When your body is ready to sleep, it releases the hormone melatonin in your bloodstream.
Think of melatonin as a drug that intoxicates you and lulls you to sleep. The more melatonin your body produces, the more droopy your eyelids get.
So if you are not able to sleep, your body is obviously not producing enough melatonin.
One of the main reasons for this is the presence of the hormone Cortisol in your bloodstream that happens when your body is feeling stressed out and your mind is producing way too many thoughts.
Now, cortisol actually blocks the production of melatonin. So as long as there is cortisol in your bloodstream, you will not feel sleepy!
The two best things you can do to remove cortisol and signal your body to produce more melatonin are as follows:
- Let go of all your stress, tensions and thoughts.
- Deeply relax your mind and body.
Considering these initial pointers, let’s look at 11 effective techniques that will induce deep relaxation and help you fall asleep even when you’re not feeling tired!
- Do 4 – 7 – 8 breathing (instant sleep technique)
- Do vipasana meditation
- Do body scanning meditation
- Listen to calming music
- Try self hypnosis
- Do progressive muscle relaxation
- Diffuse lavender essential oil in your bedroom
- Listen to binaural beats
- Read calming literature
- Use a sleep mask
- Create a ‘to do’ list for tomorrow
1.) Do 4 – 7 – 8 breathing (instant sleep technique)
4-7-8 breathing is a powerful relaxation technique developed by Dr. Andrew Weil. This technique has shown to be extremely useful for people with insomnia. It can get you start feeling drowsy well within 2 minutes!
Here’s how you do it:
- Sit comfortably in your bed/chair with your eyes closed.
- Breathe in through your nose to the count of 4.
- Hold your breath for a count of 7.
- Breathe out forcefully through your mouth making a ‘woosh’ sound for a count of 8.
Repeat this breathing cycle 4 times. In most cases, you will start feeling drowsy within a couple of repetitions.
Breathing this way, relaxes the blood vessels and helps with secretion of sleep inducing hormones like melatonin.
2.) Do vipasana meditation
An overactive mind, will not allow you to sleep.
Doing Vipasana meditation for a few minutes will help calm down your mind. Here’s how to do it:
- Sit comfortably with your eyes closed and shift your attention to your breathing.
- Feel the cool air caressing the tip of your nostrils as you breathe in and warm air escaping as you breathe out.
- If thoughts arise, let them. Do not engage with the thoughts or force them to stop. Instead, simply keep bringing your attention back to your breath.
Doing this for 2 to 5 minutes is suffice to relax you deeply bringing about sleep.
3.) Do body scanning meditation
Body scanning is a powerful exercise that can deeply relax your mind and body promoting sleep.
The idea of this meditation is to “feel” your body from within. As you feel your body this way, your body begins to relax. In addition to that, the thoughts in your mind begin to settle down as well.
Here’s how to do body scanning:
Lie down in bed and take a few deep relaxing breaths. Consciously relax your body by letting go of any muscles you might by unconsciously clenching. Now start to feel your body from within starting from the soles of your feet to the crown of your head.
For example, feel the soles of your feet and see if you feel any stress, tension, tightness or strain in this area. If you do, spend a few seconds here and consciously relax this area.
Slowly scan and relax other parts of your body this way. You will start to feeling drowsy before you finish scanning even half your body!
Here’s a guided 3 minute body scan meditation you can do right now. This is guaranteed to make you fall asleep!
Also Read: 37 Sleep Gifts To Help Someone With Sleep Issues.
4.) Listen to calming music
The right kind of music (or sounds) can help reduce anxiety, lower stress and even induce deep states of relaxation. So whenever you are not feeling sleepy, consider listening to music that have a relaxing effect on you.
Instrumentals make for a better choice than songs with lyrics as lyrics can get stuck in your mind. You can also listen to sounds of nature like sound of the rain, ocean, crickets, birds or even whales.
Some examples of calming songs are as follows:
- Arabesque – Debussy
- Watermark – Enya
- House of cards – Radiohead
- Fleetwood Mac – Albatross
- Ocean Breeze – Kenny G
- Be Wrong – Wolf Larsen
Of-course, depending on your choice of music, some songs might calm you and some might not. So, check out different artists, even indie artists on sites like SoundCloud and make your personal relaxation playlist.
5.) Try self hypnosis
Self hypnosis is an highly effective way to induce sleep. The best way to hypnotize yourself at home is to listen to prerecorded hypnosis audio programs.
The following is a good audio program by hypnotist Lina Grace that you can listen to right now:
Relaxing yourself and making yourself open and receptive to the instructions will increase the likelihood of this method working.
6.) Do progressive muscle relaxation
Progressive muscle relaxation is a technique wherein you squeeze (tense up) and release various parts of your body promoting deep relaxation.
For example, clench your left hand (so as to form a fist), hold for a seconds while consciously feeling the tension in your hand and then release your hand feeling the relaxing sensations. Now repeat this with your right hand and so on and so forth with all body parts.
You can perform this exercise lying down in bed. Just remember to tense up your body parts with each inhale and release with each exhale.
In most cases, you should fall asleep right in the middle of doing this process as it deeply relaxes your body and mind.
7.) Diffuse lavender essential oil in your bedroom
Lavender is known to promote a sense of calm and relaxation.
Diffusing lavender essential oil in your room or even merely sniffing the oil can put you in a state of relaxation and bring about sleep. This has been proven by various studies.
Diffusing lavender oil in your room will not only help you sleep but also greatly enhance the quality of your sleep. This is because lavender helps promote ‘slow-wave sleep’ which is a deep sleep state where the heartbeat slows down and the muscles relax deeply.
8.) Listen to binaural beats
Listening to binaural beats can alter the frequency of your brain waves aiding relaxation and sleep.
Here is how this works: Our brains operate at different frequencies during different stages. When we are fully awake the brain waves are in beta frequencies (16 – 31 Hz), whereas when we are relaxed the frequency is either alpha (8 – 14 Hz) or theta(4 – 7 Hz). While sleeping, the frequency changes to delta (0.2 – 3 Hz).
Binaural beats help induce sleepy states by altering your current brain wave frequency. When you listen to a binaural beat of a particular frequency for more than a few minutes, your brain tries to synchronize its own frequency to the one from the beat. This way, your brain frequency changes and you feel relaxed and sleepy.
To get sleep, you need to listen to delta frequency binaural beats. These waves have a frequency between 0.5 and 2 Hz.
The following video is an example of a low delta 0.5HZ frequency brain wave music:
If you are looking for something formal, I highly recommend trying out Sleep Saloon. Sleep Saloon is a complete brain entertainment program (comes with 8 MP3 files) that will train your brain to relax and get into restful sleep mode so you wake up fresh and full of energy. The best part is that it costs only $37.
Make sure to listen to these beats using earphones/headphones to get maximum benefits.
9.) Read calming literature
Reading a book can tire your eyes and induce sleep.
Just make sure that you do not read anything that has stimulating content. In other words, avoid books that contain excessive horror, violence of stuff that might disturb you.
Instead, read books that are calming in nature.
Also make sure to use a table lamp or dim your lights while reading.
10.) Use a sleep mask
Research has shown that using sleep masks and ear-plugs can help induce sleep. So if you have never used them, consider given them a shot.
In addition to the plain sleep masks, there are a variety of specialized sleep masks available like magnetic sleep masks and Gel eye masks that help relax the eyes and also reduce headaches, stress and restlessness.
11.) Create a ‘to do’ list for tomorrow
Often times the reason you cannot sleep is because you simply have too much on your mind.
To put your mind at ease, keep a notepad by your bed and write down a list of all the things you need to do the next day. You can also write down the ideas you don’t want to forget or just about anything that is running in your mind right now.
Then when your mind is racing, remind yourself it is written down and ready for you when you wake up.
Use any of the technique(s) listed here that you find most appealing. Most of these techniques are super simple but they are highly effective if done right.
Have a good night!