The Step By Step Guide To Falling Asleep (That Actually Works)

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Last Updated: 6th October 2016

“Healthy sleep is essential for emotional, physical and mental well being.” “We should make an investment in our health by prioritizing sleep,” says Dr. Safwan Badr, President of American Academy of Sleep Medicine.

A restful sleep improves memory, extends your lifespan, curbs inflammation, lowers stress, boosts creativity and promotes brain health.

Advances in technology and fast paced lifestyle prevents most of us from getting sufficient amount of sleep. Currently, the world is facing a sleep epidemic, and the results could be dangerous. Because it is, you and I are the ones that make up the world.

This article will gently guide you step by step to get a peaceful, uninterrupted sleep and give you sleep apnea treatment options. Scroll down for some uplifting and interesting information.

The Science Behind Sleeping

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Regular sleep is necessary for survival. The measurement of eye movement during sleep helps to divide sleep into two broad types.

  • Rapid eye movement (REM)
  • Non-rapid eye movement (NERM)

Each of these types has a set of related, neurological, physiological and psychological features. We tend to sleep in cycles of REM and NREM phases. These cycles occur between 90 to 110 minutes in humans.

In the rapid eye movement phase, the body is inactive, but the brain is active. This is the time when you have dreams.

In the non-rapid eye movement phase, the body is active, but the brain is inactive. There is relatively little dreaming. This cycle has four stages. The first two stages are considered light sleep, the third and fourth stage is known as a deep stage.

A new epoch-making discovery about sleep says salts in the brain conveys our sleep-wake cycle. The salt balance in the brain is affected by the adrenalin and other neuromodulators.

When we are awake, the salt balance makes neurons highly sensitive to stimulation. When we are asleep, the levels make it harder to activate neurons. Interesting, isn’t?

Is Sleep Essential?

The search for the core function of sleep can seem as elusive as the search for the mythological Phoenix, says Cirelli, an associate professor of psychiatry at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health in Madison.

The researchers say that sleep may be the price you pay for your brain to be more plastic the next day. Sleep is essential for consolidating new memories, to make the brain forget random useless impressions. So there could be room for more learning the next day.

A study by the researchers at Michigan State University found that lack of sleep can lead to errors in memory. The scientists say that memory distortion is greater after sleep deprivation.

Sleep deprivation is linked to industrial disasters, vehicle crashes and chronic diseases such as hypertension and diabetes.

The loss of sleep may result in loss of brain tissue, how scary is that? Researchers found that a night of total sleep loss showed increased blood concentrations of NSE and S-100 B.These molecules, usually occur when there is brain damage.

Lack of sleep may promote degenerative diseases, says sleep researcher Christian Benedict at the Department of Neuroscience, Uppsala University.

A good night’s sleep is critical for maintaining brain health. If you are not sleeping well, then it can increase your biological aging. Sleep loss activates gene expression patterns in peripheral blood mononuclear cells. It accumulates damage that leads to cell cycle arrest and cell death. This causes aging.

Cell death may activate molecular processes that increase the risk of disease. Sleep is essential if you want to be young, beautiful, slim and fit.

Studies say that sleep loss increases the hunger hormone ghrelin. So naturally you tend to eat more. If you lose thirty minutes of sleep per day, it may promote weight gain and adversely affect your blood sugar control. Sleep loss may also increase genetic risks for obesity.

As you dig deeper and deeper into research literature, more and more scary information comes out regarding sleep loss. Prolonged short duration sleep loss increases blood pressure and insulin resistance.

Chronic sleep disturbance could trigger Alzheimer’s disease. Scientific records say that in animal experiments, researchers noticed an increase in tau protein in mice that was sleep disturbed. The tau protein became phosphorylated and formed tangles inside the brain’s neuronal cells.

It is an important component of neuronal cell health. Higher levels of phosphorylated tau protein affect the cells' ability to transport nutrient and electrical signals.

This may affect the brain’s ability for forming new memories, learning and other cognitive functions. Ultimately, all these negative influences lead to Alzheimer’s disease.

Sleep loss can result in cell damage, impair the immune system, harms blood vessel function and breathe control and most importantly it affects your beauty and youthfulness.

A research study on teenagers found sleeping six hours or less increases the risk of major depression. Adolescents with sleep problems are likely to harm themselves. It also leads to failure in school.

Sleep deprivation can lead to stiffened arteries so say, researchers. According to the scientists’ adults who sleep five or fewer hours a day have 50% more calcium in their coronary arteries. This leads to heart problems.

Hope I have scared you to death. It would be wise to get a good night’s sleep of 7-8 hours daily to prevent all these scary situations in life.

We will see the above as pointers for a quick recap.

Sleep deprivation leads to

  • Errors in memory
  • Industrial disasters, vehicle crashes
  • Chronic diseases such as hypertension and diabetes
  • The loss of brain tissue
  • Degenerative diseases
  • Biological ageing
  • Obesity
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Insulin resistance
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Impaired immune system
  • Blood vessel and breathing control malfunction
  • Depression
  • Moodiness
  • Hallucinations
  • Yawning and
  • Heart disease

Step By Step Guide To Falling Asleep

Stimulus Control Therapy

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Professor Richard R. Bootzin, a leading sleeping disorders researcher, describes these six straightforward steps in the Annual Review of Clinical Psychology.

  • Go to bed when you really feel sleepy.
  • Do not read, eat, watch TV or worry in bed.
  • Associate your bed to fall asleep quickly.If you don’t feel sleepy go to another room. Come back when you feel like sleeping.
  • If you still don’t fall sleep, follow the above step. Go to another room and come back when you are sleepy.
  • Set the alarm and get up at the same time every morning. It does not matter the amount of time you slept the previous night. This way your body will acquire a consistent sleep rhythm.
  • If you have areal problem falling asleep, avoid napping during the day.

These methods work on the principle that we are like Pavlov’s drooling dog. We attach certain stimuli to certain thoughts and behaviors. Pavlov’s dogs start drooling when they hear the sound of thebell. They associate the bell ringing with getting food.

Replace the bell with bed and food with sleep and conceptually you’re there. If we learn to do all kinds of things on the bed such as reading, watching TV, then you literally won’t feel like sleeping in bed.

This therapy works best by strengthening the association between sleep and bed and weakening the association between bed and everything else.

Make Sure You Fall Asleep

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Set your room temperature to a little below 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Wear soft, comfortable and breathable clothing. Turn off all the lights and keep the night light far off. This environment will ensure that you fall asleep the minute you hit the bed.

You can do mental relaxing exercises to prepare your brain for sleep. Do this contracting and relaxing technique from your toes to your neck. Tense your muscles in the body and release them slowly.

Breathe counting – take a deep breath, and hold it for seven seconds and exhale for eight seconds.

Make an imaginary mental note that is repetitive. Imagine yourself counting sheep in a farm, shooting arrows or watering your garden. Imagine an activity that you know and step into it. Slowly you will drift off to sleep.

Turn On Light Music Or Colors Of Noise

Light music will calm your mind, and you’ll enter into a relaxed state. You can try classical music station on Pandora, Songza or Spotify. The relaxing music helps to let go of the day’s worries. It quietens your thoughts and helps you to fall asleep.

The music helps you to establish a connection to your sense of inner peace. It helps you to feel secure and enter into a world of restful slumber.

Listen to the delta waves which will lull you to deep sleep. Some of the classical music that you can hear to enter the slumbering land are

  • Moonlight Sonata- by Ludwig Van Beethoven
  • No 1 Gymnopedie by Erik Sadie
  • Clair De Lune – by Claude Debussy
  • Symphony 9, 3rd movement, Adagio molto e cantabile – by Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Piano Concerto No. 21 in C major by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Contemporary classic and jazz

  • Opus 23 by Dustin J. O’Halloran
  • River Flows in You by Yiruma
  • Prelude 2 by Dustin O’Halloran

Chill out and ambient

  • Discreet Music by Brian Eno
  • Melody AM by Royskopp
  • Music for Airports – Brian Eno

World music

  • In the Heart of the Moon by Ali Farka Touré & Toumani Diabaté
  • Yanni – Any of his albums!
  • Miho: Journey to the Mountain by Paul Winter Consort

Colors Of Noise That Make You Sleep

The frequencies determine the color of the noise. The three colors of noise that help you to sleep are white noise, pink noise, and brown noise. These noises, enhance the quality of your sleep.

The sounds such as the wind, ocean, and water, rain in the deep woods, bamboo chimes, and sounds of a bamboo water fountain can greatly enhance your sleep quality.

You can get this music and relax sounds on many white noise and music apps.

Yoga Promotes Healthy Sleep

Yoga an ancient art form helps you to enter dreamland easily. The yogic poses which I am going to discuss are easy and will actually make you sleep. How wonderful!

Head to knee poses (Jana Sirsasana)

  • Sit on the floor with legs extended in front of you and knee bent. Do not slouch your spine.
  • Open your hip and bend the right knee.
  • Bring the sole of the left foot into your inner left thigh and the right knee toward the ground.
  • You can use a cushion to support the right knee.
  • Inhale and slowly lengthen your spine.
  • Exhale and bend forward towards your left leg.
  • Place your hands on either side of left leg. Keep your neck and spine long.
  • Fix your gaze on the big toe and focus breathing in and out.
  • Repeat the process for the other side.

Bound ankle poses (BaddhaKona Sana)

  • Sit on the floor and bring the soles of feet in front of you.
  • Hold your hands onto the feet or ankles.
  • Try to bring your feet close towards your groin as possible.
  • Inhale
  • Lengthen your spine
  • Bend forward from the hips and exhale.
  • Breathe in and out
  • You can feel your muscles relaxing.

Wide angle seated forward bend (Upavistha Konasana)

  • Sit straight without slouching
  • Part your legs into a ‘V’ position.
  • Place your hands on the butt for balance. Stretch to the limit till you feel comfortable.
  • Straighten up your spine and exhale.
  • Bend forward and exhale.
  • Place your hands in front of you.
  • Lengthen the spine with every inhale.
  • Relax forward with every exhale.
  • Lie flat on the floor.
  • Bend the knees and place the soles of the feet on the floor.
  • Bring the right knee towards the chest.
  • Place the right ankle below the left knee.
  • Flex the right foot. This action keeps the muscles engaged and reduces strain.
  • Bring your left knee towards the chest.
  • Bring the hands on either side of the left thigh for support.
  • Bring your hips parallel and gently breathe in and out. Repeat on the other side.
  • Lie flat on the floor.
  • Bend the knees and place the soles of the feet on the floor.
  • Bring the right knee towards the chest.
  • Place the right ankle below the left knee.
  • Flex the right foot. This action keeps the muscles engaged and reduces strain.
  • Bring your left knee towards the chest.
  • Bring the hands on either side of the left thigh for support.
  • Bring your hips parallel and gently breathe in and out. Repeat on the other side.

Legs up the wall pose (Viparita Karani)

  • Sit facing the wall
  • Lie down and bring one leg up and rest it on the wall. Repeat with the other leg.
  • With your palms facing up, extend your hands along the side.
  • Close your eyes and breathe as you relax into this pose.
  • Place a pillow to block light.

These are some of the best yogic postures you can do to completely relax your body and drift off to sleep. They are easy and with little patience and practice, you can master them.

Acupressure

By pressing certain pressure points in your body, you can sleep well. Here are some great tips from the experts.

Yasuko Kawamura, an acupressure expert, gives you these result proven techniques. She talks about four acupressure points that will promote healthy sleep.

  • This point falls on the pinky side of the wrist. Right underneath the wrist bone there is a crease.
  • You can press this point for one minute.
  • Breathe deeply while you are pressing this point.
  • Repeat this on the other side.
  • The second point is on the forearm. Take two and a half finger width from the wrist crease.
  • Right in the middle of the forearm you will find the pressure point.
  • Press it for about one minute as you breathe deeply.
  • Switch to the other side.
  • The third point is the third eye right in between the eyebrow.
  • The fourth one is on your breastbone from the base of the breastbone four finger width above. Right in the middle you can find the pressure point.
  • You can press these points together for one minute.
  • Don’t forget to breathe deeply.

You are lucky to get even more precise information from Dr. Michael Reed, National Expert on Acupressure Therapy.

Here we go….

  • These pressure points are located on the ankles. The joyful sleep point, (K 16) it is right below the ankle bone.
  • Let us move to the next point. On the other side of the leg, just below the ankle bone, is the calm sleep point or the B 60.
  • Press the thumb on one point and the fingers on the other. Take a calm, slow deep breaths as you hold the points. Press the pressure points for 1 whole minute.
  • Repeat the process on the other ankle.
  • After completing this do some gentle stretching. Stretch your arms, neck, and legs.
  • Induce yawning, do this for three to four times.
  • Get into your bed and do some eye stretching. Look at one corner and to the other corner. You can also do crisscrosses. In this way, you stretch your optic nerve or the eyeball.
  • Get yourself comfortable. Yawn a couple of times. Relax and drift off to sleep.

Aromatherapy

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Essential oils promote sound sleep. So have the below-mentioned oils handy. Sniffing a drop or two of these aromatic oils provides an easy passport to the slumbering land.

Lavender oil – it relaxes your mind and promotes good quality sleep. Researchers found that lavender increased slow wave sleep. The very deep slumber, where the heartbeat slows and the muscles relax.

Sprinkle few drops of lavender in tissue and tuck it under your pillow or use an aromatherapy diffuser.

Chamomile essential oil

Roman Chamomile is an ancient herb. It has calming properties, reduces stress and aids in sleep. It relaxes tensed nerves and prepares you for sleep.

  • Sweet Marjoram essential oil,
  • Valerian root,
  • Frankincense essential oil and
  • Clary Sage
  • Neroli
  • Rose
  • Sandalwood
  • Ylang ylang essential oils are very effective in fighting insomnia.

How to use essential oils to promote sleep?

  • Add the desired essential oil to a warm bath before bedtime.
  • Add 6 to 8 drops of the oil to the bath.
  • You can the desired essential oil in a blend to a bubble bath.
  • Spray the essential oils using an aromatherapy diffuser.
  • You can use a candle diffuser or electrical diffuser.
  • You can do a mini-massage before bedtime with your desired essential oil. It helps you to unwind and relax.
  • Add the essential oil to a water spritzer and spray it around the room.
  • Spray a few puffs onto your pillow.
  • You can use aromatherapy and essential oils as part of your bedtime routine.
  • It creates a familiar comfort and helps associate bed with sleep time.

Aromatic Blends

You can try different combinations of these oils to find out, what works best for you. If you know the underlying cause of your sleeplessness, then you can mix suitable essential oils.

You can combine Bergamot and Lavender if you are suffering from insomnia due to sleeplessness. They uplift your emotional senses and also relaxes your body preparing it for a relaxing slumber.

Interior Decor

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Color psychology plays an important role in your sleep quality. Your bedroom should provide a calm, peaceful and relaxed atmosphere. To achieve this, you should go in for soft, cool colors.

Neutral colors have become a real trend in the bedroom. Bright or Matt shades of brown, beige and cream are very popular. They can be successfully combined with any other color.

To create a peaceful and calm environment, go in for wall colors such as lavender, blue, green tones or even pink ones.

Colors do have meanings

  • Green symbolizes calm, balance, security, nature and stability.
  • Blue produces feelings of loyalty, serenity, authority. It delays hunger and prevents nightmares.
  • Purple symbolizes creativity, happiness, and fertility. It is a hard color so you have to be careful in using it in the bedroom.
  • Avoid shades of dark gray for the bedroom because they symbolize sadness and depression.
  • You can go in for lighter versions of orange, yellow and red colors.
  • Accessories such as decorative pillows,plants,and chairs enhance the color scheme of your room.

Whatever your personal taste may be but the magic color when it comes to bedroom hues is blue.

People whose bedroom color is blue tend to sleep longer than others who have painted different colors in their bedrooms. Interesting, isn’t it?

Receptors in the retina called ganglion cells are more sensitive to blue. These cells are responsible for relaying information to the part of your brain that controls circadian cycle.

The color blue is associated with a calm which, when picked up by ganglion cells and conveyed to the brain reduces blood pressure and heart rate. This helps you to fall asleep.

How Bed Surfaces Affect Your Sleep

The feel of your pillows, mattresses and sheets affects the quality of your sleep. The mattress should be comfortable and supportive. It helps you to wake up feeling rested not achy or stiff.

Soft or firm pillows are a matter of preference, but, replace pillows when they become lumpy or shapeless.

A recent poll by the National Sleep Foundation found that many people say that clean, neat and comfortable bedroom environment is important for a good night's sleep. Researchers say that there is a connection between feeling good about where you sleep and your tendency to sleep through the night.

This explains why you should give utmost importance to the interior décor of your bedroom.

What To Wear To Bed

Choose sleepwear that you feel good when you put it on. Proper sleepwear helps to regulate your body temperature during the night and promotes healthy slumber.

Cotton- it is an all-natural fabric which is breathable and allows for air circulation. But if you experience night sweats it may not be the best choice.

Silk – it can be said as magical thermoregulator. It’s slippery and may move around while you sleep.

Flannel- it is the best choice for the cold months. It is comfortable, breathable and provides warmth without overheating.

Moisture wicking sleepwear- when you experience night sweats they provide you the utmost comfort. It draws water away from the skin and helps your body to regulate its own temperature.

Bamboo – it gives a soft and silky feel when you wear it. It keeps you at a comfortable temperature because it is a natural moisture wicker.

Wool and fleece- it may keep you warm, but may cause overheating. Wool may cause itchiness and fleecedo not promote air circulation.

Put on a pair of socks to get a cozy, restful sleep. Cold feet make you awake in the middle.Warmed feet are scientifically proven to help you to fall asleep quickly.

So the next time you shop for your night clothes. Keep all these pointers in mind, buy the best ones that suit you and enjoy agood sleep.

Foods That Help You To Get BonneNuit de Sommeil

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What you eat determines to a great extent the quality of your sleep. So here are five foods that promote a restful slumber.

Cottage cheese

It contains slow-digesting casein proteins and helps distribute amino acids to the muscles for hours to come. Cottage cheese contains tryptophan, which naturally induces sleep.You can combine cottage cheese and natural almond butter to keep you nourished for the overnight fast to come.

Oatmeal

The carbohydrates release serotonin in the body. Serotonin is the feel-good hormone that reduces stress and puts you in a much calmer state of mind. Slice up an apple and throw in some crushed cardamoms to your oatmeal. Serve with a splash of skim milk if desired.

Peanuts or peanut butter

Peanuts are a rich source of niacin, which helps to increase the release of serotonin in the body.Since they are high in calories, always use it in moderation. Spread a teaspoon of peanut butter onto a slice of wholegrain bread and enjoy.

Warm milk

It is not just old wives’ tale, but a glass of warm milk before bed can help you to sleep better. Milk contains tryptophan, and it also contains calcium.

Calcium works in the brain to help regulate the production of melatonin. Melatonin naturally controls your sleep-wake cycle. Add a teaspoon of honey to a glass of warm milk and gobble it up and snuggle in your bed.

Grapes

Grapes contain melatonin, which regulates your sleep quality.Toss some grapes into a bowl of yogurt and enjoy this perfect before-bed snack.

Tip- Go in for carbs and foods that contain tryptophan and calcium to enjoy a great BonneNuit de sommeil.

Avoid caffeine and alcohol. Caffeine should be avoided after 2-3 PM. Caffeine will affect the quality of your sleep. Alcohol may make you feel drowsy but will affect deep sleep. Do not smoke before going to bed because nicotine may also interfere with your sleep patterns.

Follow Proper Sleep Hygiene

The different practices that are needed for normal quality nighttime sleep and full daytime alertness.

Here are some of the practices you can follow

  • Stick to a sleep routine and go to bed at the same time every day.
  • Stretch gently 15 minutes before going to bed.
  • Half an hour before bedtime, take a warm, soothing bath.
  • An hour before going to bed switch off all the electronic screens and media.
  • Dim the lights in the house, 2 hours before bedtime.
  • Try meditation, yoga or acupuncture to help you fall asleep.
  • Slip into comfortable clothing.
  • Make your bed.
  • Have a light snack.
  • Bring in a beautiful atmosphere by spraying desired essential oils.
  • Adjust your room temperature. The best room temperature to fall asleep is 65 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Listen to relaxing music or to nature sounds and snuggle cozily in your bed.
  • Step into a dream world, count sheep, try self-hypnosis, relax, repeat some positive words and drift off to sleep.
  • Let go of grudges, jealousy, anger, greed, and enter into a state of spiritual calm. Ancient scriptures say that God gives restful slumber to those whom he loves.
  • Negative vibes and thoughts may hamper your peaceful sleep.
  • Do exercises 3-5 times a week.
  • Eat a healthy diet.
  • Avoid naps during daytime
  • Reduce your stress levels and
  • Pay a regular visit to your doctor for a general checkup.

These are some of the general guidelines. Follow those which you are comfortable with and dormirpaisiblement.

Conclusion

Getting adequate sleep is essential to lead a successful, positive and healthy life.

Remember that these tips aim to help you improve your lifestyle starting with your sleep pattern. You can try any of them and see what works best.

Bundle up your worries, failures, negative emotions, fear and stress. Release the positivity that is buried in you. Relax and enjoy life, above all sleep peacefully.

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