This article was last updated on September 5, 2017
Are you tired of counting sheep? Does the taste of warm milk make you cringe? Everybody knows a trick or two to fall asleep, but most of them aren’t nearly as effective as they should be. Sleep is one of the most important factors in maintaining your health (and a good mood, too). Don’t leave it up to chance. In fact, developing a healthy sleep routine should be one of the lessons learned in life as early as possible. Don’t you wish you could learn how to make yourself fall asleep instantly? We’re positive that one of these methods below will teach you an effective new answer for how to force yourself to sleep. Don’t let the incredible benefits of good sleep become an unfulfilled dream–you can achieve anything with the right tools and practice.
6 Techniques to Force Yourself to Sleep
Inhaling Through the Left Nostril
This is a yoga technique that’s used to promote calmness and reduce blood pressure. To perform this technique, lay down on the left side of your body. Rest your index finger lightly upon your right nostril to hold it closed, then inhale deeply through your left nostril. This method is especially helpful when you’re feeling overheated, or you’re coping with menopausal hot flashes. This is one of many breathing techniques suggested by Andrew Weil, M.D. on his website.
Trying to Stay Awake Instead
It might sound counter-intuitive, but there’s good science behind this technique. When you’re having trouble getting to sleep quickly, your body sends signals to your brain that something is wrong. This was a useful reaction earlier in our human evolution, when it alerted us to potential dangers and/or illness, but when it’s preventing a good night’s sleep it’s downright annoying. The method is simple: keep your eyes open wide, and repeat to yourself some variation of the phrase “I will not go to sleep! The funny thing about your brain is that it doesn’t really understand how to process negative requests. To illustrate this, let’s perform a simple exercise:
Don’t think about hamburgers and french fries. What came to your mind just then? I’m willing to bet that it was a juicy hamburger and some tasty fresh-out-of-the-oil french fries (apologies to any vegans who are reading this list of suggestions for how to make yourself fall asleep instantly). This technique, and techniques like it, are actually so common now that there’s a name for the phenomenon: ironic process theory. Think of the “trying to stay awake” method as reverse psychology for your own brain. Or…don’t think of it that way–whichever works best for you!
Squeeze & Release
Tension and stress in your muscles create conditions that make it nearly impossible for your body to sleep. The Sleep Foundation lists physical and mental stress as one of the most common causes of insomnia. One way to relieve this tension is to lay on your back, breath slowly and deeply through your nose, then squeeze your toes as tightly as you can, then simply release the pressure. Now you can repeat this process, moving upward through the various muscles in your body–you should perform this squeeze & release technique even with muscles that don’t feel tense.
After you’ve squeezed and released your toes, do the same exercise with your calves, then your buttocks, then your abdominal muscles, and so on until you’ve worked your way up to the neck. For maximum effectiveness, throughout this technique, you should focus on maintaining steady, deep breaths.
Perform a “Rewind” of Your Day
Do you have a boring job? (It’s OK, you can be honest with us.) Even if you don’t, you probably at least have a few aspects of your job that nearly bore you to sleep. Wondering what this has to do with how to force yourself to sleep? You can use mundane mental tasks to put yourself to sleep. Here’s one that many sleep professionals recommend: once you’re in bed, close your eyes and begin methodically rewinding the events of the day, starting with the moments before you got in bed, rewinding as far as you can until you sleep. Try to remember as many minute details as you can. If you’re doing it right, you should be asleep before you can even rewind all the way back to lunch.
Let Your Imagination Run Wild
Visualizations are a powerful form of meditation, and a useful tool in the fight against sleepless nights. To make these meditations more realistic (and useful), you should try to imagine a variety of sensations, related to at least three different senses. Imagine, for example, that you’re walking through a forest: what does it smell like? What does the trail feel like under your feet? Is it a bright, sunny day, or is it a little chilly and overcast? See what we mean? You’re probably familiar with the idea of “going to a happy place”–it’s a useful visualization for stress relief, which also makes it an effective tool when it comes to how to force yourself to sleep. If visualizations aren’t your thing, Psychology Today recommends silent meditation techniques to calm the mind. Their article provides many useful resources for the sleep-deprived masses.
Hum Quietly to Yourself
Did you know that humming is a yogic technique? OK, granted this might not work too well if you share your bed, but if you’re flying solo, or if you have an understanding or earplug-owning significant other, humming is a powerful way to calm your body and relieve stress. Even if you can’t try this technique in bed, you can use it to unwind before bed somewhere you feel comfortable. You don’t need to hum a tune (in fact, you probably shouldn’t), just calmly sound a note. Keep your jaw relaxed and focus on the feeling of the breath that’s passing through your lips. Focus even on the source of this breath and this sound, deep in your diaphragm.
Action Steps To Take (Before Going to Bed)
While these methods are effective methods to promote restfulness in your mind and body, there are some steps you should take to make sure your body can sleep faster. If you follow these steps and find the right technique from the list above, we’re sure that you’ll never struggle your way to sleep again. If you’re having trouble instituting any of these changes, we recommend perusing some of these quotes about life and doing some soul-searching about your current situation.
Set a Bedtime for Yourself
It might sound silly to have a “bedtime” as an adult, but your body functions at its optimal level when you fall asleep before midnight and wake up relatively early. You don’t have to be extremely strict, but you should have a general guideline of when you need to sleep. If your schedule or your personal responsibilities can’t accommodate this, you need to do your best to get quality sleep in a dark environment.
Avoiding Screens and Bright Lights
You should avoid electronics and bright screens for at least a half-hour before you go to bed. Our bodies still haven’t adjusted to these technologies–bright lights still trigger a “daytime” response from our brains. Addictions to technology throw our dopamine cycle out of whack, hurting our ability to focus and stay present. Avoiding screen time at night one of the most effective ways to return to balance in the brain. If you have dimmer switches throughout your home, consider dimming the lights a little bit as it gets later. It sounds simple, but your brain can be easier to trick than you might think.
Avoid Your Bedroom
During the day, you shouldn’t spend much time in your bedroom. Your brain should associate your bedroom primarily with sleep.
Limit Caffeine and Alcohol Consumption
This should go without saying, but limit caffeinated beverages after noon or so. You also shouldn’t drink alcohol very frequently if you want quality sleep.
Don’t Eat Before Bed
The experts at Health recommend avoiding large meals before bed, but there are a few surprising foods they also recommend avoiding for a more restful sleep. Here are some foods they also recommend avoiding for a more restful sleep
We hope you found these techniques and tips useful in your quest to learn how to make yourself fall asleep instantly. If you have any questions, comments, or sleep techniques of your own, feel free to share them with us below! Thanks for reading.