(Affiliate disclosure: I may receive a commission if you purchase something through links in this post. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying puchases. See more details here:)
We know how important it is for our health for us to get a good night of sleep, and that’s what makes it all the more frustrating when we have a night where we can’t fall asleep or when we wake up in the middle of the night and can’t get back to sleep again. At those times, all we can think of is how to fall asleep faster and we’re willing to try just about anything to get a good night of sleep.
One of the standard pieces of advice you usually hear is to just get up out of bed and read a book or watch TV or do some sort of activity until you feel tired enough to fall back to sleep again. This advice might be helpful for some people, but for many of us this method can backfire because either we end up getting a second wind and feeling too awake to go back to bed or we end up stressing about how much sleep we’ve missed out on.
My favorite method for how to fall asleep fast goes against the usual advice because my method is to stay in bed but to stop trying to fall asleep and to focus on just resting with your eyes closed instead.
I know how difficult it can be to stop stressing about being able to fall asleep, but sleep is one of those things where, the harder you try, the more elusive it is, and if you’re able to stop trying, then you have a much better chance of actually being able to fall asleep quickly.
Focus on the Benefits of Resting
I can remember one time when I was little and I wanted to get a good night of sleep because I had a big event the next day, but I couldn’t fall asleep, and my father said something along the lines of the fact that I was still getting some good rest by lying in bed even if I wasn’t actually sleeping. Thinking about it in that way helped to remove the pressure of needing to fall asleep fast, and it allowed me to relax and stop stressing so much about trying to fall asleep.
This way of thinking about rest is helpful in two ways because, first, you have a better chance of being able to fall asleep if you stop trying, and second, even if you aren’t able to fall asleep, it’s so much more restful for your body to be able to just relax in bed rather than spending the whole night stressing about trying to fall asleep.
Just think about the way you feel after you’ve had a quick nap, even if it’s just a ten minute cat nap where you don’t even actually fall asleep at all. Just the act of lying down quietly with your eyes closed can help you to feel so much more rested and refreshed when you get up again.
Lying down and staying still allows our bodies to rest from the physical activity of our busy days. And when we lie down in a dark and quiet room with our eyes closed, we’re able to rest even more fully because we remove the visual and auditory stimulation of all of the sights and sounds that we’re surrounded by constantly. This absence of activity and stimulation allows our bodies to have a more complete break than they get at any other time of the day.
Resting Removes the Stress of Trying to Sleep
One of the most stressful parts of not being able to fall asleep is thinking about the negative effects that the lack of sleep will have on your body the next day. Especially if you have a busy day ahead or some sort of special event where you really want to be at your best, the thought of not being able to get a good night of sleep can make the insomnia even worse.
By reminding yourself that lying quietly in bed will still allow your body to get some of the beneficial rest that it needs, though, you can remove some of the stress. Even if you’re not able to fall into a deep sleep, by resting in bed, you’ll still be a lot more well-rested and prepared to face the day than you would have been if you had stayed up working or being active all night.
While this method isn’t a fool-proof guarantee that you’ll be able to fall asleep, I’ve found that it works better than anything else I’ve tried, and the majority of the time I’m able to fall asleep, especially when I use it with a combination of the other tips I mention below.
Why You Should Cover Up Your Alarm Clock, Too
The other part of this method that really helps me is to cover up your alarm clock (or your phone or anything that will allow you to see what time it is.) I know how hard it is to resist the temptation to check to see what time it is when you wake up in the middle of the night or when you have a hard time falling asleep, but if you can stop yourself from looking at the clock, it’s one of the most helpful things when you’re trying to get more sleep and rest.
Whenever I have a hard time falling asleep and I look at the clock, I always find myself thinking “Ok, it’s 12:30, so if I can fall asleep right now I can still get close to 6 hours of sleep tonight.” But then that stress of trying to fall asleep quickly always ends up keeping me awake even longer. If I don’t look at the clock, though, then I have no idea what time it really is and it’s a lot easier for me to relax and feel like I still have plenty of time to fall asleep.
Other Tips for How to Fall Asleep Fast and Get a Better Night of Sleep
- Make your bedroom as dark as possible by turning off all lights, covering your alarm clock to get rid of the glow, and using either dark curtains or covering your windows with dark blankets at night time to eliminate any glow from streetlights.
- Keep your bedroom at a cool but comfortable temperature. Cooler temperatures can help signal the body to sleep, but you don’t want it so cold that you’re awake all night shivering either!
- Make the last hour before bed a relaxing one where you can unwind from the day with calming, quiet activities.
- As much as possible, avoid the bright light from the screens on your electronic devices, or install free apps like f.lux that will change the light to a warmer light that won’t disrupt your body’s circadian rhythm.
- Try using some magnesium lotion before bed for the calming and relaxing effects of this mineral that many of us are deficient in. I like to use this magnesium lotion because the magnesium is easily absorbed through the skin and because the lotion doesn’t irritate sensitive skin the way that magnesium oil can (and if you put it on your feet there’s even less chance of it irritating your skin.)
- If you find that your thoughts are keeping you awake, instead of trying to count sheep, try counting your breathing instead. Take deep breaths, counting to four as you inhale and then exhale, counting to four again. Keep doing this and gradually increase the count to five and then six as your breaths become deeper and longer.
- You can also focus on relaxing different parts of your body while you breathe. As you breathe in, focus on your forehead, and as you exhale, relax any tension you might have in your forehead. With your next breath, move down to your jaw and then your neck and shoulders, etc. Keep going until you’ve relaxed your entire body (or until you fall asleep!) If you’re not already asleep by the time you’ve finished this, at the very least you will have done some relaxing deep breaths and released some of the tension in your muscles.
Do you have any other good tips for how to fall asleep fast? Let us know in the comments!
(We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.)
The information in this post is not to be taken as medical advice and is not intended to diagnose or treat any disease.
Monday 23rd of January 2017
Although it wasn't designed for this purpose, I've found doing the "gap meditation" to have a nice side effect of putting me to sleep! Simply focus on the gaps of your breathing at the beginning and the end of each breath, over and over. It can be hard to stay focused on that because you'll immediately realize what a demanding child your mind is, always demanding your attention with incessant and never-ending mental chatter. But if you stick with it, you'll eventually reach a calm inner state and hopefully fall off back to sleep.
Monday 23rd of January 2017
Thanks for the tip!
Tuesday 17th of January 2017
My tip is saying a prayer when you wake and cannot fall asleep - I say the Rosary and always fall back to sleep.
Thursday 19th of January 2017
Yes, praying is very helpful too!
Tuesday 17th of January 2017
Hallo, I wonder if you are getting some good sleep,having a new baby? It's surprising how little one can survive on. I also just lie in bed,thinking helps and I play classical music from a tiny radio. I'm off to see my son and family in NZ this week. Jet lag certainly mucks up sleep for a few days,the journey is over 30 hours from UK. Thank you for your blogs. All the best, Jenny.
Thursday 19th of January 2017
Having a new baby and the jet lag from traveling would definitely make sleeping more difficult!! That's a good idea to listen to some relaxing music on the radio.