Falling asleep isn’t always as simple as placing your head on a pillow and shutting your eyes. Thoughts and worries might race their way through your mind, or getting comfortable might seem impossible. Fortunately, from relaxation techniques to changing your sleep routine, there are lots of ways to fall asleep quickly and improve your sleep quality.
Method 1: Falling Asleep Faster
- Try meditating to calm your mind and body. Breathe slowly and deeply, and visualize soothing imagery, such as clouds, a quiet beach, or a comfortable place from your childhood. Allow your thoughts to wander like passing clouds or rocking waves as you relax your muscles and sink into the bed.
- Try meditating before you hit the hay or while you’re trying to fall asleep. You could meditate on your own, search for a guided meditation online, or even use an app like Insight Timer, which can walk you through both guided and timed meditations.
- Count slowly to ease racing thoughts. Start at 1 and slowly work your way up to stop worrisome thoughts from bouncing around your head. Counting sheep (or another animal or object) might also help keep your thoughts from racing. If you lose track, simply go back to 1 and start over.
- You could also try counting backward from a high number, like 300, or count forward or backward by 3.
- Try progressive muscle relaxation exercises. Starting from the very tips of your toes, gradually flex and release all of your muscle groups 1 at a time. Breathe in as you tense your muscles for 5 seconds, and then visualize the tension leaving your body as you relax.
- Relax for 10 seconds, then tense and relax your ankles. Continue to flex and release each muscle group, from your calves, thighs, torso, and upwards towards your neck.
- Escape into your imagination instead of focusing on sleeping. Trying to force yourself to sleep can make you restless. Take your mind off of sleeping and think about something relaxing.
- Build your perfect house or room in your mind.
- Picture a calm setting, and try to vividly imagine its soothing sights, sounds, and smells.
- Invent a peaceful story; just don’t imagine an exciting adventure.
- Block out unwanted noises. Noise can impact your ability to get to sleep as well as your overall sleep quality. Try listening to a radio program or podcast that’s not too engaging to help block out noise distractions such as traffic, as well as worrisome thoughts.
- Try to listen to the same program every night to help relax your mind and distract yourself. Look for something that is soft-spoken instead of loud, and something that you enjoy but not so much that you will stay up just to listen to it.
- Try slow, deep belly breathing. Place your hand on your belly, and inhale deeply as you count to 4. Fill your belly up as you inhale, and try to keep your chest still as you breathe. Hold your breath for a 7 count, and then exhale slowly as you count to 8.
- Try doing deep belly breaths as you count and visualize calming scenery.
- Give sleep supplements a shot. There are many sleep supplements available that may help you fall asleep. Before trying a supplement, it’s wise to consult your doctor, especially if you have a medical condition, take any medications, or are pregnant or breastfeeding.
- Melatonin is a hormone that your body produces naturally, and is the most common sleep supplement on the market. The typical dose available at pharmacies and health stores is 3 mg, but as little as 3 mg can improve sleep quality.
- Valerian has been used to treat insomnia and nervousness for centuries. A standard dose is 600 mg.
- Chamomile is available as an oral supplement, but drinking a hot cup of chamomile tea before bed might help relax you. When brewing it, use 2 bags, and be sure to use caffeine-free herbal tea.
- Chlorpheniramine maleate and other antihistamines can cause drowsiness, and some people use them to curb insomnia. However, should avoid routinely taking antihistamines to fall asleep, especially if you’re not suffering from allergies or a cold.
- 8. Get up and do something relaxing if you can’t sleep. If you can’t fall asleep after 30 minutes, leave your bedroom instead of tossing and turning. Try reading, taking a hot bath, listening to soothing music, or having a light snack. Do the activity for 15 to 20 minutes, or until you start to feel drowsy, then head back to bed.
- When you get up, keep the lights dim, and avoid looking at your phone, computer, television, or any other electronic screen.
- If you stay in bed tossing and turning, you might associate your bedroom with stress, which will make it harder to fall asleep.
Method 2: Creating a Comfortable Environment
- Keep your room cool, clean, dark, and quiet. Do your best to keep the temperature in your bedroom just below 70 °F (21 °C). Sleeping in a hot and uncomfortable area is not a good or relaxing way to sleep, so do your best to get air regulation throughout the room. Clean up regularly, and change your sheets every 1 to 2 weeks, or whenever they’re dirty. A cluttered space can increase stress, and it can be tough to relax if your sheets are smelly.
- Additionally, use your bedroom only for sleeping. Don’t work, eat, talk on the phone, or do other activities in bed. That way, you’ll only associate your bed and bedroom with relaxation and sleep.
- Light pollution can also impact how well you sleep. When you’re setting up your room for the night, consider investing in blackout curtains. These will help block any unwanted lights, including those coming from the street or other nearby buildings.
- Use aromatherapy to soothe your senses. Try adding lemon balm oil, chamomile oil, lavender oil, or marjoram to a hot bath. You could also purchase an oil diffuser with reed sticks, light candles, or use a linen spray.
- Try aromatherapy while you’re winding down before bed. You could also keep a diffuser on your nightstand so you’ll smell soothing aromas as you lie in bed.
- If you light a candle, be sure to blow it out before you go to sleep.
- Choose loose, comfortable sleepwear. Go for loose, breathable fabrics, like cotton, instead of heavy materials, like flannel. Tight, heavy sleepwear prevents your body temperature from lowering, which is necessary in order to fall asleep. Sleepwear that feels soft and comfortable can also help you relax.
- Sleeping nude or in underwear also helps your body regulate its temperature. Consider stripping down if you regularly feel too warm in bed.
- Your sheets should be cozy and breathable, too, so replace them if they’re scratchy or uncomfortable.
- Invest in a comfortable mattress. If your mattress is old or lumpy, replacing it might solve your sleeping problems. When shopping for mattresses, always test options in the store by lying down for at least 5 to 10 minutes.
Go for an option that’s soft enough to meet your comfort needs, but make sure it’s firm enough to provide support. Test out all of the store’s options from extra plush to extra firm to figure out your preferences.
- Testing a mattress for several minutes give you a better idea of how it well it suits your body.
- If investing in a new mattress isn’t in your budget, get a comfortable mattress pad. You could also spread 1 or 2 thick blankets over your mattress, and then cover them with the fitted sheet.
Method 3: Managing Noise and Light
- Dim the lights in your house 2 hours before bed. Bright light after sundown tells your brain that the sun is coming back up, which can prevent it from releasing hormones that help you fall asleep. Use your dimmers, if you have them, or turn off bright overhead lights and use lamps instead.
- Additionally, if you have to look at your phone, computer, or another electronic device, lower the brightness. You can download an app that automatically lowers screen brightness at sunset.
- Don’t look at your phone, computer, TV, or other screens before bed. Electronic screens emit blue light, which tricks your brain into thinking it’s the middle of the afternoon. Do your best to avoid screens at least 1 hour before you hit the hay.
- Additionally, email, social media, and other stimulations will get you worked up and make it harder to fall asleep.
- If you need to use your phone or computer before you go to bed, lower the brightness and use an app that filters blue light.
- It’s okay to look at electronic screens that don’t emit light, such as e-readers without built-in back lights.
- Hide your clock. Make sure your clock is out of sight, and resist the urge to check the time. You’ll never fall asleep if you constantly check the clock and think, “If I fall asleep now, I can still get 5 hours of sleep.”
- The light from a digital alarm clock can also keep you awake.
- If you have an analog clock, the ticking might be disturbing, so consider going with a quieter alternative.
- Use white noise to fall asleep in noisy environments. White noise is a constant, unobtrusive noise that helps you ignore disturbing sounds, like noisy neighbors or a busy street. It can be the sound of static, raindrops, rustling leaves, or calm, wordless music. You can look for a white noise channel on your video or audio streaming service, or invest in a white noise machine.
- If you use a streaming app or service, make sure the white noise won’t be interrupted by commercials.
- A fan or air purifier could also do the trick.
- Try wearing earplugs if you’re dealing with constant, inescapable noise. Small earplugs or bigger, noise-eliminating earmuffs could provide the tranquil soundscape you need to drift off to sleep. If you find earplugs or earmuffs uncomfortable, you could also try sleeping with a blanket or soft pillow over your head.
- Purchase or make a sleep mask. If you’re struggling with ambient light, make an impromptu sleep mask out of an old tie, pillowcase, or headband. You can also buy one online, at your local pharmacy, or at a department store.
- You should also choose heavy, light-blocking curtains for your bedroom.
Method 4: Following a Healthy Sleep Routine
- Stick to a routine so your body knows when it’s time to sleep. If you go to bed at different times every day, your body won’t know when it’s supposed to fall asleep. Train yourself to fall asleep by following a set routine and practicing healthy sleep habits.
- Healthy sleep habits include avoiding heavy meals before bed, doing something relaxing before bed, and avoiding caffeine in the evening.
- Suppose you want to go to bed at 11 p.m. and wake up at 7 a.m. You might have trouble falling asleep when you begin following your schedule, but you should still wake up at the set time. You might be tired, but that will help you fall asleep faster, and you’ll eventually get used to going to bed earlier.
- Eat a small, healthy bedtime snack. While you should avoid heavy meals within 3 or 4 hours of bedtime, going to bed hungry can keep you up. If you’re peckish, go for a small snack rich in protein and complex carbohydrates. Try having a banana, an avocado, some peanuts or peanut butter, or cheese and whole grain crackers.
- Avoid sweets and pastries before bed. Sugary foods packed with simple carbs cause your blood sugar to spike and dip, which can keep you up and lower your sleep quality.
- Proteins and complex carbs will make you feel full, and you’ll be less likely to wake up in the middle of the night.
- Avoid drinking caffeine or alcohol at night. Stay away from all caffeine within 6 hours of going to bed. While you might be tempted to reach for a nightcap, alcohol can throw off your sleep cycle and lower your sleep quality.
- If you often have trouble sleeping, avoid caffeine at least 8 hours before bedtime, or cut your consumption entirely. Remember that there are sneaky sources of caffeine, such as chocolate and some pain relievers.
- If you do drink alcohol, try to limit your consumption to 1 or 2 drinks, and avoid drinking right before you go to bed.
- Even too much water can disrupt your sleep by causing you to wake up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom. To avoid this, consider tapering off all beverages an hour or two before you go to bed.
- Stick to a regular sleep schedule, even on weekends. If you go to bed and wake up at the same times every day, you’ll eventually get used to that set schedule. On the weekends, do your best to go to bed and wake up no more than 1 hour later than during the week.
- If you sleep in on the weekends, you’ll throw off your sleep schedule and have a harder time falling asleep during the week.
- Exercise 5 days a week, but avoid working out at night. Regular exercise can help you fall asleep and improve sleep quality, provided you don’t work out before bedtime. Avoid exercise and other strenuous activities at least 3 hours before you go to bed.
- Exercise increases your blood flow and releases hormones that make you alert.
- Avoid taking naps during the daytime. If you need a power nap, limit it to 15 or 20 minutes, and avoid napping in the late afternoon or evening. Naps break up your sleep schedule and make it harder to fall asleep at night.
- Take a bath, meditate, or read about 30 minutes before you go to bed. Create a relaxing bedtime routine so your body knows it’s time to wind down. Read a book, try easy and relaxing stretches, listen to soothing music, or take a hot bath.
- If you read, make sure your book isn’t too exciting. Good choices might be an inspirational book or anthology of poems.
- If you’re using an e-book, choose one that doesn’t emit light. If your e-book or tablet does have a built-in back light, use a light filtering app or lower the brightness. However, you might want to swap the back-lit device for a paper book if you regularly have sleep problems.
- After a hot bath, your body temperature slightly decreases, which can help you fall asleep. Try adding lavender oil to your bath to make it extra soothing.