Sleep Secrets: How to Fall Asleep Faster

Isabelle Harrel, Staff Writer

     Sleep. It’s something that everyone needs in order to function on both a cognitive and literal level, but it can also be a stressor. Often times, people lay down ready to rest only to toss and turn throughout the night. Whenever this occurs, it’s almost an instinct to look at the clock to observe how much time has passed before panicking. Fortunately, there are plenty of changes that can be made to prevent such a scenario. Here are just a few.

1)     Something that hinders sleep the most is stress. Stress-inducing activities cause the body to produce cortisol, a hormone known for increasing alertness (healthysleep.med.harvard.edu). Instead of getting worked up before bed and allowing the creation of excess cortisol, soothe the body by sipping a non-caffeinated tea or doodling in a notebook.

2)     Avoid taking hot baths right before bed. Some people claim that the heat from the water is relaxing enough to speed up the time it takes to enter a deep slumber. However, it actually does the opposite. The human body cools itself down in order to rest, so lying down for the night while warm causes it to take longer to fall asleep since the body temperature must decrease (spine-health.com). If a hot bath is an absolute necessity, be sure to provide enough time to cool off afterwards.

3)     Don’t eat a large meal and then proceed to turn in just after. After eating, blood travels to the stomach to aid in digestion, which makes it more difficult to fall asleep (cdc.gov). It is more beneficial to eat a small snack in place of a meal since the smaller portion of food needs less blood to digest and therefore, doesn’t keep people awake. If possible, the snack should contain tryptophan, a component found in certain foods such as turkey that makes the consumer feel sleepy.

4)     Try using the four-seven-eight trick. First, inhale for four seconds. Then, hold the inhaled breath for seven seconds before exhaling for eight. The technique helps to reduce anxiety and symptoms of stress such as a rapid heartbeat (well-beingsecrets.com). The anxiety and symptoms of stress lessen due to the sedative effect of slowing down the breath.

Grace Neibel
Grace Neibel doing a Forward Fold.

5)     Doing yoga exercises before bed can help decrease the time it takes to fall asleep by releasing any of the tension in the body. Stretches that assist the body by getting rid of tension and promoting drowsiness include the Standing Forward Fold, Lizard Pose, Happy Baby, and Corpse Pose (also know as Savasana)(shape.com). Almost any yoga pose can promote relaxation, thus lulling the body into a sedated state. Though, any exercises that are overly strenuous should be avoided because they will be stressful rather than relaxing. Poses that cause pain or discomfort also should be avoided. Not only will it do nothing to increase relaxation, but it can result in an injury. Just be sure that any pain that arises while performing yoga stretches is because of the nature of the pose actually causing pain and not because the position is being performed incorrectly.