For Freshmen. By Freshmen.
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Feb 26 2017
by Jessica Vuong

6 Scientific Ways To Fall Asleep Faster

By Jessica Vuong - Feb 26 2017

As college students, we are perpetually sleepy. Naps can be helpful in getting us through the day, but a good night's sleep is the key to optimal cognitive performance, boosting your mood and banishing dark circles. As college students, we are constantly dealing with stress, so it can be difficult to fully wind down and fall asleep so that we can get back on the grind the next day. 

Rather than laying in bed counting sheep, try these methods to get a good night's sleep faster. 

1. Try to stay awake.

Yes, this tip sounds counterintuitive, but it actually has proof behind it. A study held by Niall M. Broomfield at the University of Glasgow involved two different groups of insomniacs and tested each group's sleeping patterns. The group that ended up falling asleep faster was the group that was asked to try to stay awake. This group was only allowed to lay in bed, blink and remain awake. Next time you're having trouble falling asleep, use this reverse-psychology method to try to trick your body into sleeping.

2. Use a weighted blanket.

The way this works is that a weighted blanket applies slight pressure to your body, which increases your body's production of serotonin, a mood stabilizer, and melatonin, a hormone that regulates your sleep-wake cycles. With increased melatonin levels, your body receives the cue to go to sleep and stay asleep until morning when those melatonin levels decrease. Weighted blankets not only help you fall asleep faster, but they can also be beneficial in helping people with insomnia, anxiety, PTSD, depression and other disorders sleep better.

3. Sleep in a colder room.

Sleeping in a room that is overly toasty can overheat your body and create a warm, welcoming environment for bacteria. The desired room temperature for sleeping is 60-68 degrees Fahrenheit. When your body goes into sleep mode, your body temperature actually decreases. By sleeping in a cooler room, you are assisting your body in reaching a lower temperature sooner, which in turn helps you fall asleep quicker. Cooler temperatures also create the ideal environment for your body to speed up melatonin production to help you fall asleep even faster. 

4. The "4-7-8" breathing method.

This nifty trick is supposed to help you fall asleep in less than one minute. This breathing exercise consists of you breathing in through your nose for four seconds, holding your breath for seven seconds and then exhaling air through your mouth for eight seconds. Then, you simply repeat this breathing cycle three more times for a total of four deep breaths. The way this works is that slower and deeper breathing slows down your heart rate and increases your oxygen intake, to put you in a calm, sleep-inducing state. Not only does this breathing exercise help you fall asleep faster at night, but it can also help you in times of stress and anxiety as well. 

5. Lavender aromatherapy.

Aromatherapy is the use of essential oils, either inhaled or applied on the skin, for healing purposes. Common benefits of aromatherapy include treating anxiety, depression, headaches, raising energy levels and more. Lavender is well-known for treating anxiety and insomnia and has been proven to help people fall asleep faster and better. A 2005 study showed that those who smelled lavender before falling asleep tended to sleep faster, deeper and woke up feeling more energized than people who didn't expose their senses to lavender. 

6. Quit using electronics before bed.

While most of us would like to binge-watch on Netflix until we pass out, that isn't the best decision if you're hoping for a good night's rest. The blue light that your devices emit keeps your brain stimulated, suppresses melatonin production and increases the time it takes for your mind to wind down into a sedative state. Rather than using electronics in bed at night, try reading instead. Reading relaxes your mind and tires out your eyes. If you're having trouble deciding what to read, you could always read your textbooks (they'll surely put you to sleep)!

Now, instead of lying in bed wondering how many hours of sleep you'll get if you can fall asleep right now, try these methods and wake up feeling refreshed!

Lead Image Credit: Elizabeth Lies via Unsplash 

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Jessica Vuong - University of California, Davis

Jessica is currently attending UC Davis and majoring in Managerial Economics. She was vice-president of teensReach, a community service organization, and has competed in several SJPL art & design contests. She loves coffee, sarcasm, and rainy weather. Follow her on instagram: @jsscvng | pinterest: jessvjess | VSCO: jessvjess

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