How to Fall Asleep Fast and Easily
9 min read
Last Modified 31 August 2023 First Added 10 January 2020
“There are so many useful techniques that can help you catch your ‘sleepy train’ and it’s up to you to figure out which one of the many techniques will work for you.”
Some people can be lucky as they are able to fall asleep in just 5 minutes or less. Others take longer, sometimes much longer. With most people falling asleep within 10–20 minutes, it is thought that anyone who takes longer than this may be at risk of losing their sleep efficiency. Whether it’s your thoughts, distractions or the feeling of not being tired keeping you up at night, there are many things you can do to help you fall asleep quicker.
You could try one thing at a time or make several changes to your nighttime routine. However, it is important to allow your body and mind time to get just to a new sleep routine. Not everything you will try will work, especially not right away, but here are some tips to help you get started:
A method developed by Dr Andrew Weil and recommended by Healthline; this breathing technique has been successful, with some people falling asleep in just 60 seconds. It may take some practice or repeating the cycle to get you used to it before it works. Here’s how you do it:
As most herbal teas are naturally caffeine-free, they are a great nighttime drink that can make you sleepy. Be sure not to drink warm drinks or too much liquid right before bed to avoid having to get up at night to use the bathroom. As caffeine is known to make us more alert and active, it is important to avoid caffeine in the afternoon as well as in the evening. According to Cleveland Clinic, it can take up to 10 hours to completely clear caffeine from your bloodstream. So, if you want to fall asleep fast, a quick fix is to ditch your afternoon coffee.
Much like caffeine, alcohol has been proven to affect sleeping patterns and the quality of sleep. Although, at first, alcohol may make you feel sleepy, it has been shown to cause a disruptive night’s sleep, making people feel tired and sluggish the next day. A study by the National Library of Medicine found that alcohol can increase the risk of sleep apnea by 25%.
Recently popular, thanks to TikTok, the military sleep method has been used by soldiers for decades. Designed specifically to help military personnel to get to sleep no matter where they are, it can be a valuable tool for anyone struggling with racing thoughts and stress, keeping them awake.
Relax each body part, focusing on the physical sensation, then clear your mind completely. This can be done by picturing nothing or repeating “think nothing” until you drift away.
Some proponents of this technique claim you can sleep in just 2 minutes, so it’s worth a try.
Keeping a journal or a diary by your bedside will allow you to compile to-do lists for the following day. It will also allow you to write down any stresses or concerns you have from day to day. Ensuring your mind is clear from worries will aid you to fall asleep quickly. And this has been confirmed in a study by Baylor University and Emory University. They found journaling before bed does indeed help you fall asleep. Next time you’re tossing and turning in bed, pick up a pen and notepad.
Music has been shown to have a direct effect on our nervous system, allowing our bodies to relax and settle in for a good night’s rest. In fact, around 62% of the population use music as a tool to help them sleep. Advanced brainwave entertainment is a combination of ambient music, nature sounds, and other audio clips especially programmed for sleep, focus and stress relief. Brainwave apps are available to download on your smartphone to get you to fall asleep quickly.
Going to sleep at the same time each night and waking up at the same time each morning will allow your body to get into a sleep-wake cycle. This will also help to ensure you get the recommended 7-9 hours of sleep per night. You can find out the best time to go to sleep and wake up to get the right amount of sleep cycles with our sleep cycle calculator.
It is also important to avoid taking daytime naps, as getting the right amount of sleep each cycle will allow you to feel more energised each day.
If you do enjoy a daytime slumber, Dr Suzanne Bertisch, an Associate Physician and Clinical Director of Behavioral Sleep Medicine, advises: “Limiting naps is one strategy to improve overall nighttime sleep.”
Removing artificial light, opening a window and sleeping with earplugs or an eye mask can help you combat any distractions you find yourself rising to in the night. Ensuring your room isn’t too warm and keeping your phone outside of your bedroom will allow your body to embrace an ideal sleeping environment that, in turn, will help you fall asleep easily.
Do you spend minutes or even hours each night watching the time go by as you lay awake feeling frustrated? As clock watching can lead to frustration about sleepiness. It can sometimes be difficult to resist the urge to check the time, you can stop that clock-watching habit by either removing clocks from your room or covering them up. This can allow you to fall asleep quickly and wake less during the night.
Exercise can reduce insomnia by decreasing anxiety and depression. As exercise influences our circadian rhythm, it can tire us out and boost our quality of sleep. Raising our body temperature slightly each day with light exercise can trigger sleepiness as well as boost immune functions.
Whether that means finding your ideal sleeping position, getting yourself a new set of pyjamas or investing in a comfy pillow, being in total comfort will allow you to feel more relaxed, resulting in a good night’s sleep. Having a mattress that is the correct firmness and a pillow that feels right for your neck is important for your posture during sleep, allowing you to be supported, comfortable and relaxed all night.
Reading whilst laying in bed often leaves many people drifting off with their books on their faces. When reading at night, it is important to avoid eBooks and smart devices as they often emit blue light. This kind of light affects our melatonin levels. Melatonin is a natural hormone that the brain releases in response to changes in light. Carbohydrate-rich foods such as fruit, vegetables and grains can also cause you to feel sleepy due to the influence of melatonin production in the brain.
Visualisation can expand your ability to focus on calming your mind and can help you to create restful images which will allow you to unwind and fall asleep. Visualising yourself in a deeply relaxed state surrounded by mountains, oceans or whatever makes you feel most peaceful can help you sleep better.
Having a warm bath or shower before bed is a well-known sleeping remedy. Our body temperature tends to drop after a warm dip in the bath which can induce better sleep. This natural remedy works best with warm water rather than hot.
Acupressure involves using physical touch to stimulate pressure points on the body that correspond to different aspects of both mental and physical health. It is a form of self-massage and can be an effective way to help you drift off quickly.
Another thing you could try if you can’t get to sleep at night is getting out of bed, doing something for 10 minutes and then trying to fall asleep again. There is nothing worse than lying in your bed awake thinking about how untired you are. Sometimes, getting up and doing something like stretching or giving your neck and shoulders a gentle massage can help you feel more relaxed and sleepier.
If you have tried everything and nothing is working, Sammy advises it’s best to pay a visit to your local GP. If you’re struggling to sleep every night, you may have a sleep disorder that requires further treatment.