HOW TO FALL ASLEEP QUICKLY

This is second in a two-part series about sleep. Click here to read part one.

Last week I wrote about how poor sleep can negatively affect your mental health.

If you’re thinking, “It’s not my fault, I just can’t fall asleep at night!” then try this method taught to military pilots in combat zones in WWII, where sleep deprivation often lead to deadly errors.

The man who developed this method, Bud Winter, was a college football coach who had worked with a psych professor to help his athletes relax under pressure. And after six weeks of training soldiers, “96 percent of pilots could fall asleep within 120 seconds. Even with distractions like gunfire in the background. Even after drinking coffee. Even sitting up.”

Ready to learn how to fall asleep in two minutes? Here we go:

  1. Get in a comfortable position. If you’re not lying down in bed, then lean the seat back in your car, find a comfortable chair at work, etc.
  2. Relax your face. This may sound silly, but it’s key to the whole thing. When your muscles in your face are tensed, they’re sending signals to your brain that you’re stressed. When you relax your face, it sends a signal to your body that you’re safe to drop off to sleep. So smooth out your forehead, let your jaw go slack, close your eyes.
  3. Drop your shoulders. Feel like your shoulders are dropping straight down to the floor, and let the back of your neck go limp. “Most people store most tension in their shoulders, necks, and jaws,” so take a breath and let it out slowly, letting the last of the stress out on your breath.
  4. Relax your arms. Start with your dominant side, relaxing your bicep first. If it won’t relax then tense it and let it go slack, then do the same with your dominant hand. Repeat the process with your non-dominant side.
  5. Let your legs go limp. This is similar to your arms: start with the leg on your dominant side and focus on each muscle from the hip down, feeling it getting heavy. Start with your quads, then go down to your calves, then your ankle, then the foot. Repeat for your non-dominant leg.
  6. Power down your brain. You need to clear your mind for at least 10 seconds. You can do this by focusing on your breathing, in and out, nice and slow, all the while not letting other thoughts creep in. If thoughts continue to intrude, Winter suggests you can imagine lying on your back in a canoe and looking up into the clouds on a warm summer day, or that you’re swinging in a black velvet hammock in the total dark.

If you try this method and it works for you, let me know! I want to help you sleep better and more soundly at night, as it ties in so strongly to your peace of mind.

Author
Satu H. Woodland, PMHCNS-BC, APRN Satu H. Woodland, PMHCNS-BC, APRN Satu Woodland is owner and clinician of Hope Mental Health, an integrative mental health practice located at Bown Crossing in Boise, Idaho. She sees children, adolescents, and adults.  Ms. Woodland with her background in nursing, prefers a holistic and integrative approach to mental health care that addresses the mind and body together. While Ms. Woodland provides medication management services in all her patients, she believes in long-lasting solutions that include a number of psychotherapies, namely cognitive behavioral therapy, exposure and response prevention therapy, attention to lifestyle, evidenced based alternative psychiatric care and spirituality. If you’d like to gain control over your mental health issues, call Hope Mental Health at 208-918-0958, or use the online scheduling tool to set up an initial consultation.

You Might Also Enjoy...

YOUTH AND SUICIDAL THOUGHTS

Suicides among teens ages 15-19 are the highest they’ve been since 2000, says a new study by the Journal of the American Medical Association. Here’s a snippet from an NBC analysis of the study: The new study found that in 2017, 6,241 teenagers and adult

HOW POOR SLEEP AFFECTS YOUR MENTAL HEALTH

I can’t stress this enough: part of managing your mental health includes getting enough sleep. I’ve written about this here before: in my career I’ve seen how poor sleep can lead to suicidal thoughts, memory issues, even weight gain. According to an artic

SOME ADHD MEDS INCREASE RISK OF PSYCHOSIS

New evidence is emerging that some medications for ADHD put teens and young adults at risk for developing psychosis. According to this study of more than 200,000 people ages 13 to 25, one out of 660 people had an episode of psychosis in a few months afte

SUMMER BREAK WITH YOUR HIGH-NEEDS CHILD

As thrilled as kids are with summer break, it can be difficult on parents to muster the same enthusiasm. You’re all out of your routine and it can take time to get used to a new schedule, and get used to each other. If you have a child with developmental

THE NEED FOR MENTAL HEALTH SUPPORT IN SCHOOLS

A recent report from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) makes a case for more mental health professionals–including nurses and social workers–in schools. From the report: School counselors, nurses, social workers, and psychologists are frequently

HOW DEPRESSION AND ANXIETY CAN AFFECT YOUR MEMORY

In 1958, researchers in the UK began collecting data from thousands of children born in a single week that year, creating the National Child Development Study (NCDS), which has been ongoing for nearly 60 years. This is so fascinating to me! Mental health