For as long as I can remember I’ve always had an issue with sleeping. I can think back to elementary school when I’d be up all night watching infomercials trying to get myself bored enough to fall asleep. There are only so many times you can watch Ron Popeil and his audience scream “set it and forget it” before you start to lose your adolescent mind.
I’ll admit I’ve even had problems with sleeping pills in the past. Over the last few years I’ve gotten my sleep under control by eating better, exercising, meditating, and sticking to pre-bed habits.
When I fall out of the elements and my regular routine, I’ve had a lot of issues getting the sleep back. Traveling has always been detrimental to my sleeping since I’m throwing a wrench into my nightly routines and the structure of my day. Mix in some jet-lag and there has always been a recipe for sleep disaster.
I live in Los Angeles and fly home to visit my family a few times a year. Up until about a year and a half ago I could never fall asleep without taking sleeping pills. I’m not sure where I found this trick, but it has been a lifesaver to help fall asleep quickly traveling and when I’m home and restless.
How to Fall Asleep Traveling – My Sleeping Hack
Basically, I watch Youtube videos. But they are very specific videos. Have you ever heard of ASMR?
This is actually the first time I’m ever talking about this since I’ve always been embarrassed about this for some reason. I never knew what this was and never really questioned it, but sometimes I’d be in a situation where I’d get a euphoric sense of calm. Sometimes I’d even get this feeling in my scalp that was like getting the chills, but more pleasurable.
Some people call that “the tingles” and some call it a “braingasm.” Call it what you will, it helps me fall asleep fast now!
It makes so much more sense to me now why I’d completely zone out watching Bob Ross paint some happy trees and why I liked getting my hair cut so much. These are a couple of the most popular triggers for ASMR.
What is ASMR?
Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response. That’s what it is and that’s why we shrink it down to the much easier to say, ASMR.
Honestly, it isn’t really known what ASMR is at a physical level. It’s really unclear what physically or mentally causes it within your body, but it’s apparent that something IS happening.
There are several theories as to what causes ASMR at a physiological level. I buy into this theory of hormones being released:
ASMR can’t just pop up unexpectedly. You won’t be driving your car and automatically “get the tingles” and feel relaxed. You need a trigger that gets you there. Triggers can be visual, auditory, physical, or any combination of these. Auditory and visual make sense on Youtube, but physical actually sort of works there too. Just the appearance of being touched or witnessing certain touches of someone else causes ASMR. It’s weird, I know. But it helps relax.
Creating ASMR videos has become a super lucrative way to make money on Youtube, so there is a growing number of Youtubers putting out videos every day. Some of these videos have millions of views!
Most of these videos have the Youtuber whispering into a microphone(s) while performing some sort of repetitive task. Once you start falling down the ASMR Youtube rabbit hole, you’ll find some really interesting videos. You’ll find anything from someone tapping on a block of wood or role-playing giving you a haircut to someone squeezing bread or faking an alien abduction.
This is actually a scientifically studied phenomenon, I’m not just on drugs or something weird.
Here is a great video to give you an idea of some of the many triggers and to see if you experience ASMR. Watch with headphones on if you can.
How’d it go? Do you experience ASMR?
If yes, then sorry for opening you up to this strange world. If no, I still think this is worth trying to fall asleep. I imagine the videos should still be relaxing enough for even people without ASMR reactions to fall asleep faster.
ASMR to Fall Asleep
These videos almost always works to get me into a sleepy state. I think this works in a few different ways:
- The ASMR reaction itself brings you to a really relaxed and sedated place
- The videos are usually very repetitive and hypnotic
- You end up zoning out and leaving your thoughts, kind of like meditation
All you really need are headphones/earbuds and either a smartphone, computer, or tablet.
Whatever screen you’re using, I recommend setting it to whatever night mode you have. The last thing you want is a screen on 100% brightness blasting you with blue light that will add to your sleeplessness.
I’ll use earbuds when I’m laying in bed, but I feel like I get the most relaxing effect sitting in front of a computer with a good pair of over the ear headphones on. Also, if you’re laying in bed, a lot of people recommend SleepPhones Wireless Headphones for sleep.
Usually I’ll watch an ASMR video and start dozing off in 10 or 15 minutes. It’s such a calming relaxing feeling that sometimes I’ll try and stay away like an idiot to take advantage of the conscious relaxation.
I even use this to fall asleep on planes.
My top 10 “ASMRtists” to watch (in no particular order)
- ASMR Darling
- Gentle Whispering ASMR
- asmr zeitgeist
- Gibi ASMR
- FrivolousFox ASMR
- SensorAdi ASMR
- Heather Feather ASMR
- Bob Ross
This is the first ASMR video I ever watched and it’s still a winner:
This one is full of relaxing triggers…
asmr zeitgest is the most creative ASMRtist I’ve found yet…
This head is so strange, but it does the job…
They call it “unintentional ASMR” when the video isn’t made specifically for you to get the tingles but do anyway. If I ever go to India I’m finding this guy!
Celebs even got into it…
More Tips for Falling Asleep and Jet Lag Remedies
Like I’ve said, I have suffered with poor sleep and insomnia for most of my life. I’ve tried everything to help me sleep and have kept the tools that have helped and tossed out what isn’t working. These tips should help you sleep traveling or if you’re having issues sleeping at home.
Learn to Meditate
Seriously, take the woo-woo out of it and there is science to back the benefits of meditation. It isn’t difficult to do. The hardest part is actually sitting down and doing it. The effects not immediate, so once you realize that then its WAY easier. I used to get frustrated because I felt like I should have some sort of feeling of enlightenment or an out of body experience. All you really need to do is sit there quietly. The easiest way to get into meditating is use guided meditations on Youtube or use an app like Headspace (free trial) or Oak (always free).
Oh you think more is better? Not with everything and not with melatonin. Typical pills you’ll buy from a grocery store or vitamin store will have doses of 3mg. That is way too much and doesn’t help you nearly as taking a low dose. Research shows that 0.3 miligrams is the optimal amount of melatonin to take to aid sleep. At home I have a pill splitter that I’ll use to cut a 1mg tablet into 4 pieces. 1/4 of a pill helps when you need it. I’ll break these up and pack them in a bag when I travel. A small bonus to this is you can buy a 90 tablet bottle for about $5 and use that for over a year.
Get a Sleep Mask
Any light is bad light when you are trying to sleep. Even that little blue or red light on the charger of something in your wall puts out light that can disrupt your sleep. I also feel like there is some sort of psychological thing that helps sleep with a sleeping mask. It’s like the darkness and light pressure on your face tells your body it is time to sleep. I have been using this mask for a while now and really like it. It’s cheap and I like the part that contours over the bridge of your nose to keep out that little bit of light that sneaks into the gap that most eye masks have there.
Bring a Good Travel Pillow
If you’re going to be stuck in a situation where you can’t lay down, a good travel pillow can be a real lifesaver. Even if you don’t plan on sleeping on a plane/train, you might want to bring a travel pillow if you’re backpacking. Sometimes you don’t get the nicest pillow or pillowcase accommodations at budget hotels or hostels. Lord knows I’ve had my share of nasty pillows.
After a lot of trial and error, I believe this pillow is the best travel pillow for backpackers.
Easy on the Booze
Yes wine makes you sleepy. No wine does not help you sleep. Alcohol might help you pass out, but that will be horrible sleep since it messes with your circadian rhythm and sleep cycles. Even if you sleep for 10 hours, you’ll wake up feeling like you got 3.
This might not be an acceptable thing to do in a hostel, although I’ve stayed in some hostels where it might be encouraged. One thing your body needs for sleep is a regulated temperature. It needs to be on the cooler side, which insulating yourself in clothing that is then covered by a blanket will make you hotter. If your body can keep itself in the optimal temperature, your sleep hormones will get released at better intervals over the night. It also just feels better and you can get comfortable easier which obviously helps sleep.
There you have it. I’m going to end this post on nudity.