If you’re having trouble getting to sleep, you’re not alone.
If you have a stressful life (who doesn’t?), or the pressure’s on at work, or you’re trying to crush a startup…
The monkey mind and endless anxiety can keep you up at night.
Theres this extremely frustrating feeling of being super tired, yet not being able to go to sleep.
Alas, despite all your effort you lay wide awake in bed, mentally punishing yourself for not being able to go to sleep.
But it doesn’t have to be like that.
I’ve struggled a LOT in the past to go to sleep, but these days I hardly ever have trouble thanks to my years of experimentation.
And now even if I do have trouble, I just go through my protocol and I usually fall asleep fairly quickly.
Now, I want to share my years of experimentation with you.
Here’s what’s worked for me:
1. Change Your Goal To Something You Can Control
The most important first step in going to sleep is to first remove the goal of going to sleep.
This sounds counterintuitive, but actually makes sense.
Look, here’s the deal:
You can’t make yourself go to sleep. Your brain will have to do it on it’s own, it’s not something you can control.
And in fact, trying to go to sleep often makes it much worse.
The more you try – the more you fail.
So the first step is you gotta change your goal from something you can’t control (going to sleep) to something you can control – RELAXATION.
Make relaxation the goal.
As a second part to this, create a new belief that relaxing with your eyes closed is just as good as actually falling asleep.
Belief are important, and they are often self-fulfilling. So if your belief for example is that “If I don’t go to sleep, then XYZ horrible thing will happen”…
..The amount of pressure you just put on yourself is extreme.
So instead, change your belief that relaxing is just as good as sleep!
2. Turn Down The Temperature
It’s proven that it’s easier to fall asleep with colder rooms. I set mine to 69′ F, cover up with sheets and it works great
3. Stretch Routine
I find that taking 10-15 minutes to stretch out before bed helps a lot.
Turn the lights down very low, get out a yoga mat and go for it.
I like to start at the top of my head and work my way down. For me, focusing on stretching my legs in particular helps soften things up before bed.
4. Jason Stephenson Sleep Hypnosis
Check out the Jason Stephenson channel on YouTube, he has loads of videos that will guide you into a relaxed state.
These often can knock me out in 5-10 minutes.
4. Make it Chilly!
Experiment with temperature. It also helps if you have central air (vs. an air conditioner) but that is not easily changeable. For me, having a colder room (I still use blankets) helps dramatically.
5. Slow, HOT Bath
With everything that goes on during the day, it really helped to make some time for myself and really really relax. Â Putting on a hot bath, turning out the lights and playing some slow music for ~20 min put me in near knock-out mode about 5 min after I got out.
There are also lots of reports of people taking ice baths to induce sleep, but that hasn’t worked for me.
6. Use NightwaveÂ or Sleep beat iPhone app
These two products function almost exactly the same and they are awesome. They shine a slow pulse of a blue light into your room which you sync your breath to. Over the course of 7 min (you can set it for longer as well), it will slow down the pulse to a very slow, sleeping breathing rate. As you focus on your breathing, it helps to get rid of the ever-churning mind of ideas. Although you watch the light with your eyes open, near the end of the cycle you will often start to feel your eyes get droopy.
One interesting effect that it has is that if you have a dark room, the light dimming actually feels like you are closing your eyes even if you’re not, which in turn makes you naturally want to close your eyes. Near the end of the cycle, I often find myself with one eye barely open watching the light. Make it a point to not attempt to finish the cycles, just feel relaxed during the whole experience.
7. Let Someone Lead You Into Relaxation (Paul McKenna Hypnotherapy)
While mildly cheesy, these tapes start with 10+ minutes slow, deep relaxation practice. Just plopping on some headphones and listening to the slow, calming voice on these tapes would often knock me out just on the intro alone, if I was in a dark room laying down. Â The instructions in some of the tapes actually say that you are not supposed to fall asleep, but just as Â you’re not supposed to fall asleep in church, somehow it has a Nyquil like effect on me. The only problem is that after I used these over and over they became less effective.
All in all, I’m not exactly sure which, if any single one of these is responsible for my ability to go to sleep. I actually suggest a ninja approach by trying all of them. If I really need to get to sleep, I often will do most of these to ensure relaxation.
With those recommendations in mind, here are a few more that either didn’t work for me, or are not possible for me, however might help others:
No Computers or Screens before or in bed – It is generally recommended to not look at your computer the few hours before going to bed. Light on the eyes can very much effect your awakeness / alert levels. (This is why people can suffer from SAD – sessional affective disorder. They don’t get light on their eyes in the winter that they get in the summer and it will mess with their ability to function normally).
Not using a computer is just not possible for me, I work on it all day and when it’s night time, I want to watch shows or mess around on the internet or read from my iPad. I’m just not cutting it out.
No Working in bed – It’s recommended that you use your bedroom (especially bed) for ONLY sleeping (and sex). I generally follow this rule however I’m not sure this is particularly helpful in inducing sleep.
Exercise – I do exercise daily and I still had problems sleeping. If you don’t get any exercise, this would definitely be on the top of my list.
Eat A High Fat Meal 1 hour before bed – For some this may help induce sleep.
Helps induce relaxation and stops monkey mind.
You can buy these in pill format. This is the same chemical your brain produces when trying to go to sleep.
Other Helpful Links / Resources
- Insomnia on Cure Together – List of treatments to experiement with, sorted by % reporting major improvement.