There are a few lucky people out there who have absolutely no trouble falling asleep at night. The minute their head hits the pillow, they’re out. The rest of us lie in bed staring at the ceiling, tossing and turning, counting sheep or minutes, or snore, waiting for the mercy of blessed sleep to come.
Lack of sufficient, good quality sleep takes a toll on nearly every aspect of our lives, everything from health, to mood, to safety, to job performance. The good news is…all is not lost. With a bit of knowledge, a bit of planning and a bit of patience, we can learn to fall asleep fast!
Daytime Sleep Enhancers
- Exercise during the day – We all know exercise improves our health, but it also improves our sleep by reducing stress. The caveat, don’t exercise within 3 hours before bedtime. The adrenaline will keep you awake.
- Limit beverages that interfere – We all know that caffeine makes it difficult to fall asleep, but we may not be aware that alcohol interferes as well, as does drinking too much water right before bedtime.
- Avoid naps – Try not to nap if you possibly can. Sleeping during the day makes it difficult to fall sleep at night. If you absolutely must, limit naps to a power nap of 20 minutes.
Evening Sleep Helpers
- Food is a factor – Have a light dinner. Heavy meals may be difficult to digest and indigestion may make it difficult to fall asleep. But don’t go to bed hungry. Hunger keeps you awake. Eat a light snack shortly before bedtime.
- Turn off the TV and computer. – This kind of stimulation tells the brain to be alert when it’s supposed to be winding down and has been proven to reduce sleep quality.
Prep the Bedroom Atmosphere
- Remove the electronics – Shut off the TV and remove computers and other electronic devices from your bedroom. They tempt you to engage in non-restful activities and keep you awake. The bedroom is for sleep, not work and surfing the internet.
- Keep cool – You fall asleep faster and sleep better if the bedroom is cooler. A lower room temperature lowers core body temp, and helps you go to sleep. The ideal temperature for sleep is 65 degrees.
- Dim the lights – Light, even a small amount interferes with sleep hormones and stimulates the brain. Wear an eye mask if necessary or turn the alarm clock around.
- Turn it down – Eliminate noise, or alternatively if you find noise soothing or need to block noise you can’t control, choose calming sounds such white noise or ocean sounds. Wearing earplugs can also help block unwanted noise.
- Aromatherapy – Aromatherapy sooths the body and have a calming effect. There are many scents available that can help you to relax and prepare for sleep, vanilla, lavender, marjoram, sandalwood are just a few examples. Use on your pillow, in the air or in the bath.
The Fall Asleep Fast Bedtime Routine
- Same time every day – Start your bedtime routine at the same time each day and maintain a regular sleep time. It helps condition your body to fall asleep faster by creating a sleep habit and setting your circadian rhythm.
- Try a bath – Take a warm bath before bedtime. It can help you relax and raising the body temperature, then cooling it in a low temperature room helps you to fall asleep faster.
- Soothing beverage – Herbal tea or a glass of milk also relax the body and help you wind down.
- Read – Read an entertaining or boring book. It helps to get your mind of worries and your to-do list. Stay away from stimulating or self-help books though; they rev up your brain.
- Relax your body – try yoga or gentle stretching. Do progressive relaxation; tighten each muscle for a count of ten and then release. It will relax your body and minimize muscle aches and pains.
- Relax your mind – Journal to let go of worry and busy thoughts. Try visualizing soothing images such clouds or a peaceful place; a garden or field or beach, whatever soothes you. It helps quiet the mind and release anxious thoughts.
- Quality bedding – Get a comfortable, supportive mattress. It’s worth the investment, as you spend one third of your life in bed. Use comfortable soft sheets and comforter. Smooth, quality bedding helps sooth and relax your body to fall asleep faster.
- Comfortable clothing – Wear loose, light, cool pajamas. Cotton works best as it minimizes nighttime seating. Alternatively, sleep without pajamas if it makes you more comfortable. Binding or hot PJs make for restless and uncomfortable sleep.
- Watch your posture – Sleep position matters. Find a comfortable sleep position that supports good sleep posture. Make sure every part of your body is comfortable. Buy a good quality pillow that supports your neck and properly aligns your body. Side positions are usually better, but if back works for you that’s fins. Lie in the same position every night, so your body becomes accustomed to falling asleep in the same way.
Falling asleep fast requires a bit of preparation, following a regular routine and paying attention to sleep comfort. However, these sleep details can make the difference between falling asleep faster and getting a restful night’s sleep or staring at the ceiling tiles.