It is 4:00 AM in the morning; you have an appointment by 8:00 AM; and for some reason your eyes are wide open. Sleep is as illusory as ‘utopia’ at this point.
You lay on the bed, trying to force yourself to sleep. Unfortunately, all you do is stare at the ceiling and/or toss and turn.
For a minute, you imagine those who drift to dreamland immediately their heads connect with their pillows as “lucky folks.”
In a way, you are right. According to the National Institutes of Health, almost half of U.S. adults at age 60 or higher suffer from some form of insomnia.
Nonetheless, falling asleep fast should not be the exclusive preserve of a select “lucky” few. Everyone, including you, can get some shut-eye without much ado.
All you have to do is implement a number of changes.
In this article, we categorize these changes as either “immediate changes” or “lifestyle changes.”
Immediate changes are tasks you do a short while before you sleep. Lifestyle changes are tasks you have to do regularly to put yourself in a position where you do not have to make immediate changes before you can sleep effortlessly.
- Turn Off the Screens
Here is how the average person falls asleep:
As the day winds to a close and darkness creeps in slowly, the body’s natural circadian rhythm kick starts the increase of the level of hormones that induce sleepiness.
Eventually, the hormones rise to a level where keeping your eyes open becomes increasingly difficult, and then you fall asleep.
Using a cell phone, tablet, PC, gaming console, or watching TV disturbs this natural process. The lights from the screens keep you vigil.
Recommendation: Stay away from all electronics with bright screens at least one hour before bed.
- A number of researches state that individuals who play video and computer games for more than seven hours in one week sleep poorly than individuals do game less.
Therefore, if you are on of ‘em hardcore gamers and you are having troubles getting enough sleep; you may want to cut down on your gaming. It is hard to do but necessary to maintain good health.
- Soak in a Hot Bath
A hot bath or shower will raise the temperature of your skin with the resultant effect of making you sleepy.
Recommendation: Have a hot bath or shower half an hour (thirty minutes) before bed.
- For the best results, the temperature of the water should be marginally above 100 °F (38 °C)
- Stay in the shower or bath for at least 20 minutes
- Turn Down the Room Temperature
The perform combo for hitting the sheets fast is a hot skin and a cool room. A cool air temperature will induce sleep and prevent sweatiness.
Recommendation: Set the temperature at 65 °F (18 °C) or lower
- Make Yourself Comfortable
- Do not wear uncomfortable or tight clothing, such as hair bands
- Use the bathroom before going to bed.
Needing to take a leak every now and then will prevent you from falling asleep.
The thoughts of being too tired or cold to make it to the bathroom would make get you on the bed longer, make you uncomfortable for long, which ultimately would keep you up longer.
- Make Your Sleeping Surface Comfortable
Everyone has a preference when it comes to a comfortable sleeping surface. Some of us swear by soft mattresses, others by hard mattresses.
If you are on one end of the spectrum, but desire a sleeping surface on the opposite end, going to bed would be challenging.
- If your mattress is saggy (too soft); simply flip it over
- If your mattress is rock hard (too firm); simply place a foam pad over it
- If any or all of your sheets, blankets, or bed are chronically uncomfortable, replace them
- Embrace Tranquility
The last thing you want is an unwanted noise blaring in the background.
If you can’t control the noise, then do well to play constant, low-level sounds that drown out the noise. For example, you can listen to soft, relaxing music.
Interestingly, specific music pieces abound that are aid sleep. An online search would throw up lots of choices from which you can pick one or several that would be more effective for you.
Good examples of these sleep tunes include classical music by Mozart or Schubert, modern ambient music such as “A Walk” by Tycho, “Solace” by Tom Day, “Strobe” by deadmau5, and “Lost in Thought” by KOAN Sound.
- Try out different types of music to find the best sleep tunes for you
- Use earplugs to shut off annoying sounds or loud background noises
- When playing music use a music playing device that has a timer that you could set to turn the device off after a specific period.
Avoid using regular headphones when you want to fall asleep as they may slip. Consequently, they’d become a source of discomfort or be downright painful or annoying as they push against your ears and face while you sleep.
- Turn off the Lights
Earlier on, we talked about how the bright lights from your electronics could mess with your body’s circadian rhythm.
However, the lights from electronics are not the only culprits. Other lights such as overhead lights, lamps, and night-lights could also prevent you from falling asleep.
- Turn off all types of lights
- Close your blinds
- Use light-blocking curtains
- If you intend to read or write before bed, use a small book light as opposed to an overhead light or a desktop light. A small book light is not as disruptive as the alternatives.
- Reduce the brightness of the screen of your clock. In addition, turn it away such that the screen does not face you. Another reason to turn the clock screen away is so it does not distract you by being a magnet for your eyes as you check the time incessantly.
- Read a Book
Stress and anxiety are some of the factors that make falling asleep difficult. Reading a book is a surefire way to de-stress and reduce any anxiety you may have.
- Do not read action or horror books; as they may spur you to stay up longer
- Read a very long book; so that you’ll fall asleep before getting far into the book
- Update Your Journal
If you can’t fall asleep and you maintain a journal, then you can clear your mind by writing in your journal.
- Pen down everything that happened in your day
- In addition, pen down the things that are stressing you out. Getting your worries out of your head would ease your stress and make you fall asleep
- Sip a Warm Drink
A warm drink will relax your body and mind. However, do not take any caffeinated drink.
Rather indulge in a drink that is small, soft, and sweet shortly before bed. For example, warm milk to which you add chamomile, peppermint tea, or honey.
- You may as well read a book or write in your journal while you indulge in your warm drink.
- Adopt an Appropriate Sleeping Position
The recommended sleeping position is lying on your side. When you sleep on your back you are more likely to snore because your airways are blocked.
- Position Your Pillows Suitably
Typically, when you have a long stressful day and hit your bed immediately, the last thing you’d think about is the arrangement of your pillows.
However, if you are having trouble falling asleep, then you have to adjust your pillows suitably.
Recommendation: Position your pillow so that your neck is in a straight line.
Strive to achieve comfort when positioning your pillows. To do so:
- You may place a pillow between your knees. This is to ensure that your hips are in a neutral position.
- You may use two pillows—one pillow for the arm, the other for head elevation.
- You may place several pillows around you for optimum comfort.
- Take a Supplement
- Calcium and Magnesium; 600 mg of calcium and 200 mg of magnesium nightly
- Hops; 30 to 120 mg of hops supplement nightly
- Wild lettuce supplement; 30 to 120 mg nightly
- Valerian root supplement; 200 to 200 mg nightly
- L-theanine supplement
- Take Melatonin
- Low dosage of melatonin supplement; or
- Eat food containing melatonin—bananas, cherries, oats, oranges, pineapple, tomatoes
- Try Aromatherapy
- Apply lavender essential oils on your pillow or pillowcase
- Perform a Simple, Boring Task
- Count sheep; or
- Counting backwards from a certain high value number, say 300; or
- Visualizing waves gently lapping against the side of a boat; or
- Visualizing the arrangement of petals in a single rose
The previous section is dedicated to changes to do (or not to do) minutes or hours before you sleep.
In addition, there are changes you can enact that would make you more likely to sleep fast whenever you want to catch some z’s.
These changes should become part of your lifestyle.
- Make Your Bedroom A Sanctuary
- Keep your bedroom clean, free from distractions and junk, and fresh
- Change sheets weekly
- Fluff your pillows daily
- Ensure fresh air circulates in the room every day
- Adopt a Bedtime Routine
- Have a sleep cycle: You should endeavor to go to bed and wake up at the same times every day
- Do not Eat Your Dinner Late
- Eat dinner at least three hours before going to bed
- Do not Take Caffeine Late in the Day
- Drink caffeine at least eight hours before going to bed
- Avoid Naps When You Can
- If you must take a nap, do not exceed 20 minutes
- Avoid Workouts at Nights
- If evening workouts are part of your exercise routine, endeavor to do your evening workout at least four hours before going to bed
- Keep Things Straight With Your Partner
- If your sleeping partner makes falling asleep difficult, communicate with them about the difficulties you experience. The aim is to find a mutual solution to these difficulties.
- Consult a Doctor
- If you experience chronic difficulties in falling asleep and have tried many changes with very little or no improvements, then you should visit a doctor