If I were a superhero, my power would be falling asleep quickly. I’ve always been lucky in the sense that I can fall asleep within minutes of my head hitting the pillow. Although it would make a lame superpower, it’s darn handy in day-to-day life.
So here’s my secret: I’m always tired. Kidding, of course. Although being a dad of two young kids does leave me wiped out, I’ve been able to falling asleep quickly well before they came along. If you want to learn to fall asleep much faster, there are tricks and skills you can learn. Here are 9 scientifically explained ways to fall asleep much faster.
1. Write about your day in a journal
Like a partner who talks your ear off the moment you want to relax, our brains wait until bedtime to think about impending bills, the upcoming visit from the in-laws, or the chores you’ve been putting off. Writing in a journal allows you to get those thoughts out earlier, so your mind can relax and let you go to sleep.
2. Keep the bedroom for sleeping and having sex
For many of us, our bed is the most comfortable piece of furniture we have. Why not work on your laptop or watch TV while laying in your comfy bed? Well, research has shown that even browsing your phone in bed is enough to ruin your sleep. Keep your bed for the things it was built for: sleep and sex.
3. Sleep in total darkness
From the blinking alarm clock to the phone beside your bed, modern bedrooms are full of light. Exposure to light interrupts the production of melatonin, a hormone that makes you tired. Unfortunately, it doesn’t take much light to interrupt melatonin production. Ditch the electronics at night and put a thick dark sheet over your window. Motion-sensor nightlights are useful for you’re apt to trip over furniture in the dark.
4. Keep your room at the optimal temperature
Use 65 degrees Fahrenheit (18 Celsius for those of us on metric) as a starting point for finding your optimal sleep temperature. If you feel like hypothermia is starting to set in, don’t be afraid to turn up the thermostat by a couple degrees. Personally, I sleep with a second blanket nearby, in case there’s a late-night martial dispute over temperature.
5. Practice mindful breathing
Not only is breathing essential to survival, it’s also relaxing. Mindful breathing involves consciously taking a deep breath (2 seconds in), holding it (4 seconds), and slowly exhaling (8 seconds). Not only does this deeply relax your body, it’s difficult to focus on anything else. There aren’t many better ways to fall asleep fast than mindful breathing.
6. Take a natural sleep aid, such as valerian
You can pick up this medicinal root at the health food store. Valerian comes in several different forms, including pill, liquid, or even a tea, and is consumed 30 minutes before you go to bed. Before you know it, you’ll be dragging yourself to bed. As with any supplement, make sure to read the bottle, in case any warnings apply to you.
7. Practice progressive relaxation
Mindful breathing and progressive relaxation make a great combination. Progressive relaxation involves consciously relaxing all your muscles, starting with your toes and working your way up to your neck. It should only take a couple minutes and just like mindful breathing, it keeps your mind off occupied as you drift into la la land.
8. Avoid stimulants before bed
Smoking is bad news if you’re trying to sleep. Nicotine is a powerful stimulant and will happily keep your brain buzzing well into the night. Drinking coffee, even in early afternoon is too much for many people, but energy drinks and soda somehow gets a free pass. Here’s a chart showing how much caffeine is in popular drinks, giving you an idea of what to avoid.
9. Read a book
We’ve all had the experience of trying not to fall asleep in class while the teacher/professor drones on and on. Reading a book before bed can give the same effect. As long as your reading material isn’t too stimulating (think non-fiction), reading relaxes you and let’s your body’s natural fatigue take over. Just remember: devices ,like phones or tablets, emit light that keeps you awake. Old-fashioned books or a Kindle (minus the back-lighting) are the way to go.
Featured photo credit: Woman Sleeping with Jane Austen – Timothy Krause via media.lifehack.org