Want to know how to fall asleep in 12 minutes or less? It may take some trial and error, but these strategies could help cure your insomnia (at least for tonight).
Everyone struggles to fall asleep on occasion. But when you’re facing insomnia night after night, and nothing is helping, it can leave you feeling pretty desperate. All you want is to learn how to fall asleep fast, like other people seem to do so easily.
Unfortunately, it’s unlikely that you’ll learn how to cure insomnia in 12 minutes. Insomnia often has an underlying cause, such as stress, anxiety, or a medical condition. A true “cure” might require a deeper dive into these issues.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t fall asleep in little as 12 minutes tonight.
This article will give you tips on practical strategies you can start using right away. For the best results, give these strategies a chance to work. Aim for at least 12–30 minutes.
Deep breathing exercises can help you quiet your busy mind. If you find yourself dealing with intrusive thoughts that keep you up, meditative breathing can really help. Anxious thoughts about work, school, and relationships are common causes of insomnia. So is rumination, where you replay past events in your mind or repeatedly think the same negative thoughts.
You can start by focusing on your breathing. Inhaling deeply while you count to five, then exhaling while counting to five. There are a number of breathing techniques and exercises you can try.
You might also benefit from guided meditation. Using a meditation app or Youtube video, follow along with an instructor as they guide you through a brief relaxation session.
Falling asleep with the TV on might seem appealing, but the sound may actually be keeping you awake. Creating a peaceful environment helps your brain and body decompress before sleep.
If honking horns or noisy neighbors are beyond your control, consider using a sound machine or relaxation app to drown out the noise.
Some people swear by white noise. Others have better luck with the deeper resonance of pink noise, or with nature sounds like ocean waves or rain. If you don’t have a sound machine, consider using a fan. If you have a noisy partner, consider foam earplugs to block out the sound of snoring. You might even consider soft headphones designed for sleep.
Blue light has the highest energy level of any light on the visible light spectrum. It helps boost alertness, brain function, and mood. While these things are healthy during the day, they’re not doing you any favors at night.
Blue light helps regulate your circadian rhythm and melatonin levels, which is why nighttime exposure can be very disruptive to your sleep pattern. In addition to the sun, you get blue light from the screens on your phone, TV, and computer.
You’ll need more than 12 minutes of screen-free time to achieve the full benefits of a blue light break. To reduce blue light’s impact, try turning off your devices for several hours prior to bedtime. If that’s a hard no, use a blue light filter on your devices, or wear blue light glasses.
Reading in bed can encourage sleep by transporting you to another world. It can also distract you from the worries of your day. A 2019 study found that people who read books in bed have better sleep quality than those who don’t.
Keep the lights dim but strong enough that you don’t have to squint or consider a book light. If you use an e-reader, like a Kindle, keep the light on a low setting.
How and what you read may also play a role. Avoid aggravating or upsetting news stories and whodunnits you can’t put down. Opt for fun fiction books, boring history books, or brief magazine articles that focus on easy-to-digest topics.
You probably know that drinking caffeinated beverages at night will keep you awake. That glass of wine may not be any better. Alcoholic beverages disrupt sleeping patterns, causing you to konk out quickly, only to wake up in the middle of the night. If you’re looking for a substitute beverage, why not try herbal tea instead?
Herbal teas that enhance sleep quality include chamomile and lavender tea. Try making tea drinking a part of your nightly ritual.
Your comfort has a significant impact on your ability to drift off easily. It’s important to remember that your ideal sleep position may change over the years due to medical conditions or aches and pains. It may help to alter the position of your neck, back, or legs with supportive pillows.
If your pillow has seen better days, consider a new purchase. Look for something intended for your preferred sleep position and experiment with materials like memory foam. A sagging or lumpy mattress can adversely affect your sleep position and cause achy joints.
Temperature also plays a role in your comfort level. Most people find it helps to keep the temperature cool and use a blanket. A window air conditioner or bedside fan can help. So can cooling sheets and mattress covers made from breathable materials like bamboo.
If you use a CPAP machine and your mask is keeping you awake at night, consider scheduling a fitting for a new mask. There are several mask designs available that may suit you better.
Melatonin is a natural sleep aid, not a sleeping pill. When taken as a supplement, this naturally occurring hormone helps regulate your body’s circadian rhythm and readies you for sleep.
To use melatonin effectively, take it up to 2 hours before you wish to fall asleep. Start with a low dosage to see how your body responds. If necessary, work up to 10 milligrams per night.
Over-the-counter (OTC) medications for sleep are meant for occasional, not long-term use. Many rely on antihistamine ingredients, like diphenhydramine (found in Benadryl) or doxylamine (found in Unisom).
Before you use any OTC sleep aid, make sure it isn’t contraindicated for medications or supplements you already use. Keep in mind that many nighttime cold medications contain several different medications, like cough medicine and pain relievers. Talk with your doctor to find out what’s safe for you.
Chronic (long-term) insomnia is defined as insomnia that occurs at least 3 times a week and that lasts longer than 3 months. Long-term insomnia is a risk factor for several health conditions, including heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. If insomnia is plaguing you, talk with a healthcare professional.
Your doctor may recommend prescription sleep aids. In some instances, working with a therapist may help. Uncovering underlying health issues, such as an overactive bladder that wakes you up at night, may also be useful for eliminating or alleviating insomnia.