The Trouble with Sleep

Is falling asleep always like an arduous battle for you?

Do you always take sleeping pills and would like to stop?

If so, you will be glad to hear there is a solution out there! Read on for my own take on the “How to Sleep Faster” guides.

Ever since I was a child, I’ve hated sleeping. Nap time? More like close-my-eyelids-and-pretend-to-be-asleep-when-the-teacher-comes-around time. Sleep 7-9 hours a night? More like 4-6 hrs. In sixth grade, I unnecessarily stayed up until 11pm doing an art project one night and I thought I was so cool because my parents had already gone to bed. Haha I was such a naive girl (just wait until you experience high school all nighters).

But in all seriousness I’m such a night owl and it’s problematic. My philosophy: why sleep when you could spend that same time doing so many other exciting things? For example, I’ve developed a bad habit of watching TV show marathons late into the night on my phone and I’ll often find myself dozing off around 2 or 3 am. Even beauty queens need their sleep….yes, yes, I understand the hazardous side effects of getting little sleep all too well. There’s also nothing particularly wrong with my bed. I love the soft feel of pillows and bedding and I do like to catch up on my sleep (at odd hours). It’s just so…..boring to me.

Now, even when I want to sleep I find it difficult because unwanted thoughts keep flooding into my head. Apparently my brain decided that the best time to be active is early in the wee hours when I’m in an inclined position. I remember clearly one night when I had tried to sleep at 9 pm and found myself staring at the clock that read 2 am five hours later, still unable to enter dreamland. Maybe my childhood fear of the dark also affects my ability to sleep subconsciously. Either way, I had to find a solution.

I have gone through so many websites that give tips on how to fall asleep faster and now I’m putting together this list of things that have personally worked for me to help all the other insomniacs out there who would just like to have a peaceful night for once sans use of pills (because being well-rested always beats out head splitting headaches and seriously, that drama can wait until morning):

  1. Do not look at any brightly-lit displays for up to an hour before bed. The exact time limit can vary from person to person, but for me I’ve found it best to shut off all devices at least 30 minutes before bed. You want to be as relaxed as possible, and looking at anything exciting will not help.
  2. Make sure your bedroom is completely dark. Personally, I find it so much easier to prepare myself mentally and physically for bed if there are no night lights or distracting music playing in the background.
  3. Keep your bedroom temperature cool. I like to sleep with a room temp range of 65-70 degrees Fahrenheit. Trust me, it’s much easier to sleep when you’re not trying to kick off all the bedding. Plus, you won’t ever find yourself waking up drenched in sweat.
  4. Mediate, pray, do what you have to in order to relax. This is probably the most important tip. You HAVE to be in a tranquil mental state to fall asleep. Some people find it beneficial to take a warm bath before bed (this only wakes me up) while others resort to using essential oils and aromatherapy. Meditation is particularly useful for me because sitting in the dark and letting go of all my thoughts helps me slow my breathing and clear my head. Praying may help individuals feel more secure and sleep in a calmer state of mind. Whatever will help you loosen up, do it.
  5. Do not drink any fluids before going to bed. This is just not a good idea for so many reasons as it can cause you to get up and go to the bathroom in the middle of the night.
  6. Count. Remember that classic childhood remedy of counting sheep? It’s a classic for a reason. It works. I too thought I could stay up forever, counting the 1058th sheep that leapt over the fence, but nope counting really works. Here’s the twist to the trick that actually helps me sleep when all else fails: Take deep breaths for this exercise. Breathe in and count to three. Breathe out and count to six. Breathe in and count to three. Breathe out and count to six. Repeat. This really works. Just keep doing it and don’t give up. Eventually you will find yourself waking up to the morning sun streaming in through your window.
  7. ASMR (Autonomous sensory meridian response) as a last resort. Don’t know what it is? Don’t worry, here’s the Wikipedia definition:

ASMR is a neologism for a perceptual phenomenon characterized as a distinct, pleasurable tingling sensation in the head, scalp, back, or peripheral regions of the body in response to visual, auditory, tactile, olfactory, or cognitive stimuli.

Okay, let’s skip the scientific terms and cut to the chase. Some people experience a tingly sensation when they hear certain triggers such as whispering, crinkling, tapping, and scratching. It works similar to white-noise or rain sounds which help most people relax. Not everyone experiences ASMR, however, but you should still try it out. There are plenty of Youtubers (TheUKASMR, WhispersUnicorn, Fairy Char ASMR, WhispersRedASMR, GentleWhispering) dedicated to the cause and there are even ASMR videos made in foreign languages (Miniyu ASMR <Korean> , Pigsbum53 <English/Korean>, Hermetic Kitten <Spanish/French/Italian/English>, karin_asmr <Japanese>). Some role-play as makeup artists while others create videos vlog-style and whisper their words. Either way, they try to include different triggers to cater to everyone and help their audiences sleep.

ASMR videos always knock me out cold. That said, they don’t ensure quality sleep. You’re staring at a brightly-lit screen which is also bad for your vision over time and you’ll come to rely on the videos to sleep, so I would strongly advise you to use ASMR videos as a very last resort.

Now, for a final tip, try to plan out your sleep in 90 minute blocks. It has been scientifically proven that a full sleep cycle is ninety minutes long and if you wake up any time in between, you will feel more tired than if you woke up right at the end of a cycle. So set a time for when you want to wake up and work backwards in increments of 90 minutes to see when you should go to bed or vice-versa. This is absolutely true, as I decided to sleep for 7.5 hours the other night and woke up naturally ahead of the alarm clock right around the set time. I felt super awake and well-rested the rest of that day.

Okay, hope these tips were helpful. Off to bed you go!

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