Really. I am going to start dumping all the notes I have on a bunch of lifehacks that have helped me or that I am currently pursuing.
I have always struggled to sleep quickly. I have tried melatonin (god saver on long flights) but I want a non medicated natural way of trying to fall asleep quickly. And with noise. I have noticed that this is a super power especially if you are with kids around and taking care of them (we baby sit our close friends kids and it’s impossible to take an hour to sleep because they are up by then).
I have found an interesting technique I thought I’ll try. It is recommended by the military and pilots who don’t have the luxury of hours to plan their sleep in. They can’t spend an hour trying to sleep either. Especially with gunfire around, you can’t choose a nice pillow and lay yourself down for 1 hour before getting sleep. Here’s what they found.
The Military method for sleeping
According to Sarah Ackerman, the United States Navy Pre-Flight School created a routine to help pilots fall asleep in 2 minutes or less. It took pilots about 6 weeks of practice, but it worked — even after drinking coffee and with gunfire noises in the background.
Pilots were taught to sleep on any chair. Chairs are incredibly hard to sleep in for me, especially as a big guy. But if you can stretch completely then you already are ahead. Sitting back in the chairs, pilots put their feet flat, and let their hands go limp against their laps.
Your face is the key to slowing down everything. Close your eyes and breathe slowly and deeply. Then relax all 43 of your face muscles — no squinting or frowning. Your forehead should be smooth. Let everything go loose. Breathe out as you feel your cheeks, mouth, tongue, and jaw relax.
Make sure your eyes are totally limp. Your eyes are shut, but you want to make sure they are totally limp. Do this by letting them fall deep into your socket. There are six muscles that control your socket; feel them relax and go lifeless.
When you relax your face and let your eye sockets go limp, you signal to the rest of your body it’s time to unwind.
Now let your shoulders drop. As low as they can. The back of your neck should go lifeless.
Next are your arms. Start with your dominant side. If you’re right-handed, focus on your right bicep. Feel it relax and drop down your body. If it’s not relaxing, tense it first, then let it go loose.
Then move to your right forearm. Focus on sending it limp. Finally, comes your hand and fingers. Let them fall like a dead weight against your leg. When you’ve finished with your dominant side, work through the process with your other arm. Your upper body should be nice and limp, like it’s sinking into you. You’re more than halfway there.
Next stop is your legs. Tell your right thigh muscle to sink, like a dead weight. Then tell the same thing to your right calf muscles. Then do the same thing for your ankle and foot. Feel the muscles go limp, as your leg sinks into the ground. Repeat the process with the left leg, talking to your thigh, then your calf, then your ankle and foot. Now you have unwound, relaxing every muscle in your body from your face to your feet. There’s just one more thing you need to do to turn your relaxed state into deep sleep.
The last step is to clear your mind for 10 seconds. That’s it. No thinking about what went wrong that day, or what time you need to get up, or when you’ll get to call your partner. Doing these things all involve movement. Which means just thinking about them is enough to make your muscles involuntarily contract.
Imagine you are lying on a comfy couch, in a pitch black room. Hold this image in your mind for 10 seconds. If that doesn’t work, say the words “don’t think … don’t think … don’t think” over and over for at least 10 seconds. This will clear out any thoughts and stop your brain from wandering.
The 4-7-8 breath method.
Here you let your body relax and focus on the breath. You inhale the breath for 4 seconds. You hold for 7 seconds and you exhale for 8 seconds. Inhaling through the nose and exhaling through the mouth.
The held breath (for seven seconds) is the most critical part of this practice. It’s also recommended that you only practice 4-7-8 breathing for four breaths when you’re first starting out. You can gradually work your way up to eight full breaths.
This is a basic form of pranayama.
There are more tips that I collected off the internet too.
- Blinking your eyelids a lot tires them. Leading to sleep. This requires a lot more effort but can quickly get you to sleep faster.
- Exercise more to wear yourself out (this I found works but getting to exercise is a pain)
- Reading before sleeping (you need anti blue filter light and the iPhone doesn’t work even with nightshift, the kindle’s a lot better)
- Switch off your phone and all forms of light 1 hour before bed. This means near total darkness.
- Reduce the temparature of the room. A lot of people sleep at 65F (18C) but that will cause my mom in law and wife to beat me so that probably isn’t realistic in my house.
- Ditch coffee after 1 pm (man I don’t know how I’ll do this)
- Ditch stimulants of all forms forever and quit sugar
- Learn to stop worrying about things. Stop thinking about things we need to do or what other people have done.
- Don’t eat after 6-7 pm.
What works for you?