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30 Ways to Fall Asleep Faster | Tips to Sleep Better
Not being able to fall asleep is a common problem that many people experience. It can be extremely frustrating, especially if you are tired and need to wake up at a specific time the next day. In fact, it is estimated by the Sleep Foundation that between 30% to 48% of adults have trouble falling asleep at night, a staggeringly high number.
Lack of sleep causes sleepiness during the day, lack of concentration, loss of memory, loss of productivity, mood changes, lack of energy and motivation, numerous health problems, and many other issues.
So what are some things you can do to help you fall asleep faster and sleep better? Here are 29 tips that we discovered during our research:
1. Adopt a Regular Daily and Sleep Schedule
Our bodies are highly sophisticated and thrive on a regular schedule. The more you schedule your daily activities, the more your body gets used to it. This includes sleep. Therefore, one of the best things you can do to fall asleep faster each night and sleep better is to wake up and go to bed at a regular time each day. Decide on a specific time when you will head to bed every night. The more consistently you practice this, the easier you will fall asleep because your body falls into a natural rhythm.
2. Lower the Temperature
Research has shown that people sleep better in cooler temperatures, specifically 60 and 65 degrees Fahrenheit. This is the ideal temperature to induce sleep and to also facilitate better sleep. Our body clocks (circadian rhythms) lower our core body temperature by two degrees in the evenings. In fact, about two hours prior to our bedtime, our body starts to cool gradually and that is when our pineal gland starts to produce the sleep hormone melatonin. The production of melatonin induces our body
temperature to drop further, creating the perfect environment for sleep. So if you have trouble falling asleep, one of the easiest and most effective steps you can take is to lower the temperature in your bedroom.
There are multiple sleep courses available online that are designed to help you learn how to fall asleep faster. We recommend choosing one that has excellent reviews, has been used by thousands of satisfied customers, and is based on scientific research, like this one: Six Steps to Sleep.
We like “Six Steps to Sleep” because it is an easy to use course that starts to work in as little as three days, and comes with a recommendation from the National Sleep Foundation. It also comes with a 60-day money back guarantee.
4. 4-7-8 Breathing
The 4-7-8 breathing method is a special way of breathing that has been proven to reduce stress levels and induce relaxation. It was initiated by Dr. Andrew Weil, but is based on an ancient yogic breathing method called pranayama. 4-7-8 breathing involves slow, deep breathing, the opposite of shallow and fast breathing which we do when we are stressed or angry (fight-or-flight response). 4-7-8 breathing turns on our parasympathetic system which causes us to relax and feel comfortable to rest.
So, without going too much into the science of 4-7-8 breathing, how does one practice it? It is quite simple:
- Keep your lips slightly apart and completely exhale through your mouth making a ‘whooshing’ sound.
- Close your lips and then inhale air through your nose for a count of four.
- Now hold your breath for a count of seven.
- Next, exhale through your mouth, making the whooshing sound, for a count of eight.
- That’s it. You’ve completed one cycle. Repeat the cycle three more times.
- You can practice 4-7-8 breathing anytime, not just before you sleep. It works.
5. Expose Yourself to Both Daylight and Darkness
The human body is amazing. We have a built in internal clock called our circadian rhythm that dictates when we feel awake and alert and when we feel sleepy. Our circadian clock responds to and is sensitive to light, especially that of the sun. In fact, it is more sensitive to light in the evening a couple of hours before bedtime. It is also very sensitive to light when we are sleeping and when we first wake up.
Exposing yourself to daylight will wake you up, make you feel more awake and alert, and also help you fall asleep earlier at night. That is why it is important to expose yourself to natural light during the day and limit your exposure to light as you approach your bedtime. Darkness is sleep’s best friend.
6. Darken Your Bedroom at Night
In line with the point we discussed above, it is important to darken your bedroom at night in order to help you fall asleep easily and get good sleep during the night. The pineal gland responds to darkness by producing the hormone melatonin which induces sleepiness. In fact, you want to start dimming the lights an hour or two before your bedtime. Use black-out curtains if you need to and turn off all lights since our bodies are especially sensitive to even low light at night. Consider using an eye-mask if your sleep environment calls for it.
7. Avoid Daytime Naps
Naturally, if you take a long nap during the day, you will disrupt your circadian and sleep rhythms and find it more difficult to fall asleep at night. While it may be difficult to do at first because you are already tired from the lack of sleep the night before, try to keep occupied and refrain from napping during the day because it will cause you to be sleepy come bedtime.
Many people report being able to fall asleep faster after taking supplements such as melatonin. There are numerous sleep supplement products on the market that many people swear by. Try taking a good supplement over a period of a week and see if it helps you sleep faster and better. Here is one with a proprietary blend that we recommend: Harmonium Sleep Support.
One of the reasons we like this product is that it has no chemicals, only herbs and natural extracts. Another very important reason is that it is based on science and supported by more than 862 peer reviews.
9. Pay Attention to What and When You Eat and Drink
Recent studies have addressed the correlation between diet and sleep patterns. What was discovered is that a diet consisting of more vegetables, fruit, fiber, and good fat like that derived from nuts and avocados allowed people to fall asleep faster and obtain better sleep during the night. On the contrary, high sugar, saturated fat, and processed carbs and other foods have an adverse effect on sleep. Also foods and drinks with caffeine such as chocolate, coffee, and energy drinks make it harder to fall asleep, especially if ingested near bedtime. Foods that are high in tryptophan, an amino acid from which melatonin is made, also help induce sleep. Healthy foods that contain tryptophan are leafy greens, soybeans, pumpkin seeds, watercress, peas, sunflower seeds, and broccoli.
Another way diet affects sleep is by eating a heavy meal too close to bedtime. Ideally, you should stop eating at least two hours before you head to bed. Ironically, people who lack sleep have been found to make poorer food choices when they are awake. So eat whole foods, especially vegetables, fruit and whole carbs (quinoa, brown rice, etc), and stop eating a couple of hours before bedtime.
10. Practice Mindfulness and Meditation
Many people who find it hard to fall asleep describe experiencing mind-chatter and restless thoughts in bed. They ruminate about the past and worry about the future. One way to counteract this is to practice daily mindfulness and meditation exercises. These have been proven to relax the mind and body and reduce stress, both of which help with falling asleep. The key is to practice meditation and mindfulness every day so that it becomes a habit because that is when the full effect is felt.
11. Listen to Relaxing Music
Listening to relaxing music has also been shown to help with falling asleep. Buddhist and Gregorian chant music would be good options because they are soothing and do not require much attention even while listening. They have a somewhat hypnotic effect.
This might seem obvious, but daily exercise has a profound positive effect on falling asleep and overall sleep quality. Exercise helps increase the production of serotonin while also lowering the production of cortisol, a stress hormone. Also, exercising in the morning rather than close to bedtime is preferable since exercising at night can actually keep you awake.
Dodow is a sleep aid device that takes several of the elements that we discuss in this article and make them easier for you to implement. It effortlessly guides you through a brief exercise that is based on breathing techniques and the use of blue light to allow you to fall asleep much faster. It works for both children and adults, addressing several individual factors that can make it difficult to fall asleep.
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14. Reduce the Use of Electronic Devices Close to Bedtime
As we already discussed earlier, our bodies have a built in clock called a circadian rhythm. When the sun emerges at sunrise, our bodies start to produce the hormone cortisol which helps us feel awake and alert. When the sun goes down at sunset, our bodies start to produce another hormone, melatonin, and that helps us to relax and get sleepy.
When we use our electronic devices which are back-lit, we are exposed to short-wavelength light, commonly referred to as blue light. This blue-light delays and reduces the production of melatonin in our bodies, and this in turn reduces our levels of sleepiness. This is why it is recommended that we should stop using electronic devices like our smart phone, laptops, and tablets at least an hour or two before our bedtime. If you are going to read before bed, it is best to read physical books or magazines.
15. Avoid Looking at the Clock
Many people who have trouble falling asleep keep looking at the clock obsessively. This also happens when people wake up in the middle of the night and have trouble falling back to sleep. Looking at the clock causes stress and anxiousness, and that hinders sleep even more. Try to avoid looking at the clock when trying to fall asleep to avoid the unnecessary stressfulness.
16. Avoid or Limit Caffeine
Caffeine is a stimulant and keeps us alert and awake. If you have trouble falling asleep, limit or eradicate the consumption of caffeinated drinks like coffee, tea, energy drinks, etc. If you find it hard to give up coffee or tea, try to avoid consumption after noon.
17. Try Chamomile Tea Instead
Some studies have shown that chamomile tea has a relaxing effect and helps many people fall asleep faster. Many scientists compare chamomile tea to benzodiazepines, which are prescription drugs used to induce sleepiness. Unlike the drugs, however, chamomile tea has no reported major side effects, unless you are allergic to it.
18. Reading Before Bed
For many people, reading seems to help them sleep faster, much like riding as a passenger in a car. Of course, this does not include reading on electronic devices because of the blue-light emission. Try reading something calming before bed and avoid books that are page-turners or cause fear or excitement.
19. Writing or Journaling
Many people find it difficult to fall asleep because their mind and thoughts are wild and restless. Buddhists refer to this as the ‘monkey mind’. Writing and journaling have been shown to quiet these restless thoughts, especially if done diligently. Journaling, especially about positive thoughts and gratitude, helps tremendously in this regard. Focus on the positive aspects of your day and spend a few minutes jotting them down.
20. Make an Effort to Get Comfortable
This may seem trivial at first, but taking the time to make sure you are very comfortable can have a big effect on your ability to sleep. For example, having freshly cleaned sheets on the bed can make it much more pleasant and comfortable. The same holds true for sleeping on a good mattress (we recommend one that is medium firm). Using orthopedic pillows and a weighted blanket also can make a difference. Even the clothes you wear and the materials they are made from can help (we recommend loose, light, and breathable clothes).
21. Doing Nothing Before Bed
For some people, doing nothing before bedtime and while waiting to fall asleep works. Rather than reading or listening to music, just the sheer act of purposefully sitting or lying down quietly induces relaxation and even boredom. Try doing absolutely nothing around bedtime and see how you react.
22. Practice Gratitude or Visualization
Science has shown that practicing gratitude and visualization regularly can significantly affect your mindset and levels of stress. Every evening before you sleep, we recommend listing (either mentally or by writing it down) five positive aspects of your current day that you can be thankful for. Had a good chat with an old friend? That can be number one on the list. Enjoyed a good meal during the day? There’s number two. The important thing about practicing gratitude is to spend a few seconds actually thinking about each thing you are grateful for and soaking it in. That is important. It changes your perspective and encourages a positive, calm and stress-free mindset. This makes it easier to fall asleep.
Visualization also has been shown to work in somewhat the same way. Visualize a positive place for you, or visualize falling to sleep quickly, or visualize having a fantastic and productive day the next day. These little visualizations affect your mindset in a positive way and steer the mind away from negativity and stress, making it easier to sleep peacefully.
23. Use the Military Method
The U.S. Navy flight school invented a specific routine that helps their pilots to fall into a deep sleep in about two minutes. It requires some practice over a period of about six weeks, but it is effective and is used by navy pilots today.
So how exactly do you use the military method to fall asleep? The first step is to focus on relaxing your entire face. This includes relaxing the various muscles inside your mouth which are often tense. Next, lower your shoulders and allow your hands to rest to the side of your body, focusing on lowering tension in both your shoulders and arms. You should notice a difference if you do it right. Then exhale deeply and feel your chest relax. Now relax your entire legs, including your thighs and calves. Feel the muscles relax (don’t rush it). The next step is to visualize a relaxing environment, for example lying on a quiet beach or being in the mountains (pick a scene that you find tranquil and relaxing). Clear your mind while focusing on this peaceful and calming environment. Do this for about ten seconds. Most people fall asleep at this juncture. If that does not work, say to yourself, “no thoughts” for about ten seconds. This does the trick for most people. It does take practice but persevere at it rather than expecting it to work after only a couple of tries (the mistake that most people make). Remember that navy pilots practice this for six weeks before they are able to master it.
24. Practice Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR)
Progressive muscle relaxation is a technique that has been effectively used by medical professionals to effectively help patients relax, reduce stress and anxiety, and to aid sleep. In a nutshell, it involves tensing your muscles one muscle group at a time and then subsequently relaxing them. It is also used as a pain management technique. PMR requires some practice, but it only takes about fifteen to twenty minutes per day.
How do you practice PMR? The most common method recommended by the medical establishment is to start with the lower body, then move on to the upper body. Here’s how to do it: Inhale and then tense the muscles in your feet for five to ten seconds. Then exhale and do the opposite by relaxing all the muscles you just tensed. Relax your feet and focus on those relaxed muscles for about ten to twenty seconds. Now move on to the thigh muscles and do the same, followed by your glutes or muscles in your buttocks. After doing this for all the muscle groups in your lower body, move on to your upper body in the way of your abdomen, chest, arms, neck, face, etc. Remember that it is important to notice the feeling of tensing and then relaxing the muscles. Some people also find it more effective if they simultaneously imagine stress departing from their bodies during the relaxation stage. The PMR method has been shown to be pretty effective in helping people with sleep problems.
25. Limit or Eradicate Alcohol Consumption
While alcohol can have a sedative effect for many people, it has been shown that consumption, especially in excess, actually messes up our sleep patterns and quality. If you are going to drink alcohol, do it much earlier than your bedtime and in moderation. Not drinking it is probably the most effective.
26. Only Use Your Bedroom for Specific Activities
One sleep tip that many people find effective is to designate your bedroom for certain activities such as sleep and sex. That helps you associate the environment with sleep which helps your mind get ready for bed once you enter your bedroom. It is best not to use your bedroom for activities such as watching TV or working.
27. Ditch the TV in the Room
Watching a back-lit television screen disrupts your circadian rhythm and delays production of melatonin, thereby making it more difficult to fall asleep. It is best not to have a TV in your bedroom.
28. Keep It Quiet with Earplugs
Using a handy pair of earplugs helps to reduce any unwanted noise from either inside or outside your home.
29. Autogenic Training
Developed by a German psychologist, autogenic training is a technique used to induce relaxation and feelings of calmness. It is used by many psychologists to help their patients reduce anxiety and stress. It does this by slowing down breathing and lowering blood pressure which then activates your body’s own relaxation response.
Here’s how to do autogenic training: First, find a comfortable and quiet spot where you can relax. It is best to use the same place each time you practice autogenic training. Next, decide if you want to sit down or lie down. You should be in a comfortable position before you begin. Next, focus on your breathing. Take deep, slow breaths for at least a minute or more. Once you have developed a slow breathing pattern, tell yourself (you can either say it out loud or quietly in your mind), “I am totally calm”. Keep doing this breathing and auto-suggestion for a couple of minutes. Next, divert your focus to your body. Begin focusing on your left or right arm. Now say to yourself, “My left (or right) arm is very heavy and I am totally calm”. Do this for a minute and then switch to the other arm and do the same. Now do the same thing while focusing on each of your legs, repeating to yourself, “My left (or right) leg is very heavy and I am totally calm”. Remember to keep your breathing deep and slow. Now move on to the different parts of your body like abdomen, head, chest, etc. Next, shift your attention to your heartbeat and say to yourself, “My heart beat is slow and calm. And I am totally calm”. The whole exercise should take you at least ten minutes and you should be much calmer and more relaxed after you are finished. It may sound simple, but this exercise works if done consistently. Some people also prefer to download apps or listen to recordings of someone guiding you through the entire practice. You should now be more ready to fall asleep.
30. Pay Attention to Your Sleep Hygiene
A lot of people find it very advantageous to take a hot shower before bed. They also find that brushing their teeth and flossing before bed helps them fall asleep better. Changing the sheets often works, too. It is much easier to fall asleep when you feel clean.
Finally, a few points to remember. If falling asleep faster and getting better sleep is your goal, we recommend experimenting with the different techniques we have covered. Some of these methods work better for some than others. However, if you incorporate and combine the strategies that work best for you, sleep will come much faster and more easily.