Training Your Brain To Fall Asleep Better
A manageable approach to brain training for falling asleep faster and better!
Laying awake at night could simply be due to bad habits. But don’t worry, they can be unlearned.
Setting an intentional goal for getting better sleep is half the battle.
Weighted blankets are known for calming our mind and easing us into the perfect night’s sleep.
Did you know?
Dogs tend to be active for 20% of the day, lounge for 30%, and sleep for 50%. What a life!
We all know the magic of a great night’s sleep. We feel rested, alert, sharp, and creative. We’re friendlier, more patient, and happier. But we can’t enjoy these benefits if we can’t fall asleep in the first place!
The majority of Americans report poor sleep on a regular basis, yet our modern lifestyle continues to neglect good sleep habits. One in four of us lie awake in bed for an hour or more, pleading for some shut-eye.
The remedy? A manageable approach to brain training for falling asleep faster – and better!
We want to fall asleep better, but what does that really mean?
For a normal, well-rested person, 10-20 minutes is all it should take to fall asleep. This is called the “sleep latency” period where the mind and body relax and prepare for sleep.
If you lie in bed for longer than an hour, you might be suffering from insomnia. Similarly, if you fall asleep easily but aren’t able to stay asleep through the night, it might be your body signaling that something is off.
On the other hand, falling asleep as soon as your head hits the pillow likely means you are sleep deprived. Luckily, finding a happy medium is possible with the right sleep habits!
Banish Bad Sleep Habits
Why do so many of us have trouble falling asleep? The simple answer is that we have learned bad habits – and they stuck.
Bad habits might be the cause of most of our restless nights, but the good news is that our brains are malleable. Neuroplasticity allows us to unlearn bad habits and replace them with better options.
The first step is acknowledging what our bad habits are. After years (or even a lifetime) of poor sleep, many of us don’t know where the problem lies. Here’s a rundown of the most common bad habits that disrupt sleep:
1. Irregular bedtimes
One night it’s 11PM, the next 9:30. Midnight, then 10PM. Irregular sleep times prevent your brain from falling into a rhythm with sleep. This is a common issue, but one that can easily be fixed with a steadfast bedtime.
2. Sleeping in on the weekends
“Catching up” on sleep should be used sparingly. While you might be tempted to sleep in on weekend mornings, sticking to schedule is key. Late wakeups tend to turn into late bedtimes and the cycle perpetuates.
3. Using the phone or computer at night
Our personal devices are one of the biggest reasons we lose sleep. Social media, news, emails, and videos stimulate the brain and prolong the time it takes to turn off.
4. Reaching for an afternoon coffee
Craving a mid-afternoon pick-me-up is normal, but a caffeinated fix might be sabotaging your sleep. Instead, choose herbal tea, apples, a glass of water, or a quick walk outside. These refresh your brain naturally but don’t affect your sleep schedule negatively.
Photo by Jakub Dziubak on Unsplash
5. Having a nightcap.
A nightcap can help you fall asleep, but it negatively affects the quality of sleep you do get - and makes it harder to fall asleep on time the next day.
Habits For High Performance Sleep
Now that we’re clear on what our most common bad sleeping habits are, let’s train our brains for better sleep with these high-performance habits.
1. Goal-Focused Sleep
A goal without a plan is just a wish. To train your brain for better sleep, create a plan with steps, goals, and milestones for success. Decide how many hours of sleep to aim for, a wind-down time, bedtime, and wake-up time. Log your time and hours daily and note any observations on energy level, mood, and sleep-quality.
2. Evening Brain Cleanse
Thoughts are sleep-killers. It’s impossible to get quality sleep (if you can sleep at all) with a to-do list boiling over in your head or a movie of your biggest mistakes playing on repeat. Give your mind the chance to dump it all before you slip into bed. Grab a journal and spend 5-10 minutes writing down everything that’s on your mind. Then write a simple to-do list for the morning. Finally, finish with a positive statement or mantra to end on a high note.
3. Habit Pairing
Habit pairing is an excellent way to achieve multiple goals at once, and it can be extremely useful when managing our sleep routines. When we always do one thing after another, our brain learns the cycle and prepares ahead. For instance, you could take a relaxing bath each night before bed. The bath will eventually trigger your brain to prepare for sleep even before you’re even tucked in.
4. Balanced Active: Rest Ratio
For the fatigued and restless: Your biggest ally to fall asleep better is movement. Regular exercise can be a gamechanger when it comes to getting to sleep faster and staying asleep all night. If you’re chronically tired, exercise will boost your daytime energy while settling your body and mind at night. Exercise in the morning to avoid stimulating your brain at night.
For the anxious, active, and busy: If you’re a busybody (physically and/or mentally), you’ll fall asleep easier with daily meditation. You’re already getting the amazing benefits of daily exercise, but you need to balance with stillness. Many active people find mediating to be unproductive, but it’s time to reframe. Meditation is an incredibly productive and mind-enhancing tool that will not only help you sleep better but achieve greater focus and potential. Plan to meditate for 20-30 minutes each day.
5. Focused Breathing
Breathing exercises are a well-known strategy to soothe the mind and fall asleep. Try the 4-7-8 Breath: inhale slowly for a count of four breaths. Hold the breath for a count of seven, then exhale gently for eight counts. After a few rounds, your body naturally relaxes and you drift into sleep.
Your (Snug) Secret Weapon
We believe that high quality sleep should be easily accessible to everyone, so we’re putting it within arm’s reach. Our weighted blankets are the easiest and most enjoyable way to make going to bed your highest priority.
Sleeping with a weighted comforter or blanket helps you slip into slumber faster and easier. Deep Touch Pressure communicates with your brain to signal that it’s time to rest. Anxious or rambling thoughts are quieted. Muscles ease into a gentle relaxed state. The body and mind are primed for restorative, productive rest.
But you won’t have to worry about all that science – you’ll already be well on your way to the best sleep possible!