How’s your sleep last night? Have you also tossed and turned hoping Mr. Sleep would cast its dreamy spell? This is also a major problem of mine and I would be lucky if I can doze off before 12 midnight. And I think most of us have gone through sleepless nights one time or another. Some blame it for stress, too much caffeine, life problems, and so on. But what if you’re simply not tired enough to catch some Zzz? How to fall asleep fast in this case?
What I hate about bedtime is I find it hard to fall asleep no matter how tired – not tired – I am. This delayed sleep disorder made me struggle with work schedule and daytime sleepiness.
The art of shutting our thoughts and going to dreamland isn’t as easy as it seems.
Oh, how we envy those who will start snoring minutes after their bodies came in contact with the bed.
And if you’re like me who’s looking for a fix on this bedtime problem, here are some of the suggestions I have for you.
P.S. Don’t worry, this isn’t one of those posts who will tell you to just stop overthinking or to try to make yourself tired. First, you simply can’t shut down your mind (trust me, I have anxiety and no amount of willpower can stop my brain engine from shooting random thoughts). Second, trying to tire your body near bedtime would only make you feel more alert and awake.
1. Prioritize comfort
One reason why you’re finding it hard to sleep is you’re in discomfort. Wear clothes where you’re most comfy at. In fact, some people wear nothing and they fall asleep faster in such a case. Aside from that, make sure that your bedroom is conducive for sleeping. Turn the lights off or use a low light lamp to maintain a source of brightness in case you have to pee in the middle of the night.
Shut that window, remove that noisy fan, or fix the creaking door. All these little things make a difference in how fast you can doze off. If it doesn’t work, you still have 14 more tips to follow on how to fall asleep quickly.
2. Pay attention to your mattress
I can’t stress it enough how important it is to get the mattress that suits you. A very soft one will swallow you while a very stiff surface will give you backaches. You’ll never go wrong with a medium firm mattress with a layer of memory foam. It hugs snugly and conforms to the shape of your body. Make sure that you’ll get one that suits your sleeping position.
A weighted blanket is also good to try. It works for me since I love the hugging and cozy feeling. But you simply can’t stick to it during summer days and you’re living in Miami.
3. Gadgets out an hour before bedtime
Mobile gadgets and computer screen emit the harmful ‘blue light’. It mimics sunlight which tricks our eyes to the idea that it’s still daytime. What happens is that our brains produce more serotonin which keeps us awake and alert. If you’re thinking of using your phone or playing video games to tire yourself out, you have to think twice. TV screens are no exceptions here.
This is also the reason why you have to turn the lights off or turn it down. It will condition your brain to the sense of nighttime, thus the production of melatonin or the sleep hormone.
Do this at least an hour before your bedtime – two or three if you can.
4. Set the right temperature
During summer days, my common struggle is being a hot sleeper. Every inch of my skin would be sweaty which is sticky when you’re sleeping on a memory foam mattress. The trick here is to tinker with the temperature setting. Make sure that your room isn’t too cold or too hot. Still, lean a little on a colder feel to help your body shut down your temperature in preparation for the sleeping cycle.
Still, don’t overdo the cold part. If your room feels like Retroville with Quantumly Enhanced SPF 9000, you have to tone it down. The right temperature is one where you’ll feel cool cuddling under the duvet. That way, you’ll know how to fall asleep fast.
5. Don’t watch the clock
Watching the clock makes falling asleep more excruciating. Every minute that passes by that you’re still awake reminds you of your failure to doze off. This will cause a sense of panic as the clock inches to morning. It will just make you more stressed and alert. This is a recipe for a disaster if you have to work the next day – or at least a few hours from your last check.
The trick here is to place your clock with its back on you so you won’t check the time. Also, don’t steal a glance on your phone. Keep calm, close your eyes, and try to keep the stressors off your head.
6. Try binaural beats
Binaural beats work like a charm on me. It’s a special soundwave made to guide your brain to different states. You can even find binaural playlists online that you can listen to with your headphones on. It will help you sleep faster, and even if it doesn’t, there’s nothing to lose if you try. Besides, knowing how to fall asleep quickly is a trial-and-error process.
Here’s the binaural sound I use every time I can’t sleep. Listen to it with your headphones. Kinda weird and scary at first but it’s relaxing and sleep-inducing:
Another one that I’ve tried before are ASMR recordings on YouTube. It stands for Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response where the sounds consist of whispers, clicks, and the likes. This will cause tingling sensations on the skin and a creeping feeling from your scalp down to your spine. It’s relaxing and it helps me get my mind off the clock and my thoughts.
Sometimes I resort to white noise. I don’t know if you also experience this, but there’s an annoying, high-pitch sound in my ear when my bedroom is silent as a catacomb. That’s probably what they call “deafening silence”.
7. Use breathing methods
During desperate nights when I can’t sleep, I try breathing methods. I usually practice the 4-7-8 method where you inhale slowly for four seconds with your tongue touching the roof of your mouth. After that, you’ll hold your breath for seven seconds and release it slowly for eight seconds. It delivers more oxygen supply to the brain to help you fall asleep.
This is a bit difficult at the start but once you achieve your rhythm, you can do it with less effort. Sometimes, I don’t even count the seconds. I just trust my gut feel until I fall into a deep sleep.
8. Don’t eat heavy
Your last meal of the day will pretty much dictate how your sleep will go. To be honest, I’m guilty of this nighttime pleasure. I have an affinity with rice just before bedtime which makes my problem worse. Although it’s carbs that are easy to digest, the heavy feeling keeps me awake. And to be honest, I can’t fall asleep without eating a heavy meal. Now you know why I used to have problems knowing how to fall asleep fast.
So what I do is to eat at least four hours before bedtime. It does the trick as long as I don’t go overboard with the serving. If you prefer light meals, good for you. But if you’re like me, it will take some days to get used to this way of how to fall asleep quickly.
9. Stick to a routine
Go to sleep and wake up at the same hour you used to each day. We are habitual beings and our system picks up on the things we do in a regular manner. Weekends aren’t exceptions here. Regardless of how you stick to a schedule during weekdays, a Sunday spent oversleeping will sabotage your progress.
Try to get eight hours of quality slumber so you won’t have any reason to nap during the day. But if this isn’t possible, 5-7 hours would still be a safe range.
Remember that your body is smart. When you sleep at the same time every day, it will also wake up at the same time.
10. Don’t nap at daytime
That I’ll-just-close-my-eyes-for-five-minutes is a risk you shouldn’t be taking. It will surely go longer than that. One time, it caused me an hour at work and hours of tossing and turning at night. If you really can fight the urge for a short shuteye, make sure that it won’t go beyond half an hour. Otherwise, you’ll fall in a sleeping limbo that you’ll find hard to control.
Schedule your short nap in the afternoon. Remember when you were a kid and your mom will ask you to take a nappy? It’s just mimicking this natural course of daytime rest.
11. Bask under the sun
The sun really makes you happy! Getting a dose of sunlight every morning will help in the production of serotonin. When this peaks during the day, you will soon feel tired at night. It’s also a good way to fix your circadian rhythm in case you have delayed sleep problems like me.
Jog, walk, or just stroll around. At least 20 minutes of exposure to sunlight will lift your mood and perk you up for work. By nighttime, your body will flood your system with melatonin so you can fall asleep faster. But take note that you shouldn’t cheat on the gadgets or TV before bedtime. There’s a good reason why parents do this with kids. It’s a guaranteed way on how to fall asleep quickly.
12. Tense and relax your muscles
One tip I personally tried and tested is the tensing and relaxing of the muscles. When you’re lying in bed and you can’t fall asleep, don’t toss and turn. Instead, find your most comfy position then start clenching your fists and curling your toes. Hold it for a few seconds and then release it. It works like a charm in pulling you toward sleepiness.
I do this at night together with the breathing method I mentioned earlier. Most of the time, it does the trick except if I had too much caffeine an hour before going to bed. Knowing how to fall asleep fast is a process after all.
13. Consider melatonin supplements
If all the tips here didn’t work for you, the failsafe choice is a melatonin pill. This hormone is released by the body naturally. However, the supply becomes scarce if we spend endless hours in front of the computer screen or our mobile gadgets. These artificial lights fool our body to thinking that it’s still daytime. To reverse this, pop a melatonin supplement.
This is excellent for those who have night shift work or those that have to stay up late working. Still, don’t use it as a solution for your poor sleep hygiene.
14. Count the sheep
Yes, even if this is a bit old school, it still works in keeping our minds off our crazy thoughts. Imagine those sheep and count them to your heart’s content. Soon, your mind will get tired, lost count, and send you to sleep.
Sometimes it works that way for me but there are also nights when it doesn’t. It’s a matter of experimenting what works for you. Each of us has unique sleeping habits and needs on how to fall asleep quickly. Maybe it’s just your mattress or you’re scammed into gulping that cup of juice only to discover that it’s packed with caffeine.
15. Try meditation
If you’re struggling with anxiety, I recommend that you try meditating. This will relax your mind and body in preparation for sleep. I must admit, it feels a bit weird and uneasy sitting there doing and thinking about nothing. But soon, as you get the “rhythm”, it will work its wonders for you.
As for me, meditating lasts for 10-15 minutes before I can finally fall asleep.
Knowing how to fall asleep fast is like shopping for your new clothes. There are tons of options, but you have to try each to know what suits you best. Feel free to use any of the tips here and ditch some that don’t help you. If you got results, we’ll be glad to hear from you!