How to Fall Asleep in 5 Minutes or Less
You know the feeling, your lids are heavy and you can hardly stay awake. You are bone-weary tired, and you cannot wait to climb in bed and drift off to Dreamland. You drag your exhausted body into the bedroom, and slip between the sheets. Your head hits the pillow…and…suddenly you are wide awake. You start thinking about everything you need to do in the morning, and before you know it, 5 minutes becomes 20, and then 30 minutes becomes an hour and sleep has evaded you for what you fear will be hours.
Even for those lucky ones for whom slumber comes easily, we all have nights when we can’t seem to fall asleep. When counting sheep isn’t doing the trick, try this simple technique that will have you snoozing in 5 mintues or less.
The 4-7-8 Breathing Technique
- Draw in a breath through your nose for 4 seconds.
- Hold your breath for 7 seconds.
- Slowly exhale through your mouth for 8 seconds.
- Repeat this pattern as you drift off the sleep.
- Place the tip of your tongue behind your upper teeth and keep it there throughout the exercise.
- Make a gentle whooshing sound as you exhale through your mouth.
- Focus your attention on the physical sensation of the breath.
Wellness expert and director of the Center for Integrative Medicine at the University of Arizona, Andrew Weil, MD, recommends this breathing technique, which acts like a natural tranquilizer. Dr. Weil points out that while pharmaceutical sleep aids lose effectiveness over time because we build up a tolerance to them, The 4-7-8 Breathing Technique gains effectiveness through practice. That means the longer you do it, the more your body responds.
Consider supplementing The 4-7-8 Breathing Technique with these supportive practices:
- Set yourself a regular bedtime. Attuning your body to a specific time it expects to be in bed means it will also expect to fall asleep.
- Power down an hour prior. Whether you realize it or not, social media, Words With Friends, and catching up on your bookmarked articles is stimulating. Your smartphone, tablet, or laptop is stimulating both in content and delivery system. Giving your eyes and brain a break at least an hour prior to bedtime gives your body time to unwind and relax.
- Take a warm shower. It doesn’t need to be a big production, just a rinse off will do. Warm water soothes the muscles and calms the mind. Just before bed, it can be a powerful sleep aid.
4. Spritz a little lavender. Mix a few lavender essential oil in distilled water to create an aromatherapy pillow spray. Lavender as a fragrance is known for its calming properties. Smelling it as breath in the 4-7-7 pattern is a sleep inducing double whammy.