How To Force Yourself To Sleep Early: Mental Tricks And Exercises That Can Relax Nerves And Racing Mind

You can force yourself to sleep if you are intentional about your actions and effort. Our body has an internal clock that regulates the sleep-wake cycle known as the circadian rhythm. In the evening, production of melatonin begins which indicates it’s time for bed. However, one may find it hard to sleep early during this period because of thinking too much about job related matters, financial challenges, relationship problems among others hence ending up with less than the required hours of sleep, 7-9 hours in every night.

Staying awake through the night can be very dangerous to your over all health. Sleep deprivation or lack of sleep impairs brain function, concentration, productivity, and decision-making.

The worst is depriving yourself sleep for a long time. Scientists found that chronic sleep deprivation increased risk of type 2 diabetes, obesity, heart disease, depression, high blood pressure,  and weakened immunity. Sleeping less than 7 hours per night is associated with a 13% higher risk of death from heart disease.

The gateway to good health is actually in your hands. Good sleep or going to bed early helps align with this natural rhythm for better sleep quality and enhances problem-solving skills, memory, and academic performance in children and adults.

Now, do you bother about how you can get a good sleep? Worry less! There are several strategies, mental tricks, and exercises that can help relax your nerves and alleviate anxiety and stress. Here are some effective techniques that can help you sleep early and better:

Controlled Deep Breathing

Controlled deep breathing is also known as abdominal breathing or Diaphragmatic breathing. It’s a way to take charge of your body’s natural reaction to stress. By focusing on taking deep breaths, you can relax your mind and relieve tension. This involves breathing deeply enough that your stomach rises when you inhale and using the diaphragm muscle to fill the lungs with air.

How To:
  • Sit upright in a chair with your back straight and feet flat on the floor. Alternatively, you can lie down on your back with a pillow under your knees.
  • Place one hand on your chest and the other on your belly
  • Breathe in slowly through your nose for a count of 4 seconds. You should feel your belly rise as you inhale, not your chest.
  • Hold your breath for a count of 2 seconds (you can skip this if you’re new to deep breathing).
  • Purse your lips slightly and exhale slowly through your mouth for a count of 6 seconds. Feel your belly sink as you exhale.
  • Repeat for 5-10 minutes, focusing on your breath and the rise and fall of your belly.
Benefits:
  • Reduces stress and anxiety
  • Improves sleep quality
  • Lowers blood pressure
  • Improves focus and concentration
  • Manages pain

ALSO READ: Can ‘Bedtime Yoga’ Help You Sleep Better?

Mindfulness Meditation

Mindfulness Meditation is a procedure where you focus your attention on the present moment. It can be described as training the mind to be conscious of what is happening right now, without judgment. This practice combines the benefits of both mindfulness and meditation which include reducing stress levels through relaxation techniques that bring about mental clarity or overall well-being improvement. A typical session may involve focusing inwards by observing physical sensations like breathing patterns within different parts of one’s body while staying still; thoughts passing through the head without holding onto any particular thought too tightly; being aware of sounds without getting lost into them completely among others.

How To:
  • Find a quiet place where you know you won’t be disturbed.
  • Sit comfortably – this might be on a chair with your feet flat on the floor, or on a cushion on the ground. You can kneel or even lie down if that is more comfortable for you.
  • Gently close your eyes or keep them at half-mast. Take a few deep breaths and then let the air flow naturally. You should notice how your chest or stomach rises with every inhale and falls with every exhale. Also, pay attention to the temperature of the air as it enters your nostrils (it is cooler) and exits (warmer).
  • It’s completely normal for thoughts to pop up while you’re meditating – so don’t worry about it! When you realize that your mind has been wandering, simply say ‘thinking’ to yourself and gently escort your awareness back to the breath without being hard on yourself.
  • Practice mindful breathing for 10-20 minutes per session, building up to two sessions per day to enjoy the full benefits
  • Remember to be patient with yourself – meditation takes time and effort before you notice significant improvement in your ability to concentrate.
Benefits:
  • Reduces stress and anxiety
  • Improves focus and concentration
  • Increases self-awareness
  • Enhances emotional regulation
  • Improves sleep

Visualization

Visualization is a great way of getting asleep because it allows people to create peaceful mental images that include many details such as specific objects, colors and sounds. According to research, individuals who use detailed visualization are good at pushing away unwanted thoughts from their minds.

If you are one of those who can’t come up with a bright picture in your mind, experts advise involving all senses by asking questions about smell or touch among others. They may include questions like ‘do I feel the sun’s warmth on my skin? which scents are around me?’  Additionally, adding physical relaxation into it can make this method more efficient. For example, deep breathing combined with imagining breath as something gentle that moves from one part of the body to another helps a lot in reducing stress and relaxing muscles.

According to Robbins, “Those tangible strategies where you visualize something and match that to a breath are really powerful.” This kind of visualization synchronized with breathing rhythm gives a real possibility of getting rid of anxiety.

How To:
  • First, decide what you want to accomplish by visualizing. Do you have a personal goal? Are you trying to overcome anxiety? Bettering a skill?
  • Shut your eyes and take a deep breath. Picture yourself in a secure, peaceful place where you feel comfortable and at ease. It could be anywhere – real or imaginary.
  • But don’t just see it; imagine that you are actually there living out this dream of yours step by step – what does it look like? What does achieving this goal sound like? How does success taste or smell against your skin (literally)? The more senses involved in visualization exercises, the more potent they become.
  • Connect with the emotional high points around these achievements. Feel the pride welling up inside when victory is claimed as if for the first time all over again; sense the elation that comes from realizing you can do anything if only given half the chance – anything!
  • Like anything else worth doing visualization requires regular use in order to develop properly over time so make sure not to skip days where possible even if it’s only five minutes at lunch or 10 before bed – both short term memory consolidation times that can only boost your overall progress in this area: repetitions lead towards mastery so be consistent!
Benefits:
  • Boosts Confidence
  • Reduces Anxiety
  • Enhances Performance
  • Improves Motivation
  • Develops New Habits

ALSO READ: What Happens To Your Body When You Lose an Hour of Sleep

Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR)

Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR) is a method of deep relaxation that involves slowly tensing and then releasing each muscle group in the body. This technique was developed by Dr. Edmund Jacobson in the 1920s. He believed that relaxation of the mind depends on relaxation of the body.
Here’s how it works: You tense a particular muscle group for 5-10 seconds, then let go suddenly and focus on the feeling of relaxation as the muscle releases. From feet to face, create tension and then release it as you move systematically through all major muscle groups in your body.

How To:
  • Find a quiet and comfortable place where you won’t be interrupted.
  • Lie down on your back or sit in a comfortable chair with your feet flat on the floor.
  • Wear loose-fitting clothing.
  • Take a few slow, deep breaths to begin relaxing.

Now, Focus on one muscle group at a time. Here’s a common sequence you can follow, or create one that works for you:

  • Lower Body: Toes, calves, thighs, buttocks
  • Core: Abdomen, lower back
  • Chest and Shoulders: Chest, shoulders, upper back
  • Arms: Hands, forearms, biceps, triceps
  • Neck and Face: Neck, jaw, forehead, eyes (gently close and open)

Inhale slowly and gently tense the muscle group for 5-10 seconds. Focus on the sensation of tightness in the muscles.

Exhale slowly and completely, releasing all tension from the muscle group. Imagine the tension flowing out of your body. Hold this relaxed state for 10-20 seconds, focusing on the feeling of relaxation.

Move on to the next muscle group and repeat steps 1-3. Continue systematically tensing and relaxing each muscle group until you’ve worked your way through your entire body.

Aim for 15-20 minutes of PMR daily or a few times a week. With practice, you’ll get better at recognizing tension and letting it go.

Benefits:
  • Reduces stress and anxiety
  • Improves sleep
  • Manages Pain
  • Lowers blood pressure
  • Relieves headache

Sleep Hypnosis

Sleep hypnosis refers to a technique which utilizes hypnotherapy to aid people in improving their sleep as well as dealing with insomnia, stress or anxiety that may hinder them from falling or staying asleep. It involves guiding a person into such deep relaxation of the mind so that it can be receptive to positive suggestions and advice geared towards promoting healthy sleeping habits while at the same time addressing the underlying causes for sleep disturbances. The main aim of this process is not to make someone sleep during the procedure but rather to enable them change negative attitudes towards bedtime, acquire new practices and conquer factors that stand on their way of having peaceful nights; hence causing their entire life being healthy through enough rest.

To achieve such states wherein clients are more responsive to constructive alterations which may greatly affect how well they sleep, hypnotherapists employ methods like visualization exercises tailored specifically for each individual’s needs or desires accompanied by relaxation techniques such as deep breathing among others designed bring about general tranquility within an individual thus making them receptive enough subsequently develop positive changes capable significantly improving their sleep quality.

How To:
  • Dim the lights, find a comfortable position, and wear loose clothing. Aim for a quiet and cool environment.
  • Focus on slow, deep breaths, inhaling through your nose and exhaling through your mouth. Feel tension melt away with each exhale.
  • Tense and relax different muscle groups in your body, starting with your toes and working your way up. This further promotes relaxation.
  • Imagine a calming scene, like lying on a beach with waves lapping at the shore, or drifting through a peaceful forest. Engage all your senses in the visualization.
  • Silently repeat positive affirmations like “I am feeling calm and relaxed,” or “My eyelids are growing heavy, and I am drifting off to sleep.”
Benefits:
  • Falling asleep faster
  • Improved sleep quality
  • Reduced night waking:
  • Boost energy levels
  • Strengthen immune system

Counting

Using counting as a method for fast and better sleep is very effective. This is because it offers the brain an uncomplicated and repetitive task to concentrate on. The most common counting method is counting sheep jumping over a fence. However, counting backwards from a large number like 10,000 has also been shown to be effective.

How To:
  • Count from largest number to smallest number
  • Begin with small numbers and gradually increase the range.
Benefits:
  • Mental distraction
  • Memory boost
  • Problem-solving skills
  • Suports cognitive development

Other Tips

Sticking to a consistent sleep schedule, avoiding screens before bed and creating a cool, dark, quiet sleep environment.

ALSO READ: 8 Melatonin Foods To Help You Sleep Quick And Better

Resources

  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8272667/
  • https://www.academia.edu/87624395/Hypnotherapy_for_sleep_disorders
  • https://health.arizona.edu/sites/default/files/data/Sleep%20Hygiene.pdf
  • https://www.sleepfoundation.org/how-sleep-works/why-do-we-need-sleep

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