There’s nothing worse than not being able to fall asleep. It can literally feel like the longest night ever when you’re lying in bed, willing yourself to nod off, but your brain and body has other ideas. In this post I’m going to share with you 5 things that will help you fall asleep faster.
1. Count Sheep
This has long been touted as a way to fall asleep faster, but I’ve always been a bit sceptical if truth be told. I mean how can counting sheep actually make you fall asleep!?! But, research shows that there is indeed some logic to it.
The theory behind it is that visualising a continuous line of sheep jumping over fences forces us to relax. The simple, rhythmic monotony of it allows us to distract from any other disruptive racing thoughts and helps us to concentrate on the steady, sleep inducing movement of the sheep. Now, let’s be honest here, it could be any creature. I’m not overly sure why it’s sheep we’re counting, although my research suggests that it could have come from when shepherds used to count their sheep before going to sleep to make sure they hadn’t lost any of their flock. Not so useful if they fell asleep before they counted the last sheep though, right?
Whilst it’s not a 100% guarantee that by counting sleep you’ll fall asleep faster, I’m willing to bet that by the time you reach the hundreds you’ll have fallen asleep through sheer boredom!
2. Listen to noise
Some people need absolute silence in order to fall asleep. Some prefer having background noise, like music or calming sounds, to nod off too. Then there are other people who could literally fall asleep anywhere, no matter what degree of noise there is (the lucky so-and-so’s).
When it comes to noise, it’s useful to think about how babies sleep. Often, babies don’t have the luxury of falling asleep with complete silence. They need lots of sleep and often, especially for daytime naps, they have to fit in with whatever else is going on around them, so they’ll likely sleep in a pram, car seat, or carrier etc. Inevitably, this also means there’s always lots of noise, like the buzz of traffic, people talking, household electricals such as washing machines, hairdryers etc. But the thing is, babies love this. It helps them fall asleep faster and helps them stay asleep too. This background hum is referred to as white noise and this type of noise has been proven to help with sleep.
Along with white noise, there is also pink noise and brown noise. The difference between the three types of noises is as follows:
- White Noise – This is sound that contains all frequencies within our audible range. Examples include: electric fans, TV static, the sound of someone shushing, and the vacuum cleaner.
- Pink Noise – This noise is good at masking other background noises. It is very similar to white noise, but has softer higher frequencies. Sounds like the rustling of leaves, gentle wind, and light rain are all considered pink noise.
- Brown Noise – This is a deeper sound, like a waterfall, rumbling thunder, or a rushing river. This is the best noise for falling asleep faster and also for staying asleep.
3. Take sleep supplements
It’s not just environmental factors that can affect how well you fall asleep, sometimes your body and mind need a little help. And that’s where sleep supplements come in. There are absolutely tonnes of natural supplements out there claiming they can help you sleep, and this means it can be really tricky knowing which ones work best. To help you out, here are some of the key ingredients you should be looking for if you decide to give them a try:
- Melatonin – We produce melatonin naturally, which is a good thing as it helps us sleep. But sometimes, for whatever reason, we don’t make enough of it and that’s when supplementing can help.
- Chamomile – This medicinal plant is a mild sedative and is great for helping you to relax. This should then hopefully induce sleep. Drink it as tea or look out for supplements that include it.
- Valerian – Valerian root is a natural sedative and my help you to fall asleep faster.
- CBD – The CBD market has grown massively over the past few years and for good reason. Cannabidiol derives from cannabis plants but doesn’t contain THC (the chemical that gets you high). People use it to help calm racing thoughts, reduce anxiety, and to help them relax and induce sleep. Look out for CBD gummies, tea, oil, drops, and more.
4. Keep Cool
if you want to fall asleep faster, you should check what temperature your heating is set to in your bedroom. The ideal temperature for good sleep is around 18ºC (65ºF). As a rule, it’s better to sleep in a cool environment, where you can easily put on an extra layer of clothing or bedding, than a hot environment.
But obviously we can’t control the weather, and if you’re trying to fall asleep in the hotter summer months you need to come up with some ways to keep your cool. Here are some ideas for you:
- Air conditioning – This is particularly beneficial if you live in a hot country where temperatures are high pretty much all year round. Otherwise, it can be a very expensive option and you may not get your money’s worth if it’s only going on for a few nights a year.
- Open a window – Opening the window a little in the warmer months will help with air flow. Just make sure not to open them in the daytime as this can let the heat in, which then gets trapped in the house and could make your bedroom feel even hotter by bedtime.
- Keep a fan on – Not only will this help keep you cool, but it will also give you some white noise in the process.
- Cool sleepwear – Avoid synthetic materials like nylon and polyester if you want to stay cool in bed. Instead, opt for lightweight, breathable fabrics like bamboo, beechwood, merino wool, and eucalyptus.
- Lightweight bedding – Bedding made of natural materials such as cotton, bamboo, and silk will help keep you cool.
- Sleep on a cool mat – Cool mats are basically flat mats filled with cooling gel that helps to disperse heat away from the body or head. They can be placed on top of a mattress or pillow and will help cool you down so that you can get to sleep more easily.
5. Wear A Sleep Mask
Light plays a big part in how easy we find it to fall asleep. Our bodies have a natural default setting that we are awake during daylight hours and start feeling sleepy as it gets dark. This is called our circadian rhythm, and it affects not just how and when we sleep, but also other processes such as digestion, body temperature, and how alert we are.
If there is too much light in the bedroom, whether that’s from natural light creeping in from outside, electrical light from indoor lighting, or blue light from screens, it can mess with our circadian rhythm and this in turn affects melatonin production. So, it’s really important we try to make the room as dark as possible. Things like blackout curtains, keeping screens out of the bedroom, and switching lights off can all massively help, but unless you live out somewhere remote in the countryside it’s highly unlikely you’ll be able to block out every bit of light.
Wearing a sleep mask in bed can solve that problem, as it blocks all light out from your eyes. Meaning you can fall asleep faster, your body will continue to produce the right levels of melatonin, and your circadian rhythm won’t be disrupted.
It’s common for us to experience sleep issues at some point in our lives and there can be a variety of different reasons for this. Hopefully by following the 5 pieces of advice above, you will master the art of falling asleep quickly and improve your overall quality of sleep in the process.