How to fall asleep faster and naturally at night is a problem that everyone has faced at least once. Even though sleep is as important as food and water, it’s not something that we can control at will. If only falling asleep was a conscious decision!
That doesn’t mean that there are no methods you can use to fall asleep faster. There are in fact many way to fall asleep faster naturally, without medication or pills. And no, counting sheep isn’t one of them!
These 23 sleep techniques offer a large variety of ways to help you fall asleep faster (and not all of them are for when you’re in bed). The important thing is to experiment and find out what works for you. There are quite a few sites handing out generic tips for falling asleep, but I’ve pruned this list down to contain only more useful, less obvious ones.
If you have any more tips on how to fall asleep faster, share them in the comments at the end of the page!
Fall asleep faster at night
If you’re reading this article, there’s a good chance you’ve been struggling to get to sleep this very evening. If that’s the case, we feel for you! Hopefully the sleep methods in this section will help you nod off tonight.
1. Think through everything you did today in detail
This is one a tip from Leo Babauta at zenhabits, and is one of the best I’ve ever seen. The idea is simple: starting from the moment you woke up this morning, mentally think through everything that has happened today slowly, in detail. Don’t try to force anything, just calmly recall every little moment, one after another, and you’ll often find you drift off into sleep.
2. Use quiet, gentle background noise
Whilst avoiding loud, jarring noises is an obvious point if you want to fall asleep faster, you can actually make positive use of noise to help yourself move into sleep. Silence can actually be very disturbing, as your brain starts to focus on any tiny audio stimulus it can get. This keeps you feeling alert and isn’t conducive to falling asleep. Avoid this by putting on some sort of gentle and consistent background noise, such as smooth music, natural sounds or even white noise.
3. Use a relaxation technique: meditation, deep breathing
Focusing on your breathing for relaxation and meditation is more difficult than it sounds. It’s very easy to write this off without seriously giving it a try. Breathing techniques actually take some time to master, but when you get good at them, they make an excellent way to fall asleep.
4. Have sex
Sex combines a lot of sleep benefits into one: it’s a form of exercise, it helps you relax and it can put you in a positive mood. Perfect!
Despite old-fashioned taboos, there’s nothing wrong with masturbation. We now know it’s a very normal and healthy activity, and one reason for this is that it can relieve stress and help you relax, making sleep much easier.
6. Sing songs in your head
Whilst annoying ear-worms might keep you awake, you beat them by going over a song you know fully. The lyrics are likely to evoke meaningful images, and the song itself may evoke engrossing personal memories for you. Both of these will help you to fall asleep faster.
7. Rehearse the plot of a movie or novel in your mind
This sleep technique is quite similar to #1, above. In as much detail as you can, think through the plot of a movie or novel that you’re familiar with. This will help you fall asleep faster by distracting you from self-conscious or worried thoughts.
8. Keep your eyes closed!
It sounds obvious, but making sure you keep your eyes closed all the time you’re in bed lets you brain know that it’s time for sleep and not time for staying alert and engaging with the outside world.
9. Use a sleep fantasy
This one should be very personal to you. Do you have comforting, enjoyable day-dreams or internal stories that you like to play out? These can help you fall asleep faster by letting you focus on your inner thoughts and by being a consistent signal that it’s time to sleep.
10. Use aromatherapy at bedtime
Smells have a very powerful and direct influence on mood and the brain, and you can harness this effect to fall asleep faster. Fragrances such as lavender, chamomile and sandalwood have been shown to induce calm moods and help people drift off. You can also get specially made fragrances for sleep.
Fall asleep faster by changing your lifestyle
Whilst the points above will help you to fall asleep when you’re struggling at night, you can try to avoid the problem altogether by making wider changes in your life and surroundings.
11. Keep the lights low for an hour before bed
Your nervous system is very sensitive to changing light throughout the day. This system evolved over millions of years when the sun was a consistent guide to the passing of time. In evolutionary time, artificial light is an extremely recent invention, and our still bodies haven’t caught up with this change. This can disrupt sleep, but you can alleviate the problem by making sure your evenings are as dimly lit as possible.
12. Get sunlight during the day
The reverse of point #11 is that it’s important to get exposure to sunlight during the day, especially in the morning. This lets your internal clock adjust and figure out when it’s time to go to sleep.
13. Keep your cool
When you fall asleep, your body temperature naturally gets lower. If you’re too hot at night, this will often disrupt your sleep, so take measures to make sure your room is nice and cool all night. This way, you’ll fall asleep faster and stay asleep.
14. Eat walnuts, almonds, grapes, tomatoes…
Aside from eating well in general, you can try to add certain foods into your diet. These foods contain melatonin, which is a naturally occurring compound that regulates sleep. By getting a little more of it in your diet, you may be able to fall asleep faster. You can also use a natural melatonin supplement to achieve this effect.
15. Get some blackout curtains
Everyone knows that it might be worth trying a sleep mask to block out unwanted light when trying to sleep, but these can be uncomfortable (which disturbs your sleep). If your room doesn’t already have them, blackout curtains are a more expensive but much more comfortable option. They’re incredibly effective, and many people find it much easier to fall asleep in pitch darkness.
16. Exercise during the day (but not too close to sleep)
Exercise for sleep, and sleep for exercise. The two things depend on each other very strongly. Getting exercise during the day creates a natural feeling of tiredness that will help you fall asleep faster. Just be careful not to exercise too close to bedtime, as exercise can release stimulating hormones such as adrenaline.
17. Cut down on caffeine
Everyone knows that caffeine prevents you from falling asleep (that’s the point!), but many people underestimate just how long its effects can last. The half-life of caffeine can be up to eight hours. That means that if you have a coffee at 4pm, you could still have half a cup’s worth of caffeine shooting round your system at midnight. Try to limit your intake of caffeine, especially after midday.
18. Cut down on alcohol
The way alcohol makes you fall asleep faster is actually a bit of an illusion. You do drift off sooner after a few drinks, but the quality of the sleep you get is terrible. A hang-over isn’t just the remains of the previous night’s chemical binge – a large part of it is also tiredness. Keep the alcohol to a minimum if you want a good night’s rest.
19. Have a warm bath or shower before bedtime
As mentioned above, temperature has a large influence on sleep. As your fall asleep, your body temperature naturally gets lower. You can simulate this effect by having a warm bath or shower shortly before going to sleep. This way, you’ll cool down in bed and fall asleep more easily. This evening wash routine is very common in many parts of the world, particularly East Asia.
20. Have a hot, non-caffeinated drink before bed
You can replace coffee with quality decaf or green tea (and herbal teas later in the evening). Not only do these drinks have little to no caffeine in them, they can also help you to relax and fall asleep faster. When you consume a hot drink, your body temperature first rises and then cools, and this nudges your body into a sleepier state.
21. Devote your room to sleep
Your brain is very good at making associations between places and activities. That’s why it’s often easier to study in libraries – the atmosphere just feels studious. You can use the effect to fall asleep more easily by making sure the main use of your bedroom is sleep. If possible, try to work in a separate room, so that your brain doesn’t associate your bedroom with wakeful activities.
22. Use sleepy colors
Colors have a significant impact on our mood and alertness. Try to have as many soft, soothing colours in your bedroom as possible. Deep blues and purples are particularly good. Avoid stark reds, yellows and other bright colours. Sleepmo‘s colour scheme is like this for a reason!
23. Avoid looking at electronic devices for an hour before bed
The harsh glare from computer screens, TVs and phones can really mess with your biological clock. This bright light tricks your brain into thinking it’s daytime, and this makes it much harder to get to sleep. Avoid this by setting aside an hour of time before bed where you don’t look at any screens. You can also use software that reddens the hues on your screen to reduce its impact.
That also means you shouldn’t be reading this article at night, so get to bed!
If you have any more tips on how to fall asleep faster, share them in the comments!
- Fall asleep! It’s Easy… – Elli Yeates
- How to Fall Asleep Fast – Sleep Cottage
- Sleep Guide: Fall asleep with fantasy – Dirk Daniel
- Sleep Problems: A Quick Fix Guide – Snoozester
- Sleep Well Again – Lisa Morrone
- Sleep Like a Baby – zenhabits