Despite knowing you need a good night's rest for optimal muscle growth and fat loss, you may find yourself never quite tired enough to get to bed on time. Nothing can be more frustrating than making sure your head is on your pillow come bed time, and then just laying there while your brain refuses to shut off.
If you are looking for ways to get to sleep more easily, this article is for you. In this article, we’ll cover 9 key strategies to falling asleep more easily.
With these 9 sleep strategies, you should be able to drift off to dream land more easily than ever!
Table of Contents
How to Fall Asleep More Easily
1. Create an Optimal Sleep Environment
If you want to make yourself fall asleep, it's important to make sure your bedroom is the ultimate sleep environment. Your bedroom should promote rest, relaxation, and high-quality sleep. Here are the factors you should introduce to your sleeping environment to achieve optimal sleep:
- Cool Temperature: Studies show the optimal temperature to get to sleep is around 65 degrees fahrenheit. This temperature cools your body down and eases you into the first stage of sleep.
- Complete Darkness: Complete darkness helps you fall asleep faster and stay asleep. Be sure to eliminate any sources of light when it’s time for bed, including clocks and electronics.
- Fresh Air: A humidifier can help keep the air in your bedroom fresh and perfect for the deep breathing associated with sleep. Studies show allergies can also disrupt your sleep, so be sure to keep your environment clean and consider an air purifier if necessary.
- Comfortable Bedding: A comfortable bed is vitally important to a good night's sleep. Your pillows should allow for your neck and spine to be properly aligned while you rest. 100% cotton is preferable for bedding materials (as well as pajamas). It helps to maintain a comfortable sleeping temperature due to its breathable nature.
- Minimal Noise: Studies show that noise can disrupt your sleep, especially as you pass through the lighter N1 and N2 sleep stages.
2. Establish a Pre-Sleep Routine
If you want to figure out how to sleep better and make getting to sleep effortless, establishing a good bedtime routine can be a big help.
An effective bedtime routine creates a buffer between wakefulness and sleep, helps you decompress, and also makes bedtime something to look forward to, promoting a more regular sleep schedule. Instead of making sleep an isolated event, make it the conclusion of a series of relaxing, fun events that you look forward to every night!
One way to make drifting off to sleep at night easier is by making sure you are active during the day. In short: exercise helps sleep.
Studies show that exercise will not only improve your overall health but also improve the quality, quantity, and depth of your sleep. This is because exercise allows for a release of any built-up energy, and it also helps raise endorphins levels.
Higher endorphin levels help to reduce pain, relax muscles, suppress appetite, and produce an overall feeling of well-being; all of which contributes to better sleep.
4. Take a Hot Bath or Shower Before Bed
You may be used to taking your showers in the morning, but a shower before bed may be in your best interest when it comes to getting to sleep. Studies show that a hot shower before bed can help with staying asleep at night.
Taking a hot shower or bath before bed is a natural way to help sleep because it promotes circulation away from your brain to your skin, temporarily warming you up and relaxing you.
After you get out of the bath or shower, the increased blood flow to your skin will also promote a drop in your body temperature, preparing you for the first stages of sleep. As a result, you will fall asleep more quickly, and even experience deeper higher quality sleep.
5. Reduce Stress
Stress is a potential factor for having trouble sleeping at night.
Given that sleep stage N1 is defined by a period of relaxation, getting to a calm, relaxed mindset is key to getting good sleep.
Stress can be a major obstacle when it comes to getting to sleep. Stress delays sleep onset, decreases sleep quality and depth, leads to waking throughout the night, and can also result in waking up earlier than preferable.
While there are many methods of relaxation, here are some common strategies:
- Breathe deeply
- Write down stressful thoughts and set them aside
- Read a book (non-work related)
- Listen to calming music
- Relax with a pet
- Talk to or call a friend
6. Smoking Kills (your sleep schedule)
While it's no secret that smoking cigarettes is detrimental to many facets of your health, you may not be aware that smoking also may be why your sleep is suffering, according to several studies.
Studies show that smoking cigarettes can severely impair the quality of your sleep. Nicotine is an even stronger stimulant than caffeine and can make it hard to fall and stay asleep.
Smoking also worsens snoring, and can cause sleep apnea. Just one more reason to stay away from cigarettes and say no to smoking!
7. Reduce Caffeine Intake
A cup of coffee in the morning is great to get up and moving, but coffee at the wrong time can impair your ability to get the quality sleep you need.
As you probably already know, caffeine is a powerful stimulant. Studies have shown that caffeine makes it more difficult to fall asleep and increases the frequency and duration of nighttime awakenings.
Now before you raise your pitchforks in a fit of caffeine-fueled rage, we're not saying you can't drink coffee!
Research has shown that caffeine can prevent sleep onset even 6 hours after it has been consumed. With that said. it is best to avoid caffeine after 2pm. Any later will ensure you still have caffeine in your system when you're trying to get to sleep that night.
8. Avoid Alcohol Before Bed
Another beverage that can hurt your chances of getting great sleep is alcohol.
Alcohol is a central nervous system suppressant, and in some dosages, it can actually act as a stimulant.
Drinking in moderation a few hours before bed won't do much harm to your sleep quality, but heavy drinking before bed can be significantly detrimental.
If you drink right before bed, you will wake up during your REM cycle every 90 minutes, effectively destroying the quality of your sleep.
Heavy alcohol consumption before bed can also lead to midnight trips to the bathroom, which can further disrupt your sleep. It’s best to avoid heavy drinking within 3 hours of bedtime.
9. Avoid Electronic/Blue Light
While we realize the irony of an online article giving you this piece of advice, it's definitely worth noting that spending time in front of electronics before bed can also be harmful to your sleep quality.
The blue light emitted from electronics inhibits the production of melatonin in your brain, promoting alertness and preventing sleep onset.
Fortunately, there is a workaround! If you must use electronics before bed, try blue light blocking glasses. By blocking the blue light wavelengths emitted from screens, blue light glasses can effectively nullify the negative effects of electronics as it concerns your sleep cycle.
10. Do not drink any liquids before sleep
Our Ultimate Sleep Guide points out that uninterrupted sleep is much more valuable than interrupted sleep, and one of the most common interruptions during the night is having to get up to go to the bathroom!
While drinking a lot of water during the day is important to your recovery as well as athletic performance, the one time not to drink a lot of water would be right before bed. Instead, opt to have a large glass of water in the morning when you are naturally dehydrated!
That wraps up our article on how to fall asleep more easily! In this article, we covered:
- A dark, cool, quiet, room with fresh air and comfortable bedding is your perfect sleep environment.
- Developing a pre-bed routine can help you fall asleep.
- Exercise can prime your body for bedtime
- Reducing stress can reduce the time it takes to get to sleep
- Taking a nighttime hot shower or bath can help you fall asleep faster
- Avoid too much alcohol right before bed for a smoother transition into sleep
- Reducing blue light before bed can help you fall asleep more easily
- Stay away from nicotine to fall asleep more easily
With this information you should have everything you need to get the kind of rest and recovery you need to fuel your fitness goals.
- Lack LC, Gradisar M, Van someren EJ, Wright HR, Lushington K. The relationship between insomnia and body temperatures. Sleep Med Rev. 2008;12(4):307-17. Link
- Onen SH, Onen F, Bailly D, Parquet P. [Prevention and treatment of sleep disorders through regulation] of sleeping habits]. Presse Med. 1994;23(10):485-9. Link
- Falchi F, Cinzano P, Elvidge CD, Keith DM, Haim A. Limiting the impact of light pollution on human health, environment and stellar visibility. J Environ Manage. 2011;92(10):2714-22. Link
- Gooley JJ, Chamberlain K, Smith KA, et al. Exposure to room light before bedtime suppresses melatonin onset and shortens melatonin duration in humans. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2011;96(3):E463-72. Link
- Léger D, Annesi-maesano I, Carat F, et al. Allergic rhinitis and its consequences on quality of sleep: An unexplored area. Arch Intern Med. 2006;166(16):1744-8. Link
- National Sleep Foundation. (n.d.). Inside your bedroom. Retrieved from https://sleepfoundation.org/bedroom/touch.php Link
- Portas CM, Krakow K, Allen P, Josephs O, Armony JL, Frith CD. Auditory processing across the sleep-wake cycle: simultaneous EEG and fMRI monitoring in humans. Neuron. 2000;28(3):991-9. Link
- Rechtschaffen A, Hauri P, Zeitlin M. Auditory awakening thresholds in REM and NREM sleep stages. Percept Mot Skills. 1966;22(3):927-42. Link
- Stanchina ML, Abu-hijleh M, Chaudhry BK, Carlisle CC, Millman RP. The influence of white noise on sleep in subjects exposed to ICU noise. Sleep Med. 2005;6(5):423-8. Link
- National Sleep Foundation. “2013 Exercise and Sleep.” National Sleep Foundation, sleepfoundation.org/sleep-polls-data/sleep-in-america-poll/2013-exercise-and-sleep. Link
- Kredlow MA, Capozzoli MC, Hearon BA, Calkins AW, Otto MW. The effects of physical activity on sleep: a meta-analytic review. J Behav Med. 2015;38(3):427-49. Link
- Singh NA, Clements KM, Fiatarone MA. A randomized controlled trial of the effect of exercise on sleep. Sleep. 1997;20(2):95-101. Link
- Maas, James B., et al. Sleep for Success: Everything You Must Know about Sleep but Are Too Tired to Ask. Author House, 2011. Link
- Sung EJ, Tochihara Y. Effects of bathing and hot footbath on sleep in winter. J Physiol Anthropol Appl Human Sci. 2000;19(1):21-7. Link
- Whitworth-turner C, Di michele R, Muir I, Gregson W, Drust B. A shower before bedtime may improve the sleep onset latency of youth soccer players. Eur JSport Sci. 2017;17(9):1119-1128. Link
- Raymann RJ, Swaab DF, Van someren EJ. Skin temperature and sleep-onset latency: changes with age and insomnia. Physiol Behav. 2007;90(2-3):257-66. Link
- Haynes SN, Adams A, Franzen M. The effects of presleep stress on sleep-onset insomnia. J Abnorm Psychol. 1981;90(6):601-6. Link
- Akerstedt T, Kecklund G, Axelsson J. Impaired sleep after bedtime stress and worries. Biol Psychol. 2007;76(3):170-3. Link
- Dahlgren A, Kecklund G, Akerstedt T. Different levels of work-related stress and the effects on sleep, fatigue and cortisol. Scand J Work Environ Health. 2005;31(4):277-85. Link
- Jaehne A, Loessl B, Bárkai Z, Riemann D, Hornyak M. Effects of nicotine on sleep during consumption, withdrawal and replacement therapy. Sleep Med Rev. 2009;13(5):363-77. Link
- Phillips BA, Danner FJ. Cigarette smoking and sleep disturbance. Arch Intern Med. 1995;155(7):734-7. Link
- Zhang L, Samet J, Caffo B, Punjabi NM. Cigarette smoking and nocturnal sleep architecture. Am J Epidemiol. 2006;164(6):529-37. Link
- Březinová V. Effect of caffeine on sleep: EEG study in late middle age people. Br J Clin Pharmacol. 1974;1(3):203-8. Link
- Drake C, Roehrs T, Shambroom J, Roth T. Caffeine effects on sleep taken 0, 3, or 6 hours before going to bed. J Clin Sleep Med. 2013;9(11):1195-200. Link
- National Sleep Foundation. “How Alcohol Affects Sleep.” National Sleep Foundation, sleepfoundation.org/sleep-topics/how-alcohol-affects-sleep Link
- Roehrs T, Roth T. Sleep, Sleepiness, and Alcohol Use. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. https://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/arh25-2/101-109.htm. Published 2001. Accessed February 6, 2019. Link
- Green A, Cohen-zion M, Haim A, Dagan Y. Evening light exposure to computer screens disrupts human sleep, biological rhythms, and attention abilities. Chronobiol Int. 2017;34(7):855-865. Link
- Cho Y, Ryu SH, Lee BR, Kim KH, Lee E, Choi J. Effects of artificial light at night on human health: A literature review of observational and experimental studies applied to exposure assessment. Chronobiol Int. 2015;32(9):1294-310.Blue light glasses can help! Link
- Van der lely S, Frey S, Garbazza C, et al. Blue blocker glasses as a countermeasure for alerting effects of evening light-emitting diode screen exposure in male teenagers. J Adolesc Health. 2015;56(1):113-9. Link
- “Sleep and Sleep Disorders.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2 May 2017, www.cdc.gov/sleep/data_statistics.html. link
- Lauderdale DS, Knutson KL, Yan LL, Liu K, Rathouz PJ. Self-reported and measured sleep duration: how similar are they?. Epidemiology. 2008;19(6):838-45. link
- Maas, James B., et al. Sleep for Success: Everything You Must Know about Sleep but Are Too Tired to Ask. Author House, 2011.
- National Sleep Foundation. “Napping.” National Sleep Foundation, sleepfoundation.org/sleep-topics/napping. link
- Ware, Arista. “What Is the Ideal Nap Length.” Sleep.Org, Sleep.Org, 28 Oct. 2014, sleep.org/articles/how-long-to-nap/. Link