I have always had trouble falling asleep. As a little kid, I was scared of pretty much everything, but most notably the dark. I couldn’t sleep without the hall light on, and even today I prefer to fall asleep with some background noise and a little bit of light coming through the window.
Recently, I have been having particular difficulty relaxing into sleep. I’ve found myself struggling to stop my mind from racing through things I need to do or playing through hypothetical scenarios of what might happen in the future with regards to rentals I have been applying for or jobs I have been chasing.
Through a little bit of research (but mainly trial and error), I have come across a few handy hints that have given me some success in dozing off.
I have recently tried what is called the 4-7-8 breathing technique. Basically, what you do is breathe in through your nose for four seconds, hold your breath for seven and then breathe out slowly for eight seconds, and repeat this process at least four times. I find it is a useful way to slow down my breathing and begin to switch off.
Progressive Muscle Relaxation
This technique involves purposefully tensing and then relaxing various muscle groups throughout your body, generally moving from left to right and bottom to top, or vice-versa. This is a great way to focus your mind on something specific, helping to slow down your thoughts.
Get Out of Bed
This last one is what I tend to do if options 2 and 3 haven’t worked. Sleep experts suggest you should not spend much time in bed if you are not sleeping, so when I feel sleep isn’t anywhere in sight, I get up and watch an episode of TV or read a book on the couch before trying the whole process again. The upside of this one is that even if it doesn’t work, you have escaped the frustration of lying in bed for hours waiting for sleep to come and envelop you.