Falling asleep can be a real challenge, particularly after a stressful day at work or, you know, just existing in these times, as unprecedented as ever. Your mind is spinning, you can’t switch off… oh and there’s that mosquito that keeps buzzing around your ear.
Well as it turns out there are a couple of tricks you can call on that will put you out like a light in a matter of minutes, and they’re much more effective than counting sheep.
Relax and Win: Championship Performance, a book written by Lloyd Bud Winter way back in 1981, is receiving widespread attention 41 years after publication thanks to the viral news cycle and the power of social media.
The book suggests some techniques - which were admittedly written before the modern day distractions of iPhones, doomscrolling and night-time YouTube spirals - however the principles can still be applied today. After all, sleeping hasn’t changed that much in the past 40 years. Winter’s technique has a 96 per cent success rate among those who adhere to the practice for 6 weeks, myself included.
To start, the book suggests clearing your by following four simple steps:
Consciously focus on relaxing the muscles in the face; tongue, jaw and muscles around your eyes.
Drop your shoulders low before relaxing your upper and lower arm on one side, and then the other.
Breathe out and relax your chest.
Relax your legs; first your thighs and then your calves.
The final steps are where the real magic happens, and active sleeping begins. Winter suggests finding a ‘happy place’ in your mind that will allow you to bliss out, pass out, and chase some deep zzz’s. This can vary person to person, and follows much the same principles as meditation, but the essence remains the same; recall or create an environment free of distraction and annoyance. Still struggling to block out the last email you sent? Winter suggests a few ‘starter’ happy places, something to tide your mind over until you’re able to create your very own:
Lying in a canoe on a calm lake, with nothing but the blue sky above you.
Snuggled in a black velvet hammock in a pitch-black room.
Say “don’t think, don’t think, don’t think” over and over for ten seconds (if this sounds like a strange option, it’s apparently regularly used in sleep meditation).
Once this phase begins, you should be out to the world within 2 minutes, pending your 6 weeks of practice. To truly optimise your newfound ability to induce sleep, ensure you’re hitting 7-9 hours every night (yes, even too much sleep can be harmful), and set a regular bed and wake time. Your body loves a routine.