A good night’s sleep is often undervalued but can never be overrated. We spend about one-third of our life asleep and could not survive without this downtime. Without quality sleep, your body does not have the time or energy to refresh and rebuild. During the wee hours of the night, your body goes into work mode while it does important things like storing long term memories and circulating immune-boosting chemicals.
Do you have issues falling or staying asleep?
If you have trouble falling or staying asleep, you have likely tried any number of so-called sleep enhancers like a warm bath before bed, lavender pillow mist, or chamomile tea. For some, these measures are effective, but for others, they can’t even make a dent in the sleep issues going on. This is when out-of-the-box sleep strategies must be employed.
Strange things to help you fall asleep
If you are still having sleep issues, try these strange, but effective hacks to fall asleep and stay asleep longer! Don’t be alarmed if some of these suggestions seem kind of odd. They are. But give them a shot, and you might be surprised at how effective they are at resetting your sleep clock.
Go camping – Taking a camping trip is one great way to reset your natural sleep cycle to natural rhythms of night and day. Our circadian rhythm depends on exposure to sunlight, and if you are outside playing around in the woods, your body tunes into natural sunlight by waking you up with the sun in the morning and putting you to sleep as soon as the sun sets. Just remember, don’t bring your laptop, phone or tablet on your camping excursion. All of these things interfere with your natural sleep cycle! Instead, go hiking, biking, kayaking, and enjoy time by the fire with friends. This is a great way to put your insomnia monster to rest once and for all.
Push yourself to stay awake – Yes, it may sound crazy, but actively trying not to sleep can actually help you to sleep better. Have you ever been lying awake in bed, trying not to think about not sleeping? It’s like if you tell your brain not to see images of oranges – what does it do? It begins to show you images of oranges – so frustrating, right? So, tell yourself that you are not going to sleep, and your brain will see this as an instruction to go to sleep, and soon you will feel sleepy. This is what is known as the sleep paradox. Just tell yourself that you are not going to go to sleep and don’t drink coffee or engage in any activities that are stimulating, such as playing on your phone or watching television. You can try to keep yourself awake by thinking about your day, keep your eyes open and blink often, read a book, listen to music, or engage in a quiet activity such as knitting. Soon you will find yourself very sleepy.
Hide all of your clocks – For most people, a clock is as easy to find as reaching for a cellphone – it is generally always within reach. When it comes to sleeping, don’t be afraid to lose track of time. It turns out that keeping track of time can be one of the main reasons why we don’t fall asleep as quickly as we should. Constantly checking the clock makes us stressed out and interferes with actually going to sleep. Set your alarm on your phone and put it in another room – not beside your bed where it is easy to reach over and check the time.
Tell yourself a bedtime story – Bedtime stories are not just for the young! Everyone can benefit from a good sleepy tale. A book of fiction short stories works well before bedtime. Pick a book full of stories that you can enjoy in small bites. Stories are what we experience when we dream, and when we are in REM sleep, we dream about fictional scenarios based loosely on our life stories. If you put your brain into story mode deliberately, it is like saying that it is time to start relaxing and go to sleep.
Stand on your head – As strange as this may seem, it actually works! Doing a headstand causes refreshed blood to flow to the hypothalamus and the pituitary glands in our brain, which control all other glands in our body. The action of a headstand also cleanses and detoxifies the adrenal glands, which boost positive thinking and banish depressive thoughts. With fewer worries and anxiety, it is easier to drift off into a restful sleep. Before trying a headstand, it is critical to work on a strong core. Once your core is strong, follow instructions from an exercise professional on how to do a correct headstand and hold it for 1-5 minutes before returning to an upright position and getting into bed.
Breathe in through your left nostril – As if standing on your head was not bizarre enough, what about left nostril breathing? Again, as odd as it sounds, it actually works. Bringing your attention to your breath is a great way to let down, release anxiety, and even lull yourself into blissful sleep. Put a finger on your right nostril and slowly and intentionally breathe in through your left nostril. According to yogi science, the left nostril is a pathway to Ida energy, which represents moon energy: calm, soothing, and passive. The right nostril is associated with the sun or what is known as Pingala energy, which is awakening, active, and fiery. If falling asleep is difficult for you because your mind is racing, gently cover your right nostril and breathe in through your left. This will activate your parasympathetic response and nudge you out of the fight-or-flight mode ushering in calm relaxation.
Squeeze your muscles – Squeezing your muscles is like a do-it-yourself massage. There is nothing better than a massage to unwind and enter into deep relaxation. This progressive muscle relaxation exercise is a great way to arrive at a peaceful place.
Follow these steps for your very own self-massage:
- Lie on your back and take a deep and refreshing breather.
- Squeeze your toes like you are curling them under your feet. Hold for a minute and release.
- Breathe again, squeeze your feet, and pull your toes towards your shins.
- Keep going doing the same thing from your toes, feet, calves, thighs, legs, stomach, buttocks, chest, arms, shoulders, neck, face, and to the top of your head.
-The Alternative Daily