6 Quick and Easy Ways to Fall Asleep Faster
Updated: Jan 11, 2021
Ok it’s safe to say we’re all aware that we need to prioritize sleep a little more.
It’s probably one of the simplest steps to better health.
But if it’s so simple, why are more than one-third of Americans not getting enough sleep?!
“Sleep is a luxury”, right? “I’ll sleep when I’m dead” -- right? Wrong.
Sleep is a necessity for our basic well-being!
According to the National Sleep Foundation, the average adult needs between 7-9 hours of sleep every night. Getting that good, quality sleep can help your memory, concentration, rebuild your muscles, detox your organs, improve your mood and tons of other benefits!
On the other hand, not getting enough sleep can really hurt your health: weakening your immune system, causing gut issues, slowing your metabolism, and it can worsen chronic diseases. Studies even say that sleep deprivation overtime can be as harmful as drunk driving, never exercising, or chronically overeating and can lead to increased risk of diabetes, heart disease, depression, and strokes!
But if sleep is SO important, why is everyone still struggling to get enough?
To name a few reasons… anxiety, overwhelm, productivity pressure, distractions (social media, Netflix, etc.), insomnia, hormone imbalances, kids (I see you, parents!), or a combination of these!
When I was a news producer, I worked overnight hours and my sleep schedule suffered for it! If I got 5 hours of sleep, it was a good night. A combination of black out shades, melatonin, and The Great British Baking Show usually helped me fall asleep at my mid-day bedtime, but I’d wake up groggy and confused. With no energy or motivation to do anything beyond work, I felt my mind slowly deteriorating, I didn’t even feel like myself anymore.
Now, of course this is an extreme example of sleep deprivation but even years after I was finally working in normal daylight hours-- my circadian rhythm was still thrown off. I’d get to bed early, and just lay there with so many thoughts racing and my anxiety building, watching the minutes tick by.
To be honest, this mild-insomnia has struck me a lot over the last few months.
It makes me feel like a fraud. As a person who cares so much about taking care of myself, eating well, working out, being WELL -- how can I let sleep fall through the cracks?
That’s why I have my mini list of sleep tricks to help myself, my clients, and now YOU fall asleep faster so you can reap all of the health and brain benefits!
Use some or all of these tips to put together your nighttime routine. And, before you get defensive and think a nighttime routine means you have to light candles, soak in a bubble bath, and listen to ocean sounds -- you’re wrong. When I say routine, it can really be as simple as just taking a few minutes to breathe.
Have a Caffeine Cut-Off - Coffee and tea lovers, I’m sorry. Especially the people who claim they can have coffee before bed and have NO trouble falling asleep. You might fall asleep just fine, but the caffeine is still pulsing through your veins and NOT allowing your body to detox and recover properly. Studies say you should avoid caffeine starting at about 2pm, or at least seven hours before bed, otherwise it can negatively affect your sleep.
Limit the Lights - When I say lights, I mean all lights. The blue lights: phones, TV, computer, iPad, but also overhead lights, lamps, and any other lighting fixtures you might have. Lights stimulate our bodies. Our natural circadian rhythm thinks light=day/energy/active and dark=night/sleep/recover. Blue light blocking glasses and screen protectors can help with the blue light, but remember to also dim the lights in your room!
Keep Things Cool - Did you know temperature can influence your circadian rhythm? The ideal sleeping temperature is between 60 to 67 degrees Fahrenheit. If you live in a NYC apartment like me and can't control your bedroom temperature, sleep with light-weight pajamas, get a fan, or even turn your air conditioner on (even if it’s in the middle of winter, but the heater won’t shut off -- true story)
Take a Deep Breath, or Two - A simple way to calm your nervous system and access your “rest and digest” mode is through breathing exercises. I love the 4-7-8 method, Lion’s Breath and Alternate Nostril Breathing. These methods take just a minute or two to do and will leave you feeling instantly calm. Many of my clients can confirm this stuff is magic!
Drown Out the Noise - If you live in a city with a lot of noise, or the opposite, and you feel like it’s too quiet to fall asleep, consider using a fan or white noise machine to neutralize the sound in your bedroom. White noise helps drown out other noises that could keep you awake, or wake you up during the night. Tip: you can even ask ‘Alexa’ or ‘Google’ to play white noise for you!
Stop & Smell - Aromatherapy has so many benefits, and better sleep is a good one! You can use essential oils to help relax your muscles, and ease tension, stress, and anxiety before bed. A few drops of essential oils on your pillowcase, or in a diffuser tells your brain to release melatonin, signaling it to shut down your busy brain! My go-to scents are lavender, and lemongrass, but you can also try chamomile, rose, geranium, jasmine, ylang ylang, clary sage or sandalwood.
What does your nighttime routine look like? Which of these are interested in adding?
Sleep Well & Be Well,