It’s no secret that getting good sleep is integral to overall health. Proper sleep is essential to mental health, physical ability, and emotional well-being. Without enough sleep, other tasks like working, exercising, and simply being active become more difficult to accomplish.
For many of us, falling asleep fast can be difficult. Sleep may be elusive because we’re running through tomorrow’s to-do list, fretting about today’s events, or trying to sleep in a noisy environment.
If you’ve ever woken up groggy or spent hours counting sheep trying to make yourself sleepy, you’ve probably wondered how to fall asleep fast. Here, we’ve made a list of tips to help you get good quality ZZZs without spending hours trying to fall asleep. Discover 12 ways to fall asleep fast with this handy guide.
Note: The information in this article is the opinion of the article’s author and does not represent the opinion of Biostrap or its affiliates. This article is for informational purposes and is not intended as a substitute for medical advice. Please consult a qualified professional if you require medical attention.
How To Fall Asleep Fast: 12 Tips for Success
While sleep can sometimes be hard to come by, there are many things you can do to increase your chances of falling asleep quickly and improve sleep quality. These include setting a sleep schedule, creating a cozy space to get some shut-eye, and avoiding things that may keep you up at night. Here’s how to fall asleep fast, including things you can do to make yourself sleepier and things you should avoid.
1. Set a Sleep Schedule
Having a sleep schedule is one of the best ways to regularly get good quality sleep. Your body has a natural sleep and wake cycle known as the circadian rhythm. Think of your circadian rhythm like an internal clock. It offers cues in the evening that make you sleepy and sends signals to increase alertness in the mornings when you need to wake up.
Your circadian rhythm can be thrown off by a variety of factors including your sleep environment, the things you eat and drink, and inconsistent working hours. Turning on bright lights in the evening can make it harder for your body to know it’s time to sleep. Drinking alcohol or stimulants can also trick your circadian rhythm. Many people who work swing shifts or night shifts may also have circadian rhythm problems since your body doesn’t know when it’s time to be awake or asleep.
Setting a sleep schedule is one of the best ways to support your natural circadian rhythm. Try to go to bed at the same time each night and wake up at the same time each morning. This will help your body establish a set sleep cycle, making it easier to fall asleep and wake up without feeling groggy.
Aim to get seven to nine hours of sleep each night and try to set a 20-30 minute bedtime routine where you can start winding down. Start by turning off your electronics and doing activities that help you relax. This includes reading, meditating, drinking a cup of decaffeinated tea, or listening to music. Alternatively, you can write down tasks for the next day, stetch, or spend some time enjoying relaxing conversation with your partner.
2. Get Exercise
Exercise is essential for overall well-being. It can help fend off diseases and also keeps your mind and body working at optimal levels. Getting regular exercise is another way you can support better sleep. Studies show that exercise helps to regulate the production of serotonin, a stress hormone that keeps many people up at night.
When it comes to exercise, it may be best to work out at least a few hours before bedtime because working out before bed may cause sleep disruptions for some individuals.
Try to work out first thing in the morning, whether that means lifting weights or going for a short walk. This can support your circadian rhythm and help your body wake up. Working out in the afternoon can also give you a quick energy boost and make you tired when bedtime rolls around.
3. Set Up a Cozy Sleep Space
It’s always easier to fall asleep when you’re comfy and cozy. Take time to consider your sleep hygiene. Focus on comfortable and soothing qualities when choosing a mattress and bed linens. Research shows that medium-firm mattresses work well when it comes to improving sleep quality.
Look for bedding that is cool and won’t get too hot, particularly in the summer months. Switch from flannel or fleece sheets in the wintertime to a lighter weight cotton option for summer when temperatures increase. Spend some time finding a good pillow that offers support and comfort. Popular options include orthopedic pillows — which stay cool longer than alternatives — and memory foam pillows for molded support.
4. Turn Off Digital Screens
Staring at your smartphone screen, television, or video game monitor right before bed can make it more difficult to fall asleep. The blue light from the digital screens can trick your brain into thinking it’s still day time, making it more difficult to feel sleepy. The content on these screens — including negative news stories or intense video game scenarios — can also be emotionally charged and cause anxiety that makes it difficult to fall asleep.
Avoid installing a television in your bedroom. You can also try to keep your phone in a drawer or turn on do not disturb mode to prevent distractions. If you absolutely need to use your phone or computer before bed, turn on the night mode features to reduce brightness and sleep disruptions.
5. Listen to Calming Music
Some people find it hard to wind down at night. One way to boost relaxation is to listen to soothing music for an hour or so before bedtime. The calm notes can help your mind relax, making it easier to fall asleep. Sleep studies show that soothing music can improve sleep and lengthen the amount of time spent in deep sleep cycles.
Try listening to classical music, yoga soundtracks, or instrumentals to calm down in the evenings. If music isn’t your thing, you can also try listening to a white noise machine with sounds of the ocean or birds if that makes you sleepy before bed.
6. Breathing Techniques
For many of us, stress and anxiety are the key culprits behind our inability to fall asleep at night. If you find yourself staring at the ceiling trying to fall asleep, relaxation techniques and breathing techniques may make it easier to relax and unwind.
One effective breathing exercise is called the 4-7-8 breathing method. Start by placing the tip of your tongue against the back of your top teeth. Exhale deeply through your mouth. Inhale through your nose counting until you reach four seconds. Hold your breath for seven seconds and then focus on exhaling again through your mouth. Repeat 3-5 times or until you feel relaxed.
7. Avoid Sleeping During the Day
People with medical conditions that affect the nervous system, including Parkinson’s disease and anxiety, often feel sleepy and tired during the day. Daytime sleepiness is also a side effect of sleep disorders including insomnia, sleep apnea, sleep deprivation, sleeplessness, and oversleeping. Napping during the day can confuse your body’s natural circadian rhythm and make it harder to fall asleep at night.
Try to avoid sleeping during the daytime hours as it can make it more difficult to fall asleep when nighttime rolls around. If you do need a midday snooze, limit it to 20 to 30 minutes instead of sleeping for hours. If you find yourself feeling sluggish in the afternoon, take a cold shower or go for a walk to give yourself an energy boost.
8. Decrease the Temperature
One of the signals your circadian rhythm uses to indicate sleep time is core body temperature. When you fall asleep, your body temperature decreases. To get a good night’s sleep, it’s a good idea to turn down your thermostat. The best temperature for sleep is typically around 65 degrees Fahrenheit. Try setting the temperature to 65 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit. You may need to adjust this temperature over a few nights to find the ideal temperature for you.
Higher temperatures may make you hot and uncomfortable, making it harder to sleep or causing you to wake up in the middle of the night. If you’re a cold sleeper and tend to wake up in the middle of the night because you’re cold, try adding blankets to your bed instead of increasing the thermostat reading. You can also wear warm pajamas made of flannel or fleece, or wear socks to bed.
9. Avoid Stimulants in the Evening
While coffee may help kickstart a sluggish afternoon, drinking a cup of joe late in the evening can disrupt sleep. Studies show that caffeine inhibits the production of melatonin, leading to a decrease in sleep quantity and sleep quality.
Avoid drinking stimulants such as coffee and energy drinks a minimum of six hours before bed. A good alternative is an herbal tea, such as chamomile tea or lavender tea, which don’t contain caffeine.
10. Try Making a To-Do List Before Bed
Many people have difficulty falling asleep because they spend hours worrying about things they need to do or things they could have done better during the day. Worry and anxiety may cause disruptions in sleep and make it difficult to get shut-eye.
Studies show that writing down a short to-do list for the next day may help to reduce anxiety and improve sleep. Focus on being specific when writing your to-do list. Researchers concluded that writing a to-do list for about five minutes before bed could benefit sleep and help you fall asleep faster compared to journaling. Set the journal aside once you get all your thoughts down and settle into bed.
11. Try Natural Sleep Aids
If you don’t want to take sleeping pills, natural sleep aids like melatonin, magnesium, glycine, and lavender have fewer side effects and may help you fall asleep faster. In fact, one study found that lavender aromatherapy helped to decrease blood pressure and heart rate in the middle of the night and improved sleep scores.
Melatonin may also help you get better sleep. Your body naturally produces melatonin when it’s dark, signaling that it’s time for your body to sleep. If you find that you just can’t fall asleep at night or need help getting sleepy after working a swing shift, taking a melatonin supplement may help.
12. Don’t Watch the Clock
We’ve all been there. You ‘re trying to fall asleep and you just can’t. You keep checking the clock and as the hours melt away, you become more and more anxious about not getting sleep. If you wake up in the middle of the night or struggle to fall asleep, don’t watch the clock. This only serves to further increase your anxiety and make it harder to sleep.
Try removing your clock from your room. If you just can’t sleep, get up and drink a cup of soothing herbal tea or take a warm bath. This can help make you sleepy, and you can return to bed better able to fall asleep. You can also try a technique known as paradoxical intention. This involves staying in bed and trying to stay awake rather than trying to fall asleep. Like reverse psychology, the idea is that you trick your brain into doing what you want — go to sleep — by trying to do the opposite.
Get Help When It Comes to Sleep
If you just can’t seem to overcome your sleep problems, it may be time to talk to a sleep expert or sleep medicine professional. They can help you figure out if your sleep problems are associated with a disorder or with habits you can change.
Using a wearable tracker like Biostrap can also offer valuable information about your sleep habits. Biostrap has a wide range of accessories including a wristband and a pod for leg tracking to help you get metrics on your sleep habits.
The sleep lab function tracks metrics every two minutes so you can get a complete picture of the number hours of sleep you got, plus any disturbances such as snoring and arm or leg movements. You can even print out your data and bring it to a sleep expert to get help with your sleep issues. It’s a great tool when you want to hack your sleep habits and find better ways to fall asleep fast.