Do you have trouble falling asleep? In case you find yourself tossing and turning, and lying in bed for hours on end, only to get a couple of hours of sleep, you’re not alone. This is a common problem, but luckily, there are things you can do to improve your sleep hygiene.
If you’re wondering how to fall asleep fast, read on, as in this article, we will show you some techniques you can try. We will present them in three parts, the first one containing methods you can use before bed, the second discussing how to prepare the room for bedtime, and the final explaining what you can do once you’re ready to sleep.
Part 1: Change Your Pre-Bedtime Routine
While there are some tricks to fall asleep that you can try once in bed, tweaking your pre-bedtime routine can do wonders. Many people have a bad habit of using their phones before they go to sleep or drinking caffeine too close to bedtime.
Breaking habits can be tough but not impossible. The key is to create a better routine you can stick to. Here is how you can change the habits that are negatively affecting your sleep quality.
Reduce Your Screen Time
There are several reasons to ditch your electronic devices before going to sleep. First of all, studies have shown that restricting smartphone use can positively impact one’s ability to fall asleep and improve sleep quality overall. Infinite scrolling through social media stimulates your brain, keeping you alert long after you put your device down and thus prolonging the time it takes you to fall asleep.
What is more, the blue light emitted by phones, tablets, and computers has been shown to inhibit the production of melatonin, making you stay awake longer. Therefore, it’s best to stay away from your phone for at least one hour or two before you go to bed.
If you’re having difficulty putting your phone away, you can install apps that restrict your use. Occupying yourself with a different activity, such as reading a book may help.
Exchange Caffeine and Alcohol for Beverages That Promote Sleep
We’re all aware of the fact that drinking caffeinated beverages before bed isn’t a good idea. Caffeine blocks adenosine receptors, which are responsible for making you feel sleepy. Even after four to six hours, half of the caffeine stays in your system. That’s why experts recommend not drinking caffeinated beverages after 3 p.m.
Another usual suspect is alcohol. Although alcohol has sedating effects and thus may make you feel drowsy, it actually negatively affects your quality of sleep. Some may even find they are unable to fall asleep at all. Studies have shown that consuming even a tiny amount of alcohol decreases your sleep quality by around 9%, while higher doses can negatively affect sleep by a staggering 39%.
Instead of the drinks that will likely cause you to be sleep deprived, you can drink herbal tea or warm milk as they can help you relax and prepare for bedtime. Other options include:
- Chamomile tea
- Almond milk
- Banana smoothie
- Decaffeinated green tea
Lower Your Stress Levels
Feeling anxious and stressed could be major culprits that contribute to trouble falling asleep. However, as you know, eliminating stress isn’t as easy as clicking a button. You can’t simply switch it off.
Nevertheless, there are relaxation techniques meant to reduce stress. This could involve taking a warm bath, reading a book, meditating, doing yoga, or stretching. Furthermore, spending time in nature has also been linked to lowering stress levels. Thus, you can read your favourite book outdoors or go hiking, for instance.
Another way to tackle stress is to practice mindfulness. This is a technique commonly recommended by psychologists. It involves being present in the moment and observing your thoughts and feelings without judgment.
All in all, there’s an abundance of activities you may try to relieve stress, which will, in turn, probably lead to better sleep and prolonged sleep duration. It’s up to you to find what works for you.
Part 2: Prep Your Environment
The environment you sleep in can also affect how easy it is for you to doze off. For example, if your bedroom is too warm or your bed isn’t comfortable enough, it can make falling asleep more difficult. Thus, preparing your room for sleeping is one of the ways to fall asleep fast. Consider the following tips to create a sleep-friendly environment.
Lower the Room Temperature
Our body temperature is lowered by two degrees by the circadian rhythm. As this is happening, melatonin is released, which alerts our brain that it’s time to sleep. If the temperature of your bedroom is too high, less melatonin will be produced. According to a number of sources, the ideal room temperature for sleeping is between 60 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit.
Select an Adequate Pillow and Mattress
Using an uncomfortable pillow or mattress could be causing your sleeplessness. For instance, a pillow that is too fluffy or too flat can cause back pain and could prevent you from attaining quality sleep. When choosing a pillow, you should take into account several factors, including the pillow material and your sleeping position.
The mattress should be firm enough to support your body, albeit not so much so that it’s uncomfortable. Choosing the firmness of the mattress that is perfect for you depends on:
- Your weight
- Your usual sleeping position
- Your personal preference
You can pair your pillow and mattress with the comfy and soothing Hush blanket, which is a weighted blanket designed to help people fall asleep quickly.
Part 3: Try Some Techniques for Falling Asleep
If you’ve done everything you could before going to bed and are still having difficulty falling asleep, there are some techniques you can try to calm your mind. Here are some methods that will potentially stop you from overthinking come bedtime and ensure deep sleep.
You’re probably tired of hearing advice to “count sheep” when you complain to someone that you’re unable to sleep. Not only has this frequently brought-up sleep technique become somewhat of a cliché, but it’s also not as effective as some people might think. In fact, an Oxford study from 2002 discovered that this method dating back to the 19th century may have adverse effects and actually delay sleep onset.
The idea behind counting sheep is to distract you from your worries and “bore you to sleep” by having you engage in repetitive thoughts. However, the theory on why it doesn’t work is that it’s too simple to stop you from thinking about the things that trouble you or conjuring up irksome ideas.
Nevertheless, guided imagery can still be helpful in inducing sleep. Picturing a peaceful scene, such as a beach or meadow, can help relax your mind and body, so you’re more likely to fall asleep easily. It has been proven to work better than counting sheep.
Progressive Muscle Relaxation
Progressive muscle relaxation is another technique that helps promote sleep. This involves tensing up and then releasing the tension in different muscle groups. First, you choose one muscle group, such as your upper thighs, and contract the muscles for five to ten seconds. Then, you relax these muscles.
After a 10- to 20-second break, you should repeat the process with a different muscle group. You just might find that good quality sleep takes just a few easy physical exercises.
Listening to Relaxing Sounds
Some people find it helpful to listen to soothing music or nature sounds before bed. There are many apps and websites that offer relaxing sounds to help you sleep. For instance, a number of podcasts are specifically made to help those who have trouble sleeping.
The 4-7-8 Method
The 4-7-8 method is a breathing technique that has the potential to help you fall asleep faster. This is how it works:
- Breathe in for four seconds through your nose
- Hold your breath for seven seconds
- Exhale through your mouth for eight seconds
- Repeat this cycle until you feel yourself relaxing and drifting off to sleep
This method was developed by Dr. Andrew Weil, who is a Harvard-trained physician. It’s based on an ancient yogic practice, pranayama. This term comes from the Sanskrit “prana”, meaning “life force, vital energy, or breath”, and “ayama” that denotes “lengthening, extending, or stretching.”
The Military Technique
There are many people who swear by the military technique, claiming that it’s the quickest way to fall asleep. The truth is, it depends. While it may help some people doze off in a matter of minutes, others may see no positive effects. Nevertheless, it’s worth testing out. There have been claims that it works on 96% of people who have tried it for at least six weeks.
This method is meant to get those who implement it to sleep in just two minutes. It was developed by the US Army to help soldiers fall asleep quickly in unfavourable conditions.
The technique involves the following steps:
- Get into a comfortable position with your hands by your side
- Close your eyes and focus on your breathing
- Relax your entire body starting from your toes up to your head
- Once you feel relaxed, focus on an image or a memory that makes you happy
- Stay focused on that image until you fall asleep
To determine what method works for you and keep track of your progress, you can use a smartwatch. That way, you can see how much restful sleep you’re getting each night and modify your sleep routine accordingly.
Falling asleep fast doesn’t have to be a challenge. By following the tips from this article, you can create habits that will help you catch some z’s. From adjusting your room temperature to using the military technique, hopefully, at least some of the methods will do the trick and help you get enough sleep.
Just remember to be patient – it might take some time to get used to the new routines, but it’ll be worth it in the end, as you ultimately won’t need to resort to sleep aid or sleep medicine.
How can I fall asleep in five to ten minutes?
There are various techniques that could help you fall asleep in five to ten minutes. However, you should keep in mind that what helps you sleep may not work for another person, and vice versa. Some techniques that may help include the 4-7-8 method, the military technique, and guided imagery.
How can I relax when I can’t sleep?
There are multiple techniques you can try to help you relax so that you can fall asleep easily. For instance, you could try guided imagery. This involves imagining a peaceful scene, such as a beach.
If this simple method doesn’t work, you may use the military technique. It consists of a few simple steps. First, you get into a comfortable position and focus on your breathing, then relax all your muscles. After that, you should think of an image that makes you feel happy. It should do the trick, and you should be fast asleep soon.
What is the 4-7-8 sleep trick?
For those wondering how to fall asleep fast, the 4-7-8 sleep trick may help. It’s a breathing exercise and works as follows: all you have to do is breathe in for four seconds, hold your breath for seven seconds, and then exhale for eight seconds. You can repeat these steps as many times as you need.