How To Fall Asleep Fast: 10 Tips

Written by
Purple Staff
Last Updated
March 16, 2023
min read

Wondering how to fall asleep? Staying up too late tossing and turning? Taking too long to fall asleep can cause inadequate sleep, which can have an impact on your physical and mental health. 

Thankfully, you can help yourself fall asleep faster with a few adjustments. Here, we’ll answer some common questions about falling asleep, and we’ll cover some simple ways that you can create a sleeping environment that’ll help you drift off quickly.

How Long Should It Take You To Fall Asleep?

On average, it should take adults 15 to 20 minutes to fall asleep. The time that it takes for you to fall asleep is known as sleep latency. Note that this period doesn’t include pre-bedtime things like brushing your teeth or showering. Rather, this period starts from the time you lay your head on your pillow and try to fall asleep.

How Slow Is Too Slow to Fall Asleep?

If you take more than 20 minutes to go to sleep, you may be suffering from insomnia. There are different factors that may be delaying your sleep latency and affecting your sleep-wake cycles, such as your diet, level of physical activity, or your levels of stress.

The Time It Takes To Fall Asleep And Overall Sleep Health

Research shows that adults require 7-9 hours of sleep each night to function optimally. But it's not only about the number of hours spent sleeping, the quality of sleep is also important, this means achieving enough deep and REM sleep cycles throughout the night. The best way to determine the amount of REM and deep sleep you're getting is to use a sleep-tracking device. Many wearable devices like smartwatches or fitness trackers have sleep-tracking features that monitor your sleep patterns throughout the night.

Difficulty falling asleep or not getting enough sleep can both be signs of insomnia. Lifestyle changes can help with intermittent insomnia caused by stress or poor sleep habits. If insomnia persists for more than a month, it's recommended to see a GP who may refer you to a sleep specialist. Prompt treatment can prevent negative impacts on physical and mental health.

A lack of sleep has been shown by many a study to negatively impact physical and mental health, increasing your risk of developing the following:

Looking for methods to improve your sleep health? Check out our guide on how to sleep better to find out which practices can lead to high-quality sleep.

Tips For Falling Asleep Fast

If you’re wondering how to go to sleep quickly, these different lifestyle alterations and relaxation techniques can help improve your bedtime routine:

  1. Keep A Regular Schedule

It’s important to prepare for sleep and wake up at regular times. This will train your body to naturally sleepier at a certain hour, and eventually, make it easier for you to wake up at a specific time. For more advice on how to fix your circadian rhythm (a.k.a. body clock), read our article on how to fix your sleep schedule.

  1. Be Mindful Of How You’re Using Screens

Studies show that the blue light from your phone or other mobile devices may be interfering with your body’s production of melatonin. Melatonin is the hormone that regulates your sleep cycle, making you drowsy enough to sleep, so endlessly scrolling could be the culprit behind your sleep problem. Stop checking your apps and put away your electronic devices at least an hour before you start preparing for bed.

Different light colors can make it harder or easier for you to snooze. Read our articles for more information on how blue light exposure and different light colors impact your sleep.

  1. Get A Mattress With The Right Firmness

Consider sleeping on a mattress with the right firmness level to support your body and provide extra comfort. Side sleepers may prefer softer mattresses to relieve pressure points, while back sleepers prefer a medium-firm mattress. Read our mattress firmness guide to learn which level is best for your sleeping preferences.

  1. Watch What You Eat

Don’t eat rich or spicy food for dinner, as these may promote heartburn and acid reflux and keep you from sleeping peacefully. To find out what to eat to promote sleep, read our article on foods to help you sleep better

  1. The Military Method

Because of their inconsistent schedules and substandard sleeping conditions, soldiers use the “military method” as a technique to doze off in two minutes or less. 

Try it by following these steps:

  1. Fall into a comfortable position in bed and focus on relaxing the parts of your face, such as your jaw, cheeks, and mouth.
  2. Let your arms gently fall to your sides, starting from your shoulders.
  3. Start taking deep breaths so your chest muscles relax.
  4. Ease your mind by visualizing a serene scene, such as a cozy fireside chair or a private beach. Should you start having stressful thoughts, recognize and acknowledge them, then return to your visualization. If you feel discomfort with visualization, try repeating a simple phrase to help you nod off, such as: “Time to nap.”

6. The 4-7-8 Breathing Method

The 4-7-8 breathing method may help you slow down your heartbeat and increase your chances of falling asleep quickly. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Close your mouth, then inhale through your nose for four seconds.
  2. Hold that breath in your lungs for seven seconds.
  3. Exhale through your mouth for eight seconds.

7. Meditation

Mindfulness meditation may help people who struggle with anxious feelings or stress, reducing the time they spend awake in bed. Research suggests that meditation and breathing exercises may calm your brain down, which results in falling asleep faster.

8. Progressive Muscle Relaxation

Progressive muscle relaxation combines muscle contraction and breathing techniques to relieve body tension and help you prepare for sleep. Here’s how you can relax individual muscle groups and gradually fall asleep:

  1. Lie down and close your eyes. Start taking deep breaths.
  2. Make your facial muscles tense for 10 seconds, then release this pressure and take a few deep breaths.
  3. Tense your shoulders for 10 seconds, then release the pressure and inhale and exhale deeply again.
  4. Repeat this pattern of building and releasing muscle tension, then doing deep breathing. Work your way from your shoulders to the lower areas of your body like your legs and feet. Note that you should avoid doing this with areas that feel painful.

9. Peaceful Music

Some sleepers are easily woken by noisy distractions in their sleep environment. To block out disruptive sources of noise and help you rest, play some calming music. This may help you relax and gradually tune out the noise. If you find music has distracting effects during sleep, try putting white noise on.

10. Guided Imagery

Imagining a quiet, blissful location may reduce your anxiety and help you calm down for bed. Take slow, deep breaths through your nose and focus on the details of this location, such as the colors, smells, and sounds that may be there.

Tips For Better Sleep

Improving your sleep quality may require making changes to your bedroom environment and lifestyle. This is known as sleep hygiene. Here’s a list of strategies you can try to positively impact your sleep latency:

  • Avoid working in the bedroom.
  • Avoid drinking caffeinated drinks like tea or coffee at least eight hours before bedtime.
  • Reduce your stimulant intake (e.g. caffeine, nicotine) and alcohol consumption, especially before bed.
  • Take a warm bath or shower to help your body relax.
  • Lower your bedroom temperature, as researchers have found that the body naturally cools down to prepare to sleep.
  • Try light exercises like yoga or stretching to release your body tension before sleep.
  • Dim your lights while preparing for bed. This prepares you for gradual darkness, which research has shown to reduce distractions and help you sleep faster.
  • Put blackout curtains over your windows to keep outside light from disturbing your sleep and waking you up too early.
  • Try using essential oils with calming scents, such as lavender or eucalyptus.

The Bottom Line

Taking too long to fall asleep can negatively affect your health. Make a difference in your sleep latency by following our suggestions above. Some sleep problems may be caused by a medical condition and will need medical treatment. However, in most cases, these adjustments to your daily routine and sleep environment can help you fall asleep faster.