Getting a good night's sleep is hard when you spend hours staring at the ceiling counting sheep, or replaying the day's events, or just praying that your brain will switch off.
Plus, it's stressful to lay awake for hours. The longer you stare at the ceiling, the harder it becomes to relax your mind--even if you are actually exhausted.
The good news? There are ways to fall asleep fast, even if you've never been a great sleeper. Here are our five best tips to fall asleep fast.
1. Get on a Schedule
Want to fall asleep fast? Start by getting on a sleep schedule.
Your body has its own internal clock, a regulatory system called the circadian rhythm. This is what allows you to feel awake and alert during the day and sleepy at night.
Historically, human circadian rhythms have been tied to daylight hours, when we were able to see and hunt safely. Now, with people moving at all hours of the night, our circadian rhythms are a lot less regular. Getting your circadian rhythm back in check can help readjust your sleeping patterns.
Make sure you always fall asleep at the same time every night and wake up at the same time every morning (yes, even on weekends). If you can, try to time your sleep schedule with nightfall, as this is the natural human circadian rhythm.
2. Exercise During the Day
While scientists don't fully understand the connection between exercise and sleep, they do know that regular exercise helps improve your sleep quality. Moderate aerobic exercise like walking, running, dancing, and swimming has been shown to increase your amount of slow-wave sleep, deep sleep used to conduct cell repair.
Plus, exercise helps cut your cortisol and adrenaline levels, which helps reduce your stress. And the lower your stress, the better sleep you'll have.
It's going to take time to see long-term sleep improvement, and more exercise is generally better at delivering benefits, but aiming for about 30 minutes of moderate exercise per day will do the job nicely. You can do it any time of day, but avoid strenuous activity right before bed--that wakes your brain up.
3. The 4-7-8 Method
We've talked a lot about preventative measures. But when you're lying awake staring at the ceiling, you need an on-the-spot solution. The 4-7-8 method is a good choice.
Developed by Dr. Andrew Weil, the 4-7-8 method is a breathing technique that tricks the autonomic nervous system (which regulates heart rate and aspects of relaxation or excitement) into calming down.
The technique is fairly simple. Here's what you do:
- Place the tip of your tongue against the ridge of your upper teeth for the duration of the exercise
- Exhale completely through your mouth, emptying your lungs with a whooshing sound
- Close your mouth and inhale gradually through your nose for a slow count of four
- Hold your breath for a slow count of seven
- Exhale slowly through your mouth for a slow count of eight, making the same whooshing sound
- Repeat the cycle four times, or until your mind calms down
If you've ever practiced yoga, you've likely used a breathing technique along similar lines. If you can't hold your breath for a count of seven or feel like you're out of breath, you can shorten the counts, but don't shorten them too much or you'll elevate your heart rate. Conversely, you can lengthen the counts if you want.
And hey, you may like the breathing technique so well that you try it during the day with other breathing techniques to relieve stress. Remember, stress is the enemy of sleep--use all the tools in your toolbox.
4. Make Like a Caveman
In ye olden days of our cave-dwelling ancestors, nights were dark, cold, and quiet. That's why we slept at night--we couldn't see and there wasn't anything to focus on in order to keep our brains awake. Also, it was a bit too cold to be cozy staying awake.
Unsurprisingly, darkness and coolness are two vital conditions for sleep.
You can guess where this is going, right? When it's time for bed, put the phone away. Far away. The opposite end of the room, even. Also, ditch any other electronics that emit artificial light--your laptop, your tablet, your Kindle, even your smartwatch if you're tempted to play with it in lieu of your phone.
Also, trick your body into recalling the sleep conditions of your ancestors by lowering the temperature in your bedroom before you go to bed (your energy bill will love you for it). The ideal sleep temperature is around 65 degrees Fahrenheit (18 degrees Celsius).
That said, you want to be cool, not cold, so raise the thermostat a few degrees if you feel like you're freezing.
5. Create the Right Sleep Environment
And speaking of your sleep environment, creating the right one makes the world of difference in your sleep quality and how fast you fall asleep.
Your sleep environment is comprised of:
- Preserving the sleep environment
The last one is trickier than you'd think. Your bedroom can often be a multipurpose room, especially if you're short on space or live in a studio. You may have a TV in your bedroom, sleep with your pets, or power through a workout next to the bed.
However, if you want to fall asleep, your bedroom should be a place your brain associates with relaxation, not stimulation. In short: your bedroom should only be used for sleeping.
If you live in a limited space and have to use your bedroom for several purposes, revise that to say that your bed should be used exclusively for sleeping, or almost exclusively for sleeping. That way, your brain is cued to put you to sleep the moment you lay your head down.
Trying to Fall Asleep Fast? Get the Right Bedding
If you're trying to fall asleep fast, you have to create the right conditions for sleep. And two of the essential contributors to your sleep quality are your mattress and bedding.
We offer luxury mattresses at prices you can afford, and beautiful sheets that will make you feel like royalty. Isn't it time you stopped counting sheep and enjoyed a restful night? Check out our shop today to invest in a perfect night's sleep.