Do you toss and turn every night?
Has it become part of your nightly ritual?
Difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep isn’t just an annoyance…
Sleep deprivation can interfere with your job, school, social activities, and overall health.
We spend a third of our lives asleep because we need that time to repair and restore our cognitive function and physical energy, sustain our immune and nervous systems, and help manage our hormones and weight.
However, at least 40 million Americans endure chronic sleep disorders each year, and 20 million more experience occasional sleeping problems!
If you’re among the 60 million, here are some tips, techniques and recommended life style changes – so you can fall asleep as fast as possible.
1. Get On A Schedule.
Many people find that setting a sleep schedule helps them fall asleep faster and 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 (including weekends) can help your internal clock keep a regular schedule.
Once your body adjusts to this schedule, it will be easier to fall asleep and wake up around the same time every day. It’s also important to get seven to nine hours of sleep each night. This has been shown to be the optimal sleep duration for adults.
Lastly, give yourself 30 minutes to an hour to wind down in the evening before going to bed. This allows your mind and body to relax and prepare for sleep.
2. Experience Both Daylight And Darkness.
Light can influence your body’s internal clock that regulates sleep and wakefulness.
Irregular light exposure can lead to disruption of circadian rhythms, making it harder to stay awake and fall asleep. During the day, exposing your body to bright light, tells it to stay alert. At night, darkness promotes feelings of sleepiness.
Research shows that darkness boosts the production of melatonin – an essential hormone for sleep. If possible, use blackout curtains to make your room dark at night.
3. Exercise During The Day.
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 the stress hormone, cortisol.
But, it’s important not to overdo it – as 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.
4. 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 chocolate, coffee, sodas and energy drinks.
Unfortunately, caffeine can have disastrous effects on your sleep. And while the effects of caffeine vary from person to person, it is recommended that you refrain from consuming caffeine at least six hours before bedtime.
Instead, you could drink a soothing beverage like chamomile tea, to help you relax and sleep better.
5. Kick Your Alcohol Habit.
Alcohol is the worst, particularly for insomniacs. Decade’s worth of research shows the ill effects that drinking has on sleep.
Even light drinkers take longer to fall asleep – they sleep less well, and they sleep for less time than their sober neighbors.
Alcohol even increases the odds of sleep disorders, like sleep apnea.
6. Quit Smoking.
People who smoke cigarettes are four times as likely as nonsmokers to feel exhausted and unrested after a night’s sleep.
Researchers believe the stimulating effect of nicotine prevents smokers from staying in deep sleep because their bodies experience withdrawal symptoms each night.
Smoking is also tied to sleep-disordered breathing, such as snoring or sleep apnea.
7. 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 can be detrimental to a good night’s rest.
Studies have concluded that even though a high-carb diet can get you to fall asleep faster, it will not be restful sleep. Instead, it’s better to eat high-fat meals that will promote a deeper and more restful sleep.
If you still want to eat a high-carb meal for dinner, you should eat it at least four hours before bed, so you have enough time to digest it.
8. Strategize Your Naps.
Sure, there are some major benefits to taking a 20-minute snooze, but napping isn’t for everyone…
In fact, napping at the “wrong” time of day can affect your sleep quality – making it difficult to fall asleep or sleep soundly through the night.
If you take a nap late in the evening, it can throw off your natural sleep patterns. But a quick nap on your commute to work in the morning (if you’re taking public transportation), or a midday power nap in your office can be beneficial to restoring alertness.
It’s also recommended to limit naps to 10 – 30 minutes for short-term alertness and improved performance.
Any longer, and you increase your chances of experiencing sleep inertia – which is characterized by short-term grogginess and disorientation.
9. Put Away Electronics.
Using electronic devices late at night is terrible for sleep.
Watching TV, playing video games, using your phone and social networking can make it significantly harder for you to fall asleep, and stay asleep.
It’s best to turn off the TV and put away electronic devices with bright screens before you go to bed. It will be much easier for you to relax and fall asleep.
10. Take A Hot Bath Or Shower.
Research has shown a hot bath or shower can prompt your body to go to sleep.
The warmth increases your internal body temperature, and when you get out, that temperature drops significantly.
It mimics your body’s natural temperature dip when falling asleep and signals that it’s time for bed. Having a relaxing bedtime ritual, like taking a hot bath, can help ease you into sleep.
11. Lower The Room Temperature.
To fall asleep and stay asleep, you need to achieve thermoneutrality.
In short, to get the best sleep, you need to be in an environment where your body temperature can dip and maintain that temperature throughout the night.
Research has found the ideal temperature for thermo neutrality to be between 15 -23 degrees Celsius. Of course, individual preferences will vary – so find the temperature that works best for you.
12. Read Something.
Reading is a great activity to help you wind down before bed.
However, it’s important to understand the difference between reading on a tablet and a traditional paper book.
Tablets emit a kind of light that can reduce melatonin secretion, making it harder for you to fall asleep.
It’s much better to read from a physical book, to relax and improve your sleep.
13. Practice Yoga, Meditation and Mindfulness.
When people are stressed, they tend to have difficulty falling asleep.
Yoga, meditation and mindfulness are practices that calm the mind and relax the body. And they’ve been shown to improve sleep.
Yoga encourages the practice of breathing patterns and body movements that release stress and tension accumulated in your body.
Meditation can enhance melatonin levels and assist the brain in achieving a specific state where sleep is easily achieved.
And mindfulness may help you maintain focus on te present and worry less while falling asleep.
Practicing these techniques can help you get a good night’s rest and help you wake up energized.
14. Practice Journaling.
Some people have difficulty falling asleep because they just can’t shut their mind off. Racing thoughts can produce anxiety and stress, which can generate negative emotions and disturb sleep.
Research has shown that journaling and focusing on positive thoughts can calm the mind and help you sleep better.
Writing down the positive events that happened during the day can create a state of gratitude and happiness, it can downgrade stressful events, and promote more relaxation at bedtime.
Try practicing this technique by setting aside 15 minutes every night to write about your day.
15. Get Comfortable.
Having a comfortable mattress and bedding can have a remarkable effect on the depth and quality of your sleep.
A medium-firm mattress has been shown to positively affect sleep quality and prevent sleep disturbances and muscular discomfort.
The quality of your pillow is also crucial, It can affect your neck curve, temperature and comfort.
Additionally, the use of a weighted blanket can reduce body stress and help improve your sleep. The fabric of the clothes you wear to bed can also affect how well you sleep.
It’s best to choose comfortable clothing made of fabric that helps you keep a pleasant temperature throughout the night.
16. Practice Progressive Relaxation.
Progressive muscle relaxation involves slowly tensing and then relaxing each muscle to help your body relax.
Start by tensing and relaxing the muscles in your toes, and progressively working your way up to your head.
If you prefer, you can also start with your head and work down to your toes. Tense your muscles for at least five seconds and then relax for 30 seconds, and repeat.
17. Use The “4-7-8” Method.
The “4-7-8” breathing technique is supposed to help you fall asleep fast.
This method is said to relax you by increasing the amount of oxygen in your blood stream, slowing your heart rate, and releasing more carbon dioxide from the lungs.
Here’s how to do it:
• First, place the tip of your tongue behind your upper front teeth.
• Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound
• Close your mouth and inhale quietly through your nose to a mental count of four
• Hold your breath for a count of seven
• Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound to a count of eight repeat the cycle three more times for a total of four breaths.
18. 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.
This technique helps occupy your mind with good thoughts – instead of engaging with worries and concerns.
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.
19. Do Not Look At Your Clock.
It is 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 cannot fall back asleep.
“Clock-watching” is common among people suffering from insomnia. This behavior may cause anxiety about sleeplessness.
To make matters worse, waking up on a regular basis without falling back asleep may cause your body to develop a routine.
As a result, you may find yourself waking up in the middle of the night, every night! So when you wake up in the middle of the night, resist the urge to check the time.
20. Focus On Trying To Stay Awake.
I know this sounds contradictory to everything I’ve just said, but if all else fails… you can try this technique.
You see, if you go to bed and try to FORCE yourself to fall asleep, your chances of succeeding drop dramatically.
So instead, try “paradoxical intention” – by trying to stay awake instead of forcing yourself to sleep.
This technique is based on the idea that the stress and anxiety produced by forcing yourself to fall asleep, can prevent you from relaxing and snoozing off.
Studies have shown that people who try this technique, paradoxically tend to fall asleep faster. Getting good sleep is incredibly important, so figure out what works for you.
You’ve likely noticed that many of the suggestions on this list center on finding and creating calming, sleep-promoting conditions.
Every person is unique, and what may work for someone else, may not work for you – so keep track of what does, and stick with that.
If none of these methods seem to help, it’s best to consult with a doctor. We want to know what you think! Have you ever had any sleeping problems?
Have you tried any of these techniques? And did they work for you?