How To Fall Asleep
Once sleep patterns have been disrupted, figuring out how to fall asleep isn't always as easy as closing your eyes and counting sheep. In today's fast-paced world, it is of little wonder that sleep disorders are among the most commons problems in our society. However, peaceful slumbers need not be a thing of the past. With a little practice (and possibly a few changes), learning how to fall asleep can be the first step into a more restful future.
- Develop a set bedtime and waking time. The body learns a sleep-wake cycle and will become accustomed to falling asleep at a certain time. While everyone will deviate from their set bedtimes occasionally, when having problems with obtaining a good night's sleep it is important to set a routine and stick to it as much as possible.
- Be careful of what you eat and drink before bed. Although a few cocktails may make you sleepy, when the alcohol is metabolized a few hours later, the process stimulates the body and causes a wake-up effect. Spicy, sugary, or calorie-dense foods can interfere with the body's ability to remain sleeping. Warm milk, bananas, or foods high in triptophan are known to induce sleep.
- Only use the bed for sleep or sex. Refrain from answering emails, doing crossword puzzles, watching television, or anything else in bed. By associating the bed with only sleep or sex, we train our body's to prepare for either activity when we approach the bed. If playtime is out, the body prepares for sleep.
- Skip the smokes and soda. Both nicotine and caffeine are known to be stimulants and will interfere with the ability to sleep. Caffeine is sometimes found in soda, tea, coffee, and some over-the-counter medications. Try to avoid caffeine for four to six hours before attempting to fall asleep.
- Cut out the distractions. Turn off the lights and noisy objects. Consider investing in sleep masks or ear plugs if necessary. If you must get up, avoid turning on a bright light. Small flashlights or dim nightlights can provide the necessary amount of light to see, yet not so much that it may cause substantial difficulty returning to sleep afterward.
- Develop a bedtime routine. Remember as a child when you were told to take a bath, brush your teeth, and get in bed? In those days, you never wondered how to fall asleep, it just happened naturally. Return to your roots and develop a routine before going to bed.
Learning how to fall asleep, unfortunately, is not like learning to ride a bicycle. There is no set of instructions that will provide a blueprint for how to fall asleep. Only through repetition, and a bit of trial and error, can we retrain our body to learn to fall asleep within moments of our heads hitting the pillow. But, for those who are dedicated to sticking with a sleep program, the benefits can be dreamy!