It takes my husband, Lee, a while before he is asleep at night and he often wakes up around two in the morning. Falling asleep and staying asleep is easy for me. He once asked me how I do it. I told him I breathe. Deep belly breathing is an effective way to relax the body and get to sleep but I have two other tricks I use. I figured if he was asking for my sleep hacks then others out there would benefit as well. I want to take this opportunity to explain the style of breathing I use plus the other two proven methods.
- 4, 7, 8 Breathing
As you inhale count to four and then hold your breath at the top while you count to seven. Finally, take a slow, controlled exhale out as you count to eight. Repeat this as many times as you need. I am often asleep before I get to round three. Why does this method work? If you are staying up because of worries this method of breathing will help you to refocus on your breath and not what happened that day or what might happen the next day. This type of breathing helps to bring your body in a deep, relaxed state as opposed to being in flight or fight mode (very stressful state). Everyone is different and just because this practice works for me doesn’t mean it is guaranteed to work for you. But I bet at least one of these methods I am sharing with you today will work for you.
- Cognitive Shuffle
I heard this term coined by Dr. Amy Bender on “Catalyst” which is a podcast I enjoy listening to. The first step in the cognitive shuffle is to come up with a word. I like using the word Carolina. Next, you take the first letter in the word and list out all the words that start with that same letter. For instance, if your word is Carolina, you could use the words cow, calf, cross, church, coward, culprit and so on. When you no longer can name words that start with that letter you move on to the next letter. I am usually asleep by the letter r. I think this method is similar to the breathing in that it keeps your attention off of your worries and onto something less stressful.
Finally, the last method I use to fall asleep is prayer. When I settle into my bed and get comfortable and close my eyes I begin with “Dear Father”. While I pray I give thanks for all of my blessings which I list out. I then ask for prayers for my family and friends and I will list their names out too. I am typically fast asleep before I can ask for forgiveness and close my prayer out. Praying during the day always makes me feel at peace and comforted so I feel praying at night does the same thing. It is soothing and relaxing and again gets your mind off of your worries. In fact, God wants our worries so prayer can be a time you release those worries to God which is just what you might need to get a good night’s sleep.
I hope you find time to try these methods out and, even better, have success with at least one of these. If this doesn’t work, there are many other areas you can look into like setting up a bedtime routine, making a calming sleep environment, getting plenty of exercise, eating the right foods and drinking plenty of water. As a board certified health coach, I can help support and guide you towards better sleep. Click here to set up your free consultation. I look forward to working with you.