Go to Sleep When Tired
I find that if I attempt to force myself to go to sleep early, it actually hinders my sleep. If I am not tired, I usually can’t stop the array of ideas and actions my mind comes up with.
If I’m tired, I don’t want to think or do, I want to sleep.
Think about this scenario: You aren’t hungry and are forced to sit in front of food and eat. Would you eat the food? Maybe a little, but you would probably want to do something else. Your mind and body would be restless.
Same with sleep. If you don’t want to sleep but are trapped in bed, you will grow restless. And if you ask me, becoming restless is the last thing you want when you are trying to sleep.
So wait until you’re tired. I usually start reading an hour or two before my projected bedtime. When my mind starts to wander from my book because I am tired, I go to bed. Within minutes of going to bed while tired, I am asleep.
Note that there are things that can prevent you from realizing you’re tired. If you…
exercise too close to bed
stimulate your mind (with things like TV, video games, or the screen of a computer)
you are tricking yourself into thinking you are less tired than you really are. The key is to unwind going to bed. Relax and destimulate your mind, rather than stimulating it.
Avoid these things 3 hours – or at least 2 hours – before bed.
Release Your Thoughts
Most of the time, your thoughts are what’s keeping you up. I know this was a big problem for me.
It’s almost like a snowball effect happens in your head. Let in one thought and it leads to another and another. Pretty soon, you have been awake for hours.
The best way to prevent this is to stop your thoughts before they start.
It is impossible to block thoughts though. If you have ever tried this, you know what I mean. But you can release them.
When you see a thought coming, write it down. If you keep writing down thoughts, they will leave you brain. You know your thoughts are on paper – so you don’t need to think about them anymore.
This one technique can have a huge effect on your sleeping. Keep a notepad by your bed, and try it.
A second good way to stop thoughts is to meditate.
When you meditate, you don’t block your thinking, but simply watch your thoughts come and go.
Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to shave your head or sit in a special stance to meditate. You simply relax. When thoughts come, let them pass- let them flow like water. Don’t block them, but don’t pursue them.
Meditation can take practice, but it’s worthwhile. Learn it, and you won’t have to deal with thoughts keeping you awake.
When it comes to dealing with thoughts, I find myself switching between writing down my thoughts, and meditating depending on my mood. Try both.
The reasons techniques like counting sheep don’t work is because they stimulate your brain. Even deep breathing can stimulate your mind – if you have to think about it.
The best way to get to sleep is to relax. It’s amazing how simple this is.
Try tightening your muscles. Than let them release. Do so with all of your muscles. Now simply relax and feel the peace of sleep.
I was so used to being tense while sleeping (and in everyday life) that relaxing actually came hard for me. The key here is to practice. Relaxation is just a state of mind.
Relaxation helps you get to sleep, but it has an even more important effect. When I relax during sleep, I felt great. I started looking forward to sleep. It became a joy, rather than a burden.
If you follow the tips mentioned, you will fall asleep fast. It may not happen overnight (no pun intended) , but it will happen. It just takes some practice.
Implement each technique slowly. It takes a while for them to become habits. Combine these techniques with waking early for best results.
When you start falling asleep fast, you will realize that sleep is pleasurable. You will find waking up easier and have more energy. It will make a great difference in your life.
Guest post by Jake O’Callahan