Everyone has a sleepless night every once in a while. But if you lie awake staring at the ceiling at least three nights a week, or if lack of sleep is having a negative effect on your life, chances are you have insomnia. If so, you’re not alone. It’s reported that between 10% and 30% of adults in the US suffer with insomnia.
And that lack of sleep doesn’t just mean you’re exhausted the next day. Over time, lack of sleep can lead to some serious, chronic conditions including: Diabetes, heart disease, a weakened immune system, depression, and anxiety.
So, if you’re having trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, here are four all-natural, sleep-inducing techniques for you to try. Who knows, one of them might be just the answer you’ve been looking for.
Sleep Technique #1: Warm your feet.
If you want to get a good night’s sleep, research proves that warming your feet not only helps you fall asleep, but can help you to stay asleep longer.
Here are some ways to warm your feet:
Wear a pair of socks or knitted slippers to bed.
Spend time before bed massaging your feet. A good massage not only brings warmth to your feet, it also improves circulation, relieves stress, and encourages relaxation.
Soak your feet in warm water. Or enjoy a warm bath or shower to warm your feet and relax your whole body.
Use an electric blanket or an electric mattress pad. If you’re worried about leaving an electric appliance on all night, you can turn it on before bedtime. Then just before you turn in for the night, turn the appliance off. You’ll climb into a warm bed, without the worry or expense of heating your bed all night.
Slip a hot water bottle or a hot pack between the sheets to warm your bed before you climb in.
Sleep Technique #2: Massage your “Spirit Gate.”
The “Spirit Gate” is a powerful acupressure point located on the outside of your wrist just below your pinky finger. And massaging this point is a proven way to quiet your mind and help you ease into sleep.
Here’s how to massage your Spirit Gate:
To find the “Spirit Gate” point turn your hand palm up. Slide a finger down your pinkie to your wrist and find the small hollow space on the inside of your wrist. Using one or two fingers gently massage the spot. Allow yourself to relax. Take a deep breath and let go of the cares of your day. Continue the massage for a minute or two, then repeat on the other side.
Sleep Technique #3: Try to stay awake.
This may sound counterintuitive, but there’s research that shows this approach can be effective in helping you get a good night’s sleep.
Here’s how and why staying awake works:
If sleep is a struggle for you, you may worry about falling asleep long before you climb into bed. And once you’re in bed, your brain may still be on overdrive – full of fears and questions. Will I be able to sleep tonight? What if I can’t? How am I going to drag myself through the day tomorrow? What’s wrong with me?
And those fears may be a big part of what’s keeping you awake. Your fear of insomnia can be a self-fulfilling prophecy.
But shifting your focus from that fear of not sleeping to thinking about something more empowering can help you tip-toe past those fears to a good night’s sleep.
So instead of trying to force yourself to fall asleep, challenge yourself to see how long you can stay awake. And to do that just keep your eyes open.
It’s that simple. There’s no struggle, no worrying about the day before or the day ahead. All you have to do is keep your eyes open and stop chasing sleep. Instead, let sleep come to you.
Sleep Technique #4: Do the B.E.A.R. hug.
I originally created this technique to help me fall asleep, but over the years I’ve found it works well for other people as well.
How to do the B.E.A.R. hug:
Cross your wrists then rest your arms on your chest, fingers extended. Chances are your fingertips will land near or on the V-shaped spots on the outer edge of your chest, area, about three finger widths below your collar bone. These spots are acupressure points which are also known as the "letting go" points and can used any time you like to ease anxiety.
Pull your arms close around you in a comforting hug. Then massage those points and let the relaxation and ease flow through your body. As your fear eases repeat the phrase, “I am safe,” and focus on making your exhale long and slow until you drift off to sleep.
Here's a video walk-through of the technique in action. It’s not only great for insomnia, but can be used to prevent or even stop a panic attack.
So, there you have 4 techniques to help you fall asleep. Try one, or try them all. This is about putting together an anti-insomnia plan that’s right for you – one that will put an end to those sleepless night at last.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed with fear or worry about your lack of sleep, please get in touch with your health care provider and let them know what’s going on. Insomnia can be difficult to deal with and talking to a professional can help get you on the road to feeling better. You don’t have to do this alone.
To find your own sense of calm, to take care of yourself, and to quell your anxiety, please read my "anxiety handbook," Calm & Sense: A Woman's Guide to Living Anxiety-Free.
Chapter 28 is devoted to getting better sleep.
Suni, Eric. Feb. 13, 2023. Sleep Statistics. sleepfoundation.org. https://www.sleepfoundation.org/how-sleep-works/sleep-facts-statistics
Gillette, Hope. July 5, 2022. DSM-5 for Insomnia. psyccentral.com. https://psychcentral.com/disorders/insomnia-symptoms#types
Watson, Stephanie, Cherney, Kristeen, Ph.D. Dec. 15, 2021. The Effect of Sleep Deprivation on Your Body. Healthline.com. https://www.healthline.com/health/sleep-deprivation/effects-on-body
Kräuchi, K., Cajochen, C., Werth, E. et al. Sept 2, 1999. Warm feet promote the rapid onset of sleep. Nature. https://www.nature.com/articles/43366
Suni, Eric. June 10, 2022 Sleeping With Socks On. sleepfoundation.org. https://www.sleepfoundation.org/sleep-hygiene/sleeping-with-socks-on
Cirino, Erica. May 24, 2018. 5 Pressure Points for Sleep. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/pressure-points-for-sleep#wind-pool
Gillihan, Seth, J. Ph.D. April 30, 2018. Frustrated You Can’t Sleep? Try Staying Awake Instead. psychologytoday.com. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/think-act-be/201804/frustrated-you-cant-sleep-try-staying-awake-instead