Many of us struggle with how to fall asleep fast, in fact – for some of us, we can toss and turn for over an hour before we settle into sleep. Sleep is essential for the well-being of the body, especially if it is “quality”. A good sleep relaxes, rests, and regenerates the mind and body. Conversely, a bad sleep makes us tired, nervous, and irascible. Therefore, it is essential to ensure a good restful sleep.
Despite being one of the most natural things in the world, more and more people are having trouble falling asleep easily. For some, falling asleep quickly is their common experience, for others, it is a rare and tiring experience to achieve. If you are in the ranks of these people, then you have come to the right place.
How to Fall Asleep Fast
In this article, we’ll explain the best techniques to fall asleep quickly and make your sleep truly rejuvenating.
1. Hide the clock
How often do you watch at your clock when you can’t fall asleep? We bet you do this a lot! Did you know that checking the time frequently only increases your stress by making it harder for your nervous system to calm down to let you sleep? Do yourself a favor: hide the watch. And if you use your smartphone as a clock, try to keep it away from the bed so you won’t be tempted to spend hours scrolling instead of falling asleep.
2. Keep the room cool
Most people sleep better when the room temperature is cool, say around 20 degrees. A little trick that I use to sleep better in winter is to turn down the heat at night and add a heavy blanket on the bed. The cold of the environment and the warmer inside the bed will help you sleep better!
3. Create proper darkness
Put soft lights in the room and use them in the evening before falling asleep. In general, it is also important that the room is dark, so close curtains or pull down the blinds.
4. Use the room only for sleeping (and for intimacy with your partner)
One of the worst things we can do to sabotage our sleep is to use the bedroom for other activities that are not related to sleep (or intimacy with our partner). It is important that when we enter the room, our mind associates that room with the fact that it will soon be time to sleep.
This means avoiding using electronic devices and using the room to watch Netflix all night long.
5. Keep your smartphone away
While we’re on the subject of electronic devices, another gift you can give yourself is to stop using your smartphone as an alarm clock and replace it with an analog alarm clock.
This allows you to keep your mobile phone in another room and not only facilitate sleep but also decrease your smartphone addiction in the moments of the night and in the morning as soon as you wake up. Consider bedtime and the time right before getting to bed as a relaxing time to detox from your devices like computers, smartphones, and tablets. This is a great way to leave all the things done during the day behind!
6. Create a night ritual
Being able to slow your mind is a key factor in falling asleep quickly. Try to create your own evening ritual that becomes repetitive every night, before going to bed.
Your ritual can simply consist of one of these things or a combination of them:
- read a few pages of a book (possibly not the last novel in your favorite series, capable of keeping you glued to history until dawn)
- take a hot shower
- listen to slow and relaxing music
Your ritual can last from 10 minutes up to a maximum of one hour, the important thing is that our body is able to know what awaits it every night and associate that activity with the next sleep. Stick with this routine and try to follow it for 21 days in a row so it will become a habit!
7. Journal about your worries and stressing situations that keeps you from you sleep at night
Journaling is an easy but powerful tool to relax your mind while getting rid of what no longer serves you. During the day we are called to exercise power, strength, and results. At the end of the day, we found ourselves both energetically drained and all of our fears, frustrations but also the constant pressure we feel for the things we still have to do and the upcoming tasks we need to accomplish takes over.
Right before bedtime is the time when we are most vulnerable as we finally get to press the pause button. Some of these negative emotions start overwhelming us and we are not able to fall asleep fast because they play themselves in a constant loop in our mind over and over again.
Journaling about these emotions is the key. For each situation or emotion, try to determine if it is something you are already dealing with or if it is something you have not yet addressed. This tends to relieve your mind of the fear of losing pieces. It will stop repeating the same thoughts when you want to fall asleep because they are tracked and safe in your journal.
If you need a starting point just try to answer this question: “What are the things that generally come to mind in the evening when I’m lying in bed?” You can try this exercise in the evening or earlier in the day. However, avoid doing it when you are already in bed, leave yourself some time in advance to separate yourself from those thoughts.
8. Use the 4-7-8 method by Dr. Weil
Dr. Andrew Weil created this famous method to fall asleep fast. Basically, it’s a method that makes you focus on your breath while unwinding and leaving the day and its stressing deadlines, duties, and worries behind.
The result is that your whole body relaxes. During his research, Dr. Weil found that this method has actually been well known by Indian Yogis for centuries, who have used it during meditation to achieve a state of complete relaxation.
Here’s how it works:
- Place the tip of the tongue against the gums of the upper front dental arch and leave it there for the duration of the exercise
- Throws all the air out of your mouth making a noise
- Close your mouth and quietly inhale through your nose for a count of 4
- Hold your breath for a count of 7
- Exhale completely through your mouth making noise and counting to 8
- Repeat for a total of 4 breathing cycles
It is also easy to remember: 4 – 7 – 8
4 seconds of inhalation, 7 of holding the breath, 8 for exhalation.
9. Listen to something
It’s true, we said not to bring technology into the bedroom but sometimes you can make an exception… if it’s just to listen. You can try a boring audiobook, with a volume loud enough to be understandable but not too loud to keep you awake. It will distract you from your thoughts. Or you can use guided meditation for sleep and relaxation.
10. Wear socks in bed
Researchers from a Swiss study published in the journal Nature noted that cold hands and feet are the best indicators of rapid sleep onset. For the study, participants placed a bottle of hot water at their feet, which expands the blood vessels on the skin’s surface, thereby increasing heat loss. The “shift” of blood circulation from the center of the body to the extremities cools the body, working together with melatonin.
11. Soak your face in very cold water for 30 seconds
If you’re feeling anxious and stressed when it’s time for bed, soaking your face in ice-cold water may be the best remedy. When you are in a state of turmoil, your nervous system needs to reboot to help you calm down. Plunging your face in cold water triggers an involuntary phenomenon called the diving reflex that slows your heart rate and lowers your blood pressure. You will go to bed more peacefully.
12. Use essential oils to unwind and relax
Use an essential oil diffuser letting some essential oil like lavender or jasmine spread all over your bedroom while getting ready to sleep. It will help you unwind and relax so you will be able to fall asleep faster!
13. Visualize your favorite place
Visualizing a place you love, a place where you feel safe is a wonderful way to relax and fall asleep fast. In an Oxford study published in the journal Behavior Research and Therapy, insomniacs who imagined to be part of a place they loved like a favorite beach, a place they went for a walk outside in nature, and similar relaxing scenarios fell asleep twenty minutes earlier than others.
14. Listen to some music
Studies have shown that classical music, or any music that has a slow rhythm of 60-80 beats per minute, can gently rock you to sleep. In a 2008 study, students aged 19 to 28 who listened to soothing music 45 minutes before bed showed significant improvements in sleep quality. Bonus: They also found a decrease in depressive symptoms.
15. Dine by candlelight
When sleep is at stake, it is best not to expose yourself to the blue lights before bedtime. Light, of all kinds, can suppress melatonin production, but blue lights are much more aggressive, so much so that they change circadian rhythms, according to Harvard Health Publications. In addition to electronic devices such as tablets and smartphones, fluorescent bulbs and LED lights are likely to give off blue light. Treat yourself to a romantic break and candlelit dinner.
16. Blow soap bubbles
Do you have kids or grandchildren? Then maybe you will have a bottle of soap bubbles at home. Their benefits are twofold: bubbles are only mildly hypnotic and require a deep breathing process, explains Rachel Merie E. Salas, professor of neurology at John Hopkins University School of Medicine, in an article for the New York Post. “It’s like a deep breathing exercise that helps calm your body and mind,” he says. “And since it’s a light activity, it can also distract the mind from thoughts that might disturb sleep.”
17. Practice progressive relaxation
Recommended by the National Sleep Foundation as a way to fall asleep fast, progressive muscle relaxation involves contracting and relaxing every muscle in the body to help it melt. The Mayo Clinic describes the technique thus:
Begin by contracting and relaxing the muscles in your toes and progressively work your way up to the neck and head. You can also start from the head and go to the feet. Tense your muscles for at least five seconds and then relax them for thirty, then repeat.
18. Try the technique used by the US Marines
The solution to the pains of those suffering from insomnia comes directly from the front lines where the military would spend long nights in the trenches, not exactly on a soft and comfortable mattress.
It takes about two minutes and you have to do two types of work, first physical then mental: you start by relaxing every facial muscle, including the tongue and eyes. Then you have to drop your shoulders and exhale sharply to empty the chest of any pinch of stress and negative toxin left in the body. The mental part always requires a pinch of imagination: you have to think of a calm lake, a blue sky, a canoe in a very calm sea.
It works, but it takes some training. Try it and you won’t regret it.