In our constantly plugged-in, fast-paced society today, it’s no wonder why so many people have sleeping problems. Some doctors and researchers have even called lack of adequate sleep a public health epidemic due to the number of sleep-deprived citizens today. In fact, according to a Gallup report, a staggering 41% of Americans don’t get the recommended 7-8 hours of sleep per night.
As you’ve probably heard before, our cells regenerate during sleep, allowing us to carry out all the necessary tasks of a day’s work. However, improper sleep can lead to poor mental and physical health. In fact, a groundbreaking study from the University of Surrey in the UK found that just one week of inadequate sleep can lead to changes in a whopping 700 genes in the human body.
Sleep deficiency can lead to chronic health problems, including high blood pressure, obesity, anxiety, depression, heart disease, and cancer, just to name a few. Researchers found that the genes affected controlled inflammation, immunity, and stress response.
So, what can we do about this ever-growing sleep problem? For starters, it would help to learn how to fall asleep again, something that came very naturally to us as children. However, due to life stress and all the things that come along with “growing up,” many of us have simply forgotten how to fall asleep in a short amount of time. Our minds keep us awake at night, inducing anxiety and restlessness.
How to Train Your Brain To Fall Asleep in 1 Minute or Less
While clearing your mind before sleep may seem like a difficult task, Dr. Andrew Weil recommends a simple breathing technique to help you relax. He points to the 4-7-8 breathing technique as a natural sleep remedy for the nights when sleep seems to elude you. Below, we’ll discuss exactly how to do this breathing exercise.
- First, make sure you have the right posture to allow for deep breathing. (Sit up straight, relax your shoulders, etc)
- Place the tip of your tongue on the roof of your mouth behind your front teeth. Keep it there throughout the exercise, even as you exhale.
- Exhale completely.
- Inhale through your nose to a count of four.
- Hold your breath for a count of seven.
- Exhale through your mouth to a count of eight.
- Then, complete the sequence three more times.
It might take a few nights of practice for this to work, but the key is consistency. You might have trouble concentrating on doing the exercise at first, but just remember to set aside some time before bed so that you can focus on nothing but breathing.
So, why does this technique work so well, you ask? We have three main reasons. Firstly, it allows you to slow your breathing, which automatically makes you feel more relaxed. Secondly, you will have more oxygen coursing through your body by taking deeper breaths. Thirdly, concentrating on solely your breathing will teach you mindfulness, which many scientists have proven to reduce stress, anxiety, and racing thoughts.
Maybe we’ve forgotten how to sleep because we’ve forgotten how to breathe, but by practicing this breathing exercise, you’ll fall asleep quicker and have a more restful sleep.
You can also do other things to induce sleep, a few of which we have outlined below.
More Tips on How to Fall Asleep Faster
- Don’t do any sort of work in your bed. You need to associate your bed with sleep and relaxation, not anything else.
- Keep the house comfortable. Studies have shown that people sleep better when the thermostat is set to cool.
- Write down any thoughts you might have before you go to sleep. This way, you can get out all of your stress and frustration before sleep so that you won’t lie awake thinking of everything under the sun that worries you.
- Remove any distractions. Turn off your cell phone, TV, and other digital devices so that you can prepare for sleep and avoid keeping your mind active.
- Try to keep your house quiet. However, if relaxing music helps you fall asleep, by all means, turn it on before bed.
- Have a routine. Our bodies require a certain wake-sleep cycle in order to function properly, so go to bed at the same time each night, and wake at the same time each morning.
Remember, sleep is absolutely vital to living your best life, so honor your needs and prioritize your sleep. You’ll feel more vibrant and happy once you get a normal sleeping schedule down. Sweet dreams!
Lack of Sleep Alters Human Gene Activity. http://www.surrey.ac.uk/mediacentre/press/2013/98567_lack_of_sleep_alters_human_gene_activity.htm
In U.S., 40% Get Less Than Recommended Amount of Sleep. http://www.gallup.com/poll/166553/less-recommended-amount-sleep.aspx?utm_source=alert&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=syndication&utm_content=morelink&utm_term=USA%20-%20Well-Being
The 4-7-8 Breath: Health Benefits and Demonstration. https://www.drweil.com/videos-features/videos/the-4-7-8-breath-health-benefits-demonstration/
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