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Beat Insomnia: 7 Ways to Fall Asleep Fast

Last Updated: Oct 2, 2022 | Insomnia, General Health, Sleep

Insomnia

Getting a good night’s sleep is imperative for our physical and mental well-being. Those who had difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep know how frustrating it could be – not to mention the consequences it brings the following day.

In Singapore, about 15% of adults have experienced insomnia at some point during their lives. Stress, anxiety, pain, poor sleeping habits, or having caffeine late in the day are some reasons why some have difficulty falling asleep.

From a TCM point of view, insomnia generally results from an imbalanced Qi due to the dysfunction of the heart, spleen, stomach, liver, and kidneys. Here are some of the reasons that cause dysfunction in these organs:

  • Prolonged illness
  • Overworking
  • Lack of rest
  • Overthinking
  • Irregular eating
  • Poor food choices
  • Unresolved frustration, anger, resentment and repressed emotions

There are plenty of options that may help you fall asleep fast– from modern gadgets and apps to fancy weighted blankets to dietary supplements and bedtime drinks.

But for this article, we’ll teach you doable techniques that might help you fall asleep faster the natural way. We encourage you to try all the techniques below and see what works for you – treat it as an experiment if you will.

1. Guided Imagery

If you believe stress to be the major reason for your insomnia, then guided imagery might be the solution for you. 

Guided Imagery is a relaxation technique that can quickly calm your body, help you manage stress and reduce tension in your body. When our mind and body are in a relaxed state it allows us to fall asleep quickly.

There are multiple ways of doing guided imagery – but for the sake of simplicity, here’s one way of doing it that requires the least amount of preparation:

Insomnia
  1. Lie down in a comfortable position.
  2. Close your eyes and breathe deeply through your diaphragm. Scan for any tension in your body and try to relax it – your shoulders shouldn’t be moving when you’re breathing through your belly.
  3. As you become more relaxed, imagine yourself being in the most relaxing environment. It could be your favourite vacation spot or being on a beautiful tropical island – let your imagination run wild as long as the image you’re creating gives you a sense of calm.
  4. Try to visualize the scene with all of your senses engaged. How does your body feel being in this place? Do you hear any kind of sounds? Is there a particular scent that you can smell?
  5. Enjoy the ‘surroundings’ and let your worries drift away. Relax and stay here as long as you want.

2. The 4-7-8 Breathing Method 

The 4-7-8 breathing method is a breathing technique that is based on an ancient yogic technique called Pranayama. This breathing technique is designed to bring the body into a state of deep relaxation.

The 4-7-8 breathing technique forces the mind and body to concentrate on breathing rather than replaying worries as you lie in bed at night. Here’s how you do it:

  1. As you lie down in bed, make a whooshing sound while slowly exhaling through your mouth, completely emptying your lungs.
  2. Inhale silently with your lips closed for four seconds.
  3. Then, hold your breath for seven seconds.
  4. Take another whooshing exhale from your mouth for eight seconds.
  5. Repeat this cycle at least four times.

3. Take a warm bath or shower 

In addition to making you feel and smell good, taking a warm bath or shower may also aid in improving sleep. Researchers believe that immersing the body in warm water may aid the body’s natural temperature regulation process, thereby improving sleep.

According to a recent study of older adults, taking a hot bath one to three hours before bedtime helps them fall asleep faster.

Insomnia

You could play soothing music in the background or use an aromatic body wash to make this an even more relaxing experience.

4. Try to stay awake 

Yes, you read that right. Trying to stay awake to fall asleep sounds like an oxymoron. Instead of forcing yourself to sleep which may induce anxiety, focus on staying awake.

This is a cognitive behavioural therapy technique called paradoxical intention. For this strategy to work, you shouldn’t be using your phone or any electronic device and make sure to turn off any bright lights. Here are some variations to do this:

  • Read a boring or dense book under ambient lighting
  • In your dark bedroom, challenge yourself to keep your eyes open
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5. Progressive Muscle Relaxation 

Another technique to help with insomnia is progressive muscle relaxation or progressive relaxation. It involves working with different areas and muscle groups in your body, first by tensing the muscle and then relaxing them. By using this technique, you gain greater awareness of your body and any areas where you may be holding stress or tension.

In this relaxation technique, 16 muscle groups are methodically tensed and relaxed one by one. You can personalise how long you tense and relax each muscle group and in which order to do it.

You may follow these steps as a guide:

  1. Begin by lying in bed, closing your eyes, and then taking slow deep breaths.
  2. For 10 seconds, open your mouth as wide as possible. Close your mouth and take deep breaths for 10 seconds.
  3. Raise your eyebrows for 10 seconds, then relax and take deep breaths for 10 seconds.
  4. Raise your shoulders to your ears for 10 seconds before releasing. Inhale and exhale deeply for 10 seconds.
  5. Repeat this step for all the other muscle groups.

Once you’ve finished, focus on keeping the whole body relaxed as you start to fall asleep.

6. Stick to a bedtime routine 

Another technique to help you fall asleep faster is to stick to a bedtime routine. Having a consistent bedtime routine helps our brains to recognize when it is time to sleep. When you perform the same activities every night, your brain will eventually associate those activities with sleep. Make a routine that’s simple enough so it’s easier for you to stick to it.

Consider including activities that will help you de-stress such as journaling, taking a warm bath or shower or drinking tea that may help balance your qi such as (洋甘菊), Albizia julibrissin flower (合欢花) and rosebud (玫瑰花).

Insomnia

If making tea is too troublesome for you, consider taking capsule herbal supplement that would help in improving your sleep quality.  

7. Try a non-drug alternative like Acupuncture 

If you have tried all the techniques above in the past or you just want an option that doesn’t require a lot of effort on your part, consider getting an acupuncture treatment.

From a TCM point of view, insomnia generally results from an imbalanced Qi due to the dysfunction of the heart, spleen, stomach, liver, and kidneys. Here are some of the reasons that cause dysfunction in these organs:

  • Prolonged illness
  • Overworking
  • Lack of rest
  • Overthinking
  • Irregular eating
  • Poor food choices
  • Unresolved frustration, anger, resentment and repressed emotions

Acupuncture is used as a non-drug alternative for the treatment of several issues, including lower back pain, neck pain, knee pain as well as insomnia. In fact, acupuncture has been used for centuries to treat insomnia.

A study demonstrated that acupuncture improved sleep quality and did better than drugs at increasing total sleep duration. 

Insomnia

Acupuncture helps with sleep by:

  • Regulating levels of neurotransmitters such as dopamine, serotonin, noradrenaline, GABA and neuropeptide Y which alters the brain chemistry to help reduce tension and increase relaxation
  • Decreasing the sympathetic nervous system (responsible for fight or flight response) therefore calming the body and increasing relaxation
  • Enhancing blood flow to the brain, which relieves stress and improves sleep quality

Learn more about Acupuncture here.

Summary 

Although sleep issues are common, they can seriously affect other aspects of our lives. A good night’s sleep is necessary for us to function at our best. So sleepless nights and poor sleep quality should never be the norm.

Try any of the methods above – it might just do the trick.

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Don’t wait for another sleepless night and get the help you need. Our team of board-certified TCM physicians at Singapore Paincare TCM Wellness are highly skilled and knowledgeable in helping patients alleviate their sleep problems with the help of acupuncture and other techniques. Book an appointment now.

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