Sleep fast and peacefully
Author: Christal Yuen
This practice is said to even work for people who need to sleep sitting up!
Table of Contents
The military method
- Relax your entire face, including the muscles inside your mouth.
- Drop your shoulders to release the tension and let your hands drop to the side of your body.
- Exhale, relaxing your chest.
- Relax your legs, thighs, and calves.
- Clear your mind for 10 seconds by imagining a relaxing scene.
- If this doesn’t work, try saying the words “don’t think” over and over for 10 seconds.
- Within 10 seconds, you should fall asleep!
4-7-8 breathing method
Mixing together the powers of meditation and visualization, this breathing method becomes more effective with practice.
To prepare, place the tip of your tongue against the roof of your mouth, behind your two front teeth. Keep your tongue there the whole time and purse your lips if you need to.
How to do one cycle of 4-7-8 breathing:
- Let your lips part slightly and make a whooshing sound as you exhale through your mouth.
- Then close your lips and inhale silently through your nose. Count to 4 in your head.
- Then hold your breath for 7 seconds.
- After, exhale (with a whoosh sound) for 8 seconds.
- Avoid being too alert at the end of each cycle. Try to practice it mindlessly.
- Complete this cycle for four full breaths. Let your body sleep if you feel relaxation coming on earlier than anticipated.
Progressive muscle relaxation (PMR)
Progressive muscle relaxation, also known as deep muscle relaxation, helps you unwind.
The premise is to tense — but not strain — your muscles and relax to release the tension. This movement promotes tranquility throughout your body. It’s a trick recommended to help with insomnia.
Before you start, try practicing the 4-7-8 method while imagining the tension leaving your body as you exhale.
- Raise your eyebrows as high as possible for 5 seconds. This will tighten your forehead muscles.
- Relax your muscles immediately and feel the tension drop. Wait 10 seconds.
- Smile widely to create tension in your cheeks. Hold for 5 seconds. Relax.
- Pause 10 seconds.
- Squint with your eyes shut. Hold 5 seconds. Relax.
- Pause 10 seconds.
- Tilt your head slightly back so you’re comfortably looking at the ceiling. Hold 5 seconds. Relax as your neck sinks back into the pillow.
- Pause 10 seconds.
- Keep moving down the rest of the body, from your triceps to chest, thighs to feet.
- Let yourself fall asleep, even if you don’t finish tensing and relaxing the rest of your body.
Visualize a calm place
If counting activates your mind too much, try engaging your imagination.
Some say that visualizing something can make it real, and it’s possible this works with sleep, too.
In a 2002 study from the University of Oxford, researchers found that people who engaged in “imagery distraction” fell asleep faster than those who had general distraction or no instructions.
- Instead of counting sheep, try to imagine a serene setting and all the feelings that go with it. For example, you can imagine a waterfall, the sounds of echoing, rushing water, and the scent of damp moss. The key is to let this image take up space in your brain to prevent yourself from “re-engaging with thoughts, worries, and concerns” pre-sleep.
Prepare yourself fully before tackling these techniques
If you’ve tried these methods and are still finding yourself unable to fall asleep in two minutes or less, see if there are other tips you can take to make your bedroom a more sleep-friendly place.
Have you tried…
- hiding your clock
- taking a warm shower before bed
- opening the window to keep your room cool
- wearing socks
- a gentle 15-min yoga routine
- placing your phone far away from your bed
- aromatherapy (lavender, chamomile, or clary sage)
- eating earlier to avoid stomach digestion or stimulation before bed
If you find the atmosphere in your room to be damaging to your sleep, there are tools you can use to block out the noise. Literally.
Try investing in blackout curtains, white noise machines (or listening to music with an auto-stop timer), and ear plugs.
On the other hand, sleep hygiene, or clean sleep, is real and effective.
Before you truly take on the military method or 4-7-8 breathing, see what you can optimize to your bedroom for soundless slumber.