Are you one of the 50-70 million people suffering from poor sleep or a sleep disorder? No matter what keeps you up at night, whether it's stress about work, a snoring partner, or even a pet, chances are we could all benefit from catching a few more Z's.
Pretty much everyone would like to get better sleep, but after being wound up all day at work or chugging caffeine throughout the day, falling, and staying, asleep can be a real challenge! Plenty of people are at a loss on how to fall asleep fast, even though their mind and bodies are already drained from the stresses of the day. This can lead to sleep deprivation, which can disrupt your sleep cycle and in turn greatly impact your mood, memory retention, blood pressure, sense of balance, cause insomnia, and a great many other medical issues.
Check out our list of the top 20 tried-and-true strategies in falling asleep fast and getting better sleep.
1. Find The Thermostat Sweet Spot
You can’t help tossing and turning if it’s too hot in your bedroom. Cooler temperatures help your body to regulate its internal temperature, meaning it’ll be much easier to fall asleep quickly. Plus, our core body temperature follows a circadian rhythm, too - and it's widely believed that a cooler core temperature is a signal to our bodies that it's time for bed and catching some zzz's.
This is the first of our recommended sleep hacks: aim to keep your thermostat between 60F-73F degrees (16C-23C) for optimal sleep.
2. Turn Off The Lights
People who want to fall asleep faster often overlook one of the most simple solutions: to help get your body ready for bed, make sure you switch off as many lights as possible and power down your electronics about half an hour before your bedtime. Light is one of the most important external factors that affect our sleep - and the absence of light is another signal to our brains (and bodies!) that it's time to rest. Light can also inhibit our body's production of melatonin, a hormone that has been proven to have a significant impact on our sleep cycle.
Electronics such as computers or smartphones emit what's known as "blue light", which can disrupt your sleep cycle. Even the slightest glow from power indicators can pose a threat to your sleep. Try to unplug your electronics or use blackout stickers on the lights to avoid negative impacts "blue light" has on your sleep.
3. Embrace Aromatherapy
You know the importance of blocking out light, but did you know that certain scents can also help you to hit the hay? Our olfactory system, also known as our sense of smell, is directly wired to our brain, and can impact not just our moods, but also our receptiveness to sleep.
Choose scents that are soothing to help you get ready for sleep, fast. For example: use lavender and chamomile essential oils on the inside of your wrists and on your temples to encourage your body to relax. Take a few deep breaths, and you’ll be out in seconds. You can also try using scented candles, diffusers, or pillow mists - sky's the limit!
4. Read A Bestseller
We know it’s tough to resist the pull of Netflix, but aim to dedicate at least 15 minutes in the evening to read a book. While it might not be the time to read the latest Stephen King novel, a self-help book or even a spiritual guidebook can help set your mind at ease.
To maximize the effectiveness of this tip, go old school and read an actual book, not an e-reader.
Because you want to train yourself to remove any and all technology from your bedroom. Even the light e-readers give off can make it more of a challenge to fall asleep. So, hit the used bookstore and go old school!
5. Watch What You Eat
We all love snacking at night, but what you eat before bedtime can sometimes make it tough to fall asleep. Resist the pull of sugary cereals, chocolate, and simple carbs. This skyrockets your blood sugar and can make it tough for your body to regulate its energy levels. Eating too much before your regular bedtime can also divert your body's focus to digesting all that extra food, instead of on relaxing and repairing your cells while you sleep.
Replace your evening snack with proteins and veggies, like cashews or carrots and hummus.
6. Try A Noise Machine
Our brains are wired to register sounds even as we sleep, sometimes causing a disruption even while we're between sleep stages.
Even if you don’t live on a busy street, sometimes using a noise machine to cancel out excessive or unexpected sound (or break up the silence) can be a huge help. A sound machine can help promote better sleep by providing white noise that can mask other noises that can disturb your rest. Sound machines can provide a wide range of background noise to choose from - whether it's the sound of waves gently crashing on the shore, or a low-level buzz that some people actually find soothing.
When you don’t have to hear that jackhammer or the street traffic noise, you’ll be able to fall asleep much more quickly.
We know it can be tempting to stay out all night, especially on the weekends, but doing so throws off your body’s circadian rhythm, which is what helps you to both fall and stay asleep. If possible, make a serious effort to go to bed and wake up at around the same time seven days of the week. Establishing a dependable pattern can help you train your body to feel the need to rest at a specific time of day, so that it will be a lot easier for you to get that much-deserved good night's rest.
Saying no to that afternoon cup of joe is tough -- but it will make it much easier to fall asleep quickly at night. Avoid as much caffeine as you can after 12:00 PM. Instead, go for a brisk, quick walk to get your heart rate going and to clear your mind in the afternoons. If you really need that caffeine fix, try to avoid drinking coffee as much as six hours before your bedtime. Caffeine has a half-life of about five hours, so make sure to give your body time to get it out of your system before you hit the sack.
9. Hit The Gym First Thing
Wondering how to fall asleep fast? Waking up early to head to the gym before work can certainly go a long way to helping you in your sleep issues. Incorporating this into your routine can take a bit of getting used to, but if you struggle to fall asleep quickly at night, it can be a huge help.
First of all, your workout will be much more impactful. This tactic is also known as a military method. Studies have shown that working out before breakfast burns 20% more body fat than an afternoon gym session. This is because when you work out in the morning, your body continues to burn more calories throughout the day. Plus, when you spike your metabolism early, your body releases endorphins in the morning. This means you’ll be energized all day, instead of awake for hours after your evening workout. So get that morning workout done, and sweat your way to falling asleep quickly on a regular basis.
We all deal with racing thoughts at night. But if you don’t get your ideas down on paper, sometimes anxiety creeps up on you when you’re trying to fall asleep.
End the nightmare by journaling for a few minutes before bed (you can also do this instead of reading, as we suggested in tip 4.) That way, you’ll name your stressors, understand your goals for tomorrow, and remember the highlights of your day. You can also jot down all the little wins or simple joys you've experienced throughout your waking hours, which can help put you in a more relaxed and receptive mood for a night of restful slumber.
And if you have sleep-related issues, look into starting a sleep diary, to help you determine what patterns and behaviors you may have that impact the quality of your slumber.
11. Move Around If Needed
There’s nothing worse than lying down in your bed, desperately willing yourself to fall asleep. And guess what? It doesn’t work. If anything, it will only make it harder. If you’re truly having one of those nights where nothing else works, it’s OK to get up, out of bed, and walk around. Think along the lines of some light stretching or muscle relaxation. Your body will tire out more quickly, and you’ll take your mind off of falling asleep.
On a side note, taking a walk during the day can also help you sleep better at night. A brisk walk in the morning sun can help promote a better circadian rhythm and increase the effect of melatonin.
12. Get More Magnesium
If you’re struggling to sleep, it could be your body letting you know you’re not getting enough magnesium in your diet. Magnesium is a mineral that helps your body relax, and the struggle to feel sleepy could be a symptom of deficiency. Magnesium regulates neurotransmitters that sends signals throughout our brain and body, and also plays a role in regulating melatonin. Although it is essential for us to function properly, it's not naturally produced by the body. Try adding more nuts and seeds to your diet, and eat a banana as an afternoon snack. Moderate intake of magnesium-rich food can help you achieve longer sleep time and better sleep efficiency.
13. Try Interval Training
Earlier in this post, we spoke about the importance of working out as early in the day as possible to help train your body to go to sleep faster. The type of workout you do makes a difference, too. For best results, try interval training. Sprint for 1 minute, jog for 2, walk for 1, and repeat the cycle for at least 20 minutes.
14. Head Outside In The Morning
If you can’t make it to the gym in the mornings, at least make sure you spend a few minutes outside every day. As we mentioned in tip 11, getting some morning sun can help promote better sleep during your night hours.
This pumps your body full of Vitamin D, and helps to balance out the cortisol levels. Your circadian rhythm will also be reset with the distinction between waking and sleeping hours. All of this will help make falling asleep a little easier.
15. Take A Bubble Bath
It’s always good to have an excuse to relax and pamper yourself! Pick out your favorite bath balm or essential oil and clean your body of toxins by taking a nice, warm bubble bath. This can also help you de-stress and put your mind in a more receptive state for a restful, restorative slumber.
Pro tip: you can also supplement your relaxing bath with some aromatherapy, as we mentioned earlier on in this article. Set up some fragrant candles and pair them with soothing music to help get you in the mood to catch some zzz's.
16. Drink Chamomile Tea
This is probably something your grandmother suggested to you -- and with good reason! Drinking chamomile tea before bed will help you to fall asleep faster by making you feel drowsy. Chamomile contains apigenin, an antioxidant which studies have shown can help reduce stress and induce sleepiness as it binds to specific receptors in your brain. Drinking chamomile tea at least 45 minutes before you sleep can help you calm your nerves and relax, making it easier to slip into a restful state. If you don’t like the taste of chamomile, a glass of warm milk will do the trick too.
17. Meditate Before Bed
Especially if you deal with racing thoughts, meditating or trying basic breathing techniques before bed can help you to relax and get both your mind and body ready to fall asleep. Use thebest sleep mask to help you slip into deep meditation with ease. There are countless guided meditations on YouTube you can try, so don’t be afraid to check out several routines to find the most effective one for you.
Think about the positive parts of your day, and what you’re looking forward to about tomorrow, to help promote relaxation and get you ready for bed.
18. Try Natural Sleep Supplements
If you’re really struggling to get some deep sleep, we know it can be tempting to talk to your doctor about prescription medication.
However, before you do that, make sure to try natural sleep supplements like melatonin, valerian root, or even passion flower tea. We've mentioned melatonin before, but valerian root has also been used for centuries as a natural "cure" for insomnia and headaches, while passion flower tea is thought to help lower brain activity and has long been used as treatments to help promote better sleep.
These natural supplements may help to relax you without leaving you feeling groggy the next day, and can be less habit-forming than other, over-the-counter sleep medication.
19. Rethink Your Mattress
If you can’t remember the last time you bought a new mattress, chances are that it’s time for an upgrade. Even the best sleep tips in the world can’t help you if your mattress is as hard as a rock. Stiff or lumpy mattresses can cause you back or muscle pains, and will likely lead to you tossing and turning throughout the night.
If you sleep with a partner, look for a mattress you can both adjust to your comfort levels. Looking for something firm and supportive, and made with cooling materials to help you feel more comfortable even during warmer seasons. Additionally, if possible always buy an organic mattress, which will be free from irritating chemicals and dyes.
20. Sleep With Weighted Blankets
If you’ve never heard of weighted blankets, we understand that the idea can seem pretty weird. However, these special therapeutic blankets, which can weigh anywhere from 5-20 pounds, can seriously help to calm your evening anxiety. Weighted blankets may help give you a better night's sleep by reducing time spent tossing and turning to get into a comfortable sleeping position. The extra weight also contributes to something called deep pressure stimulation, which is thought to help relax the nervous system. This also helps to promote the production of seratonin, a natural precursor to the sleep hormone, melatonin.
For many people, weighted blankets have been known to help reduce anxiety, insomnia, and promote healthy sleeping habits. You might be among them, too!
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