Good sleep is incredibly important.
It helps you feel good and makes your body and brain function properly.
Some people have no problem falling asleep. However, many others have severe difficulty falling and staying asleep through the night.
Poor sleep can have negative effects on many parts of your body and brain, including learning, memory, mood, emotions and various biological functions (1).
Here are 20 simple ways to fall asleep as fast as possible.
If your room is too warm, you might have a hard time falling asleep. Setting your thermostat to a cool temperature between 60–75°F (15–23°C) could help (4).
Individual preferences will vary, so find the temperature that works best for you.
The “4-7-8” method is a simple but powerful breathing method that promotes calmness and relaxation. It might also help you unwind before bed.
It consists of a breathing pattern that relaxes the nervous system. It can be practiced anytime you feel anxious or stressed.
Here are the steps:
- First, place the tip of your tongue behind your upper front teeth.
- Exhale completely through your mouth and make a whoosh sound.
- Close your mouth and inhale through your nose while mentally counting to four.
- Hold your breath and mentally count to seven.
- Open your mouth and exhale completely, making a whoosh sound and mentally counting to eight.
- Repeat this cycle at least three more times.
This technique can relax you and help you fall asleep quickly.
Many people find that setting a sleep schedule helps them fall asleep easier.
Your body has its own regulatory system called the circadian rhythm. This internal clock cues your body to feel alert during the day but sleepy at night (7).
Waking up and going to bed at the same times each day can help your internal clock keep a regular schedule. Once your body adjusts to this schedule, it will be easier to fall asleep and wake up around the same time every day (8).
Lastly, give yourself 30 minutes to an hour to wind down in the evening before getting in bed. This allows your body and mind to relax and prepare for sleep (9).
Light can influence your body’s internal clock, which regulates sleep and wakefulness.
Irregular light exposure can lead to disruption of circadian rhythms, making it harder to fall asleep and stay awake (10).
Get out and expose your body to sunlight or artificial bright light throughout the day. If possible, use blackout curtains to make your room dark at night.
When people are stressed, they tend to have difficulty falling asleep (15).
Yoga encourages the practice of breathing patterns and body movements that release stress and tension accumulated in your body (15).
Lastly, mindfulness may help you maintain focus on the present and worry less while falling asleep (17).
Practicing one or all of these techniques can help you get a good night's rest and wake up reenergized.
It is normal to wake up in the middle of the night. However, the inability to fall back asleep can ruin a good night’s rest (18).
People who wake up in the middle of the night often tend to watch the clock and obsess about the fact that they cannot fall back asleep.
"Clock-watching" is common among people suffering from insomnia. This behavior may cause anxiety about sleeplessness (19).
To make matters worse, waking on a regular basis without falling back asleep may cause your body to develop a routine. As a result, you might find yourself waking up in the middle of the night every night.
If possible, it is best to remove the clock from your room. If you need an alarm in the room, you can turn your clock and avoid watching it when you wake up in the middle of the night.
Due to poor sleep at night, people with insomnia tend to be sleepy during the day. This often leads to daytime napping.
While naps of short duration have been linked to improvements in alertness and wellbeing, there are mixed opinions about the effects of napping on nighttime sleep.
One study showed that among 440 college students, those who reported taking three or more naps per week, those who napped more than two hours and those who napped late (between 6 and 9 p.m.) had the poorest nighttime sleep quality (20).
Another study found that older adults who napped frequently had lower quality nighttime sleep, more depressive symptoms, more limited physical activity and were more likely to be overweight than those who rarely took a nap (21).
Other studies have revealed that naps do not affect nighttime sleep (22).
To find out if naps are affecting your sleep, try either eliminating naps altogether or limiting yourself to a short nap (30 minutes or less) early in the day.
It seems that the food you eat before bed may affect your sleep. For example, research has shown that high-carb meals may be detrimental to a good night's rest.
A review of studies concluded that even though a high-carb diet can get you to fall asleep faster, it will not be restful sleep. Instead, high-fat meals could promote a deeper and more restful sleep (23, 24).
In fact, several studies agree that a high-carb/low-fat diet significantly decreased the quality of sleep compared to a low-carb/high-fat diet with the same amount of calories for both diets (25, 26).
If you still want to eat a high-carb meal for dinner, you should eat it at least four hours before bed, so you have enough time to digest it.For more details on foods to eat, here are the 9 best foods to help you sleep.
A study of 24 young adults demonstrated that sedative music promoted deeper sleep (29).
Buddhist music is a kind of music created from different Buddhist chants and used for meditation. Listening to it may be a great tool for better sleep (30).
Another study revealed that 25 participants had a more restful and deeper sleep when they were exposed to soothing music for 45 minutes at bedtime, compared to those not listening to music (31).
Physical activity is often considered beneficial to healthy sleep.
However, it is important to maintain a moderate-intensity exercise routine and not overdo it. Excessive training has been linked to poor sleep (35).
Therefore, moderate-to-vigorous exercise in the morning could significantly improve the quality and quantity of your sleep.
It has been shown that having a comfortable mattress and bedding can have a remarkable effect on the depth and quality of sleep.
The quality of your pillow is also crucial. It can affect your neck curve, temperature and comfort. A study determined that orthopedic pillows may be better than feather or memory foam pillows (40).
Additionally, the use of a weighted blanket could reduce body stress and help improve your sleep (41).
Lastly, the fabric of the clothes you wear to bed can affect how well you sleep. It is crucial you choose comfortable clothing made of fabric that help you keep a pleasant temperature throughout the night (42).
Using electronic devices late at night is terrible for sleep.
It is recommended that you disconnect all electronics and put away computers and mobile phones so you can ensure a quiet place, free of distractions. You will be able to fall asleep much faster.
Aromatherapy involves the use of essential oils.
Aromatherapy is commonly used by those who have trouble falling asleep, as it may help with relaxation.
A systematic review of 12 studies revealed that the use of aromatherapy was effective in improving sleep quality (45).
An essential oil diffuser could be helpful in infusing your room with relaxing scents that encourage sleep.
Some people have difficulty falling asleep because their thoughts keep running in circles. Research has shown that this can produce anxiety and stress, which can generate negative emotions and disturb sleep (48).
Research has shown that journaling and focusing on positive thoughts can calm the mind and help you sleep better.
Writing down the positive events that happened during the day can create a state of gratitude and happiness, downgrade stressful events and promote more relaxation at bedtime.
In fact, a study of 41 college students found that journaling resulted in reduced bedtime worry and stress, increased sleep time and improved sleep quality (48).
Try practicing this technique by setting aside 15 minutes every night to write about your day. It is important to focus not only on the positive events of the day but also on how you feel at the time.
Caffeine is widely used among people to fight fatigue and stimulate alertness. It can be found in foods and beverages like chocolate, coffee, sodas and energy drinks.
Although the effects of caffeine vary from person to person, it is recommended that you refrain from consuming caffeine at least six hours before bedtime.
You can find a list of bedtime teas that help sleep in this article.
Good quality sleep may depend on your body position during the night.
There are three main sleeping positions: back, stomach or side. Traditionally, it was believed that back sleepers had a better quality of sleep.
However, research has shown that this might not be the best position to sleep in, as it could lead to blocked airways, sleep apnea and snoring (52).
In fact, a study done on 16 people determined that the participants who reported consistent poor sleep spent more time on their back (53).
Although individual preferences play an important role in choosing sleep position, the side position seems to be linked to high-quality sleep (54).
Reading could be a good activity to help you wind down before bed. At least for kids, it seems that bedtime reading may promote longer sleep (55).
However, it is important to understand the difference between reading from an electronic book and a traditional paper book.
Therefore, it is recommended to read from a physical book in order to relax and improve your sleep.
It is believed that if you go to bed and try to force yourself to fall asleep, your chances of succeeding drop dramatically.
Instead, you can try "paradoxical intention." This technique recommends trying to stay awake instead of forcing yourself to sleep (58).
This technique is based on the idea that the stress and anxiety produced by forcing yourself to fall asleep can prevent you from relaxing and snoozing off.
A study showed that people who try this technique paradoxically tend to fall asleep faster (59).
Instead of lying in bed worrying and thinking about stressful things, visualize a place that makes you feel happy and calm.
41 participants suffering from insomnia were able to fall asleep faster after they were instructed to use an "imaginary distraction" (60).
This technique helped them occupy their mind with good thoughts instead of engaging with worries and concerns during the pre-sleep time.
Picturing and concentrating on an environment that makes you feel peaceful and relaxed can take your mind away from the thoughts that keep you up at night.
Certain supplements can help you fall asleep faster.
They have been shown to encourage sleep either by boosting the production of sleep-promoting hormones or by calming brain activity.
Supplements that can help you fall asleep include:
- Magnesium. Magnesium helps activate the neurotransmitters responsible for sleep. Doses of 200–400 mg per day, taken with food, have been shown to improve sleep (61, 62).
- 5 HTP (5-hydroxytryptophan). 5-HTP boosts the production of serotonin, which has been linked to the regulation of sleep. Doses of 300–500 mg per day, taken either once daily or in divided doses, seem to be effective in treating insomnia (63, 64).
- Melatonin. Melatonin is a hormone naturally produced by the body, but it can also be taken as a supplement to help regulate your sleep. Doses of 0.5–5 mg taken 30 minutes before bed seem to improve sleep quality (65).
- Theanine. Theanine is an amino acid with sedative properties. Although it has not been shown to induce sleep, it could help with relaxation. Doses of 200 mg per day seem to be useful (66).
- GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid). GABA is a compound produced in the brain that inhibits certain transmitters and may help the central nervous system relax. Doses of 250–500 mg and no more than 1,000 mg are recommended (67).
For more information about effective supplements, here are 9 natural sleep aids that are backed by science.