15 Simple Tips That Help You Fall Asleep Quickly

Making some small changes to how you sleep can help you fall asleep quicker. Try making the room cooler, using the 4-7-8 breathing method, and staying away from screens before bed.

Getting good sleep is important for your body and mind.

But, about 35% of Americans have trouble sleeping. This can affect how you think and your body, says the CDC.

Not sleeping well can lead to:

  • Heart problems
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Being overweight
  • Feeling stressed, anxious, or sad
  • Trouble learning, remembering things, and feeling happy

Adults should aim for about 7 hours of sleep a night, says the CDC. But how much sleep you need might change as you get older.

How to Fall Asleep Quickly

1. Lower Your Room Temperature

Research suggests that the optimal room temperature for sleep is between 60 and 67°F (15.6 and 19.4°C) . This range supports the body’s natural decrease in core temperature that is necessary for sleep initiation and maintenance. A cooler sleeping environment can help facilitate entry into deep, restorative sleep stages, while a room that’s too warm may lead to restless sleep and reduced time spent in REM sleep.

To achieve this, you might use air conditioning, fans, open windows, or adjust your bedding according to the season to maintain a comfortable sleeping temperature.

2. Stick to a Sleep Schedule

Regular sleep schedules can help you fall asleep faster and enjoy uninterrupted sleep by synchronizing your body’s internal clock. This involves waking up and going to bed at the same time every day, even on weekends.

Keeping a routine reinforces your body’s sleep-wake cycle, so you can fall asleep faster at night and wake up feeling refreshed in the morning.

It also prevents sleep debt, letting you get the right amount of restorative sleep your body needs.

3. Try the 4-7-8 Breathing Method

The 4-7-8 breathing technique, rooted in the ancient yogic practice of pranayama, involves a specific pattern of breath control: inhaling for 4 seconds, holding the breath for 7 seconds, and exhaling for 8 seconds .

This method, popularized by Dr. Andrew Weil, is designed to reduce anxiety, calm the mind, and promote relaxation, making it easier to fall asleep.

The practice encourages a shift towards the parasympathetic mode of the nervous system, which lowers heart rate and blood pressure, creating an ideal state for sleep onset.

Regular practice of the 4-7-8 breathing method, especially during times of stress, can train your body to enter a relaxed state more readily, potentially helping you fall asleep faster.

4. Practice Yoga and Meditation

Practicing yoga, meditation, and mindfulness can calm the mind, reduce stress and anxiety, and promote sleep:

  • Yoga: Combining physical postures, breathing exercises, and meditation, yoga can tire the body physically while calming the mind. Regular yoga practice has been linked to reduced insomnia symptoms and improved sleep quality. Yoga helps by promoting relaxation and stress relief, making it easier to fall asleep.
  • Mindfulness: Techniques such as body scans, guided imagery, and focused breathing can relax the body and mind by directing attention away from stress-inducing thoughts and towards the present moment. These practices can be particularly helpful when done before bedtime to ease the transition into sleep.

5. Avoid Naps During the Day

Napping, especially in the late afternoon or evening, can interfere with your nighttime sleep. It can disrupt your natural sleep cycle, making it more challenging to fall asleep when you go to bed.

If you must nap, it’s advisable to keep it short (under 30 minutes) and earlier in the day to minimize its impact on your nighttime sleep.

6. Listen to Relaxing Music

Listening to calm music before bed can help you sleep better. It’s best to listen to music with a slow tempo, consistent volume, and no lyrics. Relaxing music genres like instrumental, classical, and ambient help you sleep because they soothe your mind and body. 

It’s recommended to listen to this kind of music for about 45 minutes before bedtime. Research shows that this amount of time allows your brain to synchronize with the music’s tempo. This can lower your heart rate and reduce anxiety, creating an ideal state for sleep.

7. Exercise During the Day

Physical activity, especially moderate to vigorous exercise, helps stimulate the body in a way that, at night, it naturally winds down. This can decrease the time it takes for you to fall asleep (sleep onset) and increases your overall sleep duration. 

Exercise also helps alleviate symptoms of sleep disorders such as insomnia and obstructive sleep apnea by reducing symptoms like daytime sleepiness and snoring. You may aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous activity each week.

However, it’s counterproductive to engage in high-intensity physical activities close to bedtime because it might delay sleep onset. 

8. Invest in a Comfortable Mattress and Bedding

You’ll sleep better and wake up less if you have a good mattress. It supports your spine and reduces pressure points. This support helps prevent and alleviate pain, including back and joint pain, which can interfere with sleep. Mattresses made of breathable materials can also prevent overheating during the night.

When choosing a mattress, you must consider your typical sleep position, body weight, and any specific health conditions like back pain. For instance, side sleepers might benefit from a medium-soft mattress, whereas back sleepers may need a firmer surface to maintain proper alignment of the spine.

You may visit mattress stores for trials or use online quizzes to help you make an informed decision tailored to your personal needs.

9. Stop Using Electronic Devices Before Bedtime

Electronic devices like smartphones, tablets, and laptops emit blue light, which can interfere with the body’s natural production of melatonin, a hormone that regulates sleep cycles. Exposure to blue light before bedtime can increase sleep latency (the time it takes to fall asleep) and reduce the quality of sleep

When you turn off electronic devices 30 minutes to an hour before bedtime, your brain can wind down and prepare for sleep, making you fall asleep faster and enjoy a deeper, more restorative sleep.

10. Try Aromatherapy

Aromatherapy uses essential oils to promote mental and physical health. The limbic system, which controls emotions and the nervous system, can be activated by inhaling or applying certain essential oils.

This can help you relax, reduce stress, and sleep better. Among the essential oils that promote sleep are lavender, chamomile, bergamot, and frankincense.

There are several ways to incorporate aromatherapy into your bedtime routine:

  • Diffusing Oils: Use an essential oil diffuser in your bedroom to disperse the scent of sleep-promoting oils like lavender or chamomile.
  • Topical Application: Dilute essential oils with a carrier oil (such as coconut or jojoba oil) and apply them to pulse points, such as the wrists or temples, before bedtime. Ensure to perform a patch test first to avoid skin irritation.
  • Aromatic Baths: Add a few drops of essential oil to your bathwater for a relaxing pre-sleep soak.
  • Inhalation: Simply inhale the scent directly from the bottle or place a few drops on a tissue or pillow.

11. Try Sleep-Enhancing Supplements

Melatonin is a popular sleep-enhancing supplement that can help regulate your sleep cycle, making it easier to fall asleep. It works by mimicking the natural hormone produced by your brain in response to darkness, signaling to your body that it’s time to sleep. This is particularly useful for conditions like insomnia or jet lag, where your sleep cycle may be disrupted.

To adopt melatonin effectively:

  1. Take melatonin 1-2 hours before your desired bedtime. This allows time for its effects to kick in.
  2. Start with a low dose, typically 0.5-5 mg, and adjust as needed.
  3. For better absorption, take melatonin with a glass of water on an empty stomach.

Use melatonin only for short periods, such as 1-2 weeks for acute issues. For longer-term use, consult a healthcare provider. 

12. Adjust Your Sleep Position

Sleep position plays a big role in sleep quality and sleep speed. The right position can reduce snoring, improve breathing, and ease back pain.

If you suffer from snoring, you may adopt the side sleeping position. Sleeping on your side, especially on your left, can improve circulation and digestion. To enhance comfort, you may use a body pillow for support.

However, if you’re suffering from neck and back pain, you might sleep on your back instead. Lying on your back evenly distributes weight across your body. This position minimizes pressure points and aligns your neck and spine.

Stomach sleeping can strain your neck and back. If you prefer sleeping on your stomach, try placing a thin pillow under your pelvis to reduce lower back strain.

13. Limit Caffeine Intake

Caffeine is a stimulant that can delay the timing of your body clock, reduce your total sleep time, and decrease the quality of your sleep. It blocks adenosine, a chemical that promotes sleep, keeping you more alert.

To avoid caffeine’s sleep-disrupting effects, it’s recommended to stop consuming caffeinated products by early afternoon, typically around 2 p.m. This allows your body enough time to metabolize the caffeine.

14. Write Before Bed

Writing before bed, such as journaling or making a to-do list, can help calm your mind. It allows you to offload your thoughts and worries onto paper. This can prevent overthinking and reduce stress, making it easier to fall asleep.

You may keep a notebook and a pen beside your bed and spend a few minutes each night jotting down your thoughts, feelings, or tasks for the next day. This practice can serve as a mental closure for the day, signaling to your brain that it’s time to rest.

15. Read

Reading before bed can be a relaxing activity that helps transition your body and mind into a sleep-ready state. It distracts you from daily stresses and engages your mind in a peaceful activity.

Since blue light can inhibit the production of melatonin, a hormone that regulates sleep, it’s recommended to read physical books or e-readers with settings adjusted to minimize blue light exposure.

Not every genre is suitable for bedtime reading. Choose light, enjoyable reading material that won’t cause excitement or stress.

How Long Should It Take to Fall Asleep?

The time it takes to fall asleep, known as sleep onset latency, is a common concern for many. Ideally, it should take between 10 to 20 minutes to fall asleep. .

It could be a sign of sleep deprivation or a sleep disorder if you’re falling asleep within five minutes. In contrast, it might be a sign of stress, poor sleep hygiene, an uncomfortable sleep environment, or underlying health issues if you can’t fall asleep in 20 minutes every night

Several factors can influence how quickly you fall asleep:

  • Age: Sleep latency can vary with age, with children and teenagers generally falling asleep faster than adults.
  • Gender: Studies suggest that women might take longer to fall asleep than men, especially with aging.
  • Lifestyle and Habits: Regular exercise, limiting caffeine and screen time before bed can promote quicker sleep onset.
  • Sleep Environment: A comfortable, quiet, and dark sleeping environment is conducive to falling asleep within the ideal timeframe.
  • Mental Health: Stress and anxiety can significantly delay sleep onset. Techniques like meditation, journaling, or focusing on positive thoughts before bed can help.

Bottom Line

To get a healthy sleep onset latency, you need to improve your sleep hygiene. You can do this by establishing a regular sleep schedule, creating a bedtime routine that makes you feel relaxed, optimizing your sleep environment (be cool, dark, and quiet), and doing things that reduce stress before bed.

If you consistently fall outside the 10 to 20-minute window to fall asleep, it may be time to consult a healthcare professional to find out underlying causes and appropriate interventions.

Need professional help to diagnose and address your sleep problems? Schedule an online consultation with sleep specialist Dr. John Williams.

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