Try and force yourself to stay awake
Remember when your parents used reverse psychology to trick you into doing stuff you didn’t want to? Well, the same principle can be applied to trick yourself into falling asleep. A study by the Glasgow University found that participants who lay in bed with their eyes open and willed themselves to stay awake drifted off faster than those who were instructed to sleep. This odd phenomenon, known as “paradoxical intention,” works because it significantly reduces sleep-related anxiety, something everyone suffers from time to time.
Put your clock where you can’t see it
The worst thing you could do when trying to fall asleep is to keep one eye on the clock, continually counting down how many hours of potential shut-eye you have left until it’s time to get up for work in the morning. This disturbingly common habit sends stress levels through the roof, resulting in a heightened sense of sleep anxiety that ultimately keeps us awake at night. The fix? Just position your clock where you can’t see it and try not to fixate on what time you have to get up.
Spend less time in bed
Do you love spending time in bed either reading or watching TV? Most people do. But an interesting psychological theory is that the more time you spend in bed not sleeping, the more your brain associates the bedroom as a place of activity. For this reason, it’s important to get out of bed as soon as possible upon waking up and go about your everyday life elsewhere, such as the living room for example. Upon finally returning to bed in the evening, your brain associates it as a place of sleeping and finds it significantly easier to switch itself off.
Imagine your happy place
Forget about counting sheep. What you want to think about as you’re lying in bed at night is a place that makes you feel peaceful and relaxed. According to the experts at Oxford University, this “happy place” should be sufficiently pleasing to serve as a distraction from your real-world worries. It could be a tropical beach, a cascading waterfall, or even your local watering hole. It doesn’t matter. So long as it’s a place that makes you happy, the technique could see you drifting off up to 20 minutes earlier.
Splash your face with cold water
That might sound strange or even counterproductive, but it works. The science behind the technique is that stressed out minds require a physical trigger to reset. By splashing or fully submerging your face for 30 seconds in cold water (the colder, the better) the brain enters something called the “mammalian dive reflex” which lowers your heart rate and blood pressure, ultimately calming you down and helping you fall asleep.
With this information at hand, you now have the power to outsmart your own brain. Go ahead and try out some of these psychological hacks to discover which work best for you.