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How to Fall Asleep Fast and Have a Restful Sleep (The Definitive Guide)

How to Fall Asleep Fast and Have a Restful Sleep (The Definitive Guide)

There are a few lucky people out there who have no trouble falling asleep at night. The minute their head hits the pillow, they’re out. The rest of us lie in bed staring at the ceiling, tossing and turning, waiting for the mercy of blessed sleep to come.

Lack of sufficient and good quality sleep takes a toll on nearly every aspect of our lives, everything from health, to mood, to safety, to job performance. But with a bit of knowledge, a bit of planning, everyone can learn how to fall asleep fast.

In this article, you will learn everything you need to do since morning in order to fall asleep faster at night:

What to prepare during daytime

1. Wake up at the same time every day (don’t wake up later on weekends)

Your body follows a circadian rhythm,[1] which sets you up to do the same sorts of activities at the same time every day.

Having a waking time that doesn’t change helps your body establish a pattern. Your body prepares to wake up 1-2 hours before you rise, and if it doesn’t know when you should wake up, you’ll have poor quality sleep.

2. Eat breakfast

When you first wake up, your body has been fasting since the night before. When it comes to food, our brains and bodies share many characteristics with early hominids. Eating breakfast tells our inner cave person that our basic needs for survival are being met.[2]

To make your day more energetic, eat healthy breakfast. Here’s a list of simple and tasty ideas for you: 31 Healthy Breakfast Recipes That Will Super Boost Your Energy

3. Don’t press the snooze button

Even though silencing your alarm for a few minutes can make you feel like you have some control over your day, hitting the snooze button can leave you feeling more tired than if you had just gotten up.[3]

When your alarm jolts you from your sleep and you commit to having 5 to 10 minutes of less-restful snooze-button sleep, you start your day off feeling sluggish.

4. Expose yourself to sunlight

The sun gets a lot of bad press, but we need to be exposed to few minutes of natural light every day.[4]

Thirty to sixty minutes of natural outdoor light can help our bodies create a sleep schedule. This is critical for us since our bodies may be inundated with confusing signals from artificial light. Enjoying the sun’s rays in moderation is like hitting the reset button for us.

5. Have enough protein and reach for complex carbs

Eating simple sugars (like those found in candy bars and processed foods) may give you a temporary energy boost, but the inevitable crash isn’t worth the momentary relief. Find out how sugar affects your performance in this article: 5 Ways Sugar Affects Your Mental Performance

Complex carbohydrates and proteins take longer to digest.[5] Unlike simple carbohydrates, which cause your blood sugar to spike, complex carbs and protein contribute to stable blood sugar. You’ll be less likely to feel sleepy in the afternoon, which means you’ll be less likely to take a long afternoon nap or consume too much caffeine, both of which have a negative impact on your sleep.

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I know carbs can be addictive, but here’s how you can deal with it: Are Carbs More Addictive Than Cocaine? (And How to Get Good Carbs)

6. Don’t eat too little or too much

You know that it is miserable to go to bed with your stomach growling, but eating too much can also make it difficult to get a good night’s sleep.

Many people eat too little throughout the day and gorge on a big meal at dinner time.[6] Your digestive system has to work harder when you do this, which can lead to a restless night of discomfort and indigestion.

7. Avoid naps

Try not to nap if you possibly can. Sleeping during the day makes it difficult to fall sleep at night.

If you absolutely must, limit naps to a power nap of 20 minutes.

8. Limit beverages that interfere

We all know that caffeine makes it difficult to fall asleep, but we may not be aware that alcohol interferes as well, as does drinking too much water right before bedtime.

9. Exercise during the day

Exercise improves our health and also improves our sleep by reducing stress.

The caveat: don’t exercise within 3 hours before bedtime. The adrenaline will keep you awake. Check out the tips to get yourself moving here.

What to do in the evening

10. Mind what you eat.

Have a light dinner. Heavy meals may be difficult to digest and indigestion may make it difficult to fall asleep, but don’t go to bed hungry.

Hunger keeps you awake. Eat a light snack shortly before bedtime. Snacks like bananas, Greek yogurt and hummus will help you sleep better.

11. Turn off the TV and computer.

This kind of stimulation tells the brain to be alert when it’s supposed to be winding down and has been proven to reduce sleep quality.

How to prepare your bedroom atmosphere

12. Don’t make yourself able to see and check the clock

Feeling that you’re running out of time to get enough sleep fuels insomnia. Turn the clock away from you, and refrain from checking the time on your phone or watch after you’ve set your alarm.

The lights from electronic devices including your alarm clock can hinder melatonin production, a hormone which helps you fall asleep and feel rested.

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13. Keep the alarm clock out of sight yet within reach

Just because you have the alarm clock out of sight doesn’t mean you need to banish it to some far off corner of your bedroom.

Place your clock within easy reach so that you don’t have to deal with the pressure chasing down a screeching alarm on the other side of the room first thing in the morning.

14. Don’t consume chocolate or ice cream

Most of us know better than to drink a soda or coffee before bed, but ice cream and chocolate are hidden sources of caffeine.

Darker chocolate, which is healthier for you, has a higher amount of caffeine than milk chocolate.

Coffee-flavored and chocolate ice cream also contain sleep-disrupting caffeine.

15. Remove the electronics

Make your bedroom a no-gadget-zone. Shut off the TV and remove computers and other electronic devices from your bedroom. They tempt you to engage in non-restful activities and keep you awake.

The bedroom is for sleep, not work and surfing the internet.

16. Keep the room cool

You fall asleep faster and sleep better if the bedroom is cooler. A lower room temperature lowers core body temperature, and helps you go to sleep. The ideal temperature for sleep is 65 degrees.

Find out more about what you can do to keep yourself at an optimal temperature for sleep here: How to Keep Your Body Temperature Low to Sleep Better

17. Sleep with a weighted blanket

A weighted blanket molds to your body like a warm hug. The pressure helps relax the nervous system and promotes deep, restful sleep. Typically the weight in the blanket is 15 to 30 pounds for adults.

18. Do quality bedding

Get a comfortable and supportive mattress. It’s worth the investment as you spend one-third of your life in bed.

Use comfortable soft sheets and comforter. Smooth, clean and quality bedding helps sooth and relax your body to fall asleep faster.

Here’s a simple infographic to help you find the mattress you need:

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    19. Dim the lights

    Light, even a small amount interferes with sleep hormones and stimulates the brain.

    Wear an eye mask if necessary or turn the alarm clock around.

    20. Turn it down

    Eliminate noise, or alternatively if you find noise soothing or need to block noise you can’t control, choose calming sounds such as white noise or ocean sounds.

    Try not to use your phone or computer to play those sounds though, you may be tempted to use the devices!

    Wearing earplugs can also help block unwanted noise.

    21. Try aromatherapy

    Aromatherapy soothes the body and has a calming effect. There are many scents available that can help you to relax and prepare for sleep. Vanilla, lavender, marjoram, sandalwood are just a few examples. Use these on your pillow, in the air, or in the bath.

    Find out what different scents do to you here: Olfactory Life Hacks: Scents That Increase Brain Power

    The fall-asleep-fast bedtime routine

    22. Sleep and wake up at the same time every day

    Start your bedtime routine at the same time each day and maintain a regular sleep time. It helps condition your body to fall asleep faster by creating a sleep habit and setting your circadian rhythm.

    23. Try a warm bath

    A warm bath can help you relax by raising your body temperature. When you get out of the bath, you’ll cool yourself in a low temperature room, which helps you fall asleep faster.

    24. Drink a soothing beverage

    Herbal tea or a glass of milk also relax the body and help you wind down.

    25. Read anything that’s not thought-provoking

    Read an entertaining or boring book. It helps to get your mind of worries and your to-do list.

    Stay away from stimulating or self-help books though; they rev up your brain.

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    26. Stretch and relax your body

    Try yoga or gentle stretching. Do progressive relaxation; tighten each muscle for a count of ten and then release. It will relax your body and minimize muscle aches and pains.

    Watch this video and learn some simple stretching for better sleep:

    27. Write out your thoughts

    Write out your thoughts or try doodling. This will help to let go of your worries and busy thoughts.

    28. Wear comfortable clothing

    Wear loose, light and cool pajamas. Cotton works best as it minimizes nighttime sweating. Alternatively, sleep without pajamas if it makes you more comfortable. Sleeping naked actually brings you more benefits than you thought.

    Binding or hot PJs make for restless and uncomfortable sleep.

    29. Watch your posture

    Sleep position matters too. Find a comfortable sleep position that supports good sleep posture. Make sure every part of your body is comfortable.

    Buy a good quality pillow that supports your neck and properly aligns your body.

    Side positions are usually better, especially on your left side. But if back works for you that’s fine. Lie in the same position every night, so your body becomes accustomed to falling asleep in the same way.

    Here’s a recommendation for which sleeping position is the best:

      Stick to habits that help you sleep better

      Falling asleep fast requires a bit of preparation, following a regular routine and paying attention to sleep comfort.

      If you’re looking for tips to build a night routine, don’t miss this article: The Ultimate Night Routine Guide: Sleep Better and Wake Up Productive

      All these sleep tips can help you make a difference and help you to sleep fast and get a restful night’s sleep.

      Featured photo credit: pixabay via pixabay.com

      Reference

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      Last Updated on June 18, 2018

      What Really Works: How to Relieve Lower Back Pain Effectively

      What Really Works: How to Relieve Lower Back Pain Effectively

      Eight out of ten adults experience lower back pain once in their lifetime. I am one of those people and I’m definitely not looking forward to my participation award. I know how it feels like to step out of bed and barely being able to put on your socks. Having lower back pain sucks. But 9 out of 10 patients that suffer from lower back pain don’t even know the primary cause of it.

      Video Summary

      Back Pain? Blame Our Evolution

      Once upon a time in our fairly recent past, our ancestors felt the urgency to stand up and leave our quadruped neighbors behind. Habitual bipedalism, fancy word for regularly walking on two legs, came with a lot of advantages. With two rear limbs instead of four, we were able to more efficiently use our hands and create tools with them.

      Sadly, life on two legs also brought along its disadvantages. Our spine had four supporting pillars previously, but now it only got two. The back is therefore naturally one of the weak links of our human anatomy. Our spine needs constant support from its supporting muscles to minimize the load on the spine. With no muscle support (tested on dead bodies) the back can only bear loads up to 5 pounds without collapsing [reference Panjabi 1989]. With well-developed torso muscles, the spine can take loads up to 2000 pounds. That’s a 400-fold increase.

      Most people that come to me with a history of a herniated disc (that’s when the discs between the vertebral bodies are fully collapsed, really severe incident), tell me the ‘story of the pencil’. The injury with the following severe pain usually gets triggered by picking up a small, everyday object. Such as a pencil. Not as you may think by trying to lift 100 pounds – no, but by a simple thing – such as a pencil.

      This tells us that damage in your back adds up over time, it’s a so called cumulative trauma disorder. Meaning back pain is a result of your daily habits.

      Sitting Is the New Smoking

      Whenever I sit for too long, my back hurts. In fact, 54% of Americans who experience lower back pain spend the majority of their workday sitting. But isn’t sitting something that should reduce the stress of your back? No, just the opposite.

      The joints between the bones of the spine are not directly linked to the blood supply. These joints instead get nourished through a process called diffusion. Diffusion works because molecules (such as oxygen, important for cells) are constantly moving and try to get as much space for themselves as they can. A key element for diffusion therefore is a pressure difference. In the image below the left room contains more moving molecules than the right, that’s why the molecules from the left are moving to the right. This way nutrition gets transformed into the joints, whereas toxins are transported out of the joints.

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      Sitting puts a lot of pressure on your spinal chord. The diffusion process therefore can’t function as efficiently. Nutrition and toxins can’t be properly transported, the joints get damaged.

        Sit Properly

        If sitting can play such a huge part in the creation of your lower back pain, how do you sit properly then?

        Is it better to sit with a straight back or should you rather lay back in your chair? Can I cross my legs when I’m sitting or should I have a symmetrical position with my feet? These are questions that I hear on a daily basis. The answer might shock you – according to recent science – all of them are right. The best sitting position is an ever-changing one. An ever-changing position minimizes the pressure on certain points of your spine and spreads it on the whole part.

          Credit: StayWow

          Stand Up More

          Even better than a sitting position is a stand up position. Standing dramatically reduces the pressure on your spine. If you’re forced to work on a desk the whole day though, you have two options.

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          Take breaks every hour of about 2-3 minutes.

          Set an alarm on your phone that goes off every hour! In that time you stand up and reach to the ceiling, on your toe tips with fully extended arms. You’re inhaling during the whole process. You do this activity for 20 seconds. Afterwards you’re walking through the office for the next 2 minutes. You might grab a healthy snack or some water in that time. The exercise relieves the pressure on your spine, while the walking makes sure that the joints on your spine are properly used.

          Or get a standing desk.

          One of the best companies on the market for Standing Desks, according to my research, is Autonomous. Autonomous offers a rather cheap Standing Desk, with the ability to change the height. Which means you can start the day standing and switch to sitting if you’re tired.

          Exercise for Lower Back Pain

          Sitting is an immobile position. Your joints are made for movement and therefore need movement to function properly. If humans are moving, all moving parts: e.g. the joints, bones and muscles get strengthened. If you’re in a rested position for too long, your tissues start to deteriorate. You have to get the right amount of activity in.

          But not too much activity. There’s a chance that going to the gym may even increase your risk of lower back pain. I know plenty of friends with chiseled bodies that suffer from pain in the spine regularly. Huge muscles do not prevent you from back pain. In your training you should focus on building up the muscles that are stabilizing your back and relieve pressure. Squats with 400 pounds don’t do the trick.

          The more weight you carry around, the more weight your spinal chord has to bear on a regular basis. That’s one of the reasons why huge, muscular guys can suffer from back pain too. One of the most important goals of your exercise regimen should therefore be weight loss.

          Here are some important tips for you to consider when starting an exercise regimen:

          Make sure you implement cardiovascular training in your workout routine.

          This will not only help you lose weight, it will also make sure that your arteries, which flow to the tissue next to your spinal discs, are free of placque and can therefore transport nutrients properly.

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          Important: If you have rather strong back pain, maybe even an herniated disc, don’t start running on a threadmill. Running is an high-impact exercise. Which means there are continuous, reocurring high pressure points on your spine. Your endurance training should therefore either be fast-paced walking or a training on the elliptical trainer for the beginning, because both have little to no stressful impact on your backbone.

          Focus on developing your whole core if you want to minimize your pain.

          There are some people that do hundreds of sit ups a day. While sit ups are a good exercise for your abdomen, it also puts pressure on your spine due to the bending movement. A sixpack workout routine is one-sided. Your abs may become overdeveloped in comparison to your back muscles. You’ve created an imbalance. A great way to train your abdominal muscles and back muscles simultaneously, is holding the plank position.

          Stretch only if you have tight muscles.

          I remember stretching every morning after I woke up. I took 10 minutes out of my day to just work on my flexibility and prevent injuries. Little did I know that I was actually promoting an injury, by doing so.

          Contrary to common belief, stretching is only partially beneficial to treating lower back pain. Stretching makes sense if tight muscles (such as the hamstrings) are forcing you to constantly bend your back. Stretching to treat pain doesn’t make sense if you’re already on a good level of flexibility. Hyper-mobility may even enforce back pain.

          If you found out that you had tight muscles that you need to stretch, try to stretch them at least three times a week. Don’t stretch your muscles right after you wake up in the morning. This is because your spinal discs soak themselves up in fluid over the nighttime. Every bending and excessive loads on your spine is much worse in that soaked-up state. Postpone your stretching regime to two-to three hours after you’ve woken up.

          Where to Start

          The key to improving your habits is awareness. Try to get aware of your back while you’re sitting down, laying down or lifting an object next time. This awareness of your body is called proprioception. For example, you have to be aware whether your back is bended or straight in this very second. Trust me, it is harder than you might think. You may need to ask a friend for the first few tries. But the change that this awareness can make in your back pain is absolutely fascinating. This consciousness of your body is one of the most important things in your recovery or prevention.

          Here are a few behavioural tactics that you need to be considering:

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          If you’re leaning forward more than 30 degrees with your upper body, support your spine with your arms.

          Ever tried to show a colleague of yours a complex issue and found yourself awkwardly leaning forward on their desk, pointing with your fingers to his paper? If that ever happens again, make sure you’re using the not-pointing arm to support yourself on the desk.

          Keep a straight back.

          Be it while exercising, stretching or standing. If you’re bending your back you’re putting stress on small areas of your spinal chord. A straight back redistributes the force to a bigger area. You’re minimizing the pressure. Remember this whenever you’re at the gym and reracking your weights, focus on having a neutral spine.

          Put symmetrical loads on your spine.

          I used to play the trumpet when I was a child. The instrument is pretty heavy. The trumpet gets transported in a big, metallic suitcase – with no wheels. Being the nature of suitcases, you only carry it with one arm, on one side of your body. This forced me to constantly lean on the other side with my upper body, while transporting the instrument from A to B. Not really the healthiest activity for your spine as you can imagine.

          If you have to carry heavy objects, carry them with both arms. Put the object in the middle of your body and keep it as close to your mass of gravity as you can. If this is not possible, try to carry the same amount on the left side than you do on the right side. This puts the stress vertically on a fully extended spine. The load is much better bearable for your spine.

          Stay Away From the Back Pain League

          Our world is getting more sedentary. We will continue to develop faster transportation, more comfortable houses and easier lives. While our technological progress definitely has its amazing benefits, it sadly has its downsides too. The danger for back pain will continue to rise on our ever-increasing motionless planet. It’s time to raise awareness.

          Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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