After a long day, you’re tired and eager to get to bed. Yet, the moment your head hits the pillow, your mind is stimulated, and your brain is flooded with thoughts. Needless to say, insomnia can be frustrating, confusing, and downright exhausting! If you struggle getting an adequate amount of shuteye, you’re certainly not alone. Unfortunately, sleep struggles are all too common. According to 2022 research, 70% of adults suffer from insufficient sleep, and 50 to 70 million Americans experience sleep-related issues. Losing sleep is no fun and can warrant a host of symptoms and health issues, such as fatigue, depression, anxiety, irritability, and even weight gain. Your body needs proper rest in order to recharge and maintain optimal health — so, let’s get you snoozing! If you’ve tried everything in the book and are still wondering how to fall asleep faster, we’ve got 16 sleep hacks to help you achieve that much-deserved slumber.
Why Can’t I Fall Asleep?
But before we give you our snooze-inducing secrets, let’s get to the bottom of why you’re not sleeping in the first place.
We can’t ignore the rising rates of stress in America. While some stress is good, the majority of Americans are experiencing chronic levels of stress, and its negative consequences are apparent. While stress is giving rise to many mental and emotional concerns, one area particularly affected is sleep. As stress increases, so does the stress hormone cortisol. Cortisol inhibits our sleep hormone melatonin, which disrupts our sleep-wake cycle and gives rise to feelings of stress, anxiety, and mental alertness.
If you’re drinking too much caffeine too late in the day, stimulants like coffee and other caffeinated beverages can largely account for your lack of shuteye! But, they’re not the only stimulants at fault. While we most commonly think of stimulants as caffeinated beverages, anything that stimulates your body at night — and therefore keeps you in the sympathetic (fight or flight) state — is a stimulant. This could include mental stimulation (from social media or TV), an increase in cortisol due to blue light exposure, or the stimulating aftermath of caffeinated beverages such as coffee, tea, or soda.
If you’ve addressed the above issues and are still struggling with sleep, it may be indicative of a health concern or medical issue. While not always the case, ruling out any health concerns and checking in with your doctor or physician is always a good idea. Think of it this way: addressing any medical concerns means one step closer toward a restful night’s sleep!
16 Tips to Fall Asleep Faster
#1 Have a Consistent Bedtime
Our body likes consistency, and this includes a consistent snooze time. Having a set bedtime helps regulate our sleep-wake cycle — also known as our circadian rhythm, or our body’s internal clock. This can help balance out our hormones and prepare our body for sleep. Think of it like this — when your body has a schedule in place, it knows when it’s time to wind down and prepare for bed. This triggers a switch to the parasympathetic state and stimulates the release of melatonin, your sleep hormone. When your bedtime is consistent, this shift happens around the same time every night. But, if your sleep schedule is erratic, it leaves your body feeling confused as to when it’s supposed to be tired! So, get that sleep schedule in check!
Need some help getting started? We’ve got you covered with our Ultimate Guide to Sleep.
#2 Lower The Temperature in Your Room
Research shows a bedroom temp of 65 degrees is optimal for ideal sleep. In fact, studies suggest bedroom temp to be one of the most important factors when it comes to maximizing your time on the pillow. If your bedroom is too warm, it can result in tossing and turning. So, be sure to adjust your thermostat before you climb into bed.
#3 Skip the Afternoon Coffee
This seems like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how many of us reach for that afternoon pick-me-up (myself included) with no thought as to how it will affect our sleep cycle. News flash — this is one of the biggest no-no’s, especially if you’re wondering why you can’t fall asleep!
Coffee has a half-life of about 5 hours, meaning it gives you that initial energy boost when you first drink it, and then sends another jolt 5 hours later! No wonder you’re laying in bed full of energy. As best you can, try to enjoy your coffee in the morning. If you’re an afternoon coffee drinker, try sipping on a caffeine-free alternative instead! Things like cold-pressed green juice, decaf herbal tea, and turmeric lattes can help boost your energy without the jitters and sleepless nights.
Try this yummy golden milk latte that’s not only caffeine-free but also full of flavorful ingredients like cinnamon and turmeric.
- 1 cup almond milk, or milk of choice
- ½ tsp turmeric
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp coconut oil
- Dash black pepper
- 4 drops vanilla stevia or ½ tbsp maple syrup (optional)
Step #1: Add the milk to a saucepan over medium heat. Once warm, add the rest of the ingredients. Remove once heated.
Step #2: Pour into a mug and enjoy!
#4 Do a Sleep Meditation
When you just can’t seem to quiet your mind, try grounding down with a sleep meditation. Meditation is one of the leading science-backed mindfulness techniques for sleep — research shows it can lower cortisol, and over time, even change the brain to support sleep by enhancing slow-wave and REM sleep. The best part? It’s easy to do (with a little know-how), especially when you have someone guiding you through it. And, we know just the person!
Let DeAndre Sinette guide you through a calming meditation for the Deepest Sleep Ever.
#5 Try a 10-Minute Yoga Flow
Speaking of grounding down, a 10-minute yoga flow may be just the thing to calm both your mind and body in preparation for a night of deep, restful sleep.
Looking for some exercises to add to your evening routine? Download the FitOn app and browse our Before Bed category.
#6 Exercise During the Day
According to a recent study in the Journal of Physiology, moving your body during the day can help promote a restful night’s sleep. Science suggests sweating it out first thing can help regulate your circadian rhythm and train your brain to be more alert in the morning. This means by the time evening rolls around, your body will be more inclined to get sleepy and start to wind down. Plus, additional research suggests morning workouts increase deep sleep!
And if you’re thinking, ‘but I’m crunched for time during the day,’ here’s how to make quick workouts work for you.
#7 Avoid Taking a Midday Snooze
If you’re a nap lover, you may be less fond of this tip. But, you’ll thank us later when you’re snoozing away at night!
Taking long, frequent naps during the day may throw off your circadian rhythm and interfere with your evening sleep routine. But, good news. Studies show short naps — ten to thirty minutes — don’t typically have the same adverse effects and can even be beneficial! So if you’re feeling tired during the day, take a short nap and save your long slumber for the evening.
#8 Eat Dinner Earlier
Got a habit for the late-night munchies? While not all night-time snacking is bad, consider how your eating habits could be affecting your sleep. If you’re habitually snacking at night or eating your dinner later than usual, your body will be focusing its energy on digesting your food rather than sleeping. Listen to your body and be mindful if you’re experiencing symptoms like indigestion, heartburn, or nausea. A snack every now and then is okay, but try not to make it a habit!
And if you are going to eat at night, try reaching for these sleep-supporting foods.
#9 Try 4-7-8 Breathing
This mindfulness breathing technique, also known as relaxing breath, may help to reduce stress and anxiety and support sleep.
To perform this breathing exercise, breathe in for four seconds, hold your breath for seven seconds, then breathe out for eight seconds. Try repeating this cycle four times.
#10 Do a Brain-Dump
If you can’t seem to find the “off switch” on your late-night thoughts, dump them out of your head and into your journal! Keep a journal or piece of paper by your bed and do a ‘brain-dump’ to help eliminate the mental chatter. This could be writing down your emotions or feelings, your to-do list, or any thoughts that come to mind. Now that your head is clear, you’re free to snooze away!
#11 Diffuse a Sleep-Supporting Aromatherapy Oil
Get your diffuser out and create a dreamy sleep sanctuary! Essential oils like lavender, chamomile, jasmine, and sandalwood not only smell like a dream but may also help you get in a dream-like state!
These soothing aromatherapy blends have sleep-supporting properties that can activate mood-boosting neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine to keep you calm, relaxed, and on your way to better sleep.
#12 Consider a Calming Evening Drink
#13 Avoid Blue Light in the Evening
Blue light inhibits the release of melatonin, our sleep hormone, disrupting our circadian rhythm and leading to disturbed sleep.
According to a 2011 study, 90% of Americans use technology before bed. While we’ve become more aware of screen usage and its implications on our snooze time, even one night can impact your bedtime habits! So, for the sake of your sleep, try to keep the screen time to a minimum before bed! Or, invest in a good pair of blue-light blocking glasses.
#14 Keep Your Clock at a Distance
There’s nothing worse than lying in bed and watching the minutes tick by as you question why you’re unable to fall asleep. We’ve all been there. Though it may be tempting to check the time, avoid staring at your clock! In fact, put your clock away, or at least turn it in a different direction. Research suggests sleepers who stare at the clock experience increased worry, anxiety, and insomnia compared to those who avoid checking the time.
#15 Turn Off Technology
Power down the electronics and put your phone in another room! If you want to fall asleep faster, those late-night TV binges and social media scrolling have got to go. Aside from the stimulating effects of blue light and whatever media you’re consuming, there’s a multitude of reasons why technology can keep you awake.
For starters, it’s time-consuming! One more episode turns into a whole season, an innocent scroll through social media turns into hours, and replying to that work email turns into finishing your latest work project… at 1 am. Keep your bedroom for rest and relaxation and put the electronics away!
#16 Weighted Blanket
Have you ever noticed that curling up with a blanket or being wrapped in something warm makes you feel safe and comforted? Enter: weighted blankets. The science-supported tool that’s used to calm the mind and support sleep.
Oftentimes sleepless nights are due to an overactive mind or feelings of stress and anxiety, which is where weighted blankets come in. Weighted blankets are like a cozy, comforting hug — they help to alleviate these feelings and shift the body into a parasympathetic state so you can drift off to bed.
Now that you know how to fall asleep faster go put these sleep hacks to good use! And if you’re wondering where to start, start by developing a consistent evening routine, one that makes you excited for bed! Make your room a sleep sanctuary, cozy up with a book and comforting cup of tea, power down those electronics, and get some much-deserved zzzs.