Insomniac’s Rant

Can't Sleep
Trouble falling asleep can be very frustrating!

Picture this: You are lying in your bed in dark checking your alarm clock every five minutes. You realise you have been in bed for past 3 hours and you only have another five hours of sleep before your alarm clock starts blaring and screeching forcing you to drag yourself out of that cosy bed. That is providing you fall asleep within next five minutes and you know it will take longer than that. You keep wriggling in your bed frantically searching for good position. You keep your eyes closed yet brain decides that it will not ‘knock you out’. Enough is enough! You grab your sweet new iPhone , or Samsung galaxy S3, run Google search in attempt to find out how to fall asleep. Google feeds you with thousands and thousands of results. You open up a website only to find out that some guy thinks your nap after work/school might have been a bad idea, or that you should have left that lovely bacon sandwich alone, as it was too late. That advice is perfectly valid; however you have already made those mistakes and don’t have any time machine to fix them. You need solution NOW. Sounds all too familiar? Read on my fellow insomniac.

In order to devise some little tricks to help you fall asleep, you must understand what you require to fall asleep. Firstly, you need plenty of melatonin. This hormone ‘knocks you out’ to sleep. You also need to relax, as brain activity needs to decrease in order to fall asleep (although may increase in REM stage). You should make sure you sleep in dark quiet place to prevent brain from analyzing excessive environmental input of information. Finally, you need comfortable place and position to sleep in, as again too much input from environment and your own body stimulates brain.

Now that we know what makes us sleep, we’ll tackle each of the following problems one by one.

1. Relax

This is probably single most common cause of losing sleep. We live in times of stress, large work load and hectic schedules. In order to drift away into dream world we need to stop worrying about our troubles, after all there is nothing that can be done about them at the moment. Deal with them on following day. These thoughts can also cause muscular tension, which we don’t notice, but can stop us from sleeping. Try:

  • For mental relaxation try meditating. Breathe in and out naturally whilst focusing solely on the feeling of air entering nostrils and leaving them. You will soon find it’s harder than you thought. If you identify any ‘intruder’ thoughts, attempt to kick them out and putting entire focus on breathing. This exercise, while having many other health benefits will help you to get rid of problematic thoughts. Word of warning though, for some meditation seems to have opposite effect, so you will have to try it out for yourself.
  • Stop worrying about lost sleep; it stimulates your brain in same way as stress from the day.
  • Try self hypnosis. Some people are more, or less susceptible to it, but why not give it a go? First you need to allow your eyes close naturally. Then in your mind affirm that you absolutely believe in everything you say to yourself and proceed to repeating ‘I’m feeling more relaxed’. Really believe in what you saying and you will start relaxing your body and mind. There is a good chance you will have fallen asleep by now, if not, don’t worry proceed to targeting each part of your body and think of all the tension ‘flowing out’ of the body part. Afterwards imagine steps to your goal which is falling asleep and state that you are falling asleep as you walk down each step. It worked quite well for me.
  • Try muscle relaxation techniques to soothe muscular tension. Flex and stretch each muscle, working from your feet, ending on forehead.
  • What if you find all of the above ineffective and boring? Go to cinema! Now I’m not saying you should grab some clothes, money and jump into car to watch the new Batman film. Instead try watching your hypnagogic imagery. This is imagery created by your brain stumbling upon random thoughts.  Let your eyes close naturally and look into the darkness without any conscious thinking. After while you’ll notice that it’s not so dark after all, but filled with random coloured light patterns called phosphenes. Watch them but don’t focus on them, as they’ll disappear if you do. Then you may see random image flash in front of you for split second. Congratulations! You saw your first hypnagogic image. As you continue this, images will flash up more frequently, more often and become more vivid. If they are really vivid take the opportunity to attempt WILD (for more info on this see article ‘A flying chair!’ on this site). This method brings all the desired results. It relaxes your brain, by stopping conscious thought of stressful problems and decreases its activity by promoting the spontaneous subconsciously created thoughts. This in fact mimics natural pattern of falling asleep, but usually you are unconscious before the images appear. As you can see, you are more than likely to fall asleep!

2. Environment

Your brain is a curious organ that gets stimulated by tiniest things and that will prevent your sleep. Make sure the lights are switched off and blinds shut, the less you can see the less your brain gets stimulated. Also reduce the sound coming into your room by closing doors. In fact to treat a patient from LSD trip, patient is put in dark, soundproofed room, so that their brain is not stimulated into generating scary hallucinations.

3. Position

Are you wriggling all the time in bed unable to find right position and receiving massive brain stimulation in form of discomfort or even pain? Try these powerful tricks:

  • Breathing exercise by normal breathing. It involves using tranquillising properties of Carbon dioxide to relax brain. From my experience it’s especially effective in allowing you to find your current position comfortable. Try gradually reducing your breathing rate and depth to keep mild oxygen ‘hunger’. Do not choke yourself, but make sure there is ever so mild need for oxygen. After minute, or two of doing this, you will feel much more comfortable.
  • Try mental levitation. Lie down in least uncomfortable position and close your eyes. Now imagine you are rising very slowly and then falling very slowly.
  • Sink into mattress! Similar to the levitation method, but focus on ‘sinking’ into mattress.

4. Melatonin deficiency

Is everything fine, but you just don’t fall asleep? Chances are you miss some of melatonin, which in many cases is completely normal, especially if you had a nap within last 6 hours. There are some ways of dealing with this.

  • Buy melatonin supplement pills, as they increase your melatonin levels and make you fall asleep.
  • Buy powerful prescription drugs. These are really effective in sending you off to dream world, but have many side effects that include hallucinations, daily drowsiness etc.
  • Stand on your head for 2 minutes! It may sound weird, however if you think about this, melatonin is a hormone like any other thus it travels in bloodstream. Standing on head causes blood to accumulate in head, which means more melatonin gets to your brain!

These are just few clever tricks to help you sleep, however don’t forget about basics that this guy from the other website told you about. These are most effective ways to fall asleep. What I have outlined are quick fix tricks that help you fall asleep, however they don’t come with guarantee that they will work every time. Sweet dreams!

Article written by: Hubert Bieluczyk

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