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Last Updated on January 11, 2021

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

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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.

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      Featured photo credit: pixabay via pixabay.com

      Reference

      More by this author

      Royale Scuderi

      A creative strategist, consultant and writer who specializes in cultivating human potential for happiness, health and fulfillment.

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      Published on December 1, 2021

      How To Stay Motivated For Making Healthy Lifestyle Changes

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      How To Stay Motivated For Making Healthy Lifestyle Changes

      What makes up a healthy lifestyle? If striving to live a healthy lifestyle is a top priority, motivation is vital to making healthy lifestyle changes, but it may not be enough.

      It’s 9:30 pm. Everything is ready for a 5 am wake-up call to hit the gym. The excitement and motivation are high, and waking up when it’s still dark seems like a piece of cake. Until the alarm goes off, then all the planning and motivation suddenly feels like a thing of the past. The second buzzer strikes, and there is no movement to get up and follow through on the plan. Staying underneath the warm blankets and laying comfortable in bed is more pleasurable than baring the cold and slothing through another 45 minutes on an elliptical. Sounds familiar?

      Motivation Is Fleeting

      Why is motivation so high during times of excitement but dwindles as the excitement wears off? Because motivation is a fleeting feeling and a short-lived intention, not a permanent solution to staying in action and maintaining sustainable health. We need the motivation to get us started and keep doing the vital things to live a life of joy and happiness, but it requires a deeper approach to keep us in action in the long run. I only realized this with my motivation and the countless clients I have worked with over the last 20 years.

      After the excitement of what you want to accomplish or acquire wears off, other elements must come into play to encourage you to keep going no matter what. Otherwise, two main factors—life challenges and fear—will stop you dead in your tracks.

      Life is full, so when challenged, it is easier to succumb to one excuse after another instead of leaning in and reminding yourself why it is crucial to keep going. The first step to keeping the excitement and motivation high is to get clear on what you want. What brings you joy? And what will not only motivate you but also give you the discipline to follow through regardless of life’s ups and downs or setbacks?

      Fear Is a Primal Instinct

      Fear is a primal instinct that not only keeps us alive in times of danger but can also motivate us to take action. There are many types of fear: fear of success, failure, the unknown, disease, rejection, ridicule, and the list goes on. On the flip side, fear also has the power to paralyze and prevent forward movement. It is natural to return to our comfort zones during distress or when scared and unsure of the next move.

      The mind can have a firm pull over our decision, but it is essential to examine whether the fear is real or a false event that appears real and remove any doubt from the equation. Using fear as a motivator can positively affect, but only if you decide to change the outcome. Take a moment to reframe how you want the result to be, then plan possible solutions for the outcome.

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      Here are 10 strategies to stay motivated that I’ve used to encourage forward progress, especially after the excitement wears off or when faced with challenges and crippling fear.

      1. The Circle of Life Exercise

      Joshua Rosenthal, founder and teacher at The Institute of Integrative Nutrition, developed this life-changing exercise, called the circle of life, based on his concept of primary and secondary foods. The 12 Primary “foods” or areas that make up our lives are Spirituality, Joy, Social Life, Relationships, Home Environment, Home Cooking, Physical Activity, Health, Education, Career, Finances, and Creativity. Secondary “foods” are the physical foods on your plate.[1]

        The circle helps you identify each area out of harmony and which offers the most joy right now. If any of the areas are out of balance, the foods you eat could be directly affected by the imbalance. There is a greater chance to make healthier choices or stay committed to a healthier routine when you feel good about the primary foods in your life.

        For example, say you have a bad day at work. Instead of your preplanned gym routine to work off a bit of steam, your friends invite you for drinks. You politely accept, thinking it is a better alternative. One drink turns to two, and now you are ordering a burger and fries, thinking it will make you feel better. Unfortunately, the feeling is short-lived, and you end up feeling remorse and frustration having veered away from your original plan.

        Another example is the lack of preparation for the week. There is a much greater chance for take-out and convenience foods if you haven’t gone grocery shopping or planned your meals. When this primary “food,” Home Cooking, is out of balance, turning to foods that offer less nutritional value derail your home-cooked efforts. If your goal is to lose weight and there is no preparation or advanced planning, excuses take over, and motivation for making healthy choices goes down.

        Go through the exercise and identify which areas bring you joy and which could use an upgrade to bring you back in harmony. Note that life will always have its share of ups and downs, but the important lesson is to learn, grow, and rewrite the old story. You are the author of your health.

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        2. Focus on Adding Health

        Our diet culture bombards us with messages of deprivation, saying that removing one food group after another is the “best” and “only” way to lose weight and be healthy. And we have been conditioned to think that the slightest indulgence will ruin our long-term efforts.

        Instead of focusing on deprivation and guilt, focus on cleaner selections and adding health. For every indulgence, add something that offers the highest nutritional benefit, like cut-up fruit or veggies for your next snack. If you sit all day, walk or run around your block or crank up the music and dance in your living room. Had a tough day? Phone a good friend and talk it out or take 10 minutes to breathe or hit the gym.

        When you continue to add health, it is less about deprivation and more about selection. The foods you thought were forbidden and the amounts you were consuming, over time, with consistent effort, become foods and quantities you no longer desire. Your body is nourished and turns to foods and activities that offer a greater sense of joy and satisfaction.

        3. Think About Short-Term Wins

        Want to write a book or run a marathon? The result can feel daunting and crippling if you are staring at an empty page or get winded just walking up a flight of stairs. Focus on the short-term wins. Begin with a word dump and a 10-minute walk as a starting point.

        Long-term goals are great to offer a plan and purpose for your life, but they can also feel rigid and make us stressed and overwhelmed thinking of the process it will take to reach it. Instead, focus on a single task or daily goal. Once you accomplish that goal, celebrate it. Ultimately, you will get to the top, and there will be wins and learns along the way.

        4. Commit to Yourself

        Inky Johnson said, “Commitment happens long after the time we’ve said it has passed.” Committing to a healthy lifestyle takes discipline and consistency. Decide you are worth moving and feeling better in your body and be sure to have a plan of action.

        There will be setbacks, and you won’t always feel like going to the gym or reviewing the menu before heading to the restaurant. But each small action step you commit to will have a cumulative effect, and over time, the long-term goal that seemed impossible to reach will begin to feel like second nature.

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        5. Remove Yourself From Autopilot

        If our approach to living a healthy lifestyle is too rigid or requires a lot of deprivation, the excitement won’t last, and you will find yourself constantly starting over again on Monday. Break up with that cycle and begin to bring joy and inspiration into the healthy equation—experiment with a new recipe, take a dance class instead of your regular group exercise class, walk or run a different route. Changing your routine and removing yourself from autopilot will feel like you are starting something new and fresh, which may be just what you need to stay motivated for the long hall.

        6. Schedule in Rest

        Rest alone is more than adding extra sleep time. It is also resting from other areas in your life that cause stress and overwhelm: being on SM, sending emails right before bed, or pushing seven days a week at the gym. Scheduled rest allows you to hit the refresh button, so you return to each task with a great sense of focus and clarity.

        7. Get Support

        Getting motivated can be difficult if you live with a partner who isn’t motivated at all. If this is the case, surround yourself with others who are like-minded or hire a trained wellness professional to hold you accountable. Tell others about your goal. The more you speak about it, the greater your excitement builds, and others will be there to hold you accountable.

        It is easy to give in when something better comes along. But when you tell others your goal or intentions for meeting that goal, the stakes are higher, and you won’t want to let them down.

        8. Set Healthy Boundaries

        Saying “no” is hard, especially if you feel an overwhelming obligation and responsibility for everyone else’s care. Feeling overwhelmed can wreak havoc on your priorities. Only take on what you can control, and be sure to say “no” to things that don’t bring you joy or take more energy from you. Taking care of yourself first isn’t selfish, and it doesn’t mean “me first.” It means “me too.”

        9. Make a “To-Don’t” List

        Yes, you read that correctly. A “to-don’t” list is one you make of tasks you will no longer do to help you stay more focused and clear on the areas that are important to you. These items on the list are things you will now delegate or outsource.

        We often spend too much time on something that could be completed faster by someone who has more experience or enjoys performing. Make your “to-don’t” list and watch the stress subside.

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        10. Reframe Your Negative Thoughts Into Positive Feelings and Actions

        There is a comfort to automatically return to your default behaviors when things are not going right. But what if you reframed the thoughts to create new positive behaviors that offer a different, more optimistic outcome?

        Setbacks are a normal part of the process when we are changing habits and creating a healthy lifestyle. Instead of throwing in the towel, keep it simple and focus on small changes to help you stick with it for the long term, not just the temporary outcome. Reflect on what caused the setback, and plan for a different result the next time life throws you a curveball.

        Final Thoughts

        When excitement and inspiration are at their peak, motivation is enough to get you going. When it begins to wear off, other factors must come into play to offer a permanent solution. Once you evaluate and learn from factors that prevent you from moving forward on things you desire, not only will you be motivated but also committed to the result.

        Have a plan, stay consistent, and the rest will take care of itself—rely on taking action today, not tomorrow, even if it is a tiny step. Remember, yesterday, you said today.

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        Featured photo credit: Christopher Campbell via unsplash.com

        Reference

        [1] Institute for Integrative Nutrition: Circle of Life Exercise

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