If you struggle with getting to sleep each night, or battle with occasional insomnia, this article is for you. No matter whether you find yourself with a racing mind, stress and anxiety that invades your thoughts, or discomfort and pain, there are ways to address your interrupted night to get the rest you deserve.
A lack of sleep can add up to sleep deprivation over time, making you feel sluggish, tired, and drained. It also can interrupt your mental processes, and keep you from being as productive as you may normally be. When you are looking for how to fall asleep quickly, consider the following tips to avoid any sleep related problems.
The Importance of Sleep
Sleep experts recommend adults receive between 7 and 9 hours of uninterrupted sleep each night. Even though some people can function on less, it is a good number to set as a goal. Unfortunately, if you are lying awake for hours before finally drifting off, you may feel the effects of a lack of sleep the following morning.
While you sleep your body processes through various sleep stages for healthy physical and mental healing, processing, and functioning. When you are unable to get the rest you deserve, these lost hours accumulate into a sleep debt, a technical term used to describe time lost for proper body function.
Indicators of sleep debt may begin to surface as short term memory loss, physical fatigue and weakness, unclear thought processing, confusion, and a general feeling of malaise. You also may find yourself more easily irritated and angry. Long term deprivation can also cause obesity, permanency memory loss, a risk of diabetes, and increase in a rise of blood pressure and possible heart complications.
Early Stages of Sleep
Your body cycles through fours stages of sleep through the night to support your rest. Your first two stages of sleep are easy to wake from, but are crucial to help lead you into deeper, more restorative sleep stages. The first stage is the transitional phase which is defined by your own drifting off into stage two and may only last a few mintutes.
Stage two is a light sleep that begins to provide relaxation of both your physical senses as well as your mental activity. Your breathing, heart rate, and body temperature all begins to lower. Stage three allows you to sink into an even deeper rest and is defined by your slowest respiration and heart rate measurements. By stage 4, the REM (rapid eye movement) stage, you have reached your deepest physical rest that combines with active brain function. Your body cycles through these stages multiple times a night as they work to allow rest, healing, brain processing, and whole body rejuvenation.
How to Fall Asleep Fast
If you are looking for how to fall asleep instantly, or even how to fall asleep when not tired, the following tips can be used to influence a quicker move through stage one. The quicker you move into stage two, the quicker you can sink into a more restorative sleep stage.
— Stay on a Schedule
Head to sleep and rise each day at approximately the same time to help keep your internal circadian rhythm balanced. We already mentally recognize the cycles of daylight and can help influence our own body rhythms by sticking to a similar schedule from day to day. Each night your body will naturally begin to recognize it is time for sleep.
— Play White Noise or Relaxing Nature Sounds
Block outside noises and control your environment with a white noise machine. This allows you to mentally relax and keeps you from inadvertently trying to process what is going on around you. You also can use a timer for soothing nature sounds, such as rainfall, running stream water, low thunder rumbling, or even gentle birdsong. Just be sure to choose something that doesn’t have any unexpected changes in tone or volume.
— Turn Off Your Screens
Blue light reduces melatonin, a naturally occurring hormone that helps ready us mentally for bed. This is because it mimics daylight and tricks our brain into thinking it needs to be awake. Take care to avoid screens of all sorts, especially phones and tablets, at least one hour before bed to keep from stimulating a wakeful state.
— Lower Your Bedroom Temperature
You can influence a deeper, more restful sleep by keeping your bedroom between 65 and 72 Fahrenheit. Your core body temperature drops significantly to help increase blood flow while you sleep and when you sleep in a cooler environment it influences this drop to occur more quickly, allowing you to drop off to sleep more easily.
— Diffuse Essential Oils
There are various essential oils that work to provide a calming and focused effect. Chamomile, clary sage, frankincense, and lavender are all popular aromatherapeutic choices when you are looking to create a more peaceful environment conducive for sleep.
— Consider Your Bedding Choices
Your sleep position needs the correct support while you sleep or you may find yourself struggling to be comfortable. Choose a mattress that works with your own proper spinal alignment, as well as pillow for head and neck support. You also may want to consider how many blankets your use as they can keep your body from cooling off for a deeper rest.
— Don’t Eat 2 to 3 Hours Before Bed
Not only will you trigger your body to metabolize if you eat in the hours leading up to bed, what you eat can keep you mentally alert and disrupt the early stages of sleep. Caffeine and sugar in particular block certain receptors that allow you to relax.
— Reflect On Your Day in Writing
Clear your mind with a diary or journaling process of some sort to help make sense of the clutter your have accumulated through the day. Needs, worries, goals, dreams, problems, and due dates are all things that can make you feel anxious or stressed. Putting them down on paper allows you to see them more clearly and put them to rest so they don’t disrupt your brain function as you drift off to sleep.
A breathing method to help you relax and instill peace is also a great practice. The best for sleep is the 4-7-8 method and starts when you place the tip of your tongue behind you front teeth after while you exhale deeply. Then close your mouth and count to four as you inhale through your nose. Hold you breath as you count to seven and then exhale through your mouth while you count to eight. Repeat this three times.
— Read a Book
Soothe your mind and relax your body with a good book. Try to avoid reading on a screen that emits blue light, however.
— Create a Darker Environment
Dim the lights in your house and room for the few hours leading up to your bedtime. This helps influence your natural internal clock to mentally prepare you for bed.
— Exercise Regularly
A regular exercise routine can help your body relax if you aren’t working out too late at night. If you do work out later in the evening, following with a bout of meditation or yoga to help calm you mentally and physically.
— Take a Hot Tub or Shower
Hot water influences blood vessels to rise to the surface of your skin, allowing your body’s core to lower in temperature more quickly. This can help you ready yourself for bed and allow your body to relax into a deeper stage of rest more quickly.
— Practice Yoga and/or Meditation
Both of these practices are mentally and physically relaxing and can help you ready yourself for bed. This is especially true if it is a daily habit that your body recognizes to help relieve stress and tension and oxygenate the body.
— Sleeping Pills and Supplements
The above suggestions are all excellent ways to approach sleep. They work well individually, but even better when combined with one another. If you have tried all these at some point, created habits, and still are struggling to sleep you may want to have a discussion with your healthcare practitioner about sleeping aids.
The suggestions and tips provided above are all tried and true habits that are easy to create and use with one another to help you drift off to sleep. You may not fall asleep in a minute, but you most definitely will create a better atmosphere to recognize both mentally and physically to get yourself to sleep in a more productive manner.
If you have any questions or comments about anything above, please let us know below. We’d also love to hear about any useful tips that have worked for you that we may have missed!