We have talked many times about how to fall asleep fast, what to do before bed, what to avoid doing before bedtime, different sleeping personalities etc. etc. However, we haven’t been able to talk yet about totally natural, almost psychological ways to trick your body and mind into sleeping, and that is what we are going to talk about in this article.
As some studies have shown, the main, almost only cause of sleeplessness and thus insomnia or sleep deprivation is anxiety. Whether it is caused by work, school, family issues or any other reason, anxiety is what keeps you awake and tossing in your bed all night. And what is worse is that the less you sleep, and the more anxious you get, which throws you within an endless loop that results in more and more anxiety as well as less and less sleep.
So how do you overcome that? Especially since all those tips involving not drinking caffeine or sleeping on the most comfortable memory foam mattress in the whole universe won’t necessarily help you?
Well here are some scientifically-approved hacks involving playing some tricks on your brain to get yourself the amount of sleep and peace you need and you deserve in your life.
Main Psychological Tricks to Fall Asleep
Don’t let yourself fall asleep
Trying to prevent yourself from sleeping when that is the last thing you would ever think about is what makes this method so powerful. It is called reverse psychology, a very popular method in the world of psychology. It has been shown that people who are forced to stay awake on their bed actually sleep way faster than those who are ordered to fall asleep as soon as their back hits their mattress. And that is because forcing your brain to do something and trying to control to make it shut down and fall asleep is very counterproductive as the energy and thoughts you use to control your brain are what makes it stay awake. So better let go of telling your brain what to do and allowing yourself to stay awake in your bed: that will make you fall asleep.
Don’t look at your clock
This is a basic, almost intuitive one. As you keep staring at your ceiling without feeling your eyelids getting heavy when they should, you start feeling slightly anxious. But then you turn on your side and you take a look at the clock and that anxious feeling spikes up: it is already 3AM and I am still wide awake when I should already be dead asleep.
But as we said, the more anxious you feel, and the less likely you are to fall asleep. So rather than checking the time every two seconds, get rid of your clock and prevent yourself from looking at any time indicator. That will for sure help reducing your anxiety.
Splash your face with cold water during a brief moment
When you are anxious and cannot sleep, a good way to soothe down the anxiety naturally would be by splashing your face with cold, freezing water. What happens is that, as you get anxious, your blood pressure rises and your heartbeat increases; your body is in its fight-or-flight mood. A good way to calm it down would be by immersing your face in cold water as that shuts down your fight-or-flight answer. Like that, your heartbeat and breathing get back to normal, and you can go back to bed.
Leave your bedroom for a while
Waking up in the middle of the night is much more common than you would think. However, when some people manage to get back to sleep in less than 5 minutes, others end up completely awake and everything but sleepy. When that happens to you, get up and leave your bedroom for a while. While making sure not to approach any device emitting blue light, make yourself busy and spend some time playing sudoku or reading a book. As time passes, your brain will less and less associate your bed with not being able to fall asleep. As you get into the habit of laying in your bed only to sleep (or have sex), your brain will no longer associate your bed with sleeplessness, and that is how you save yourself from worries and lost hours in your bedroom.
Sounds weird? It is though highly effective. All you have to do is get yourself a bottle of bubbles and get into your bed. While laying down, take out your bubble bottle and start blowing bubbles in your room.
This will have a double effect on your brain: first of all, staring at bubble can be pretty calming; second of all, blowing the bubbles is similar to the deep breathing method, as you get outside breaths coming from deep within your core , which relaxes you tremendously. Besides, as you blow bubbles, you will probably have too much fun to think about anxiety-inducing things.
Close your eyes and imagine where you would want to be the most
In order to get your mind off your worries about sleep, it is quite effective to picture the place you would want to be the most. While you imagine that scene unfolding behind your closed lids, your brain gets distracted, and instead of making your body uptight and tense out of anxiety, it instead makes you drift off to sleep.
Lower your room’s temperature
Another way to trick your mind to get your body ready to sleep is to make your temperature drop before getting in bed. Because when you fall asleep, your core temperature lowers significantly, which has an influence on your biological clock.
A great way to lower your temperature is by cooling down your room, of course.
Another way to do that is by taking a hot, steamy shower so that when you step in your room that is cooler, your body temperature will get lower fast, which basically tells your mind that you are ready for sleep. Moreover, a hot shower is a good way for you to relax, and to incorporate into your daily nightly routine. Routines are also a good trick for your brain as they make your mind go « oh this person’s doing that stuff they always do before getting to bed, which means it is time to make them sleepy ».
Try a breathing method
Breathing method are very popular when it comes to either calming your body down or getting to sleep. Its high effectiveness has been shown through several experiments. Basically, this deep breathing method consists in making slow your heartbeat down, and get enough oxygen to get you dozing off to sleep.
There is a specific way to do this, which you can achieve by following these steps:
- Keep your tongue against your palate
- Start by exhaling profoundly, until you can hear your breathe getting out of your system
- Put your hands on your belly, and feel it rising while you inhale through your nose during 4 seconds
- Hold your breath while counting from 1 to 7
- Exhale loudly through your mouth while counting from 1 to 8
- Repeat until you fall asleep
Just like the breathing method, muscle relaxation is another way to trick your brain while laying down in your bed by focusing all of your thoughts on your muscles. It is called muscle relaxation because it consists in making your muscles tense then loosing them up several times until you relax enough to fall asleep.
In order to do this, all you gotta do is to tense then relax your muscles starting from those at your toes and feet to those at your neck. You can do the opposite as well, of course.
Just make sure to focus your mind on the part of your body that you are working on, tense the muscles for 5 seconds then let them relax.
The thing is that, while you do that, not only do you relax your body but you also take your mind off problems and worries, which enables to fall asleep fast.
Don’t Count Sheep
Contrary to popular belief, counting sheep is not recommended as a sleep aid anymore. According to a study done in 2010, you should focus on relaxing images rather than counting sheep if you want to fall asleep in quick time.
Try lavender oil
This is another way to trick your brain into thinking that you are ready to fall asleep. All you have to do is put some lavender essential oil on your wrist and temple every night when you are about to go to bed, until your brain starts associating the scent of lavender to sleep. On top of that, as we have seen in another article about essential oils, lavender will naturally soothe you down and help you relax. So why not try this very natural way?