We all need sleep.

But sometimes it seems like we can’t get to sleep.

The harder we try, the less sleepy we get.

And there’s only so many times you can count sheep…

Here are some ways to help you get to sleep fast:

Get to sleep fast1. Progressive Relaxation

This is a technique you can use to relax your body.

It’s easy to use and works anywhere – you don’t need any special equipment, MP3 files or anything else.

  • Lie down – exactly the same as you’d normally do when you try to go to sleep
  • Allow your eyes to close – don’t force the issue. If they’re being stubborn and fixating on the ceiling, that’s OK
  • Place your attention on your feet. Starting with your toes, let them relax. Maybe wriggle your toes if that helps. Let your feet sink into the bed and relax the rest of your feet and also your ankles
  • Slowly shift your attention to your knees. Notice how they feel – whether they feel heavy or light, creaky or not. Consciously relax your knees (allowing your feet to remain relaxed) and ask them to sink into the bed
  • Move your attention to your upper legs. Notice how they feel. As with your feet and knees, consciously let them relax and consciously ask them to sink deep into the bed
  • Shfit your attention to your abdomen and chest. You can probably guess what you’re going to do here – ask them to relax, ask them to sink into the bed. If you haven’t already started taking deeper, longer, breaths as a natural part of this process (many people find that happens as a pleasant side-effect) then start to take slightly deeper breaths
  • I know it’s moving back down your body – so you can swap this with the previous step if you want to – but next it’s time to concentrate on your buttocks. Notice how they’re feeling at the moment and let them relax and sink into your bed. Congratulations! You’re almost half way and there’s a good chance you’re feeling drowsier. Take a yawn if you want to
  • Your hands are the next point in your body to focus on (although the order isn’t totally important, it’s just a general direction “thing” so you can swap this step with your arms if you prefer). Again, let them relax. Maybe shake them slightly if there are any tingling sensations. And ask them to relax and sink into the bed. Remember to take longer, deeper, slower breaths if you can
  • Then it’s your arms. You’ve spotted the pattern here – you’ll be asking them to relax and asking them to sink deep into the bed. There’s a reason for that word deep – it’s a neat command that the rest of your body will take notice of and will help you drift into a deep and relaxing sleep
  • We’re getting close to relaxing your whole body – it’s your shoulders that get the treatment next. Let any aches and pains float away from your body as you do this part of the relaxation – our shoulders take more of the burden of living then we give them credit for, so it’s good to let them relax in their own time
  • Don’t rush this process, just gently move on to your neck. That’s another part of your body that can get extra pressure so, again, ask your neck to allow any aches and pains to float away as though they were hitching a lift on a nearby cloud. You can do that with any part of your body that’s making it’s presence known more than you’d like as you go through this process
  • Your head and skull are the next part of your body to relax. That can sound odd at first as our skulls don’t really “relax” but go with the idea and your body (including your skull) will play along with the idea of relaxing. You can let any brain ache float away as you ask your head to relax and sink into the bed
  • Move on to relaxing your mouth and jaw – same process as before. Don’t sweat about whether your mouth should be open or closed, simply go with whatever feels good and relaxing at the time. But if you notice your teeth clenching together, ask them to stop if they can! And remember to keep taking longer, deeper, breaths
  • Your eyes are the next part. If they’re still open, ask them to go with the flow and close. Notice any small dots in front of them slowly extinguish as your eyes get more and more relaxed.
  • Last but not least, let your face relax. Think of it as a free facial if you want but ask your face to allow itself to relax and get some well earned rest

If you’re still awake at this point – and that’s not often the case – pretend you’re in a body scanner and notice any part of your body that is still more tense than you’d like and repeat the process with it.

Keep taking those long, deep, breaths.

And imagine any tension or worries being exhaled harmlessly into the air as you exhale.

So long as you can remember roughly where the different parts of your body are, you’ll do fine with this!

2. Try to stay awake

This option sounds really counter-intuitive.

After all, the last thing you really want to do if you’re doing your best to fall asleep fast is the opposite!

Keep your eyes wide open.

Get to sleep naturallyEvery time you catch yourself drifting off to sleep, open your eyes wide again.

Out loud – if it won’t make you seem crazy to people nearby – or in your head repeat the phrase “I will not sleep”.

That’s actually a neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) technique but don’t worry about the scary technical sounding name, All you need to know is that our mind doesn’t process negatives very well.

So the sentence “I will not sleep” is processed by your brain as though the word “not” wasn’t present. So you’re actually telling yourself “I will sleep”.

As well as that, the act of keeping your eyes open will make them more tired and you’ll likely find yourself falling asleep before very long.

3. Chill

The word “chill” has several meanings.

It’s sensible to sleep in a relatively cool room if you’re somewhere that you have control over the temperature.

So if that’s something you can do, adjust the thermostat or the layers of duvets or blankets on your bed.

Another part of chilling is unwinding.

Don’t go onto the computer just before you go to sleep to have one more check of emails or Facebook or whatever. Our brains are a bit like supertankers – they take time to slow down – which means that if you’ve been going full pelt until a few minutes before you hit the sack, your mind is still going full speed ahead.

Give yourself some unwind time to relax and chill out before going to bed.

Before showers became ubiquitous, that would have been a long bath. Which you may still be able to do and I’d encourage you to try as it really does help relax.

Reading a book varies – some people find it relaxing, others find it keeps them awake.

The same goes for watching television.

You’ll know which applies to you and what type of book or what kind of TV show winds you up and what lets you slow down and escape from any tensions you had in real life.

You’ll also know whether the bright screen of an ebook reader is really the best idea for you or whether a real book with real paper and ink is more appropriate.

Relaxing music can help as well.

Our musical tastes vary so I’m not going to make any suggestions on this front but you’ll know what suits you best.

It’s also worth considering using a specially designed sleep MP3.

Technology has allowed us to study what happens to our brains as we sleep.

You already know that you dream – whether or not you remember those dreams when you next wake up – which is a different brain state.

Scientists have modelled these brain wave patterns – mainly because that’s what scientists do to stop themselves getting bored.

And they’ve figured out what they need to do to put your brain into a sleepy state.

And they’ve then put that onto a regular MP3 file that you can download and play whenever you need to fall asleep fast.

It’s totally natural and it works really, really well. You’ll be sound asleep before you know it.

You can download the sleep MP3 file here.