If you are one of the growing number of people who understand just how important it is to get enough sleep, for the sake of both your physical and mental health, then being unable to get to sleep can be very frustrating. The more frustrated you become, the harder it can become to get to sleep. So how can you break the cycle? How to go to sleep quickly?
For most people, getting to sleep faster will involve making changes to their nighttime routines as they affect the time they go to bed, what they do before they go to bed, the environment they sleep in and more.
As we will discuss at greater length in a moment, it is often the routines people follow before they try to sleep that governs, in part, how fast they fall asleep. Some people may also be far better than others at calming their mind after a long day. And, some people may have circadian rhythms that are in better balance than others.
Circadian rhythms are complex bodily functions that, until recently, were not taken very seriously. They impact more than just sleep, and to get a fuller understanding of them takes time.
In very basic terms, however, Circadian rhythms are 24-hour phases that run to carry out key tasks and processes as part of the body’s internal clock.
Circadian rhythms are synced with a so-called ‘master clock’ in the brain and impact different systems of the body. Circadian rhythms are linked to the day-night cycle because this master clock is strongly affected by environmental signals, particularly light.
A circadian cycle, when correctly aligned, can promote restful and consistent sleep. When this circadian cycle is disrupted, however, it can lead to serious sleeping issues, including insomnia. Jet lag is known to be a serious disruptor of circadian rhythms that can be hard to avoid.
Having trouble getting to sleep? It can be more than annoying, we know. But before you turn to over the counter sleeping pills that can not only leave you groggy in the morning but be habit-forming as well, try some of these simple tweaks to your evening routine to balance your circadian rhythms and help you get to sleep faster and then stay that way until it’s time to get up again.
You’ve probably heard the advice before: try to get up and then go to bed at the same time every night, even on weekends when a long lie in is appealing. What is the significance of this? It all has to do with circadian rhythms, which the body utilizes to try to control your sleeping patterns so that you get the rest you require.
If you sleep in, it may disrupt these cycles, making it difficult to fall asleep the next night. You must usually be awake for a certain length of time before you are drowsy enough to sleep again. So, stick to the same sleep schedule every night so your body can find its natural rhythm.
What – and when – you eat and drink later in the day can disrupt your sleep, and it’s even possible that the timing of your workouts could be a problem.
Try not to eat anything two to three hours before your regular bedtime, especially a heavy meal or spicy foods, as they may cause heartburn and make it difficult to fall asleep. A relaxing bedtime drink is okay, but try to avoid alcohol or caffeine in the two to three hours leading up to bedtime too.
When it comes to workouts, study after study has shown that people who are more physically active get better sleep. But there is a caveat. When you exercise, body temperature goes up, and it takes about six hours for it to drop again. And since a cooler body temperature is associated with better sleep, the ideal time for exercise is the late afternoon.
Yoga practitioners recommend practicing 15-60 minutes of Asana and Pranayama yoga before bedtime.
Sitting and moving meditations are best done during the day or before bed.
Remember when you were a kid, and you had a proper bedtime routine? As a grown-up, it’s time to reestablish one. It doesn’t really matter what it is – a relaxing bath before bed, a nice hot cup of herbal sleep-inducing tea – chamomile is a great choice as it has been proven to help you sleep – do whatever relaxes you and helps calm your mind before bed.
Once you have established what works for you, try your best to stick to your routine every night, and you should find that your body – and your Circadian rhythms – quickly adjust to these cues , and you will be able to fall asleep faster.
Your environment plays a role in how fast you can get to sleep, as well as how deeply you will sleep. And as much as lots of people like to feel very warm and cozy in bed, being too warm, or too cold, can have a serious impact on how fast you fall asleep and how long you stay that way.
The ideal sleep temperature, sleep experts say, is between 60 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit. This means that if you blast the heat – or the A/C – too high, you are going to have a problem sleeping.
In fact, some sleep experts say that you should strive to make your bedroom more like a bear’s cave (bears do a lot of deep sleeping after all) as in that it should be cool, dark and quiet (but not damp). If possible, use blackout curtains- they’ll block light better than any other curtain.
The fewer distractions you have around your bed, the easier it will be for you to get to sleep and stay that way. If you can see an alarm clock from your bed, move it. In fact, according to many sleep experts, getting rid of the visible alarm clock is effective in 90 percent of people who have difficulty sleeping.
You should also make sure your phone is in sleep mode and that the room is as dark as possible. If you can’t block out all the light – which can be the case if you live in a very urban area – try donning a simple sleep mask before you go to bed. And if it’s very noisy outside, a pair of earplugs will block that out and yet still allow you to hear your alarm go off when it’s time to get up. Earplugs can be made of wax, silicone or foam.
Some sleep experts go a step further and say that you should remove any blue light emitting electronics from your bedroom altogether, which includes TVs and smartphones. This is because some research has suggested that blue light can suppress the body’s natural melatonin production. Melatonin helps your body wind down and get ready for sleep, and so having less of it present may make it hard to fall asleep.
Many people do use their smartphone as an alarm clock. An alternative to this is to keep your cellphone in a drawer and try a smart light alarm clock instead. These clever alarms make use of simulated daylight to help you fall asleep (they mimic a sunset at night and a sunrise in the morning) and some even feature calming sleep sounds that may also help drift off to sleep faster.
Although you may not realize it, a tendency to snore not only keeps your partner awake, but it affects your sleep too. To minimize snoring, you can try one of the rather effective anti-snoring aids that are readily available these days. From anti snoring nasal strips to anti snoring nose clips and anti snoring acupressure finger rings, there is an option to suit almost everyone, and none of them come with the nasty side effects that sleeping pills almost always do.
Try a Breathing Method
If you’re looking to fall asleep in under 5 minutes then begin practicing controlled breathing. There are two breathing methods to try – Dr. Andrew Weil’s the 4-7-8 Breathing Method and diaphragmatic breathing (also known as belly breathing).
The 4-7-8 method is when you inhale through your nose for 4 seconds, hold for 7 and exhale through your mouth for 8.
In diaphragmatic breathing – the diaphragm moves down and up with every inhalation and exhalation. Initially, you may experience a fluttering effect in the diaphragm area will go away with practice. Many individuals experience sleepiness after practicing this breathing technique.