Falling asleep as soon as your head hits the pillow is not a luxury all of us can proudly claim to own. It’s easy enough if you’re the group’s infamous bludger.
But what if you’re not? Work-related or personal stress, uninvited sleep disorders, and the existence of a not-particularly-sleep-inducing ambience can leave you begging your brain to fall asleep while you lay in bed with bloodshot, half-closed, groggy eyes.
No time to eat, drink, or SLEEP?
With a few minor lifestyle changes, you can kick in your melatonin (sleep hormone) and reduce the time you need to fall asleep. This is especially important when we attempt to squeeze in 7-8 hours of sleep into the crunch time we constantly, relentlessly complain about. In addition to counting sheep…
…(it never really works), here are some ways to fall asleep faster.
Plan your dinner
While it may be convenient for you to order in, dig into a takeaway box, or scrounge for fries or doughnuts in the fridge, planning your dinner ahead may do you a lot more good. It will help ensure you include sleep-inducing foods into your recipes while also ensuring your dinner is ready on time, at least 3 hours before bedtime.
Keep your dinner light. Cooking up a heavy thanksgiving dinner on a weekly basis is not going to be easy on your digestive system. Don’t sleep hungry (no matter how tired or sad you are). You will not be able to get sleep if your body craves for fuel.
Avoid alcohol, caffeine, and cigarettes before bedtime
It’s not only about sleeping faster but sleeping better as well. While alcohol intoxication may help you pass out sooner, it will not allow you to drift into a restful, deep REM sleep.
Although a hot cup of coffee or cigarettes may help you relax, it will not let you fall asleep. Limit your caffeine intake after 12 p.m.
Keep some buffer time
Your wired body needs to relax to transition from a state of constant activity to one of rest. Allot some alone time an hour before you sleep for some yoga, a leisurely walk in the cool night breeze, a casual read, or a warm bath in Epsom salts with relaxing music. The very thought calms you, doesn’t it?
Set the right mood
You need to communicate to your body that you’re ready to sleep. It’s easier to fall asleep in complete darkness because that’s how your circardian clock recognizes it’s bedtime (difficult for someone who has been scared of the boogeyman all his life).
This also means you need to turn off the TV, laptop, and your cell phone at least half an hour before you tuck in. If ‘darkness’ makes you flinch, keep a dim red light on that will not interfere with your sleep. Incandescent bulbs in your bedroom are a complete no-no. You may also place a few drops of an essential oil like lavender on your pillow. It will help lure you into dreamland. Get comfortable: Wear loose cotton clothing or even better sleep au naturel. Your body temperature needs to drop half a degree to go into snooze mode. Sleeping in the buff helps heat from your core dissipate quickly from your skin allowing you to sleep faster.
Cooling the room (between 60 and 67F) with some air conditioning or by opening up a breezy window will also help your body temperature drop. Also, ensure your mattress and bed linen cushion and support your tired body so you cocoon effortlessly.
Fluff your pillows and snuggle in.
Sleeping on your right side will help you fall asleep faster than on your left.
Don’t set your alarm on your cell phone
It is just a sorry excuse for you to keep your phone at your bedside so you can indulge your Internet addiction.
Also, relying to wake up with your cell phone alarm is not a great idea because you probably will hit snooze ten times before you crawl out of bed. Instead, use a traditional alarm clock placed away from your bed. Yes, you are tricking yourself into maintaining a proper sleep schedule.
Maintain your bed as a sleep sanctuary
Avoid eating or watching TV in bed. Your brain gets confused and soon fails to exclusively link your bed to sleep.
Split the doze time
A power nap in your day no longer than 20-30 minutes can help you maintain your sleep early-rise early routine. Again, the emphasis is on ‘no longer than 20-30 minutes’ so you don’t enter into deep REM sleep. Avoid napping after 3 p.m.
Keep your spouse and family in sync
It’s easier to follow routines when you live in isolation. For most of us social animals, the only way to stick to a routine is by incorporating your partner and whoever else you live with into it.