Learning how to fall asleep fast is an important life skill. Lying in bed awake for hours or minutes can be infuriating and anxiety-inducing. getting enough sleep is critical to our mental and physical health, and so determining the best way to fall asleep for you is important.
If you want to learn how to fall asleep fast, you have to make sleep a priority. If you try to fit sleep in after you’ve done everything else in your day, then you run the risk of never training your body’s natural clock to fall asleep when it needs to.
Good sleep practices are collectively known as sleep hygiene. Sleep hygiene is both a mindset and a lifestyle change. Sleep is as much of a necessity as food or water, and should be treated as such. Most adults need at least seven or eight hours of sleep, so make sure your schedule can include this much time spent in bed.
Try to eliminate chemical stimulants like coffee or nicotine before bed. If you have an afternoon coffee or late-night cigarette, try eliminating these and see if it improves your ability to get to sleep.
Stimulating activities like using smartphones or tablets, or watching television before bed, might also need to be eliminated. However, if you find that these activities actually help you sleep, then you should actually seek them out before bed.
Another important part of sleep hygiene is treating the bed as the place for sleep. Part of how to fall asleep fast is making sure that your body only associates the bed with sleeping. Don’t read, use a smartphone, or watch television while in bed. If you can’t get to sleep, get out of bed instead of lying in bed awake. This will help your body and brain to associate the bed with sleeping, so when you get into bed your body knows to start sleeping.
There are drugs that can help initiate sleep, but there may be drawbacks if a drug is how you fall asleep fast. Sleep medication may have side effects like grogginess during the day after use. Furthermore, many prescription sleep medications can be habit-forming, and you could risk developing a dependence on them. Requiring prescription medications in order to get to sleep isn’t a very good long-term method for how to fall asleep fast.
There are a variety of reasons why some people have trouble sleeping. Some insomnia risk factors are within direct and immediate control, such as avoiding stimulating activities before or while in bed.
Other factors that make it hard to sleep may be amenable to lifestyle changes that may take time to enact. Reducing stress and anxiety may require decisions that can’t be put into practice immediately, like working fewer hours or reducing interactions with stressful situations.
In addition to things that can be changed to make it easier to sleep, there seems to be a component of heredity in the incidence of insomnia. Research has found that around 40% of the risk of developing insomnia is due to heredity.
Using alcohol to fall asleep can have mixed results. Consuming alcohol immediately before bed has been found to reduce the amount of time it takes to fall asleep. However, as the alcohol begins to be processed by the body, waking before a full night of rest has completed becomes more likely. In addition, tolerance to the effects of the alcohol can lead to requiring more and more alcohol to achieve the same initial effect. Alcohol may at first seem like one of those surefire tips to fall asleep, but it actually disrupts sleep later in the night and quickly loses its efficacy as the body builds a tolerance to the drug.
Thinking through the various things you have to take care of the next day, or things you didn’t manage to get done when you wanted to, can keep you lying in bed awake. Sometimes it feels like there is nothing you can do. If you manage to clear your mind and focus on how to fall asleep fast, as you relax the thoughts come barging right back in and wake you up. One way to actually focus your thoughts in a constructive way is with a practice called paradoxical intention. The trick is to focus on staying awake--the opposite of your real goal. Research has found that, paradoxically, trying to stay awake could actually be one of the best ways to fall asleep. Instead of thinking about how to fall asleep fast, think about how to stay awake
Sure, there are things you can do to fall asleep quickly without requiring medication. Sometimes the easiest way to fall asleep is by making sure your brain only thinks the bed is for sleeping. Don’t read, watch television, or use a smartphone or tablet while in bed. These stimulating activities might actually train your brain to think that you get into bed and stay awake instead of sleeping. If you get into bed and can’t fall asleep within 20 minutes, get out of bed and do something else until you feel tired again. Remember, you don’t want your body and brain to think that being in bed means being awake.
© 2021 American Sleep Association.