How to Fall Asleep: 8 Sleep Hacks for Falling Asleep Faster
Do you have trouble falling asleep? A good night’s sleep is something we all love and need, but falling asleep can often be difficult. If you don’t sleep well, the following day can be filled with stress. Worrying about falling asleep only makes things worse, and panic can set in while you restlessly toss and turn. Fortunately, there are several tips and tricks that can help you fall asleep quickly.
8 Sleep Hacks for Falling Asleep Faster
- Listen to Relaxing Music
- Practice Breathing Techniques
- Adjust the Temperature
- Try Aromatherapy
- Avoid Certain Foods and Beverages Before Bedtime
- Read a Book
- Stick to Your Routine
- Purchase a Comfortable Bed
Why Can’t I Fall Asleep?
There are many reasons why it may be difficult to get a good night’s sleep. Identifying the behaviors and causes of your insomnia can help you correct the problem. Here are some common causes of insomnia:
- Inconsistent Routines
- Bad Sleep Hygiene
- Sleep Disorders
- Stimulating Substances (Caffeine, Alcohol)
This common cause of insomnia can be challenging to fix if you’ve already become entrenched in bad habits. In order to sleep well each night, your sleep schedule needs to be consistent. Have you ever tried sleeping in your car, on the floor, or on the couch (married men, let me see those hands go up)? It’s not comfortable. But believe it or not, one of the biggest reasons it’s uncomfortable is not because of the material (although, that is a factor too). It’s because you’re not used to it. When your sleep is inconsistent — in terms of time or place — it can be hard to fall asleep.
Unfortunately, most of us tend to stay up way too late watching TV, browsing the web, or scrolling through our social media accounts. These activities can complicate sleep because they trick the brain into staying awake, while creating an unhealthy routine for transitioning into a nocturnal mode. Moreover, they can create an inconsistent bedtime. Part of a good sleep routine means knowing when to turn off your electronics and give your mind a rest.
Bad Sleep Hygiene
Poor hygiene around bedtime can yield some bad sleep. Good sleep hygiene is more than just brushing your teeth before bed — it’s the environment you create around sleep. A dark room that’s free of distractions and set at the right temperature can go a long way toward providing a sleep-inducing environment.
It also helps to keep your room clean, because a dirty, messy room can create some unwanted distractions. Stubbing your toe or tripping over objects in the dark is a great way to become wide awake. A clean bedroom will also minimize allergy-related problems. To that end, you might also consider the benefit of a hypoallergenic mattress. Your bed is one of the biggest culprits in the realm of hygiene, due to allergens that get trapped in the mattress. A stuffy nose and frequent sneezing can make it very difficult to fall asleep.
Stress may be impossible to avoid, but taking stress to bed with you is a recipe for insomnia. Thanks to the internet and social media, there are plenty of anxiety-producing opportunities to raise your stress level and keep you up at night. Compounded with the unavoidable stresses of work, life, and our various relationships, your brain can spin too fast to fall into dreamland.
Stress can also be physical. If you have back problems, joint problems, or other kinds of chronic pain, it can be difficult to get to sleep due to lack of comfort. A comfortable, supportive bed is a good way to alleviate this problem. You may also want to look into the best sleeping position so you can get as comfortable as possible. Without the right bed, it can be hard to get into a slow sleep wave—that deep sleep you need for mental and physical rejuvenation.
In addition to the general problems that can cause us to lose sleep, some people have a genuine sleep disorder. These issues can be caused by psychological or physiological conditions that prevent a person from sleeping well.
One common disorder is sleep apnea, which can result in excessive snoring (and can keep your partner up at night as well). Another common sleep condition is restless leg syndrome, which prevents sleepers from being able to stay still.
If sleep deprivation gets too serious, it can really ruin your life. In rare instances, it can even become fatal. Even if you don’t have difficulty falling asleep, you may experience a disruption of your sleep cycle, such as constant tossing and turning due to a physical condition, or a psychological issue like night terrors or high anxiety.
Some sleep disorders like insomnia can be cured with therapy, medicated sleep aids, or some combination thereof. Others might require a more complex solution. For example, sleep apnea may be induced by excess weight, so changing your diet and losing weight may be necessary. Sometimes, the solution may be as simple as taking an iron supplement to cure restless leg syndrome or putting a humidifier in your bedroom to reduce dryness and minimize snoring. Diagnosing a real sleep disorder requires a professional medical opinion, and your doctor can help you with a treatment plan.
No one said chocolate cake is a sin, but it sure won’t help you sleep like an angel. Other foods and drinks — especially those high in sugar and caffeine — can cause sleep problems by disrupting the chemistry in your body and brain. Avoiding these types of foods and beverages for several hours before you go to bed can make it much easier to fall asleep. Common culprits include heavy or fatty foods, such as steak or pizza. Soda, alcohol, coffee, and energy drinks are all important to avoid as well.
Even consuming these foods earlier in the day can have detrimental effects on your sleep. If unhealthy eating is causing you to be fatigued throughout the day, you may have a harder time falling asleep at night, especially if you’re succumbing to naps during the day. These impromptu moments of shuteye can wreak havoc with your natural circadian rhythms, making it difficult to fall asleep at night.
How to Fall Asleep: 8 Sleep Hacks for Falling Asleep Faster
Now that we’ve looked at the common causes of sleep issues, let’s look at some of the solutions. You may find that just one of these techniques is enough to help you fall asleep. Try mixing and matching these tips to find a solution that works best for you. Whatever the case may be, don’t get caught up rehashing the question of how to fall asleep faster—just use one or more of these tips. People with insomnia may not know where to turn for relief. Here are some ways to help you get some shut eye.
1. Listen to Relaxing Music
Music has a tendency to excite some people, but certain types of music can induce sleep. Have you ever tried to make it through a performance of The Nutcracker? Odds are you fell asleep at some point. Often, quiet, gentle music can lull you to sleep, like classical piano or soft instrumental music. You can also try sleep sound effects, like the ambient noise of a stream or a bird-filled meadow. There are plenty of recordings and apps that provide ambient noises in high-quality recordings, which can serve as the perfect background noise as you drift off to sleep. Alternatively, you may be one of those people who can fall asleep to the screeching vocals of Iron Maiden or Led Zeppelin … hey, everyone is different. Avoid using headphones to listen to your sleep-inducing music, as they can often get in the way. Instead, try playing it over your phone or over a speaker. A smart speaker, like the Google Home, Amazon Echo, or Apple HomePod is a great way to access a huge library of music and sounds. If music is too distracting or stimulating, you may still benefit from a white noise machine that can cancel out disturbing noises and help you relax.
2. Practice Breathing Techniques
Breathing techniques and meditation have been used for centuries to help people get calm and centered. One of the most common reasons why people can’t fall asleep is because they’re either too stressed, or energized. Breathing techniques can lower your stress levels and calm you down. Deep breathing techniques can help slow down your heart rate, while also bringing more oxygen into your bloodstream — which in turn helps you relax. Some breathing techniques can help experienced practitioners fall asleep in under five minutes—now that’s how to fall asleep fast! Many of these techniques have roots in Yoga, but their effectiveness has been confirmed in current day clinical research and endorsed by the national sleep foundation.
3. Adjust the Temperature
You may be having a hard time falling asleep simply because it’s just too hot. One reason you might be too hot is right under your nose … literally. If you sleep on a memory foam mattress, you could be experiencing the side effects of its poor airflow, which can heat things up in your bedroom (and not in a good way). Thankfully, Purple<sup>®</sup> Mattresses do not contain any memory foam. The proprietary grid helps air circulate, so your sleeping temperature can stay in a more regulated zone.
You can also try adjusting the room temperature by lowering the thermostat. When you sleep, your body temperature actually decreases. As a result, temperatures that seem comfortable during the day might feel surprisingly warm at night. A temperature between 60-67 degrees Fahrenheit is ideal for sleeping. If you have an infant in the room with you, you should keep the temperature a little higher (say between 65 and 70 degrees) and make sure the crib is away from fans or windows, so the temperature stays consistent.
4. Try Aromatherapy
The use of select scents to induce certain biological and psychological responses has been around for thousands of years, though it has just recently become vogue (again). Everyone around the world seems to have used this strategy, from the ancient Chinese to the Greeks and Romans. Scents like lavender can be applied to your skin or dispersed through the air via infusion machines. Be sure to buy your essential oils and scents from a reputable company who uses quality ingredients. Properly used, essential oils can help mitigate anxiety, stress, depression, and lead to a more restful night of sleep.
5. Avoid Certain Foods and Beverages Before Bedtime
It’s well known that certain drinks increase your energy, either temporarily or for hours at a time. Caffeinated beverages and energy drinks should not be consumed in the afternoon or evening, or you may have a very hard time going to sleep. You should also avoid sugary soda and sweets, which can make you feel stimulated before bringing about a sugar crash. And while you might think a sugar crash is just what you need, it’s actually not — the quality of your sleep will be poor, and you’ll most likely experience frequent or semi-frequent waking during the night.
Instead, try a relaxing cup of hot herbal tea, especially the varieties that are meant to induce sleep (they’ll probably say so on the box). Be sure to avoid black tea, which contains caffeine. A glass of warm milk is another healthy option. Milk contains tryptophan, which is an amino acid that turns into melatonin once consumed. This hormone helps regulate our sleep cycle and relaxes the brain. Banana smoothies, almond milk, and coconut water also contain elements and compounds that can help induce sleep.
Contrary to what your intuition tells you, imbibing alcohol to assist in sleep is counterproductive (and possibly dangerous, if consumed to excess). Granted, you may get tired or simply pass out, but the quality of your sleep will be poor. Alcohol dehydrates the body and interferes with rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. It can also disrupt your hormonal balance, which is needed for a good night’s sleep. So, put away the booze and put a kettle of water on the stove.
6. Read a Book
Reading is a great way to unwind and relax. While television and other electronic gadgets can cause stimulation, reading is typically a soothing activity that helps you transition from a busy day to a night of rest. Avoid reading books that are too exciting, though, and other content that may stress you out, such as the news. Try reading something light, such as fiction or enjoyable non-fiction (for those who love biographies and history). Anything that helps take your mind off stress from the day.
Parents help their children go to sleep by reading to them. As adults, we may need bigger books, but the principle is the same. Bedtime stories help you get to sleep. Avoid reading on electronic devices, such as your phone or tablet, for two reasons: The unnatural glow can be stimulating, and you may be tempted to start browsing the web or post on social media.
7. Stick to Your Routine
Speaking of bedtime stories, a bedtime routine is a great way to help fall asleep. Routines help your mind and body prepare for a night in bed. Consistency is key. One main benefit of having a regular bedtime routine is that it helps your body know that it’s time to sleep. This consistency can facilitate a better sleep-wake cycle, day in and day out.
Consider a bedtime routine that includes some of the strategies we highlighted above, such as drinking a hot beverage and reading a book. Other parts of your routine can include a warm bath, a healthy snack, or some light stretching. Avoid incorporating LED screens and electronics into your routine as they can provide too much stimulation. Turn your bedroom into a space of rest to facilitate the effectiveness of your routine. Make sure your bedroom is devoid of bright light at night, both from within the house and outside (curtains can help). The presence of light can interfere with the production of melatonin, the natural chemical that your body makes to help you get a good night’s rest.
8. Purchase a Comfortable Bed
No doubt about it, having a comfortable bed is very important if you want to fall asleep fast — and stay asleep throughout the night. There are multiple aspects to having the perfect bed, including the mattress, foundation, bedding, and your pillow. A pillow that holds your neck too high can leave you with a painful neck all day. A pillow that’s too soft can do the same. The best pillow will support your head and neck, so it aligns properly with your spine.
A high-quality mattress will also create an environment that’s more conducive to sleep, as will the sheets if they are made of comfortable material. Flannel sheets can be good during a cold winter, but they are terribly sweat-inducing in the summer. Cotton sheets may feel cool in the summer, but may not insulate you well enough during the winter. If you don’t feel like swapping out your bedding seasonally, bamboo sheets are an excellent option. The stretchy weave provides comfort and breathability all year long. Bamboo sheets are durable and also very soft, which is great for helping you get to sleep.
How to Fall Back Asleep: 4 Important Tips
So your body has finally succumbed to sleep. Next thing you know, you’re waking up to darkness and disappointment, realizing it is still the middle of the night. What do you do now?
Many of the same factors that make it hard for you to fall asleep can also wake you up in the night. Despite that, tackling the problem of falling back asleep will mean trying some different things. Give these strategies for falling back asleep a try:
1. Don’t Look at the Clock!
It may be tempting to sneak a glance at the time when you get tired of staring into space. However, sleep experts agree that carefully watching the minutes go by can start a cycle of worry in your brain and that won’t help!
2. Write Down What’s Stressing You Out
Stress is one of the top reasons for waking up in the night. If your mind is racing while you’re trying to fall back asleep, it will probably help you to deal with whatever is worrying you by writing it down. This can help quiet your mind, which will make it easier for you to sleep. However, be careful. Keep the lights low, write on actual paper, and don’t use your smartphone to avoid disrupting your body clock.
3. Relax Your Mind and Body
If your mind is still racing, try something to calm and focus your mind. This could be a breathing exercise, meditating, a muscle relaxation drill or a visualization technique. You can learn these techniques on the internet while you’re awake and practice them so they come easily by the time you need them at night. Focusing your mind on something else and relaxing your body can make a big difference on how long it takes for you to fall back asleep.
4. Get Out of Bed
If you can’t fall back asleep within 20 minutes or so, experts recommend switching it up. Get out of bed and go to a different room. Do something relaxing, like reading a book you find boring, listening to calming music, or meditating.
Waking up in the night and struggling to fall asleep is very frustrating. If you’re struggling with it consistently and nothing is helping, it’s probably a good idea to ask your doctor about it and get medical help.
How to Fall Asleep
Falling asleep can be difficult, especially when you feel stressed and don’t have the right habits in place. Anxiety can keep you awake, leaving you tossing and turning in bed as you fret about issues and challenges of the day. Unhealthy habits of late-night eating, drinking or watching TV can also impede sleep. Some people have genuine health disorders that make it hard to fall asleep.
Whatever the case may be, getting a good night of sleep is a huge part of staying healthy. Without a decent amount of good-quality sleep, you’ll be more fatigued during the day. Your performance at work may suffer; you may be more irritable; you may be more prone to getting sick. It’s important to keep in mind that a good night’s rest is a combination of lighter, non-REM sleep, and deeper REM sleep. Even if you manage to fall asleep after eating sugary snacks or a few shots of whiskey, this can interfere with your rest — without you knowing it.
Many people wonder, “How much sleep should I get?” and the answer really depends on your age. Most adults will need between 7 and 9 hours of sleep, while children and teens may need even more. But no matter how much sleep you need, if you don’t feel like you can get it, don’t lose hope. Try the suggestions posted here and get ready to sleep like a baby.