How to fall to asleep (quickly)?

Falling asleep should be something natural. Some people need only between 30 secs and 5 minutes to fall into a blissful dream and forget about the world around. Other people like me, don't. I need between 30 minutes and 2 hours to fall asleep. And this is the good case scenario. There used to be times when I couldn't sleep at all. Or when I could sleep only with a sleeping pill. Or when even the pill couldn't get me to fall asleep.
After a long and unhappy battle with the insomnia, I can finally sleep 7-8 hours without a problem (or a pill) as long as I have at least 9-10 hours ahead of me. It's better than nothing, but there are ways to improve this situation. Below, I will tell you what are my tips for managing the problem (because I'm far from having it solved) and also some very good advices how to beat it once and for all. I hope you enjoy it. And remember, sleep is natural, it's healthy, it's useful and it's fun. We need to sleep in order to feel good and it's best to do it without chemistry, because the chemistry alters the quality of your dream and can prevent you from lucid dreaming or dreaming at all.

What is the problem in brief:

First of all, why people can't sleep?
Well, there are many reasons for this, below you can find some of them, along with some simple steps to reduce their influence over your sleep. If you feel you have such problem, it's best to try to work on it, while using the tips for falling a sleep or the program.

  1. The first among them is stress. Life is stressful (and often a bitch). For some of us more, for others less, but life IS stressful. This is the rule. You can try to reduce the stress, to avoid it, to lie to yourself, but as long as you live an active life and communicate with people, it's likely that you're under stress. And often, this stress may lead to insomnia.
    If this is your case, if you can't sleep, because of the stress, well, I have news for you. Stress is everywhere and for everyone . And yet a lot of stressed people sleep fine. They are tired, unhappy, bitter, angry and still, the moment they touch the pillow, they drift away. So stress, while a cause for insomnia, is not an excuse for insomnia.
    How can you fight stress? You generally can't. What you can do is to reduce it to acceptable levels. How? Try meditating (!!!), going out with friends, taking time for yourself, doing something fun and generally trying to spend at least some time each day enjoying the life. It helps. Another very good way to fight stress is to make physical exercises and spend time out, under the sun. It helps a lot!
  2. Too much stimulants: coffee/chocolate/alcohol/drugs/gaming/sex. This one is pretty simple, if you can't sleep after taking any of those, you'll need to limit them or avoid them at all. If after limiting them you still can't read, read on.
  3. Too active brain. If when you go to bed, you start thinking what you've done today and what you'll do tomorrow and about all of your tasks, duties, problems, your mother-in-law and whatever, then it's likely you won't be able to sleep either. Stop it. When you go to bed, you go to bed. Don't think of your day and just count your blessings (the good things that happened to you today). Or best, just don't think at all. A way around it is to start thinking of something really monotonous, like cleaning the house, counting sheeps or watching a stupid porn movie. It usually helps. Reading a very boring book before bed also seems to help. But it MUST be a boring one!
  4. There are cases when your brain might have a psychological/neurological problem. It can happen. If you try all the tips I'll give you, and anything else you find on the web, and still nothing works: VISIT A DOCTOR! This is very important. A lot of people drink in order to fall asleep and think this is ok. It is not ok. It's alcoholism. Or at least close to it.
    I had a head trauma, I know what it is. There are conditions which require a doctor and chemistry. But remember, this might seem the easy way to sleep, but it's the wrong one since it deprives you from dream experience. Use chemistry only if nothing else helps and only while you really need it. And be serious at trying to restore to normal sleep. It's very important.
  5. Psychological problems like fear of falling a sleep. This one is tricky, because you might not know you have it. If you suspect something like this, I suggest you use auto-suggestion to tell your subconsciousness that it's all right to fall asleep, that sleeping is safe and it's fun. You can do that every night before falling asleep and every morning just after waking up. It will help. And you can read stories about dream, you can recall good dreams you had at some point. Convince yourself it's fun to sleep, because it really is. A good idea is to have dream diary - it also helps for inducing lucid dreaming. And this way, even if you have a nightmare, you can write it down and later read it calmly and analyze it.
  6. A good idea is to buy yourself earplugs, because they will limit the distractions for you. I sleep with such, I think it's better. Also, try to limit the light in your room, unless you get up with the sun.
  7. You are too physically tired or not-enough exercised. It's important that you feel physically fit, so try to have some physical activity throughout the day. Most people would tell you to limit the exposure to computers, TVs and light in general, but come on, this is 21st century. You probably fall asleep with the phone/tablet under your pillow (figuratively speaking, if you do - move them somewhere far from your head, since they emit radio waves on different frequencies and often heat). So, I'll say - try to limit your exposure to screens at least 15 mins to half an hour before you go to sleep. And during this period open the window, breath some fresh air, put some face cream on you, make your body happy. It's good to have some light stretching before you go to bed if you feel very tense, but leave the heavy exercises for during the day. Too much physical activity just before going to bed will over-excite you and it will be hard for you to calm yourself.
  8. Sex is exception. You can have sex anytime, anywhere, anyway, it's always healthy and good for you. As long as it is fun for all the participants.

The tips

So you did everything right, and now you're in bed. And you can sleep. Here's what I do to fall asleep. Needless to say it doesn't always work and it's slow. But overall it helps and that's why I'm sharing it.

  • Don't move. This one is pretty obvious, but it is important to remember it. Once you decide you want to sleep, stop moving. At all. Even if it's hard to just stop scratching and touching yourself and rolling around and whatever, STOP IT! Your brain need to be told you want to sleep. The only way to do so is to stop moving. Stay still, even if it's hard at first, if you really really need to roll, do it very slowly. But it's best not to move at all. Try to stay still for more than 30 minutes. According to Lucidology, if you stay very still, your brain will send a signal to your mind to ask it if it is awake. The signal is usually "roll-over", or sometimes "scratch". If you don't respond and continue to stay still, the brain is likely to turn itself off.
  • Try to breath deeply. For some people, watching their breadth helps. Not for me, but at least try to breath rhythmically and deeply. Not very deeply, just they way asleep people breath.
  • Try to fix your eyes to something. This is a bit odd, but the logic is the following - your eyes trace your brain activity. If you freeze them, for example "watching" the tip of your nose (of course with closed eyes), you'll also decrease the brain activity and your thought will start slowing down.
  • Following from the previous - try to slow your thought. Don't think of your problems, plans, tasks, whatever. If you need to think of something, think of something dull - like walking in the park/beach/street. Don't focus on the view, focus on your feet. One step after another after another. Dull.
  • If you feel over-agitated count. I count a lot. You can count sheep, but I just count. Slowly. 1. 2. 3. 4. Don't think of anything while you count. And if possible do longer pauses between the numbers. 1...2....3 Or if this doesn't work for you, you can count very quickly- this one helps when something is obsessing your mind and you want to make it go away. I usually count to say 150 or 200, then I start counting back. And then again.
  • If this doesn't help, and you find yourself still awake, you can do something else. One variant is twitching your muscles. Some people claim it helps.
    What helps for me, actually is to try to freeze my muscles with force. For example I will tense a lot the muscles of my feet and keep them like this for more than 5 minutes. Then when I finally relax them I either fall asleep or feel much more drowsy than before.
    It also calms me to lie on my stomach (I usually sleep on the side).
    If nothing help you can try to Lucidology trick. To lie on your back with your hands above your head (lying on the pillow, not in the air), crossed, while counting to 150 slowly and then to let the hands down and to count backwards to 0.
  • If nothing helps and you find you have stayed awake for more than 2 hours, I would take a sleeping pill if I have one and I have time. Generally those pills need at least 6 hours to wear off, sometimes even 8, so it's best not to take them too early in the morning. If not, it makes sens to get up, do something for half an hour, like reading something boring, and then to go back and try again.
  • Also, I found this mp3 helps too -- "Sound Sleep" by Kelly Howell (BrainSync). I used it once or twice and I really drifted off. The problem is that I don't like sleeping with the earphones. But it worked on me.

Now, this might seem to you too much effort. A lot of people would say "Why don't you just sleep?". Well, the truth is I can't. For me, it is a lot of effort to fall asleep. And this is why I share all those tricks. Because it is so awfully difficult for me to do it. Maybe I have something off in my head. But I prefer to sleep without chemistry, because I value very much my dreams. They are fun and useful and sometimes the teach me stuff, so I want them.

A regime to learn to fall asleep in 30 secs.

This is something new for me and I'm still experimenting with this. But it makes sense. I remember there were time when I fell asleep in a matter of minutes. Something like 5 minutes. This was a blissful time, which no longer is, but I think this program might actually work.
In short: "If you want to fall asleep faster, you must incentivize your brain to drop all other activity and immediately transition into sleep when you desire to do so. That is the essence of this approach. If there are few consequences for a lazy approach to falling asleep, then your brain will continue to be lazy and inefficient in this area. You haven't given it a good enough reason to select more efficient behaviors.
Your conscious mind might very much like to go to sleep, but it isn't in charge. Your subconscious determines when you fall asleep. If your subconscious mind is in no hurry to fall asleep, then your conscious mind will have a hard time forcing it. "

You can find the complete description on How to Fall Asleep In Less Than 30 Seconds. In short, here's what you need to do.

  1. Limit the stimulants (coffee, cacao, chocolate, tea) for the duration of the regime. After it starts working, you can start increasing their quantities.
  2. Get a timer. Make a regime, each day when you feel drowsy to allow yourself a 20-minute nap. Set the alarm and spend exactly 20 minutes relaxing, trying to sleep or eventually sleeping. After the time is up, get up. Not a second more, not a second less.
  3. The key part is not to allow yourself to linger. Just get up immediately. If you want to/need to, you can repeat this later during the day. Ideally, you'll take at least one nap every day.
  4. Always wake up with an alarm in the morning, everyday of the week. And when the alarm goes off, you have to immediately get up.
  5. At bed time, you need to set the alarm for exactly how much hours you want to sleep. Say 8, then set it for 8 hours later. The idea is that the longer it takes for you to fall asleep, the less you will actually sleep. So the subconsciousness will need shut you down sooner rather than later, in order for you to get enough sleep.
  6. After your 20-minutes naps become successful (i.e. you fall asleep), you should try with shorter intervals: 15, 10, or even 5 minutes for each nap, until you start falling asleep in a matter of seconds.

Ok, the idea of this regime is simple. Your subconsciousness is a lazy soldier which likes to fool around and to take its time. You need to teach it the hard way, that time for sleep is limited resource and it will either use it or lose it. It seems quite fair to me. And I suppose this program will yield results (and sleep) provided one is able to pursue it to the end. I'll give you a feedback on it.
Also see, what the same article says on sleeping:
"There are many factors that can influence the results, with perhaps the biggest one being your diet. In general, a lighter, healthier, and more natural diet will make it significantly easier to adapt to any sort of sleep changes. Regular exercise also makes it easier to adapt to sleep changes; cardio exercise in particular helps to rebalance hormones and neurotransmitters, many of which are involved in regulating sleep cycles. If you eat a heavily processed diet (i.e. shopping mostly outside the produce section) and you don't exercise much, just be aware that I rarely see such people succeed with worthwhile sleep changes of any kind." (How to Fall Asleep In Less Than 30 Seconds.)
I absolutely agree on this. What I think is even more crucial to understand is that sleep is not a luxury but necessity. We all need to sleep to be healthy and feel good. Some need to sleep less, some more, but we all do need to sleep. So if you can't sleep, and you have seriously tried all the techniques available and it still doesn't work, you need to visit a neurologist/psychiatrist. If you like me doesn't like chemistry and pills, you can take them only once-twice a week, or to use them to avoid the white nights (a whole night spent with eyes wide open). But good night sleep is essential for our well-being.
Well that's it, I hope you enjoyed it. Insomnia sucks and fighting it is not that simple as it seems to some people. But there are ways to win this battle. You just have to be persistent and you'll succeed. I'll keep this article updated if I find new tricks or learn something new.