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People Swear By the 'Paradoxical Intention' Hack To Fall & Stay Asleep

Need help falling asleep? Try this sneaky "paradoxical intention" hack.

You might be wondering what exactly is "paradoxical." Well, it's something that has two contradictory meanings. Now that you're in the know, we're here to tell you all about the "paradoxical intention" hack people swear by that helps them get the best beauty rest—and sleep throughout the night.

We spoke with Dorsey Standish, MS, a mechanical engineer, neuroscientist, wellness expert, and CEO of Mastermind Meditate who breaks down this little hack and its benefits. Read on to learn more, and when you're finished, be sure to check out People Swear by the 'Drunken Monkey' Exercise for Better Sleep: 'You'll Sleep Better, I Promise'.

What is the paradoxical intention hack all about?

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This sneaky hack is all about tricking your brain into snoozing into dreamland. The idea is to not dwell on (or stress over) falling asleep, but rather, welcome your awakeness with open arms.

"Oftentimes, our worry and stress about not getting enough sleep actually keeps our nervous system activated and prevents the relaxation and sleep that we so desperately want," explains Standish. "Therefore, the paradoxical intention methodology works in reverse—when we give up trying to force ourselves to sleep, we're finally able to relax enough to drift off to sleep."

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Keep in mind that fully welcoming wakefulness doesn't consist of scrolling through social media or streaming your favorite show. In order for the paradoxical intention hack to be successful, there are a few things you need to do. This includes darkening your room, keeping the temperature down, ensuring your space is quiet, and practicing all-around good sleep hygiene.

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People swear by the paradoxical intention hack to fall and stay asleep.

woman peacefully sleeping at night in bed
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People on TikTok are raving about and embracing "paradoxical intention" to fall asleep. Sleep aid brand Hostage Mouth Tape, which claims to be the "strongest, comfortable mouth tape on the planet," shared in a TikTok video, "I hate to break it to you, but pressuring yourself to get to sleep doesn't help. If everything else has failed, try this. You can actually fall asleep by trying to not fall asleep. This little trick is known as paradoxical intention … do not try to force yourself to sleep and make that your main thought. It will only cause you anxiety and make it even harder. Just try to relax, enjoy your bed, and do the opposite."

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In addition, Standish is a major advocate of a version of the paradoxical intention hack. "When I find myself wide awake in the evening or in the middle of the night, I use a variation of the paradoxical intention technique—I not only embrace being awake, but I actually lean into the wakefulness as unexpected quiet time with myself (as a busy working mom, this can be hard to come by!!)," Standish tells us. "I practice informal mindfulness by turning inwards, noticing my thoughts, breath, and body, and just enjoying getting to know myself better. Most of the time I fall back asleep pretty quickly, but occasionally I'll get out of bed and read quietly or listen to an audiobook to help me relax even more."

Alexa Mellardo
Alexa is the Mind + Body Deputy Editor of Eat This, Not That!, overseeing the M+B channel and delivering compelling fitness, wellness, and self-care topics to readers. Read more about Alexa
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