10 Tips to Fall Asleep Quickly
#1: Make a sleep routine and stick to it.
Laying down the proper way is half the battle when it comes to sleeping.
Most people who have trouble drifting off to sleep at night usually don’t follow a general bedtime routine.
Like with the other members of the animal kingdom, we’re designed to function based on a routine.
But the problem is that we’re the only species that deprive ourselves of sleep on purpose.
This is why you shouldn’t brush off the importance of setting up a sleep routine that gives you enough time to rest at night.
The more you make a habit of ending your day right, the better you’ll wire your body and mind to sleep right away.
When babies and small children have a consistent sleeping routine, they fall asleep effortlessly. It’s easy for them because they’re trained to expect their bedtime at a certain point in the day.
The thing is, adults are no different. Now that you’re all grown up, it’s up to you to create this structure for yourself.
Decide on a time to wake up every day, then set aside enough hours to sleep before then.
If you want to be up by 7:00 am, be in bed by 10:30 pm the night before so you’re out by 11 pm.
When you plan your day around a “deadline”, your body will learn to fall into this routine.
It takes a bit of time to do this, you’ll fall asleep quickly once you’ve settled into your routine.
The good news is that once you’ve gotten this out of the way, the next tips take way less time to implement…
#2: Get into a healthy bedtime routine
Before the grueling lifestyle of the industrial age came into the picture, our ancestors were used to following their natural circadian routine.
Now that everything’s changed, you need to create a set of rituals that tie into your regular bedtime routine.
Like babies and small children, you can also set up similar cues to signal that it’s time to sleep.
For instance, reading is a good habit to practice, much like how kids settle in with a bedtime story.
An academic study conducted in the UK shows that reading at night is an effective stress-reducing activity – this makes it easier for you to take your mind off things.
Other people like to play some music to relax instead, although it’s slightly less effective than picking up a book.
Nonetheless, it can still help you decompress after a long day and get you to sleep.
#3: Do a bedroom audit
Is your bedroom a place conducive for rest? Or is it a source of worry and distraction?
If you answered “yes” to the last one, remove everything in your bedroom that can distract from a peaceful sleep.
A lot of people don’t realize how important this is, so paying attention to the details will get you to sleep faster.
First off, make sure your bedroom is in the 60-70 F range as this is the ideal temperature to help you relax.
Of course, your bed also plays a huge role in helping you sleep peacefully. Check your mattress, blankets and pillows so that they provide the comfort you need.
Also, the best bedroom is a dark one. Light disrupts the production of melanin, a sleep hormone that makes you drowsy.
Keep the windows covered and lights switched off when it’s time to sleep. While you’re at it, remove anything noisy from your bedroom that might disturb you in the middle of the night.
This includes your TV, computer or mobile devices – which brings us to the next tip…
#4: Make your bed an electronics-free zone
You’ve probably heard this one before, but it’s for a good reason.
Like I said earlier, your body stops producing melatonin when you’re exposed to bright light. This is doubly so with the blue light that screens typically emit.
One of the best things you can do is switch off all screens 2-3 hours before you hit the bed.
Your body and mind need time to unplug from the day’s distractions – you can’t just switch off the minute before your head touches the pillow.
Otherwise, you’re just cheating yourself out of precious time that could have been spent sleeping.
#5: Cut down on stimulants and other substances
Certain drinks are a no-no when it comes to sleeping well at night. This includes coffee (for obvious reasons) as well as liquor.
While caffeine keeps you awake, you might think alcohol has the opposite effect and help you relax.
Sure, knocking back a few drinks will make you drowsy, but the quality of your sleep won’t be as great.
We cycle back and forth between REM and non-REM sleep, and alcohol disrupts this process.
As such, you need to give your system enough time to process any coffee or alcohol present to enjoy quality sleep at night.
By the way, the same goes for sugary snacks or heavy meals. It’ll take you longer to sleep if your body is busy digesting.
#6: A warm bath works wonders
One of the benefits of going to bed squeaky clean is that it acts as a natural sedative.
Your body temperature goes up during a hot shower (ideally no higher than 104 F and not longer than 20 minutes), which then goes down when you go back into your bedroom. This drop triggers a change in your system which tells you that it’s time to sleep.
Do this about an hour before sleeping, and you’ll have enough time for your body to shift gears. As your breathing and heart rate goes down, it’ll be easier to fall asleep.
#7: Get out of bed
There are times when you just can’t go to sleep for one reason or another.
In such cases, staying in bed and forcing yourself to fall asleep is counterproductive.
The best thing to do is get up and do something else, but NOT in the bedroom.
Listen to music, read a book or answer a crossword puzzle, then come back to bed when you feel sleepy.
The important thing is to associate your bed with relaxation, and not a place to engage in any stressful activities.
#8: Load up on melatonin
While coffee, booze and sugary treats are a no-no, there are snacks that can actually help you sleep.
Try some of these melatonin-rich foods about 45 minutes to an hour before sleeping:
– Other fruits like apples, avocado, dried prunes, grapes and goji berries
– Oatmeal-based snacks like cookies and porridge
– Warm milk (or almond milk) – also other beverages like chamomile or peppermint tea
– Nuts like almonds, peanuts, walnuts, cashews and pistachio
– Whole wheat toast with jam, peanut butter or almond butter
– A turkey or chicken sandwich
– Cheese (with toast, crackers or fruits)
– Green veggies like spinach, broccoli and asparagus
Remember, “light” is the operative word. Don’t fill up too much or you’ll be stressing your metabolic functions which will make it harder for you to sleep.
#9: Quiet your mind
Like Theo, many of us spend sleepless nights with our minds going a hundred a miles an hour over things that concern us.
Whether it’s taxes, bills, your job, the kids, your pets, a big project you’re working on, or a visit to the in-laws, there’s always something occupying your thoughts.
The trick is to learn how to block these when you’re about to sleep.
After all, thinking about them at night doesn’t help since you’re in no position to deal with them at that moment.
Awareness is key – when you catch yourself going into worry mode, you need to consciously step in and shut down those thoughts.
Try saying something like, “Dear Brain, this is NOT the time to guess what Sheila meant when she told everyone at the meeting that you didn’t answer her email…you’ve got plenty of time to chew on that tomorrow!”
Take comfort in the fact that most of our thoughts are actually inconsequential.
They’re often not as bad as your mind makes them out to be, so get into the conscious habit of switching off that mental static at night.
#10: Visualize and meditate
If you’re having a hard time keeping out distracting thoughts, you can train your mind through a couple of relaxing mental exercises.
For instance, meditation teaches you to disengage from negative thinking and focus on the present moment instead.
A 2012 study at the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences in India documented this phenomenon and proved how effective its role is in sleeping more soundly.
You can do this by sitting upright with your eyes closed and thinking about nothing else other than your breathing. It also helps to focus on the sensations your body is feeling, such as your heartbeat and the weight of your feet on the floor.
As for visualization, this also keeps your mind off your troubles by replacing them with something pleasant.
Use your mind’s eye to picture a relaxing image, like being at the beach and watching the waves gently crash into the shore.
A 2002 study done at the University of Oxford called “The management of unwanted pr-sleep thoughts in insomnia: distraction with imagery versus general distraction” proves the power of visualization in quickly falling asleep.
You can either do visualization as a standalone exercise, or combine it as part of a meditation routine.
Either way, you’ll be taking the fast track to sleep and avoid getting stuck in a bottleneck of unproductive thoughts.
The more you apply these tips in your daily bedtime routine, the quicker you’ll perfect the fine art of falling asleep on demand.
Like any other skill, effective snoozing can be learned – so you should start practicing as early as tonight!
Try them out starting tonight and see if it doesn’t improve the quality of your sleep as well.
By: Mark Williams
Author of The 7 Day Mind Balancing Plan
“Man is a genius when he is dreaming.” ― Akira Kurosawa
If you think you’re getting more done by sleeping less, you may be right.
But the cost of doing such will take a toll on your long-term health.
Over the recent decades, research has shown again and again that sleep deprivation can have a devastating effect on your overall health – not to mention your figure.
The American Academy of Sleep Medicine and Sleep Research Society recommends at least 7 hours of sleep to get the maximum benefits of shut-eye.
And according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), getting less than this amount can significantly increase the risk of many life-threatening diseases.
This includes heart problems, cancer, arthritis, kidney disease, stroke, diabetes and even depression.
And the worst part is that there are about 70 million people in the U.S. alone who are struggling with a lack of sleep.
The main problem with not getting enough rest is that it plays tricks on your brain. When you’re feeling drained from a sleepless night, your metabolism essentially goes haywire.
That creates a chain reaction of adverse effects in your body, such as a hormonal imbalance and increased stress levels.
So the less sleep you get on a daily basis or the more erratic your sleep pattern are, the more you wire your mind and body to over-consume food.
Worse, lacking energy also means your judgment is skewed when it comes to choosing the right food.
Your nutrition becomes compromised, and you won’t be as efficient in burning those excess calories.
As such, you could also develop sleep apnea, a condition where a person’s breathing is interrupted while sleeping.
This happens when a person is overweight and develops fat around the neck area.
So that will make the quality of a person’s sleep even worse, further aggravating the effects of sleep deprivation.
Also, sleep apnea increases the risk of getting a heart attack or stroke, which makes things even more complicated.
Even if you think you’re living a healthy lifestyle by working out and eating a clean diet, a lack of sleep can seriously undermine your efforts.
Thus, the key to better health is by getting better sleep. But before we get into that, let’s go a bit deeper and understand precisely how sleep deprivation makes you pack on the pounds:
#1: Sleep deprivation messes with your eating habits
A study from The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that there’s a strong connection between not sleeping and an increase in calorie intake.
People who get enough rest – and those who stay up late – burn a similar amount of calories.
But there’s one crucial difference between them.
People who have the habit of skipping sleep will take in more calories (about 300 every day).
And when this adds up over the weeks and months, you’re going to see the pounds add up faster than you think.
And here’s another risk of sleeping late: you’re way more likely to snack throughout the day because you’re low on energy.
What happens is that you misinterpret your fatigue for hunger.
That’s because people tend to produce more lipids in their system that influence the way they experience eating food.
Thus, you’re going to want to eat food that won’t necessarily give your body what it actually needs.
When you’re well-rested, you might choose a nice, healthy salad or grass-fed beef with Brussels sprouts.
But if you haven’t been sleeping well, you’re probably going to head down to your nearest fast-food joint and order a thick, juicy burger filled with saturated fats and triglycerides.
And when your bloodstream is full of these unhealthy substances, that can lead to other complications like insulin resistance and increased body fat.
The reason this happens is that there are parts of your brain that are affected by sleep deprivation. This makes it harder for you to use your better judgment and higher reasoning.
That makes you switch to a sort of “caveman mode” where you instinctively want to take on more calories as a defense mechanism against tiredness.
And with a lack of sleep comes higher stress levels, too. Being fatigued triggers your body to produce stress hormones such as cortisol.
Usually, this should only kick in during a fight-or-flight situation. You get a massive dump of energy in your bloodstream, but it’s not meant to stay in your body for too long.
But when you push yourself to stay awake, your cortisol levels remain elevated all the time, which is dangerous.
As you’ve probably guessed, one of the side effects of prolonged cortisol is having a powerful urge to overeat.
#2: You’ll be less motivated to get up and move
Simply put, the less energy you have, the more lethargic you become – and the less likely you’ll feel like exercising.
And when you’re up and about burning those calories, the next step is to put on weight.
Couple that with bad eating habits (also caused by sleep deprivation), and you’ve got a recipe for a health disaster.
With the added pounds and a lack of cardiovascular activity, you’ll be on the path to obesity.
Furthermore, the National Sleep Foundation has found that sleep apnea (caused by weight gain)puts people in a vicious cycle.
Interrupted breathing at night means poor sleep, which is followed by less energy during the day.
And all of this makes it harder to exercise and make better food choices. So keeping the weight off becomes even more of an uphill battle.
#3: Your fat cells won’t get any sleep either (which is a bad thing)
Researchers at the University of Chicago Medicine discovered that there’s a relationship between poor sleep and a person’s fat cells.
In a study they did, doctors found that fat cells respond 30% less than usual to insulin, an energy regulating hormone.
Fat cells are meant to eliminate harmful fatty acids and lipids from the bloodstream to prevent long-term damage to your body. However, skipping on sleep will impair your fat cells’ ability to do their job.
So, that leaves those fatty acids and lipids free to roam in your system.
On top of gaining weight, you’ll also be at serious risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Another factor behind insulin resistance is overeating (sugar-laden and inflammatory food in particular), which of course, is related to a lack of sleep.
#4: Your metabolism suffers
In a study called “The Metabolic Consequences of Sleep Deprivation,” (also from the University of Chicago), experts found a connection between diabetes and not sleeping enough.
Aside from fat cells not responding to insulin, another effect of sleep deprivation is a disruption of vital metabolic processes (such as properly utilizing carbohydrates and hormone regulation).
And once your metabolism goes off the rails, it can lead to premature aging.
#5: You’ll crave carbs
The other thing about poor sleep and bad eating habits is that people seek crab-rich foods in particular.
In another study called “High-hypoglycemic-index” carbohydrate meals shorten sleep onset” from the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, they found that the short-term gratification of eating unhealthy carbohydrates disrupts a person’s sleep patterns.
And when this happens, poor sleep feeds into the urge to eat even more unhealthy food. This keeps the cycle going and causes people to put on even more weight.
So you need your sleep.