- Wake up at the same time every morning + only go to sleep when you are tired
- Build a relaxing bedtime routine
- Learn quick tips for relaxation
Being unable to fall asleep sucks. We get it. So, we’ve designed this comprehensive guide JUST FOR YOU! Here we’ll give you all of the top tips straight from the world’s best sleep experts and therapists.
Being unable to fall asleep is generally a combination of unhelpful learned associations and underlying stress. Unfortunately, the more time you’ve spent in bed “trying” to fall asleep, the more likely you are to have problems falling asleep.
HOW TO FALL ASLEEP FASTER
1. LET'S TALK ABOUT SCHEDULES
The very first thing to address if you’re having difficulties falling asleep is your sleep schedule. Oftentimes, difficulties initiating sleep lead to inconsistent sleep and wake times. Here’s your action plan to fix it:
Wake up at the same time every day
You can’t always control when you fall asleep, but you CAN control when you wake up. Even if you’ve been up late or had a bad sleep, you should always aim to wake up at the same time every day.
Even on weekends? YES! It may be hard at first, so give yourself a window. Say you normally get up at 7 am on weekdays, try getting up between 7-8:30 on weekends.
What if I’m super tired? It’s possible that waking up at the same time every day may cause you to feel tired. In order to get back in sync with your circadian rhythm, it may require weathering a little fatigue. We encourage you to work through it by eating healthy, moving more, and getting some sunlight during the day. If you absolutely cannot function and feel like a zombie, try taking a 20-minute nap before 3pm. A nap is your last resort, but it’s better than sleeping in!
Go to bed when you're tired
This may sound obvious but it isn’t always so obvious! Learning to differentiate fatigue from sleepiness is important. Oftentimes we also go to bed because it’s “bedtime”. Learning the difference between “I”m sleepy” and I’m fatigued” will help you better initiate an appropriate bedtime. You may notice that waiting until you are tired to go to bed means you stay up later for a night or two. This is normal. Your body will work things out (as long as you stick with our advice).
Get in sync: When resetting your brain and body from an out-of-sync sleep cycle, you should spend as little time as possible in bed awake. That means if it’s taking you longer than 20 minutes to fall asleep, get up and go do something relaxing. When you feel sleepy? Head back to bed and go again.
What if I don’t get tired? You may not get tired when you want to get tired, but trust us, sleepiness will come! Don’t try to force it. Instead, just take advantage of your wakefulness by engaging in a relaxing activity. Snuggle up with a book, listen to a good podcast, draw, paint, do a puzzle, whatever brings you calm. Your body is designed to sleep and it will come. Focusing on wanting to sleep generally has the opposite effect. Therefore, focus on being awake and enjoying a relaxing activity.
2. LET'S TALK ABOUT YOUR EVENING ROUTINE
Bedtime routines can be a real game-changer when you have difficulties falling asleep. Setting aside time to unplug, unwind, and ready yourself for bed not only offers you mental decompression – it also gives your brain the cue “hey, it’s bedtime”.
Build a bedtime routine
To get started on your bedtime routine, try setting an alarm about an hour before you normally go to sleep. Once this alarm goes off it’s time to begin your routine!
Step 1: Dim the lights. Using dim lights or even red light bulbs at least an hour before you want to be sleeping will help send signals to your brain that it’s time for melatonin. Melatonin o’clock, if you will. This will make it easier to fall asleep.
Step 2: Log off. Electronics before bed are stimulating and can confuse your brain about whether it’s time for bed. Do your best to power down devices or refrain from using them around 2 hours before bed (that’s the ideal to strive for).
Step 3: Bedtime routine! Building a bedtime routine can be a game-changer! There are three core elements of a good bedtime routine. You may want to play around to see what works for you, but be sure to spend some time with each of the following:
For the first part of your bedtime routine, we recommend some mental decompression. Mental decompression means setting aside time to process your day, reconnect with your mind and body, and let go of your worries so that you don’t carry them into bed! You can try:
Get ready for bed
Getting ready for bed generally means washing your face, brushing your teeth, and any other kind of skincare or self-care routine. We recommend investing in some nice skincare products to make this portion of your evening relaxing and rewarding. You can also take a shower or bath during this time which can help you fall asleep up to 36% faster!
You’ve now mentally decompressed from your day, you’re ready for bed, now it’s time to engage in some physical relaxation before sleep!
You can engage in these relaxing activities once you’ve snuggled under the covers. Here are the key relaxation techniques for when you have trouble falling asleep:
If you find that after going through your bedtime ritual, you still can’t fall asleep, go ahead and get out of bed. Go do something relaxing in a dimly lit room (you could build your own hygge space – learn more about what a hygge space is and how to build your own). When you feel sleepy again, return to bed and use a grounding technique like making lists to help lull your brain to sleep.
- Check out this article for some quick tips on how to fall asleep faster.