How to Fall Asleep Easily: the Ultimate Guide on How to Get a Better Night's Sleep
Getting a good night’s sleep is the key to having a happy, healthy, and well-adjusted life. It’s also the best way to help your body recover from any stressors you faced during the day. Unfortunately, getting a solid seven to nine hours of rest is a mirage for many these days. Over a third of the world’s population experiences some sort of sleep disorder and that number is growing every year; busy lives, stressful days, and all kinds of obligations can keep us awake at night. If you find yourself struggling to fall asleep, stay asleep, or simply get more sleep each night, know that you are not alone. The following guide will provide you with advice on how to fall asleep easier; from different ways to deal with insomnia and tips for falling asleep faster, staying asleep longer, and waking up refreshed every morning.
Light and Sound Therapy
Using light and sound therapy is based on the fact that certain sounds and light frequencies have been proven to help our bodies fall asleep faster. This therapy is commonly used to treat people with circadian rhythm disorders, also known as sleep-wake cycle disorders. It’s important to note that each person’s needs will be different; what helps one person to fall asleep may not help another, so it’s best to experiment with different types of light and sound therapy to find what works best for you. What's certain is that blue light (which is typically emitted from most digital devices) has been proven to disrupt your circadian rhythm, so it’s best to avoid these devices a few hours before you plan on going to bed. Instead, white noise is the most commonly used and recommended sound therapy; when looking into what kind of sounds to incorporate in your bedtime sound therapy, white noise is preferable when compared to other types of sound as it doesn’t have a “sound” per se.
Create a sleep ritual
A sleep ritual is a ritual to follow before going to bed. It’s important to note that this is not the same thing as a bedtime routine! While a bedtime routine is something you do to prepare for bed, a sleep ritual is something you do to help you fall asleep and stay asleep. For example, some people find that reading a book or taking a warm bath helps them to relax and fall asleep easier. Others prefer listening to soft music or doing a calming activity like stretching or yoga. To create your personal sleep ritual, make a list of the activities you find to be the most calming and enjoyable; try them out for a week each and single out the ones that work best for you. Once you've established which ones they are, you can also combine them to create a more powerful relaxation for your mind and body.
Make your bedroom a dark place
Darkness is key to helping your body fall asleep. Your brain associates darkness with nighttime; therefore, it will send the appropriate signals to your body to prepare for rest. Some people find that wearing a sleep mask helps to block out additional light. However, the downside is that wearing it on a stable basis can lead you to risk becoming dependent on it to sleep. This means that even in a completely dark room, your body will require a sleep mask in order to fall asleep, even though, in that case, it wouldn't be needed for its original purpose (to block out light). What's a better option, if you can’t block out all the light in your bedroom, is to try to cover as many light sources as possible with dark-colored fabrics. Blackout shades are a great way to block out light while still letting in the right amount of light needed to keep your circadian rhythm ticking.
Try behavioral techniques
Some people have a tough time falling asleep due to their racing thoughts. If you find yourself falling asleep but waking up before you’re able to sleep through the night, you may be experiencing insomnia. This could be caused by a number of different factors, including stress, anxiety, or a medical condition. There are a few techniques that you can use to help you fall asleep when you’re dealing with insomnia.
Progressive muscle relaxation (PMR): this technique is used to help relax your body. You start by concentrating on one muscle group and slowly move through the rest of your body, tensing and releasing each muscle group. Concentrating on your body can help clear your mind and relax your muscles, making it easier to fall asleep.
Breathing exercises: breathing exercises can help clear your thoughts and help calm your racing mind. Breathe deeply and slowly, always through your nose and with your mouth closed. Try to count a fixed series of seconds for inhales and exhales, so that your mind concentrates on counting and breathing and not on the rest of your thoughts. Once your breathing pace has slowed down and your heart rate too, you may resume breathing naturally. In this stage, try to concentrate on calming images like a beach or a tree in the woods.
Meditation: meditation can help clear your mind and calm your thoughts so that you can fall asleep easier. You can even try combining a breathing exercise and meditation to help you fall asleep faster.
Reading: reading is one of the best ways to unwind and relax your mind. Choose something calming or lighthearted and make it a part of your bedtime routine.
Yoga: yoga is a great way to relax your muscles and help you clear your mind. Choose a relaxing yoga routine (avoid power yoga sessions and the like, as the adrenaline rush may make it more complicated for your body to fall asleep). It can even be a short 10 minute practice, but make it part of your steady bedtime routine and you’ll feel ready to go to bed (and fall asleep!) afterwards.
Journaling: journaling is a great way to sort through your thoughts and feelings. Purtting them down on paper has the power to clear your head, putting everything in perspective. It’s a self-healing, relaxing activity that has benefits that go beyond the capacity of making you fall asleep with a lighter heart.
Take natural supplements
Certain supplements can help you fall asleep easier and stay asleep longer. They are often used in conjunction with other techniques outlined above. Be sure to check with your doctor before beginning any new supplement routine. Below are a list of the most popular supplements that can aid the sleep process:
Melatonin: this hormone is typically released by your brain when it senses darkness. The production of melatonin naturally decreases with age, but luckily it’s also available in supplement form. Taking a melatonin supplement can help the body fall asleep easier as it mimics the natural release of the hormone.
Valerian: this herb is another common supplement used to help ease insomnia. When taking valerian it’s important to note that this herb can take up to a month to work its full effects, so do not get discouraged within the first days of use.
Magnesium: magnesium is a mineral that many people are deficient in. Useful to avoid cramps, it can also help ease anxiety and stress, making it easier to fall asleep.
Chamomile: chamomile is a flower that’s used in many herbal teas. It’s a great way to help ease anxiety.
Bananas (or a potassium supplement): potassium helps regulate your heartbeat and can help ease anxiety and stress. As magnesium, it also helps to ease cramps and prevent their insurgence. If you're going to increase your potassium intake by eating bananas, make sure to eat them with their skin on as the peel contains the majority of the potassium!
Avoid sugar intake before bed
Avoiding sugar intake before bed is important in order to fall asleep faster and sleep more soundly. Consuming sugar before bed may, in fact, keep you up for hours due to blood sugar spikes and insulin surges. Sugar negatively affects your sleep in many ways: it can be the cause of insomnia, restlessness, and even bad dreams. For the above reasons, studies recommended not to consume sugar for at least 3 hours before bedtime. If you crave something sweet, try going for a piece of dark chocolate, which also has anti-inflammatory qualities.
Remove the clutter from your bedroom
We all have a bit of clutter laying around, but that clutter better not be in the bedroom if we're having trouble falling asleep. That's because clutter can be a source of anxiety through the continuous visual stimuli it sends to the brain, and can even lead to depression. Removing clutter from your bedroom will ensure your brain sees the environment as a calming, peaceful place where the body can concentrate on falling sound sleep.
Try these pillow and sleep aids
Weighted blankets: weighted blankets are gaining in popularity and for good reason. They’re designed to mimic being hugged and help ease anxiety. They can also be used as a pillow!
Pillow sprays or pillow mists - these sprays contain oils that help calm your mind and ease anxiety. They can be sprayed directly onto your pillow before you go to bed for a relaxing scent.
Fragrance diffusers: fragrance diffusers can either be of the traditional kind (wooden sticks dipped into a jar with essential oils) or electric. There are also essential oil burners, but we don't recommend using them, as they require a lit flame to function, and it's best to avoid having lit candles while falling asleep. Whatever the type of fragrance diffuser you chose to use, a diffuser can be beneficial to successfully fall asleep as it creates a sensory routine. Choose a calming scent, like lavander, jasmine or eucalyptus and your mind will start to associate that scent with sleep time.
Choose the correct time to go to bed
During your first attempts to fall asleep more easily, you should start your bedtime routine one hour earlier than normal. Be sure to keep a sleep diary to keep track of how much time you spend sleeping and how well you feel when you wake up. After a week, adjust your bedtime by another 30 to 60 minutes. If you find that you’re still struggling to fall asleep, try adding in one of the techniques listed above. Keep in mind that it may take a few weeks or even months before you are able to sleep through the night. Don’t give up; as soon as your body finds its new balance, you will be able to sleep again.
Getting a good night’s sleep is the key to our mood, to our productivity and to our well-being. It’s also the best way to help your body recover from any stressors faced during the day. Unfortunately, getting a solid seven to nine hours of rest is not as easy as it should be. Over a third of the world’s population experiences some sort of sleep disorder and that number is growing every year. Try following the above advice to to deal with insomnia and fall asleep faster, stay asleep longer, and wake up refreshed every morning.