Insomnia and trouble falling asleep
Many of us struggle with insomnia. We just can’t fall asleep. Imagine this scenario: You are lying in bed trying to sleep. It’s comfortable. It’s perfect. You’re feeling tired and your eyelids feel heavier and heavier.
But you just can’t fall asleep.
You have to get up at 6.00 am the next morning, so it is quite important that you also catch enough sleep so you won’t be too tired in the morning and maybe accidentally hit the snooze button.
You can’t waste a minute of your precious sleep time. Now the only thing you have to do right now is actually to fall asleep.
Any minute now.
Enter: your brain.
And with it comes the never-ending chatter.
The brain might go something like this:
“Hey! Don’t you think you should shift to a more healthy diet? I have a list of 300+ healthy snacks that you should write down right now so you won’t forget it tomorrow.”
“Hey! Remember that one time 8 years ago when you said that thing? That was a really bad thing to say wasn’t it? I bet they are still gossiping about what a weirdo you are”
“Hey! I bet the boss said that thing to you because she doesn’t believe in you. There is no way you could have a career at that place. You have to look for something else. Luckily for you, I happen to have a great skill when it comes to resumes. Let´s start working on one right now.”
“Hey! What if we should start a business together? I have the most perfect idea. Listen to this. I think you ought to take notes. Go fetch your notebook right now.”
The chatter goes on. One of my all time favorites is this:
“Okay, so here’s the deal. You have exactly 7 hours and 36 minutes before you have to wake up. Given that you fall asleep right this second. Oh, you didn’t. Well, now it’s 7 hours and 35 minutes.”
The chatter can go on for hours
You are getting more tired and more stressed out about the fact that there’s no turning back and you are actually going to turn up late to work tomorrow and be tired all day due to sleep deprivation if you don’t fall asleep right this minute. Which of course stresses you out more. The downward spiral has begun. Again.
If you are an introvert like me, chances are your thoughts lean towards anxiety and can overwhelm you right before you go to sleep. If you have anxious thoughts, this can lead to more anxiety and you might not be able to sleep for hours.
Therefore I’m happy to tell you that today I’m going to share a useful hack to help you fall asleep in almost no time at all. This technique was discovered by dr Andrew Weil and it can be performed anywhere, at any time and you don’t need any special equipment to do it.
The exercise is inspired by yoga breathing techniques. In yoga, breathing techniques (pranayama) is an essential tool to help you expand your prana (life force). Pranayama has been practiced for thousands of years and is the essence of yoga practice. When you breathe consciously you calm your mind and your thoughts in an almost magical way.
Now you don’t have to be a yogi to practice this method even though it does require you breathe consciously.
The method is simple. You already know how to breathe, right? You can do this anywhere to release stress. It doesn’t have to be before bed time either. Maybe you are stressed out at work. Do the exercise sitting at your desk. This stress reducing method can help you in many ways. if you have a fear of flight, do this breathing technique before, during and after the flight to reduce stress and increase calmness into your system.
So let’s get started.
The breathing technique that can help you fall asleep in 60 seconds:
Preparation: Lie down in bed in a comfortable position. Inhale. Hold your breath for a second, and exhale loudly, with a deep sight. Repeat a couple of times to help the system to relax. When you feel relaxed, start the exercise:
- Exhale completely through your mouth.
- Place your tongue behind your upper teeth.
- Close your mouth and inhale silently through your nose to a count of four.
- Hold your breath for a count of seven.
- Exhale slowly through your mouth to a count of eight.
Repeat the cycle a couple of times. Hopefully you will start to feel relaxed after two or three repeats, but you can do it as many times as you like.
Do this every night as a ritual before you go to sleep to make it a habit.
If you want you can combine this 4-7-8-breathing technique with other things to help you calm your mind. Lighting a couple of scented candles and listening to some relaxing music can help you increase the effect of the breathing technique.
I hope this article was useful for you to help you fight insomnia. It has helped me so much and I hope it will do the same to you. Note: If you struggle with severe insomnia though, maybe this hack won’t be enough to help you fall asleep. In that case you probably would need some complementary exercises and methods to help calm your mind enough to do this exercise.