Sleep can be elusive. If you have spent nights lying awake trying to fall asleep, you know how challenging chasing a good night’s sleep can be. You are not alone. According to the Center for Disease Control, 35.2 percent of all adults in the U.S. sleep less than the recommended seven hours per night, and between 10 and 30 percent of adults struggle with insomnia.
Although some sleep disorders are common there are some clever lifestyle changes that can help you get that coveted shut-eye. We sought advice from our resident sleep expert on how to fall asleep faster and from Sleep Cycle users who have developed tricks of their own to improve the quality of their sleep. Bear in mind that if you suspect you have a chronic sleeping disorder, you should always consult a physician.
How to fall asleep fast: top 3 sleep expert recommendations
Frida Rångtell, PhD, sleep educator and scientific advisor for Sleep Cycle offered valuable insights and advice for anyone struggling to fall asleep.
- Keep your circadian rhythm in mind. Make sure to step outside and soak up sunlight during the day and dim the lights in the evening, hours before bedtime. Light exposure is crucial to maintaining healthy circadian rhythms, the internal body clock that influences our sleeping and waking cycle.
- Build a routine. Our bodies like predictability, so a consistent bedtime routine could help you fall asleep faster. Find out what helps you relax before bedtime, e.g. practicing mindfulness, wearing socks to bed, reading, or listening to white noise. Make that activity a nightly habit.
- Find your ideal sleep schedule. Identify the optimal times for you to go to bed and get up in the morning – then stick to them. Regularity is important when it comes to sleep times. Try to go to bed when you are tired enough to fall asleep within a reasonable time window- not too early and not too late. Then, get up at the same time every morning, including weekends. If you stray from your rhythm, the effect on your brain is the same as traveling across time zones. And who wants jetlag without a vacation?
10 activities and lifestyle changes that could help you fall asleep faster
These proven tips come from our sleep expert and from Sleep Cycle users.
- Read. Reading was the top user tip for falling asleep faster. Users shared that when they read before going to sleep, even if only for 5 minutes, sleep came more quickly.
- Take a warm shower or bath in the evening. This will help lower your core body temperature, which signals to your body that it’s time for bed.
- Listen to soothing sounds and calm music while in bed. Relaxing sounds, like those found in Sleep Cycle’s Sleep Aid library, can help users fall asleep faster. If you are struggling to decide what to listen to, try playing sounds found in nature. A study conducted by the University of Sussex found that natural sounds were more conducive to sleep than artificial sounds. Water sounds are the most popular with our users, especially the tracks ‘Warm Breeze’ and ‘Waves’.
- Exercise or do some form of physical activity during the day. Multiple users reported an improvement in sleep quality, and falling asleep quicker, when they went for a walk.
- Refrain from consuming caffeine later in the day. It can keep you awake longer than you would like.
- Create an ideal setting for sleeping. “We keep the bedroom cool and really dark,” one user commented.
- Remove a visible clock from your bedroom. Being able to see the time when lying in bed can be disturbing.
- Avoid screens at least an hour before bedtime. Studies indicate that looking at screens in the evening can prolong the onset of sleep.
- Watch what you eat and when. Your diet can have a strong influence on your sleep. Try not to eat close to bedtime.
- Leave room in the schedule for winding down. We don’t have an on/off switch, so it is important to give yourself time to prepare for sleep, mentally and physically.
What to do when worries keep you awake
- Avoid looking at things that might make you stressed or anxious before bed (e.g. social media, work emails, the news).
- Make time during the day to reflect and write down things that you think you might worry about in bed. Then write down potential solutions.
- To calm down before bedtime, de-stress, and enter the right mindset for sleeping, Sleep Cycle users recommend meditating before bed.
- Instead of staying in bed and replaying anxious thoughts, get up, go to another room, do a calming activity like reading or journaling, then return to bed and try again.
The next time you’re having trouble drifting off to sleep, follow our expert’s advice and give these recommendations a try. Discover the one that works best for you. You may soon find yourself in the middle of a sweet dream.