:10.1111/nicc.12198. To be honest, I've always been quite skeptical about this lifehack. But there are still some results.
The first few times, I wanted to look solely at the effect of aromatherapy on my nervous system. To do this, I took candles with the scents of lavender and roses and an aroma stick with the smell of chamomile. I put them one by one near the bed for several days, but there was no effect.
Then I changed my strategy and tried to combine it with music. And it worked much faster than I expected! I fell asleep almost instantly.
So if you choose to let incense into your bedroom, remember that this method works best in combination. Also, be careful and do not forget to put out the candles before sleeping. Fire safety is not a toy!
Fall asleep in: 10 minutes (with music).
It's time to sort out the temperature in my bedroom. Findings suggest4O. Chimed-Ochir, S. Ando, S. Murakami, et al. (2021, November). Perception of Feeling Cold in the Bedroom and Sleep. Quality Nagoya Journal of Medical Science. DOI:10.18999/nagjms.83.4.705 keeping the bedroom thermal environment above a minimum limit as the World Health Organization recommended - a bit higher than 18 °C (64 °F).
I tried setting the temperature to 20 °C (68 °F) an hour before bedtime. I didn't think it would help much, but surprisingly, I felt much more comfortable getting into bed.
Again, I recommend doing something else besides setting the temperature. I couldn't sleep for hours until I combined this method with breathing techniques and music.
Fall asleep in: 20 minutes (with diaphragmatic breathing and music).
Have you ever scolded yourself for not finishing a book because you started to nod off? Don't worry, you are not alone. Turn this factor to your advantage. The book is a great hack as good as the sheep counting.
I chose to read novels that I gave up after 3 pages. There is no better remedy for insomnia, I tell you for sure!
Fall asleep in: 25 minutes.
Moderate exercise creates physical fatigue. Therefore, regular workouts contribute to sound and quality sleep5P.-Y. Yang, K.-H. Ho, H.-C. Chen, et al. (2012). Exercise Training Improves Sleep Quality in Middle-Aged and Older Adults with Sleep Problems: a Systematic Review. Journal of Physiotherapy. DOI:10.1016/s1836-9553(12)70106-6.
Yet, you can talk a lot on this topic, but, unfortunately, not all of us have the willpower to work out during the day. And many do not correlate regular training with healthy sleep. However, these are two sides of the same coin.
In my experiment, I tried easy-to-do workouts like walking and stretching. Every day I'd been spending at least an hour in the fresh air, walking. And in the morning, I'd been stretching my whole body for at least 15 minutes.
One week into my new routine, I realized I had stopped tossing until midnight. I think the training had the strongest effect.
It's hard to stay awake for a long time when the body has received a dose of fatigue in a day. Moreover, if you make it a habit, you won't have to overload and exhaust yourself in pursuit of a goal.
Fall asleep in: 8 minutes.
Melatonin helps regulate sleep and wake patterns6S. R. Lewis, M. W. Pritchard, O. J. Schofield‐Robinson, et al. (2018, May 10). Melatonin for the Promotion of Sleep in Adults in the Intensive Care Unit. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. DOI:10.1002/14651858.CD012455.pub2, so these kinds of supplements can help if you have severe problems with catching off.
Basically, it's just a set of soothing herbs and the active ingredient - melatonin. It acts quickly enough, although it isn't a full-fledged sleeping pill.
Fall asleep in: 8-10 minutes.
Warning: For safety reasons, don't take melatonin during pregnancy, lactation, and allergies. Best of all, before starting the course, consult your doctor.
We come to a nice item on the list: meditation. In this case, melatonin is a secret ingredient as well. Its active release occurs especially frequently during the last phases of meditation.
Mandatory conditions for meditation are:
You need to imagine how the energy penetrates the skin and revitalizes the body, clearing the mind. As you exhale, try to let go of the thoughts bothering you.
Sometimes, I practice Surya-namaskar yoga which ends with a meditation. For me, this method is effective since workouts promote even posture and go well with more relaxing activities.
Fall asleep in: 15 minutes.
So, it's time to conclude. Perhaps, in terms of effectiveness, I will put aromatherapy and thermoregulation in last place. They are good only in combination.
The winners of the best hacks for maximizing your zzz's are physical activity and meditation. Especially in this order - they are generally becoming a super sleep aid.
One of the biggest takeaways from my analysis is that my body clock definitely can work well. Actually, it's a rule: you set it up - disruptions disappear, and you sleep like a baby!
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