How to Get to Sleep More Easily

by Art-Aspirations

Nothing is more frustrating than tossing and turning, waiting for sleep to finally take over. Try these suggestions for getting to sleep faster.

In our busy lives, we try to cram as much as we can into the evening and keep going until the last possible moment. We want to multi-task, get more done, be as productive as possible. We don't want to waste a minute. When we finally get into bed, our minds and hearts are still racing. It's no wonder we can't fall asleep.

I've given this problem a lot of thought, and have realized that there are ways that I can help myself get to sleep faster. They've worked for me. I'd like to share them with you, and I hope you find work for you too.

Start with a Cool Down

A while back I had a conversation with my massage therapist about my sleeping problems. She said, “Do you have a bedtime routine?” I had to admit that I was usually still trying to get things done ten minutes after I should have been in bed, then I mindlessly rushed through the must-dos, still thinking about the project I had been working on or making mental lists of what I needed to do tomorrow. 

Time to Get Ready to Sleep

I learned an important principle from this conversation. We need a transition interval, a slowing down that signals mind and body that the time to sleep is at hand. A nightly routine that focuses on nothing but getting ready for bed tells ourselves that it’s okay to put the duties of the day aside and move into the restoration of a good night’s sleep.

This time is a self-care blessing we can give to ourselves. We will have to be determined build it into our evening since “just one more thing” will always try to crowd it out.

So, half an hour before bedtime, start by getting a few of the physical chores out of the way – brush your teeth, wash your face. Notice how you approach these simple acts – fast and furious, full of tension, get it over with? Deliberately slow it down. There’s no rush now. This is your time, so take it easy. Why are we in such a hurry with these simple tasks? Is it because of a restless mind, still full of the thoughts and images of the past few hours or the ones ahead tomorrow? It is so important to calm your mind. Is your breathing shallow? Slow it down, breathe deeply. Feel the yourself settle down. At first this will be difficult, but that’s the whole point of making it a routine. Everything is easier once it’s a habit.

Forget the News

There’s a direct relationship between watching the news before bed, and trouble going to sleep. That should be no surprise. The news is full of things to worry about. Reporters search far and wide to bring you these stories, and its way more than any one person should have to deal with. In older times, folks had the cares of a village on their shoulders. Now we have the cares of the whole world. So many disturbing stories and images! Too much information! Grief, sorrow, horror, frustration, helplessness, anger, shock, fear. Of course these emotions are going to keep us from sleeping. So make a point of not watching the news before you go to bed – save it for morning or catch the six o’clock report.

Enjoy the Calming Time

Before you get into bed, try a little gentle stretching. Do not exercise! Just a nice full body stretch or two, just like a cat would do. Ease the tension in your muscles, feel them lengthen and relax. Breathe deeply as you do.

Do you keep a five-year journal? Write your paragraph for the day. It’s a summing up, a closure. The day is done. If this interests you and you'd like to know more, I've written about the value of a five-year journal here: How and Why to Keep a Five-Year Journal.

Then spend a little time reflecting on how much you have to be thankful for, how much is good in your life. Do you keep a gratitude journal? It's another valuable record of your life that your might like to explore: Keeping a Gratitude Journal. Write your daily gratitude list if you keep one. Pray – nothing deep, just a gentle goodnight to the One who loves you.

Now get into bed. Already you can feel how much more relaxed you are. Get comfortable, nestle in. It is worth spending some time thinking about your sleep position. I discovered that I needed to learn how to sleep and on my back and for me that was a big help. It's the subject of another page and you may find it worth exploring: How to Get a Better Sleep

How to Keep that Mind Quiet

If you don’t drift off to sleep, then this is the problem, isn’t it? The mind that won't shut off.

Night is my most productive thinking time. I get so many creative ideas that I can hardly stand it. But I have to get up at 6:00 the next morning. I need to sleep or I'll be no good at work the next day. So I've searched hard to find the solution to this one. How can I get my mind to stop working in daytime mode?

Reading light fiction or travel or biography stories may be a way to distract your mind. Be sure it’s nothing that really matters, nothing that you care much about, but is interesting enough to amuse you and keep your attention until you are too sleepy to read any more. This is not the time to read self-improvement or call-to-action books. You want to settle down, not stir yourself up.This has worked for me in years past. I would usually fall asleep within ten or fifteen minutes. (On the other hand, some people get so interested that they can’t stop reading so they stay awake even longer. Obviously not good for them.) 

Lately, since sleep has been more difficult because I deal with a lot of pain, I’ve been using audio-books. It’s tricky because you will fall asleep and miss some of the story. You are always rewinding and trying to find your place the next time you turn the player on. So it’s best if you listen to stories that are old friends, stories you already know well such as classics from childhood or favorites that are worth rereading. Then, missing the plot doesn’t matter because you know what happens, so if you don't hear five or ten minutes because you fell asleep it’s okay. These are the books that are  worth listening to for the characters, the style, the descriptioins, the writing itself. Nevertheless, it is important to have a player with a sleep timer that will shut off in fifteen or thirty minutes. You don’t want it to continue playing long after you are asleep.

A Little Night Music

Some people find music helps them get to sleep. Wonderful, but choose wisely. Music can also stimulate and disturb. We’ve all watched a perfectly harmless scene in a move that seemed scary  because of the soundtrack. Try to find music that is soft and peaceful, even if that’s not your daytime choice. Words will get in you brain. Listening to negative words in your sleep can actually cause you to wake up in a bad mood the next day. Songs that you associate with particular events or people may also get your mind going on a track you want to stay off. Remember - the idea is to quiet your mind, not give it something more to think about. And do not have your music on all night long. Use a sleep timer. You need to experience some silence.

If you live where there are often disturbing or sudden noises, like traffic sounds, white noise might be the way to go. It’s a steady, soothing natural sound, ocean waves for example, that helps muffle the random disturbances of the neighbourhood.

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Light, Dark, Hot, Cold

The physical conditions of your room matter too. A cool room is more conducive to getting a sound sleep. If you feel cold when you first get in to bed, you can use an extra throw blanket over yourself until you warm up. Is your room too light? Room darkening curtains may be worth looking into, or try one of these sleep masks. 

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Bore Yourself to Sleep

Another way to keep your mind in check is to bore yourself to sleep. It works really well. The point is to distract yourself from the thoughts that will keep you awake by thinking of something interesting enough to occupy your mind – but not important enough to keep you awake. There are dozens of ways to do this. Here are a couple:

The Alphabet Game - for each letter, name a (choose any category):

  • country
  • city
  • girls’ name
  • boy's name
  • bird
  • flower
  • etc.- you get the idea. If you manage to get to z, start at the beginning. No repetitions from the first time are allowed. That should do it.

The Muscle Game – Start at your toes and work all the way up to your head. Focus on a muscle. Stretch it as far as you can, then consciously relax it. Focus on the next muscle. Stretch, relax. Do this very slowly. Try to work every muscle in your body. Still awake?. Start again. This time tighten  each muscle then relax.

Falling Asleep... z-z-z-z-z

I trust that these tips about how to fall asleep faster will help bring you many a blissful night's sleep. And I hope you are encouraged to know that better sleep is more in your power than you might have thought.

My Other "Help Me Sleep" Pages

Help Me Sleep

Try some of these natural products to help you get a better sleep.

How to Get a Better Sleep

Train yourself to sleep on your back for less pain.

Updated: 07/24/2012, Art-Aspirations
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