Have you ever been granted the chance to sleep in late or finally take that afternoon nap only to succumb to the sounds of the noisy world around you? Maybe you’re trying to sleep in a foreign and unfamiliar place while surrounded by new and strange sounds? Maybe you’re attempting to fall asleep in a public place that is absolutely packed with chaos? Whatever your situation may be, next time the world wants to keep you awake, try taking this advice into account and you’ll be producing ZZZZZZs in no time.
It can be frustrating trying to sleep in a situation which seems to have the sole intention on keeping you up, awake, and alert. The fact of the matter is that when you are surrounded with noise, action, movement, or unfamiliarity, our human minds have the tendency to keep themselves alert. Whether it be survival instinct or just straight curiosity, it’s keeping you awake, and that’s not what you’re looking for.
The time for human instinct survival has far past its time when dealing with some situations pertaining to modern life. For example, there is no reason that your brain should want to keep your body alert and active simply because it senses the neighbor’s dog barking in the distance. There is no reason that we should be in danger in the safety of our own home simply because we hear an animal outside that may have one day been a threat to our safety as an individual. There are thousands of other examples out there that may pertain to your individual situation, but I cannot name them all. Take the advice below and use it to combat any scenario your situation may bring about.
The fact of the matter is (unless your slamming copious amounts of caffeine and stimulants) that sleep and falling asleep is a mental game, especially in the beginning when relaxation is key. If your mind continues to remain over stimulated by the outside environment and you remain actively thinking about those things going on around you, you are going to have the urge to open your eyes, get up, look around, or wander from your place of rest.
Step 1: Embrace the sounds around you instead of fighting them
Make the sounds around you and in your environment part of your sleep experience instead of making them an adversary. Close your eyes and embrace the scenario as your own. If you have a background noise filled with barking dogs, great! Picture yourself in a peaceful place such as a park or by a lake. Picture dogs running around and barking to your enjoyment. Like I said previously, the dog scenario, while common, is just one simple example. The real trick in this method is taking any outside sounds and being creative in your own mind. Take your mind off the fact that these noises are all around you and use them to create your own story in your head that is far from the reality of what is actually happening. Almost put yourself into a meditation state while actively using your creative imagination. You will find that once you sink deep into your story that this story will soon become your dream and you will wake up refreshed in some time.
This is really a foolproof practice when in the early sleep stages as it tricks your mind into seeing outside stimulation as created thought of its own and begins to relax while falling deeper and deeper into the story. If one story seems not to be working, don’t be afraid to change it up and flip your scenarios completely. As long as you stick to a story, your mind will remain distracted and will allow you to fall into sleep mode regardless of what surrounds you.
Optional yet helpful pre-step: minimize outside stimulants
While this may seem obvious to some, it is a very important yet overlooked step. Have you ever seen a person wearing one of those sleep masks and a pair of ear plugs to minimize incoming light and sound? That person has the right idea, but in my opinion lacks a certain sense of style that just isn’t an option especially if you are attempting to sleep in any sort of public manner. Take into account though the same concept as this individual. If you want the same effect, but don’t have access to a sleep mask and earplugs (Or simply just couldn’t stand the idea of wearing one), then simply put on a pair of sunglasses or place a hat over your eyes. Do whatever you can in order to minimize the light stimulation and it will help immensely in relaxing your eyes and help you fall asleep better.
As far as the sound goes, simply put on a pair of headphones ( I recommend the soft, "in ear" headphones) or stuff some tissue in your ears for the time being. I also do recommend earplugs as they can be very discrete and effective.
Neither method will eliminate these stimulants altogether, but minimizing them will likely help your mind relax. Using the same method of story creation in your mind will be made far easier and may be even more helpful and effective with the light and volume taken down.
REMEMBER: This method does work and will work for you. Getting used to it may take a bit of time however depending on your scenario and your experience. Just remember to be as creative and as peaceful as possible when imagining your stories and you will be relaxed in no time regardless of what the outside world throws at you.