Good sleep is incredibly important. It helps you feel good and makes your body and brain function properly.
Some people have no problem falling asleep. However, many others have severe difficulty falling and staying asleep through the night. Poor sleep can have negative effects on many parts of your body and brain, including learning, memory, mood, emotions, and various biological functions.
Here are 20 simple ways to fall asleep as fast as possible.
1. Experience both daylight and darkness
Light can influence your body’s internal clock, which regulates sleep and wakefulness.
Irregular light exposure can lead to the disruption of circadian rhythms, making it harder to fall asleep and stay awake.
During the day, exposing your body to bright light tells it to stay alert. Both natural daylight and artificial light, such as the kind emitted from an e-reader, have this effect on your alertness.
At night, darkness promotes feelings of sleepiness. In fact, research shows that darkness boosts the production of melatonin, an essential hormone for sleep. In fact, the body secretes very little melatonin during the day.
Get out and expose your body to sunlight or artificial bright light throughout the day. If possible, use blackout curtains to make your room dark at night.
2. Practice yoga, meditation, and mindfulness
When people are stressed, they tend to have difficulty falling asleep.
Yoga, meditation, and mindfulness are tools to calm the mind and relax the body. Moreover, they’ve all been shown to improve sleep.
Yoga encourages the practice of breathing patterns and body movements that release stress and tension accumulated in your body.
Research shows that yoga can have a positive effect on sleep parameters such as sleep quality, sleep efficiency, and sleep duration.
Meditation can enhance melatonin levels and assist the brain in achieving a specific state where sleep is easily achieved.
Lastly, mindfulness may help you maintain focus on the present, worry less while falling asleep, and even function better during the day.
Practicing one or all of these techniques can help you get a good night’s rest and wake up reenergized.
3. Avoid looking at your clock
It’s normal to wake up in the middle of the night. However, the inability to fall back asleep can ruin a good night’s rest.
People who wake up in the middle of the night often tend to watch the clock and obsess about the fact that they can’t fall back asleep.
Clock-watching is common among people with insomnia. This behavior may cause anxiety about sleeplessness.
To make matters worse, waking on a regular basis without falling back asleep may cause your body to develop a routine. As a result, you might find yourself waking up in the middle of the night every night.
If possible, it’s best to remove the clock from your room. If you need an alarm in the room, you can turn your clock and avoid watching it when you wake up in the middle of the night.
4. Watch what and when you eat
It seems that the food you eat before bed may affect your sleep. For example, research has shown that high-carb meals may be detrimental to a good night’s rest.
A review of studies concluded that even though a high-carb diet can get you to fall asleep faster, it won’t be restful sleep. Instead, high-fat meals could promote a night of deeper and more restful sleep.
In fact, several older and newer studies agree that a high-carb/low-fat diet significantly decreased the quality of sleep compared to a low-carb/high-fat diet.
This held true in situations where the high-carb/low-fat diets and the low-carb/high-fat diets contained the same amount of calories.
If you still want to eat a high-carb meal for dinner, you should eat it at least 4 hours before bed so you have enough time to digest it
Your body temperature changes as you fall asleep. Your body cools down when you lie down and warms up when you get up.
If your room is too warm, you might have a hard time falling asleep. Setting your thermostat to a cool temperature between 60–67°F (15.6–19.4°C) could help.
Individual preferences will vary, so find the temperature that works best for you.
Taking a warm bath or shower could also help speed up the body’s temperature changes. As your body cools down afterward, this can send a signal to your brain to go to sleep.
One literature review found that taking a hot bath or shower before bed could improve certain sleep parameters, such as sleep efficiency and sleep quality.
Sleep efficiency refers to the amount of time you spend asleep in bed as opposed to lying awake.
People who took baths or showers measuring between 104°F–108.5°F (40.0°C–42.5°C) 1 to 2 hours before bedtime experienced positive results.
They reported improvements in their sleep even if their baths or showers lasted for as little as 10 minutes.
More research is needed, but these findings are promising.
6. Use the 4-7-8 breathing method
The “4-7-8” method that Dr. Andrew Weil developed is a simple but powerful breathing method that promotes calmness and relaxation. It might also help you unwind before bed (7).
It’s based on breath control techniques learned from yoga, and it consists of a breathing pattern that relaxes the nervous system. It can be practiced any time you feel anxious or stressed.
Here are the steps:
1. First, place the tip of your tongue behind your upper front teeth.
2. Exhale completely through your mouth and make a “whoosh” sound.
3. Close your mouth, and inhale through your nose while mentally counting to 4.
4. Hold your breath, and mentally count to 7.
5. Open your mouth and exhale completely, making a “whoosh” sound and mentally counting to 8.
6. Repeat this cycle at least three more times.
This technique can relax you and help you fall asleep quickly.
Many people find that setting a sleep schedule helps them fall asleep easier.
Your body has its own regulatory system called the circadian rhythm. This internal clock cues your body to feel alert during the day but sleepy at night.
Waking up and going to bed at the same time each day can help your internal clock keep a regular schedule.
Once your body adjusts to this schedule, it’ll be easier to fall asleep and wake up around the same time every day.
It’s also important to get 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night. This has been shown to be the optimal sleep duration for adults.
Lastly, give yourself 30–45 minutes to wind down in the evening before getting in bed. This allows your body and mind to relax and prepare for sleep.
Music can significantly improve the quality of sleep. It can even be used to improve chronic sleep disorders, such as insomnia.
A study of 24 young adults demonstrated that sedative music promoted deeper sleep.
Listening to Buddhist music may be another great tool for better sleep, as it can reduce the amount of time it takes you to fall asleep. This parameter is known as sleep onset.
Buddhist music is created from different Buddhist chants and is used for meditation.
Another 50-person study revealed that those who were exposed to soothing music for 45 minutes at bedtime had a more restful and deeper sleep compared to those who didn’t listen to music.
Lastly, if relaxing music isn’t available, blocking all noise could also help you fall asleep faster and promote uninterrupted sleep.
Physical activity is often considered beneficial to healthy sleep.
Exercise can increase the duration and quality of sleep by boosting the production of serotonin in the brain and decreasing levels of cortisol, the stress hormone.
However, it’s important to maintain a moderate-intensity exercise routine and not overdo it. Excessive training has been linked to poor sleep.
The time of the day when you exercise is also critical. To promote better quality sleep, working out early in the morning appears to be better than working out later in the day.
Therefore, moderate to vigorous exercise in the morning could significantly improve the quality of your sleep and how much sleep you get.
Get moving with activities like:
Due to poor sleep at night, people with insomnia tend to be sleepy during the day, which often leads to daytime napping.
While naps of short duration have been linked to improvements in alertness and well-being, there are mixed opinions about the effects of napping on nighttime sleep.
Some studies have shown that regular naps that are long (at least 2 hours), and late may lead to poor nighttime sleep quality and even sleep deprivation.
In a study of 440 college students, the poorest nighttime sleep quality was observed in those who reported taking three or more naps per week, those who napped for more than 2 hours, and those who napped late (between 6 p.m. and 9 p.m.
A 1996 study found that older adults who napped frequently had lower-quality nighttime sleep, more depressive symptoms, and more limited physical activity. They were also more likely to be overweight than those who rarely took a nap.
A recent study of high schoolers concluded that daytime napping led to shorter sleep duration and lower sleep efficiency.
Other studies have revealed that naps don’t affect nighttime sleep.
To find out if naps are affecting your sleep, try either eliminating naps altogether or limiting yourself to a short nap (30 minutes or less) early in the day.
11. Focus on trying to stay awake
It’s believed that if you go to bed and try to force yourself to fall asleep, your chances of succeeding drop dramatically.
Instead, you can try paradoxical intention. This technique involves trying to stay awake instead of forcing yourself to sleep.
It’s based on the idea that the stress and anxiety produced by forcing yourself to fall asleep can prevent you from relaxing and snoozing.
Research is ultimately mixed, but some studies have shown that people who adopt this technique tend to fall asleep faster.
12. Visualize things that make you happy
Instead of lying in bed worrying and thinking about stressful things, visualize a place that makes you feel happy and calm.
In one insomnia study, participants were able to fall asleep faster after they were instructed to use an imagery distraction.
This technique helped them occupy their mind with good thoughts instead of engaging with worries and concerns during pre-sleep time.
Picturing and concentrating on an environment that makes you feel peaceful and relaxed can take your mind away from the thoughts that keep you up at night.
Reading could be a good activity to help you wind down before bed. At least for kids, it seems that bedtime reading may promote a longer sleep.
However, it’s important to understand the differences between reading from an e-book and a traditional paper book.
Electronic books emit blue light, which reduces melatonin secretion. Lowered melatonin levels make it harder for you to fall asleep and cause you to feel tired the next day.
Therefore, it’s recommended that you read a physical book in order to relax and improve your sleep.
14. Limit caffeine and drink a soothing beverage
Caffeine is widely used among people to fight fatigue and stimulate alertness. It can be found in foods and beverages like:
4. energy drinks
This stimulant can have disastrous effects on your sleep quality and sleep duration.
Although the effects of caffeine vary from person to person, it’s recommended that you refrain from consuming it at least 6 hours before bedtime.
Instead, you could drink a soothing tea like chamomile tea. It’s been shown to promote sleep and relaxation. Other bedtime teas that help sleep include passionflower and magnolia.
15. Adjust your sleep position
Good quality sleep may depend on your body position during the night.
There are three main sleeping positions:
Traditionally, it was believed that back sleepers had a better quality of sleep.
However, research has shown that this might not be the best position to sleep in, as it could lead to blocked airways, sleep apnea, and snoring.
Although individual preferences play an important role in choosing a sleep position, the side position seems to be linked to high-quality sleep.