You ever lay in bed for hours and wish you knew how to fall asleep faster?
I can understand.
Sleep seemed to be a recurring nightmare for me ever since I was a kid. Literally.
As a kid, I had issues with nightmares. As an adult, I have sleep related hallucinations and generalized anxiety disorder.
So of course, between my mind going 100 mph and being scared to sleep, I often lived my life sleep deprived.
Luckily, I don’t have as many issues falling asleep anymore and can usually get the standard 8 hours a night.
I want to share how I did it.
Why We Need Sleep
I know you have heard we need sleep. But do you know why?
Sleep is when our bodies recharge.
Think of our bodies as a computer. When you go to sleep, that is what charges us back to 100% (or as close as possible).
It’s when our body detoxifies and repairs itself from the damage incurred during the day.
And it needs about 7-9 hours to do this effectively.
If we don’t get enough sleep, it can really wreck havoc on our bodies. Causing our brain chemicals not to work right, our nervous system to not work right, our immune system to be compromised, it increases in our stress hormones, etc.
It affects EVERYTHING.
Which means it can lead to depression and anxiety disorders, heart disease, high blood pressure, car accidents, infections, and pretty much everything else you can think of that can go wrong in your life.
Taking Sleep Seriously
Many of us don’t take sleep seriously.
But I wanted to take a second and give you a first hand account of what happens when you lack sleep, in hopes you learn what NOT to do from me.
If you have read my other posts, you know I spent a decent portion of my 20s working three jobs, living in my car, and going to school. I lived off caffeine and energy pills.
In other words, I was lucky to get a few hours of sleep each day.
In 2006-2007, it all came crashing down. Literally.
I totaled 4 cars in a 6 month period. And nearly died in 3 of those accidents, because they were so serious.
The last one, not only totaled the SUV, but left me with a deformed spine and started my battle with chronic pain.
Now, I can blame the fact that it was dark and raining extremely hard during 3 out of the 4 accidents.
But I also was hugely sleep deprived and probably would have been able to be better aware of my surroundings and have better reaction times, had I not been sleep deprived.
Why do I say that?
Because it has been over 13 years since I have had a car accident, and I have drove on those same roads in those same conditions since. The difference is I am actually sleeping now.
So sleep is important. These occurrences changed my life and made me realize I needed to change my habits.
Don’t let this happen to you.
Before I jump in and tell you how to fall asleep faster, I want to take a second to talk about sleep disorders.
It could be likely that you have one and that is the reason you aren’t falling asleep or don’t feel well rested.
Most members of my family have sleep apnea, which is pretty common.
As I mentioned earlier, I have a parasomnia disorder that causes me to hallucinate when waking up. Sometimes I act out those hallucinations and “wake up” in the middle of it.
It’s common for me to create crashes and falls in the room where I sleep, so tend to avoid sleeping at other people’s houses whenever possible, so I don’t freak them out.
Learn About It
If you have a sleep disorder that affects your sleep, research everything you can about it and if it is treatable, get treatment for it.
Because you having this disorder could cause stress that is preventing you from falling asleep.
If you have a disorder like mine, that makes you afraid to fall asleep, but isn’t really treatable, I can tell you that learning everything I can about the disorder truly helped me.
Once I knew that stress made it worse, that people always wake up fully within a couple of minutes or less, and usually don’t leave their bedroom during the episodes, it helped me relax a little more and not be as afraid of it.
So find out about your disorder. The unknown is scary, so don’t leave it unknown.
Becoming knowledgeable can help you with fall asleep faster and rest easier.
If you want more information on different sleep disorders, I highly recommend this book (shown below), where the doctor discusses in depth on many sleep disorders and gives you everything you wanted to know about them. It’s how I learned about mine.
10 Ways to Fall Asleep Faster
1. Adjust Your Caffeine Intake
Hey, I see you rolling your eyes and hear your groans.
I know it stinks to be told to do something so obvious, especially something you really don’t want to do.
But it doesn’t make it less true.
If you want to fall asleep faster, you NEED to adjust your caffeine to where you don’t drink any within 8 hours of bedtime.
It seems like a long period to go without caffeine, but it is necessary.
And sorry for making you sad with this one, but this isn’t just about coffee. Soda and caffeinated tea should be avoided during that time too.
If you want something to pick you up during your afternoon slump, try eating bananas, watermelon, and salads, which all help with energy.
2. Get on a Sleep Schedule
If you are waking up at different times of the day, how to do you expect to feel tired by a certain time?
Set your alarm, every day. Even if you don’t have to work.
When you do this, your body will naturally feel the need to sleep during the certain time period and adjust accordingly.
3. Turn Off Electronics
This one was the hardest for me. I look at my phone constantly before going to bed. It had become a habit.
Phone addiction is real. Especially if you are on social media.
It messes with the happy chemicals in your brain, and because you keep getting that boost, you have a hard time putting it down or to stop thinking about it. When you are trying to sleep, you may even think “well, maybe I will check this one thing since I am not asleep yet anyway”.
Don’t. It will only make it worse.
So I highly recommend to try to only use your phone during the day and turn it off within 2-3 hours of bedtime. That way your body has the ability to relax.
Instead, read a book or magazine on something that you are kind of interested in, and always wanted to read, but aren’t at risk of being “sucked in”.
That worked for me.
4. Turn Down the Heat
It’s nearly impossible to sleep when you are warm.
Our bodies are designed to sleep in cooler temperatures. It helps our sleep cycles let you have a deeper sleep, so you can wake up feeling more relaxed.
So when we let the temperature cool down in our house, it tells our bodies it is time to go to sleep.
5. Bedtime Routine
Create a habit of doing a bedtime routine.
When you do this routine every night, over time, your brain will start to associate this routine with sleeping. So when you start doing to the task, your brain will start to tell the rest of your body to act accordingly.
Which in turn, makes you able to get tired and fall asleep faster.
My nighttime routine is: Taking my dog out, turning out lights, brushing my teeth, and laying down to read.
After doing it for a couple of weeks, now I am tired as soon as I come in from taking the dog for her last walk.
Any alterations in this routine, and I find I can’t sleep. Most likely because my brain doesn’t understand what is going on from me deviating from the plan.
So find a routine and do that routine each night. Your brain will be happier for it.
Seriously, you had to know this tip was coming.
Exercise is truly a cure-all for practically everything, which is why you see it recommended for everything.
I know many of you (myself included) groan when you see exercise listed as a natural remedy, but it’s true. Even if we don’t want it to be.
The more active you are, the less anxiety you have and the more your body pushes you to sleep at night.
Therefore, allowing you to fall asleep faster.
If you want some tips on getting motivated to exercise or how to exercise if you are obese or in chronic pain, check out these articles:
7. Adjust Your Eating Habits
Ever have really heavy dinners or find yourself snacking at night?
This is hurting your ability to fall asleep!
When your body is going through the digestion process, it keeps you awake, because your body is providing resources to that instead of calming you down to sleep.
Sugar also works a lot like caffeine in the brain, in that it disrupts your ability to fall asleep, even if you are tired. So it is important to stop snacking in the evenings.
It’s best to not consume food within 3 hours of bedtime.
If you work crazy shifts, I understand how hard this is, because I used to have the same issue. It can help to bring your dinner to work and eat it on breaks, and just have something incredibly small, like yogurt or carrots, to eat if you are still hungry when you get home.
I found when I started eating dinner much earlier, in lower portions, and stopped snacking, I was able to fall asleep faster.
8. Invest in a White Noise Machine
I heard over and over again how much white noise machines help people fall asleep faster.
I didn’t believe the claims. My thought was that they wouldn’t work on me, because I am a super light sleeper and can’t have any noise.
But at a point where my anxiety was so bad and my brain refused to shut up, I got desperate.
The first time I turned it on, I thought it was super annoying and didn’t think I would have it on very long.
But I was asleep within 10 minutes and had the best sleep ever.
Now, I can’t sleep without it.
Why did it work? Because it not only drowned out the little sounds around me, but it also drowned out the annoying thoughts in my head that prevented me from sleeping every night.
Totally worth it.
A fan can do about the same thing, but a white noise machine works even better in my opinion, and I don’t wake up with a stopped up nose, which is always nice.
9. Calm Down!!
Okay, before you want to hit me with something for being so obvious, hear me out on HOW.
If you read my article on how to manage your stress, you know stress can affect us physically and mentally. And of course, that means it can affect our sleep and how fast we fall asleep.
Stress caused most of my sleep problems. From worrying about what would happen when I fall asleep, to worrying about daily events, to worrying about a lot of nothing. That’s a life with anxiety.
I’m sure many of you can relate.
Something that really helps calm me down, is to either listen to meditation videos on Youtube (the ones by Michael Seely are fantastic!), or do some breathing exercises.
The breathing exercises work like this:
- Take a slow deep breath in through your nose. Pay attention to the temperature of the air as it goes through your nostrils.
- Hold your breath for about 5-7 seconds.
- Blow out the breath over 5-7 seconds through your mouth. Pay attention to the temperature of the air.
- Let your body and head go completely limp and deadweight.
- If you aren’t sure how, put pressure against your head and body to lean against the bed/pillow as hard as you can and release. You will be surprised at how much tension you held in your body before.
- Repeat 1-3 while still being in deadweight. This time, pay attention to the temperature on your fingertips and toes.
- Repeat about 4-6 times
This helps not only your body to relax, but by focusing on the things I mentioned, it removes focus away from the other things you were thinking about.
Fall Asleep Faster!
Are you confident you can fall asleep faster now?
I sure hope so.
I can’t even begin to tell you how much all of these tips helped me in my journey to get better sleep.
Because what is the point in me trying to be happier and healthier, if I am not letting my body recharge at night?
It defeats the purpose.
So try out these tips, and be sure to let me know if they helped you!
Now go get your beauty rest.
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