The most common sleep disorder is insomnia, affecting up to 30% of adults for a short time. But if you’ve been lying awake at night trying to figure out how to fall asleep quickly, it could be affecting you more than you think.
If you can’t fall asleep, it can be frustrating and affect how you feel the next day.
Lack of sleep can hurt many parts of your body and brain, including your ability to learn, memory, mood, emotions, and many other biological functions.
But with some simple, natural tips and tricks, people can learn to fall asleep faster.
When someone has trouble falling asleep, one thing they can do is take sleep-inducing drugs. But these medicines aren’t the best long-term solution.
Some natural things that can help are having a regular bedtime routine, staying away from screens before bed, reading before bed, doing gentle exercise during the day, and practicing mindfulness techniques.
Different things work for different people, so try a few things to see what works best for you.
This article talks about 20 natural ways to help people fall asleep quickly.
1. Reduce temperature
As you fall asleep, your body heat changes. For example, when you lie down, your body cools down, and when you get up, it warms up.
If your room is too hot, it might be hard for you to fall asleep. Setting your thermostat to between 60 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit (15.6 and 19.4 degrees Celsius) could help.
People have different tastes, so find the temperature that you like best.
Getting into a warm bath or shower could also help the body’s temperature change more quickly. Afterward, when your body cools down, it can tell your brain that it’s time to go to sleep.
One review of the research found that taking a hot bath or shower before bed could improve things like how well you sleep and how well you sleep.
Sleep efficiency is how much time you spend sleeping in a bed instead of just lying awake.
People who took showers or baths between 104°F and 108.5°F (40.0°C and 42.5°C) 1 to 2 hours before bedtime felt better.
Even if they only took a 10-minute bath or shower, they said it helped them sleep better.
There needs to be more research, but these results are encouraging.
2. Breathe with the 4-7-8 method
Dr. Andrew Weil created the “4-7-8” method. It is a simple but powerful way to breathe that helps you feel calm and relaxed. It could also help you relax before going to bed.
It’s based on yoga techniques for controlling your breath, a way of breathing that calms your nervous system. It is something you can do whenever you feel worried or stressed.
Here’s how to do it:
- First, put the tip of your tongue behind your upper front teeth.
- Make a “whoosh” sound as you let all of your breath out through your mouth.
- Close your mouth, breathe in through your nose, and count to 4 in your mind.
- Hold your breath and count to 7 in your mind.
- Open your mouth and let out all of your air while making a “whoosh” sound and counting to 8 in your head.
- At least three more times, repeat this cycle.
This method can help you calm down and get to sleep quickly.
3. Stick to a plan
Setting a time to go to sleep helps a lot of people fall asleep faster.
The circadian rhythm is your body’s way of keeping things in order. This internal clock tells your body to be alert and sleepy at night.
Your internal clock can keep a regular schedule if you wake up and go to bed simultaneously every day.
Once your body gets used to this schedule, it will be easier to go to sleep and wake up simultaneously every day.
Also, you should sleep for 7 to 9 hours every night. This is the best amount of time for an adult to sleep.
Lastly, give yourself 30–45 minutes to relax before bed at night. This lets your mind and body calm down and get ready for sleep.
4. Live both daylight and darkness
The internal clock in your body, which controls when you sleep and wake up, can be affected by light.
If you are exposed to light at odd times, it can mess up your circadian rhythms. This makes it harder to fall asleep and stay awake.
When you’re awake during the day, bright light tells your body to stay awake. This is true for both natural light and artificial light, like the kind that comes from an e-reader.
Nighttime darkness makes people feel sleepy. This is because research shows that darkness makes more melatonin, a hormone that helps you sleep. But unfortunately, the body doesn’t make very much melatonin during the day.
Get out of the house and expose your body to sunlight or bright lights all day. Use blackout curtains if you can to make your room dark at night.
Shop online for curtains that keep out light.
5. Try yoga, meditation, and being present.
People have a hard time falling asleep when they are stressed out.
Yoga, meditation, and awareness of the present moment are ways to relax the mind and body. Also, all of them have been shown to help people sleep better.
Yoga teaches you how to breathe and move your body in ways that help you get rid of stress and tension that has built up in your body.
Researchers have found that yoga can improve sleep quality, sleep efficiency, and the length of time spent sleeping.
Meditation can raise melatonin levels and help the brain get into a state that makes it easier to fall asleep.
Lastly, mindfulness may help you stay in the present, worry less when you’re trying to fall asleep, and even work better during the day.
You can get a good night’s sleep and feel refreshed when you wake up if you try one or all of these things.
6. Don’t look at the clock.
The middle of the night is a normal time to wake up. But if you can’t fall back asleep, it can ruin a good night’s sleep.
When people wake up in the middle of the night, they often look at the clock and worry about being unable to go back to sleep.
People who have trouble sleeping often watch the clock. This behavior might make you worry about not being able to sleep.
Even worse, if you wake up often and can’t go back to sleep, your body may start to follow a pattern. Because of this, you might wake up every night in the middle of the night.
If you can, it would be best to get rid of the clock in your room. If you need a room alarm, you can turn the clock, so you don’t have to look at it when you wake up in the middle of the night.
7. Don’t take daytime naps.
People with insomnia often feel tired during the day because they don’t get enough sleep at night. This makes it easy for them to take naps during the day.
Short naps have been linked to better alertness and feelings of well-being. Still, people have different ideas about how they affect sleep at night.
Some studies have shown that taking long (at least 2 hours) and late naps every day can make it hard to sleep at night or even cause sleep deprivation.
In a study of 440 college students, those who took three or more naps per week, napped for more than two hours, or napped late (between 6 and 9 p.m.) had the worst nighttime sleep quality.
In 1996, researchers found that older people who napped often had worse nighttime sleep, more signs of depression, and less physical activity. They were also more likely to be overweight than people who didn’t nap as often.
A recent study of high school students found that daytime naps led to less sleep and less adequate sleep.
Other studies have shown that naps don’t change how well you sleep at night.
Try going without naps or only taking short ones (30 minutes or less) early in the day to see if they make it hard for you to sleep.
8. Watch what and when you eat
It looks like what you eat before bed might affect how well you sleep. For example, studies have shown that eating a lot of carbs may make it harder to get a good night’s sleep.
A review of studies found that eating a lot of carbs might help you fall asleep faster, but you won’t sleep well. So instead, eating a lot of fat could help you sleep better and longer.
Older and more recent studies agree that a high-carb, low-fat diet makes sleep much worse than a low-carb, high-fat diet.
This was true when both the high-carb/low-fat and the low-carb/high-fat diets had the same number of calories.
If you still want to eat a high-carb meal for dinner, you should eat it at least 4 hours before bed, so your body has time to digest it.
9. Listen to relaxing music
Music can make a big difference in how well you sleep. It can even help people with long-term sleep problems like insomnia sleep better.
A study of 24 young adults showed that calming music helped them sleep better.
Listening to Buddhist music may also help you sleep better because it can make falling asleep easier. This parameter is called “start of sleep.”
Different Buddhist chants are used to make Buddhist music, which is used to help people meditate.
Another study with 50 people found that those who listened to relaxing music for 45 minutes before bed slept better and deeper than those who didn’t.
Lastly, if you can’t listen to relaxing music, blocking out all noise could help you fall asleep faster and sleep better.
10. Work out during the day
Physical activity is often thought to help people sleep better.
Exercise can improve the length and quality of sleep by making the brain make more serotonin and less cortisol, the stress hormone.
But it’s important to keep up with a moderate exercise routine and not do too much. Poor sleep has been linked to training too much.
The time of day you work out is also important. Working out in the morning seems to be better than working out later in the day if you want a better night’s sleep.
So, getting moderate to vigorous exercise in the morning could significantly affect how well and how much you sleep.
Move around with things like:
11. Get comfortable
A comfortable mattress and bedding can greatly improve the depth and quality of sleep.
A medium-firm mattress has been shown to improve sleep quality and stop sleep problems and muscle pain.
It also matters a lot how good your pillow is.
It can affect:
- neck curve
One small study found that orthopedic pillows may be better than feather or memory foam pillows for getting a good night’s sleep.
A weighted blanket could also help your body feel less stressed and help you sleep better.
Lastly, the material of your bedtime clothes can affect how well you sleep. Therefore, it’s important to wear comfortable clothes made of materials that help you stay at a comfortable temperature all night.
12. Shut down all electronic devices.
It’s bad for sleep to use electronics late at night.
It can be much harder to fall asleep if you watch TV, play video games, talk on the phone, or use social networking sites.
This is partly because blue light from electronics has been shown to stop the body from making melatonin.
Using these things also keeps your mind active and involved.
It’s best to turn off all electronics and put computers and cell phones away so that you can have a place that is quiet and free of distractions.
If you take care of your sleep, you’ll be able to fall asleep much faster.
If you must use your devices late at night, at least think about getting glasses or a screen filter to block the blue light.
You can buy glasses that block blue light or a screen filter that does the same thing.
13. Try aromatherapy
In aromatherapy, oils called “essential oils” are used. People who have trouble falling asleep often do it because it may help them calm down.
A systematic review of 12 studies showed that aromatherapy works to improve the quality of sleep.
Some popular smells that help people sleep are:
- damask rose
Blends of oils made with ingredients like lemon and orange also helped people sleep better.
Although there are various ways to use essential oils, many sleep studies are centered on inhalation aromatherapy.
An essential oil diffuser could help infuse your room with relaxing scents that encourage sleep.
14. Practice writing before bed
Some people have difficulty falling asleep because their thoughts keep running in circles. Research has shown that this can produce anxiety and stress, generating negative emotions and disturbing sleep.
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 — or may happen in the future — can create a state of gratitude and happiness, downgrade stressful events, and promote more relaxation at bedtime.
A study of 41 college students found that journaling reduced bedtime worry and stress, increased sleep time, and improved sleep quality.
Practice this technique by setting aside 15 minutes every night to write about your day. It’s important to focus on the positive events of the day and how you feel at the time.
A different study found that writing a to-do list, if only for 5 minutes, was even more effective than journaling at helping young adults fall asleep faster.
15. Limit caffeine and drink a soothing beverage
Caffeine is widely used among people to fight fatigue and stimulate alertness. It can be found in foods and beverages like:
- energy drinks
This stimulant can have disastrous effects on your sleep quality and sleep duration.
Although the effects of caffeine vary from person to person, it’s recommended that you refrain from consuming it at least 6 hours before bedtime.
Instead, you could drink a soothing tea like chamomile tea. It’s been shown to promote sleep and relaxation. Other bedtime teas that help sleep include passionflower and magnolia.
16. Adjust your sleep position
Good quality sleep may depend on your body position during the night.
There are three main sleeping positions:
Traditionally, it was believed that back sleepers had better sleep quality.
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.
Although individual preferences play an important role in choosing a sleep position, the side position seems to be linked to high-quality sleep.
17. Read something
Reading could be a good activity to help you wind down before bed. At least for kids, bedtime reading may promote a longer sleep.
However, it’s important to understand the differences between reading from an e-book and a traditional paper book.
Electronic books emit blue light, which reduces melatonin secretion. Lowered melatonin levels make it harder for you to fall asleep and cause you to feel tired the next day.
Therefore, it’s recommended that you read from a physical book to relax and improve your sleep.
18. Focus on trying to stay awake
It’s 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 involves trying to stay awake instead of forcing yourself to sleep.
It’s based on the idea that the stress and anxiety produced by forcing yourself to fall asleep can prevent you from relaxing and snoozing.
Research is ultimately mixed, but some studies have shown that people who adopt this technique tend to fall asleep faster.
19. Visualize things that make you happy
Instead of lying in bed worrying and thinking about stressful things, visualize a place that makes you feel happy and calm.
In one insomnia study, participants could fall asleep faster after being instructed to use an imagery distraction.
This technique helped them occupy their mind with good thoughts instead of engaging with worries and concerns during 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.
20. Try sleep-enhancing supplements
Certain supplements can help you fall asleep faster.
They’ve been shown to encourage sleep by boosting the production of sleep-promoting hormones or calming brain activity.
Supplements that can help you fall asleep include:
- Magnesium. Magnesium helps activate the neurotransmitters responsible for sleep. Doses of up to 500 milligrams (mg) per day have improved sleep. It should be taken with food.
- 5-HTP (5-hydroxytryptophan) . The amino acid 5-HTP boosts the production of serotonin, which has been linked to sleep regulation. Doses up to 600 mg per day, taken either once daily or in divided doses, seem to be effective in treating insomnia.
- Melatonin. The body naturally produces the hormone melatonin, but it can also be taken as a supplement to help regulate your sleep. For example, doses of 0.5–5 mg taken 2 hours before your desired bedtime, usually around 8 to 9 p.m. for most individuals, might improve sleep quality.
- L–theanine. L-theanine is an amino acid with sedative properties. Although it hasn’t been shown to induce sleep, it could help with relaxation. Doses of 400 mg per day seem to be useful.
- GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) . GABA is a compound produced in the brain. It 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.
Getting to sleep naturally is the best way to ensure that the mind and body get the rest they need.
Having trouble falling and staying asleep is frustrating and can also affect your mental and physical health.
The techniques above can help you fall asleep quickly while sleeping much better and having more energy the next day.