By Nick Marshall
It’s no secret that many of us feel like we struggle to fall asleep. And the frustration that struggle brings can only make slipping off into dreamland that much harder. After all, something so crucial to our ability to function on a day-to-day basis should come naturally, right? So, let’s get real about sleep, including how long it takes to fall asleep, and what to if you’re still chasing Zs long after turning off the light.
How Long Does it Take to Fall Asleep?
Most adults should take just 10 to 20 minutes to slip into sleep, according to the National Sleep Foundation, but for many of us, those kinds of slumber numbers are beyond a dream. Around 30 percent of us experience short- or long-term struggle to fall asleep easily. If your sleep latency, or the time it takes to go from wakefulness to the first stages of sleep, exceeds 20 minutes, it might be time to give these simple techniques a try.
Relaxing Music to Fall Asleep to
Listening to calming music at bedtime can trick the mind into preparing for sleep, according to research from Stanford University. Soothing tunes around 60 beats per minute stimulate alpha brain waves, luring the body toward a dreamy rest. For best results, aim for a rhythmic, melodious playlist rather than lyric-heavy or intense songs. Something with soft chanting, gentle drumming or smooth harmonies will have a soporific effect. Alternatively, load up a looping playlist of nature sounds to nudge you toward sleep. The sounds of rainfall, rolling waves or birdsong can be relaxing enough to make you tired.
Try the Army Method
When it comes to catching some sleep under challenging conditions, few are better experienced than those in the U.S Army. Pioneered in a 1981 guide by Lloyd Bud Winter, the Army method can deliver sleep in as little as two minutes. The process involves relaxing your facial muscles, dropping your shoulders, breathing out and visualizing lying in a black velvet hammock or drifting in a canoe on a lake. Champions of the method claim it has a 96 percent success rate after six weeks of practice.
Visualize the Mental Images That Induce Sleep
One of the biggest culprits when it comes to sleeplessness is a mind that’s racing with to-do lists or reruns of stressful incidents. When these are running through your mind, it’s hard to relax and fall asleep. However, according to medical studies, meditation and visualization techniques can help. The trick is to flood your senses with pleasant images that squeeze out the noise. Imagining yourself by the ocean is a popular escape, as is visualizing yourself bathed in soothing light. If you’re short of inspiration, don’t panic. There are plenty of guided meditation apps such as Headspace and Calm to help you make relaxation part of your bedtime routine.
Natural Sleep Supplements
Just as you can put your trust in a strong coffee to get a morning buzz going, you can also reach for certain natural supplements to make you sleepy at night. Teas made with chamomile or Valerian will do the trick, as will supplements containing ingredients like Ashwagandha or 5-HTP (both of which are considered natural alternatives to Melatonin). Many swear by our FOCL Night supplement, too. This CBD supplement contains the two melatonin alternatives mentioned above, along with Valerian, Purple Passionflower and Hops flower that can all help slow down restless minds and promote sleep.
The beauty of these techniques is that they’re not quick fixes but long-term solutions. Struggles with sleep have a tendency to come and go in our lives, depending on how stressed or active we are. With these techniques on standby, you’ll always be ready for those nights when the limbs are restless and the mind is racing.
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Good sleep is something that evades all of us from time to time—but there are some supplements that claim they can help. And in terms of valerian root vs melatonin, two of the most popular on the market, the results might surprise you.