Many people nowadays find it very difficult to fall asleep, and a large portion of them choose to rely on melatonin or even sleeping pills. According to research from the University of Hong Kong, 39.4% of the adult population in Hong Kong (equivalent to 2.2 million people) suffer from insomnia. Many of these sufferers consider taking sleeping pills as the quickest way to deal with sleepless nights.
Are Sleeping Pills The Best Cure for Insomnia?
Sleeping pills are very effective in helping people fall asleep quickly, provided that they are only used for a short period of time. However, if you rely on sleeping pills for longer periods of time to treat insomnia, or use higher doses then this increases the risk of developing various negative side effects:
Common side effects of prescription sleeping pills include:
- Dry mouth or throat
- Loss of balance
- Memory loss
Sleeping pills are drugs categorised as sedative-hypnotics, and could lead to drug dependence if used long-term. If usage of the drugs were stopped, there might also be a rebound effect.
The U.S. Military’s 2-minute Sleep Technique
To fall asleep quickly, there is another way that could work even better than sleeping pills. The U.S. military has been using a very effective method for soldiers to fall asleep in just 2 minutes, even in uncomfortable situations such as in battlefields. This technique was first described in a book from 1981 titled “Relax and Win: Championship Performance” by Lloyd Bud Winter.
The steps are as follows:
- Relax your entire facial muscles - including your tongue, jaw and the muscles around your eyes.
- Drop your shoulders as low as you can. Then relax both arms, one after the other.
- Slowly breathe in and out while you’re doing this. Let your chest relax and slowly relax your thighs and lower legs.
- Clear your mind for 10 seconds and keep your body loose and relaxed.
- Once you’ve cleared your mind, try to picture being in one of these two relaxing scenes: a) lying on a canoe in a calm lake with clear blue skies above you; or b) resting and gently swaying yourself on a velvet hammock in a pitch-black room.
- If you aren’t great at visualising scenes, you can say the words “don’t think” over and over in your head for 10 seconds instead, and you should be able to fall asleep.
Create A Better Sleep Environment For Yourself
If you’ve been experiencing sleepless nights, the military sleep technique could help you get the sleep that you’ve been missing. If that isn’t enough, try creating a friendlier sleep environment to naturally help you sleep better.
- Make your sleep area as dark as possible, such as using blackout curtains.
- Use essential oils with calming scents such as lavender to help you wind down and relax.
- Choose the right set of pillows and mattresses to provide the perfect level of comfort and support for a good night’s sleep.
- Eat healthily, cut down on oily or spicy food, and avoid consuming caffeine a few hours before bed.
- Exercising regularly can also improve sleep quality. If you have a busy schedule, try out some basic 15-minute yoga exercises to help you fall asleep easier.
Give these a try - you might be surprised by the results!
If you’re still suffering from sleep disorders, why not give these a try?