- Why is sleep important?
- What stops us from sleeping?
- How much sleep do we need?
- What happens when we don't get enough sleep?
- How to fall asleep in 2 minutes
Are you spending night after night tossing and turning in bed, begging your body and brain to calm down so you can finally fall asleep?
Sleep problems affect a surprisingly large proportion of the population - it's no wonder we're so tired all of the time! Sleep is a human need, and learning how to fall asleep quickly can be a true lifesaver when it comes to making the most out of your days.
Why is sleep important?
Sleeping gives the body an opportunity to recharge. It's not only important for the healing and repair of our heart and blood vessels, but also gives our muscles a chance to rest, and the brain a chance to prepare for the next day by creating new pathways to help us remember information.
For children, sleep is particularly important for healthy growth and development.
What stops us from sleeping?
On paper, sleep seems like such an easy concept, and when you're falling asleep at your desk, so.Very.Tempting.
So, why then, when we actually want to sleep, is it such a struggle?
Well, there are certain factors that overstimulate us and prevent us from being able to relax enough to nod off. These include:
- Stimulants: coffee, alcohol and food can not only affect our ability to fall asleep, but also the quality of sleep we get.
- Temperature: if you're too hot, or indeed, too cold, you'll struggle both to fall asleep and stay asleep.
- Stress & overthinking: when we're trying to sleep, we're not concentrating on anything in particular. This often means worries or anxieties we have find their way into our consciousness, and before we know it our brains are working overtime, getting us in a tizzy and preventing us from falling asleep.
- Noisy or uncomfortable environments: there's a reason people are fussy when it comes to the location of their new home - a noisy environment can make switching off at night almost impossible. Sharp and sudden noises will disrupt the sleep cycle and leave us feeling frazzled and unrested.
- Irregular routines: even as children, we're told to go to bed at the same time every night, and there's good reason for this. Our bodies have a built-in clock of sorts, which adjust to regular patterns. When these patterns are disrupted, the body finds it hard to adapt and give us the sleep we need.
How much sleep do we need?
Unfortunately, how much sleep we actually need isn't always an easy question to answer. Just as everyone's body responds better to different diets, the ideal amount of sleep for person-to-person varies too.
Whilst the National Institute of Health state healthy adults should ideally be getting between 7-9 hours of sleep for best performance, many of us sleep less than 7 hours a night.
It's important to remember that whilst you may be able to function on as a little as 6 or 7 hours a night, you'd probably feel a lot better on more.
As sleep directly correlates to growth, children need more sleep than adults. Newborns need up to a magnificent 17 hours a day, whilst older adults shouldn't need more than 8.
What happens when you don't get enough sleep?
Worried you're not getting enough sleep? The signs of sleep deprivation don't always have to be extreme. In fact, a lot of the symptoms are things you may be experiencing every day without realising. These include:
- Feeling the need to lie in on weekends
- Becoming drowsy when watching TV, reading or driving
- Needing an alarm to wake up
- Repeatedly using the snooze button
- Getting sleepy in warm rooms, meetings, lectures or lessons
- Relying on naps to get through the day
- Feeling sluggish in the afternoon
- Falling asleep quickly when going to bed
- Getting drowsy after a big meal
To summarise, not enough sleep means a craggy, drowsy, under-performing you. The positive? It's easy to remedy. Getting to bed earlier and learning how to fall asleep in 2 minutes with our clever trick will get you caught up on sleep in no time.
How to fall asleep in 2 minutes
Do you spend what seems like hours tossing and turning at night in a desperate attempt to eventually nod off? Don't waste time! Learn how the pros get to sleep in a flash with these two reliable methods...
The 4-7-8 breathing technique
The 4-7-8 breathing technique is as easy is it sounds and involves just three steps:
- First, slowly and calmly breathe in through your nose for 4 seconds.
- Then, hold your breath for 7 seconds, taking care to remain relaxed.
- Finally, breathe out through your mouth for a further 8 seconds - try to keep your breath even when doing so.
The 4-7-8 breathing technique is not only useful when trying to fall asleep, but also during periods of stress or anxiety. This is because it works to both slow down and lengthen your breath, increasing the amount of oxygen in your body, whilst reducing the amount of CO2.
Your heart, mind and central nervous system will become more relaxed. Hectic thoughts will dissipate, and you may even feel slightly sedated. Many people claim the 4-7-8 breathing technique has become their go-to, sleep solution, and the only thing they remember in the morning is beginning to count.
The military secret to falling asleep
This military trick claims to get you falling asleep in just 2 minutes - imagine how many extra minutes you could squeeze in without all that restlessness in bed at night!
This technique has been used for an astonishing two decades, and is said to work for 96% of people after six weeks of practice - sounds pretty good, huh?
Similarly to the 4-7-8 breathing method, it's surprisingly easy to do, with just 4 steps to complete:
- Relax all the muscles in your face - this includes the muscles around the eyes, as well as your tongue and jaw.
- Now it's time to relax your upper body. Let your shoulders drop down as far as possible, then do the same with your upper and lower arms.
- Next, take a deep breath in, then out, and relax your chest and legs - start from the thighs and work your way down.
- Now your body is relaxed, it's time to focus on your mind. Try and clear your mind while envisaging or doing one of the following for 10 seconds:
- Imagine you're lying in a canoe on a calm lake with nothing but clear, blue sky above you.
- Imagine you're in a pitch black room, lying on a black velvet hammock.
- Repeat the words 'don't think, don't think, don't think' in your head over and over.
And apparently, that's all it takes to be knocked out in approximately 120 seconds.
How do you get to sleep quickly? Share your tips with us in the comments below!