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10 Simple Hacks To Fall Asleep In 30 Seconds, Backed By Science

10 Simple Hacks To Fall Asleep In 30 Seconds, Backed By Science

Yawn. It’s easier said than done trying to actually catch some Z’s, and there is an entire spectrum of people, all desperately trying to claim back the realm of sleep and their quality of sleep. We all want high quality of sleep, and yet so many of us find ourselves tossing and turning hours after we hit the pillow, unable to slip into the Land of Nod.

However, we all deserve to get the kind of sleep we deserve, and so we’ve rounded up some of our best and most useful sleep hacks to try and help you find it a little bit easier to curl up under the covers and nod off. So, without further ado, here are ten of our simple sleep hacks…

1. Read A Book Before Bed

One of the best and renowned sleep hacks is to turn down the lights, snuggle down, and have a quick read of a good bedside tome. It doesn’t have to be particularly highbrow reading, although reading something you find boring or stale might well induce your visit to the Land of Nod. Reading helps facilitate sleep by forcing you to remove yourself from electronic equipment – items designed to keep your mind visually stimulated – and into a relaxed activity. So, next time you’re struggling to get to sleep, try picking up one of those books on your bedside. It might just be the thing to help.

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    2. Set A Formal Bedtime

    Setting a formal bedtime – as in a time in which you force yourself to go to bed every evening – can be extremely beneficial in terms of helping you get to sleep post-haste. Not only can setting a formal bedtime help you physically, it has some strong psychological benefits. Setting a certain time for you to go to sleep helps your mind recognise that it is time for you to start unwinding and relaxing, much in the same way a child learns to sleep through the night. A regular bedtime also helps your brain adjust its levels of serotonin and melatonin, and helps balance your circadian rhythm out. In short, all good things, and essential sleep hacks that you should implement if you want to be asleep within seconds.

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      3. Eat A Healthier Diet

      We know everyone keeps extolling the virtues of a healthier diet, and believe us, we’re sick of it too. However, if you’ll hear us out, adjusting your diet to help you get better sleep, might just be worth it. Research has found that increasing your intake of fruits, vegetables, and pulses can help improve your sleep and the time it takes for you to go to sleep dramatically, thanks to enhancing your levels of magnesium, potassium, or other essential minerals that your body needs. Even incorporating more turkey – rich in tryptophan which helps induce drowsiness and sleepiness – can help make the distance between awake and sleep much easier.

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      4. Keep Your Room Cool

      The last tip we can offer to help you get to sleep quicker, is to make sure that you keep your room as cool as possible – but not too cool. Years of scientific research have found that your body temperature is key when trying to get to sleep, as your body temperature naturally drops when you start to nod off. Therefore maintaining a cool, but not cold temperature in your room is essential. Similar to the way how coming out of a hot bath makes you feel sleepy thanks to your body’s temperature drop, the best course of action is keeping a fan or a window open to keep cool air circulating, and then taking the opportunity to snuggle down. Lovely.

      5. Practice Yoga Before Bed

      If you fancy exploring something a little less orthodox, then research suggests that doing a spot of yoga can help relax your body and help you get to sleep in record time. In terms of sleep hacks, yoga has long been touted as an avenue worth exploring; certain sequences such as ‘Salute to the Moon’ are designed to be slow, gentle movements that promote a feeling of relaxation and which help relieve any bodily aches that might keep you up at night. Yoga gets a lot of attention for its health benefits, but if you’re stuck on a sleepless night, try your hand at some yoga and find yourself relaxing and nodding off immediately.

      6. Meditate

      The meditation revolution keeps on rolling through our cities and cultures, touted as a huge help for anyone who needs it – and with good reason. In terms of being simultaneously rudimentary and revolutionary, meditation has been commended as a kind of cure-all for a large swathe ofphysical or psychological ailments – in this case being unable to go to sleep. Meditation allows you to calm your restless mind and focus on the kind of slow, rhythmic breathing that helps make sleeping better. In fact one of the suggested breathing techniques, the ujjayi breath (or ocean breath), is perfect for calming you down and helping you nod off to sleep.

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      7. Drink Some Warm Milk

      Sometimes the old wives’ tales turn out to have some common sense or a grain of surprising truth in them. For example, the old adage about drinking warm milk helping you go to sleep, turns out to be not only true, but a beneficial sleep hack for anyone trying to get to sleep quicker. Warm milk, or similarly crafted milk-based beverages, may have shaky standing as a soporific thanks to the ongoing debate over the actual effectiveness of tryptophan in aiding sleep. However, psychologists have considered that drinking warm milk may have an unconscious psychological effect, and that it relates to the childhood experience of breastfeeding and the comfort associated with it. So, if you want to have a little sip of something before you hit the hay, try a glass of warm milk, rather than the traditional boozy nightcap. You’ll feel better for it in the morning – in more ways than one.

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        8. Cut Out The Caffeine

        One of the best sleep hacks out there is to cut out of the most prevalent addictive chemicals out there: caffeine. Yep, we’re all guilty of partaking in some caffeine at one point or another, whether it’s in our tea, coffee, or even out of chocolate. However, if you want to make sure you go to sleep as soon as possible, try and cut caffeine out of your diet after a certain point in the day. Studies indicate that cutting off your caffeine intake after 3pm helps improve quality of sleep, and the time it takes for you to get to sleep. So, if you want to try something to help you nod off in record time, try ditching that late evening cup of coffee, and see what happens.

        9. Turn Off The Electronics

        One of the biggest, best sleep hacks for the modern-day person, is to remove those pesky electronics from your bedroom to stop you playing with them. Numerous studies have found that the blue light from electronic devices disrupts your brain’s ability to begin relaxing for better quality sleep, as well as the likelihood of being unable to properly relax before hitting the hay, thanks to devices intended to keep you engaged. Instead, try and turn off your laptop, phone or tablet about an hour before you go to bed, so that your mind can unwind properly, and you can get that all-important quality of sleep that you deserve.

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        10. Invest In Some Blackout Curtains

        This can be an issue no matter what your bedroom situation is, but it is always worth investing in a solid pair of blackout curtains if you’re looking for a great go-to sleep hack. With more and more light pollution in the day-to-day – your neighbour’s backyard spotlight, the streetlamps outside, everyone’s car headlights coming in at 1am – it can be harder and harder to sleep with all that extra light pouring in and messing up your chance at sleep. Blackout curtains are a great preventative measure, as they’ll make sure your sleep is longer, better, and is much less likely to be disturbed.

        Featured photo credit: Cute newborn baby sleeps in a hat via shutterstock.com

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        Chris Haigh

        Writer, baker, co-host of "Good Evening Podcast" and "North By Nerdwest".

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        Last Updated on July 17, 2019

        The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

        The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

        What happens in our heads when we set goals?

        Apparently a lot more than you’d think.

        Goal setting isn’t quite so simple as deciding on the things you’d like to accomplish and working towards them.

        According to the research of psychologists, neurologists, and other scientists, setting a goal invests ourselves into the target as if we’d already accomplished it. That is, by setting something as a goal, however small or large, however near or far in the future, a part of our brain believes that desired outcome is an essential part of who we are – setting up the conditions that drive us to work towards the goals to fulfill the brain’s self-image.

        Apparently, the brain cannot distinguish between things we want and things we have. Neurologically, then, our brains treat the failure to achieve our goal the same way as it treats the loss of a valued possession. And up until the moment, the goal is achieved, we have failed to achieve it, setting up a constant tension that the brain seeks to resolve.

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        Ideally, this tension is resolved by driving us towards accomplishment. In many cases, though, the brain simply responds to the loss, causing us to feel fear, anxiety, even anguish, depending on the value of the as-yet-unattained goal.

        Love, Loss, Dopamine, and Our Dreams

        The brains functions are carried out by a stew of chemicals called neurotransmitters. You’ve probably heard of serotonin, which plays a key role in our emotional life – most of the effective anti-depressant medications on the market are serotonin reuptake inhibitors, meaning they regulate serotonin levels in the brain leading to more stable moods.

        Somewhat less well-known is another neurotransmitter, dopamine. Among other things, dopamine acts as a motivator, creating a sensation of pleasure when the brain is stimulated by achievement. Dopamine is also involved in maintaining attention – some forms of ADHD are linked to irregular responses to dopamine.[1]

        So dopamine plays a key role in keeping us focused on our goals and motivating us to attain them, rewarding our attention and achievement by elevating our mood. That is, we feel good when we work towards our goals.

        Dopamine is related to wanting – to desire. The attainment of the object of our desire releases dopamine into our brains and we feel good. Conversely, the frustration of our desires starves us of dopamine, causing anxiety and fear.

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        One of the greatest desires is romantic love – the long-lasting, “till death do us part” kind. It’s no surprise, then, that romantic love is sustained, at least in part, through the constant flow of dopamine released in the presence – real or imagined – of our true love. Loss of romantic love cuts off that supply of dopamine, which is why it feels like you’re dying – your brain responds by triggering all sorts of anxiety-related responses.

        Herein lies obsession, as we go to ever-increasing lengths in search of that dopamine reward. Stalking specialists warn against any kind of contact with a stalker, positive or negative, because any response at all triggers that reward mechanism. If you let the phone ring 50 times and finally pick up on the 51st ring to tell your stalker off, your stalker gets his or her reward, and learns that all s/he has to do is wait for the phone to ring 51 times.

        Romantic love isn’t the only kind of desire that can create this kind of dopamine addiction, though – as Captain Ahab (from Moby Dick) knew well, any suitably important goal can become an obsession once the mind has established ownership.

        The Neurology of Ownership

        Ownership turns out to be about a lot more than just legal rights. When we own something, we invest a part of ourselves into it – it becomes an extension of ourselves.

        In a famous experiment at Cornell University, researchers gave students school logo coffee mugs, and then offered to trade them chocolate bars for the mugs. Very few were willing to make the trade, no matter how much they professed to like chocolate. Big deal, right? Maybe they just really liked those mugs![2]

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        But when they reversed the experiment, handing out chocolate and then offering to trade mugs for the candy, they found that now, few students were all that interested in the mugs. Apparently the key thing about the mugs or the chocolate wasn’t whether students valued whatever they had in their possession, but simply that they had it in their possession.

        This phenomenon is called the “endowment effect”. In a nutshell, the endowment effect occurs when we take ownership of an object (or idea, or person); in becoming “ours” it becomes integrated with our sense of identity, making us reluctant to part with it (losing it is seen as a loss, which triggers that dopamine shut-off I discussed above).

        Interestingly, researchers have found that the endowment effect doesn’t require actual ownership or even possession to come into play. In fact, it’s enough to have a reasonable expectation of future possession for us to start thinking of something as a part of us – as jilted lovers, gambling losers, and 7-year olds denied a toy at the store have all experienced.

        The Upshot for Goal-Setters

        So what does all this mean for would-be achievers?

        On one hand, it’s a warning against setting unreasonable goals. The bigger the potential for positive growth a goal has, the more anxiety and stress your brain is going to create around it’s non-achievement.

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        It also suggests that the common wisdom to limit your goals to a small number of reasonable, attainable objectives is good advice. The more goals you have, the more ends your brain thinks it “owns” and therefore the more grief and fear the absence of those ends is going to cause you.

        On a more positive note, the fact that the brain rewards our attentiveness by releasing dopamine means that our brain is working with us to direct us to achievement. Paying attention to your goals feels good, encouraging us to spend more time doing it. This may be why outcome visualization — a favorite technique of self-help gurus involving imagining yourself having completed your objectives — has such a poor track record in clinical studies. It effectively tricks our brain into rewarding us for achieving our goals even though we haven’t done it yet!

        But ultimately, our brain wants us to achieve our goals, so that it’s a sense of who we are that can be fulfilled. And that’s pretty good news!

        More About Goals Setting

        Featured photo credit: Alexa Williams via unsplash.com

        Reference

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