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No More Insomnia! Get A Good Night’s Sleep With These 5 Unconventional Tips

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No More Insomnia! Get A Good Night’s Sleep With These 5 Unconventional Tips

Have problems falling asleep or sleeping through the night? You are not alone. 30 to 35% of people suffer from bouts of insomnia[1]. That’s a whole lot of people tossing and turning through the night. That’s 3/10ths of the population fighting mental fog and fatigue during their waking hours. Lack of sleep contributes to an array of health issues such as obesity, high blood pressure, and heart disease. While you may be tempted to reach for a pill to drop you into a deep sleep, try these 5 unconventional tips first, and you may be able to trick your body into a restful slumber.

1. Immerse your face in cold water

Just when you thought splashing cold water on your face would wake you up, it actually can put you to sleep! Known as the Mammalian Reflex or Response[2], immersing your face in cold water for 30 seconds will lower your heart rate and narrow your blood vessels, causing reduced blood flow to the limbs and reserving more for the brain and heart. It basically signals your body into a relaxed hibernation mode. The colder the water, the faster the heart rate will slow. Brrrr.

2. Breathe using the 4-7-8 method

The 4-7-8 breathing method[3] by Dr. Andrew Weil, a supporter of holistic and integrative medicine, encourages you to focus on your breath and relaxes you, much like meditation. It is based on Pranayama Yoga breathing techniques, and it’s easy to learn. Dr. Weil suggests sitting up straight and holding your tongue against the roof of your mouth, behind your teeth, while practicing it.

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The steps of the 4-7-8 method are:

  1. Inhale through your nose for a 4-second count.
  2. Hold that breath for 7 seconds.
  3. Then, exhale your breath slowly for an 8-second count.
  4. Repeat these steps 2-4 times.

This calming breath technique will have you snoozing in no time at all. Dr. Weil suggests practicing this technique before bedtime for 4-6 weeks to experience its full benefits.

3. Skip that hot shower

You may think that nice hot shower will help you sleep, but exposing yourself to a rise in body temperature disrupts your body’s natural ability to produce melatonin[4]. Melatonin is a naturally occurring hormone that is made by the pineal gland in your brain. It regulates your body’s internal clock. Two hours before your regular bedtime, the melatonin levels in your body rise to aid your body in shutting down for the night. Bright lights and warm temperatures can disrupt your natural melatonin production.

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Aim to have that hot shower at least two hours before you plan to hit the sack, giving your body ample time to cool down. An alternative suggestion would be to blast yourself with cold water at the end of your hot shower for that Mammalian Dive Reflex, if you think you can take it.

Other ways to boost your natural melatonin are to get sunshine and exercise during the day and to keep the lights dim and your bedroom cool at night.

4. Write down your thoughts

Journaling right before you go to sleep can ease your fears and anxieties and help you to drift off quicker. Writing about your day’s problems literally gets them off your chest. Writing a nightly gratitude list can help you focus on positive thoughts and make it easier to fall asleep.

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Research shows[5] that people who kept a nightly gratitude journal slept longer and had a better quality of sleep. Now that is something for which to be thankful!

5. Tense and relax your toes

While you don’t want to participate in any rigorous exercise before bed, the simple act of tensing up your toes and relaxing them for a count of up to ten can ease the tension from your body and allow you to fall asleep faster.

You can use this progressive muscle relaxation technique throughout your body. Lay down and close your eyes. Begin at your scalp and slowly work your way down, focusing your attention on each section of your body, from your eyelids to your throat, your shoulders down to your fingers, your chest all the way to your knees, and finally, down to your toes. You will find yourself more relaxed and sleepy.

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Consider using one of these unconventional sleep hacks before you reach for those pills to battle another sleepless night. Changing your habits and thoughts or even taking a cold-water douse may prove to be a better alternative than side-effect ridden drugs for helping you drift off to a peaceful night’s slumber.

Featured photo credit: Workandapix via pixabay.com

Reference

[1] American Academy of Sleep Medicine: Insomnia Awareness Day Facts and Stats
[2] American Psychological Society: The Mammalian Diving Response: An Enigmatic Reflex to Preserve Life?
[3] Dr. Andrew Weil: The Art and Science of Breathing
[4] John Hopkins Medicine: Melatonin: Does It Work?
[5] PubMed NCBI: Gratitude Influences Sleep Through Mechanism of Pre-Sleep Cognitions

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Last Updated on November 22, 2021

Thanksgiving: It’s About The Simple Things

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Thanksgiving: It’s About The Simple Things

Thanksgiving, a day of pure gluttony, football, and possible uncomfortable situations with family members that you may or may not like. Oh, yeah, and the whole “know and reflect on what it is to be thankful and grateful.”

During the holiday season many people forget what this time of year is bout and are too worried about getting the “early-bird” deals on Black Friday and making sure that they have the perfect gifts for their loved ones. I am sort of a “Grinch” when it comes to the holiday season, mostly because of that mentality by many of the poeple around me.

But instead of being grinch-like this holiday season, I decided to simplify things and get back to what this time of year is actually is about; being thankful for what I have and what I can give.

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Simplify

I’m not a “minimalist” in any real sense, but in the last few months the talks of Patrick Rhone and others have got me to rethink my stance. Can you really have too much stuff?

Absolutely.

And with all that stuff comes the burden and the weight of it on your back.

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If you feel that the things around you are out of control, maybe it’s time to simplify and be thankful and grateful for what you have and use. Here are a few things that you can do to simplify:

  • You know those gadgets in the drawer that you said you were going to sell? Well, time to get the listing on eBay and sell them. Or, send them to a place like Gazelle. Even if they are old and won’t get money, you can at least recycle them.
  • Get rid of things you don’t need. Like old books, clothes, tools, etc. Have something that’s been laying around forever with no use? Donate it to a charity or church. If you aren’t using it, someone else could be.
  • Find your productivity tools and stick with them. Use tools and gadgets that serve multiple purposes so you can simplify your tool set.

Be Mindful

You don’t have to be a master Buddhist or meditator to be mindful (although, it can definitely help). Being mindful comes down to being cognizant of the present and not keeping yourself in the past or future. It’s about living in the moment and being aware of yourself and everything around you. It’s just being.

Without getting too “California” on you, it is super important to be mindful during the holiday rush. Rather than worrying about the things that you forgot at your house on the way to relatives or thinking about the next stop in your endless holiday travels, just breath and think about what you are currently doing.

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Spend the time with your family and friends and don’t crush the moment. Try not to concentrate so hard on getting the perfect photo of the “awesome moment” of the day and actually miss the awesome moment.

Being mindful over the holidays will help you be with your families, friends, and yourself allowing you to enjoy your time.

Reflect

As the year is coming to a close (yes, it really is that close!) it’s a great time to start reflecting on what you have accomplished and what you haven’t. Within the next few weeks we will have a more throrough reflection article here at Lifehack.org, but reflecting every now and then over your holiday break is a great way to see where you have been doing well in your life and where you need to improve.

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Reflection shouldn’t be used to “get down” on yourself. Reflection should be used to take an honset inventory of what you have accomplished, how you handeled situations, and what you can do better. If you journal everyday (a daily form of reflection) it may be a good time to start going over some of the things that you have written and start to put together a year’s end journal entry. I mean, how else will you write your autobiography?

But, seriously, reflecting on yourself makes you aware of your successes and faults and helps you plan and make goals for the coming year. It makes you a better person.

So, while you are stuffing your face with bird, stuffing, and mashed taters’, remember that the holidays are much more than the superficial things. Use this holiday to become a better person.

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Featured photo credit: Libby Penner via unsplash.com

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