If you’ve ever spent a night counting sheep after sheep and still not falling asleep, or if you wake up in the early hours and can’t get back to sleep, you’ll know that sleep can sometimes be stressful. Sleep shouldn’t stress you out, though as it’s meant to do the exact opposite! Getting a good night’s sleep helps us handle stress better, so we can regulate our emotional well-being more effectively. It’s also vital for cognitive function, immune function, healing, energy, and overall health. And if you need some tips on how to stay positive and relaxed to fall asleep fast, read on.
I Am Not Getting Sleep – What Should I do?
There are many reasons why sleep can elude us. Some of the most obvious culprits include:
- A room that’s too bright
- A room that’s too warm (or too cold)
- A noisy environment
- Overconsumption of caffeine or other stimulants
- Stress and feelings of anxiety
- Poor digestion
- Exercising too close to bedtime
- Watching TV or using your laptop or tablet in bed
- Pain, or other medical issues
- Jet lag or a disrupted sleep-wake routine
If any of the issues above sound familiar, it’s best to try to address these first, where possible. That might mean getting some blackout curtains, using a white noise machine, discussing a change in medications with your health care practitioner, eating and exercising earlier in the evening, or cutting back on caffeine.
How to Fall Asleep Faster
If you’re still having difficulties falling asleep, you may want to use an app with guided sleep training such as Insight Timer (just be sure to have your blue-screen setting – more on this below). Meditating before bedtime can also help clear your mind so you fall asleep faster.
Alternatively, you may find that writing a to-do list or journaling is useful. This can be particularly helpful if you’re worried about forgetting something important or if intrusive thoughts are keeping you awake. Putting your thoughts down on paper acknowledges them and can reassure your brain that you won’t forget them and can deal with them later.
To fall asleep easier and faster, keep your smartphone out of your bedroom. Use an old-fashioned alarm clock if necessary, and make sure to keep clocks out of sight so you’re not tempted to do “if-i-fall-asleep-now-I’ll-get-5-hours-of-sleep” math.
How to Fall Asleep When You’re Not Tired
For shift workers, or anyone with jet lag, you might be wondering how to fall asleep when you’re not tired. There are plenty of ways to “trick” your body into thinking it’s time to sleep. Having a hot bath, for example, can work wonders. Once your body starts the cooling down process, you begin to feel naturally sleepy.
Limiting light exposure for a few hours before bedtime can help too. Avoid screen time altogether, if you can, or use software such as f.lux to filter out blue light which urges your body to stay awake. Keeping light levels low encourages your body to produce melatonin, the neurohormone that regulates your sleep-wake cycle.
Eating foods such as cherries and walnuts can boost melatonin levels, or you could try Natural Factors Tranquil Sleep, which offers a convenient way to take melatonin. This formula also includes the amino acid L-theanine, which promotes alpha brain wave activity and helps calm a racing mind. 5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP) is also included in Tranquil Sleep. The body can convert this amino acid into serotonin and melatonin to support mood and help you fall asleep faster, sleep more soundly, and wake up feeling refreshed.