We all sleep and we all dream.
Some nights it is easier to fall asleep. Other nights it’s a battle.
After having some trouble with sleeping these past couple of weeks. I decided to do some research.
Since a lot of people wear sweat shorts to bed I thought, why not share this information with you? Hoping that you will find it as useful as I have.
After doing all of my research I came up with 70 different ways to help you fall asleep quicker and stay asleep longer.
Hopefully this info will having you sleeping like a champ.
If you don’t have any trouble sleeping then, by all means don’t change a thing, however if you read along there are some pretty interesting and unique techniques. You may learn something.
What makes us sleep at night?
The sleep-wake cycle consists of 8 hours of nocturnal sleep and 16 hours of daytime wakefulness in humans. This is controlled by a combination of two things. Sleep homeostasis and circadian rhythms.
Homeostasis is the process by which the body maintains a “steady state” of internal conditions. It effects sleep by slowly accumulating our need for sleep from the moment we wake up until we go to bed. Basically makes us sleepier the longer we are awake throughout the day. (Source)
The circadian rhythms is the cyclical changes like fluctuations in body temperature, hormone levels and sleep that occur over a 24 hour period driven by the brains biological clock. This rhythm is affected by light and darkness. Basically this keeps us awake while the sun is out, but prompts us to sleep once it becomes dark. (Source)
The combination of these two things make us tired and want to sleep every night. Now there are activities you can do, that I list in this post, that will help you manage your homeostasis and circadian rhythms so that sleep is in your control.
There are six different aspects of your day that can be tweaked for a better night sleep.
- Bedroom Environment
- Daily Habits
- What You Eat
- Nightly Habits
- In Bed Techniques
Want to learn more? Below I go into full detail with steps you can take to have a better night sleep and fall asleep faster.
The bedroom is your sleeping sanctuary. Have an inviting atmosphere that encourages relaxation and sleep.
1. Keep your room cool: Your body temperature drops as your sleep. Make your room cooler. And jump start you body’s cooling process. Thus making falling asleep easier. Studies show the ideal temperature is between 60-67 degrees.
2. Remove all electronics: Get in the habit of associating your bedroom with sleep and not watching TV, playing video games, checking social media, or reading. These devices, including your phone, can engage you in non-restful activities; making it more difficult to fall asleep. Also according to this research, participants, who removed electronic devices from their bedroom, received an extra hour of sleep every night. That can make the difference between being tired all day and awake and productive.
3. Dark room please: Any sort of light can disrupt melatonin levels and circadian rhythms. Make sure you room is as dark as possible. Install heavy window shades, wear a sleeping mask, and face away glowing electronics.
4. Eliminate noise: According to The National Sleep Foundation your brain registers and processes sounds while your sleeping. Noise can jolt you from deep sleep. Causing you to wake up, shift, move, or change stages of sleep. Use earplugs, noise cancelers, or simple white noise to block out unwanted sounds.
5. White noise: A constant ambient sound can reduce the difference between background and loud sounds (dog bark, door slamming, etc.). White noise will aid you in falling asleep and staying asleep. I use a fan. But anything that makes a constant sound can do the trick (humidifier, soundtracks, heaters) You can find ambient soundtracks on both Spotify and Pandora.
6. Aromatherapy: Research has found that relaxing scents like lavender and vanilla have been effective in aiding sleep. Also using aromatherapy every night puts your body and mind in a sleep routine. A sleep routine, as described in more detail below, may be the best way to fall asleep quickly.
7. Paint your room: A study done by Travelodge, found that people sleep best in rooms painted blue, yellow, green, silver, or orange. Paint your room your favorite “sleep color”.
8. Clean your room: A bedroom overflowing with clutter creates added stress and worry. This affects your ability to relax and fall asleep. Clean your room up! Get rid of unused clothes and keep it clean and organized.
9. Sleep and intimacy: Your bedroom’s only two purposes should be sleep and sex. This will condition the mind to associate your bedroom with sleep. And by following this advice, will help you remove all additional mental stimulants.
10. Use an alarm clock: A lot of people use their phones as an alarm clock. The bright blue light from the phone screen mimics the sun; slowing the release of melatonin, which can keep you awake. Also, when your phone is close to your bed you are able to check messages and email. Thus delaying the sleeping process even more. Turn your phone off and use a real alarm clock.
11. Mattress: Make sure you mattress is right for you. Most mattresses last 9 to 10 years. Check for sagging spots and evaluate your comfort and sleep quality. “If you wake up tired or stiff, or if you find hotel beds extra cozy, it could be a clue that it’s time for a change,” says the National Sleep Foundation.
12. Pillows: Pillows should support your neck and head. Doctors recommend replacing them every 2 years. Check for lumps and sags. If you are waking up with a stiff neck most likely you are in need of a new pillow.
13. Clean bed: Wash your sheets, pillows, and mattresses. A study by the National Sleep Foundation found that 75% of participants were more excited to climb into a bed with clean sheets. Making yourself excited about sleeping is a guaranteed way to fall asleep quicker.
14. Make your bed: It make seem like a chore, but making your bed every morning can help you fall asleep faster. A poll found that, “People who reported making their bed in the morning were 19 percent more likely to get a good night’s sleep every night.” Feeling good about where you sleep can only help the sleeping process.
The Big Three:
- No electronics
- Sleep and romance only
- Clean room
You have created a bedroom atmosphere that encourages sleep. Now you can alter your daily actions to have your body ready for bed every night.
Your daily habits, big and small, affect your sleep every night. Taking small steps throughout the day can have a big impact on your sleep quality.
15. Exercise: Exercising daily will help you sleep better at night. Exercise helps reduce anxiety, stress, arousal, and depression. These emotions negatively effect sleep. Also, according to a Horne and Staff study, “Exercise triggers an increase in body temperature, and the post-exercise drop in temperature may promote falling asleep.” A cool body temperature will reduce the time it takes to fall asleep. NOTE: Don’t exercise within 3 hours of going to bed. Since exercising raises your body temperature, you may not be able to fall asleep until your body cools off.
16. Limit caffeine: We all know caffeine is a stimulant. Caffeine can also block sleep inducing chemicals and increases adrenaline production. The National Sleep Foundation recommends that you stop drinking caffeinated drinks by 2 pm, because caffeine can take up to 6 hours to clear your body system.
17. Get more sun: Get at least 30 minutes of sun every morning between 6 and 8:30 a.m. According to this report, early morning sunlight helps “…regulate your biological clock and keep it on track.” “Research has shown that people who are deprived of light for long periods of time experience dramatic changes in their sleep, temperature and hormone cycles.” So open those blinds when you wake up and get out of the office during lunch. Enjoy what the sun has to offer.
18: Limit naps: Try not to nap. Sleeping during the day can throw off your circadian clock making it difficult to sleep at night. If you are exhausted and really need to nap, limit it to 20 minutes and not a second longer.
What You Eat
Diet and certain foods can help promote sleep in your body. There are four main minerals that help aid in sleeping. Tryptophan, Magnesium, Calcium, and B6. It is possible to take these minerals as supplements. However, like all vitamins and supplements, it is always better to get them by eating a specific diet.
19. Tryptophan: Tryptophan is an amino acid that helps your body produce melatonin. Melatonin is a natural hormone made by you pineal glad. When the sun goes down this hormone is released into your blood stream. This is why you feel less alert and tired at night.
- Meats (Chicken, Turkey, Venison, Mutton, Liver)
- Fish (Halibut, Cod, Tuna, Mackerel, Lobster, Shrimp)
- Milk Products (Yogurt, Soymilk, Milk, Cottage Cheese)
- Cheese (Cheddar, Tofu, Gruyere)
- Fruits (Apples, Bananas, Avocados, Pineapple, Peaches)
- Vegetables (Spinach, Broccoli, Onions, Tomatoes, Cabbage, Mushrooms)
- Nuts (Walnuts, Peanuts, Cashews, Pistachios, Chestnuts, Almonds)
- Seeds (Flax Seed, Sesame, Pumpkin, Sunflower)
- Legumes (Mung Beans, Soybeans, Kidney, Lima, Chickpeas)
- Grains (Wheat, Brown Rice, Red Rice, Barley Corn, Oats)
- Whole Grain Crackers
20. Magnesium: Journal of Orthomolecular Medicine found that magnesium plays an important role in relaxing. This natural sedative helps with hydration, controlling adrenaline, muscle relaxation, and energy production. If your body’s magnesium levels are too low it makes it harder to stay asleep.
- Dark Leafy Greens. (Spinach, Kale, Swiss Chard)
- Nuts and Seeds. (Almonds, Sunflower, Brazil Nuts, Cashews, Pine Nuts)
- Fish (Salmon, Halibut, Tuna, Mackerel)
- Legumes (Edamame, Black Beans, Kidney Beans, Chickpeas, Lentils White Beans)
- Whole-grain (Brown Rice, Quinoa, Bulgur, Buckwheat, Barley, Oats)
- Low-Fat Dairy (Yogurt, Goat Cheese, Mozzarella)
- Dried Fruits (Figs, Dates, Apricots)
21. Calcium: Calcium is normally associated with strong bones and teeth. But there is a small percentage of calcium that helps your brain use tryptophan to aid in the manufacturing of melatonin. It also helps regulate blood pressure, muscle contraction and expansion, and can help prevent insomnia, obesity osteoporosis, and stroke.
- Dark Leafy Greens (Curly Kale, Dandelion Greens, Turnip Greens, Arugula)
- Low Fat Cheese (Parmesan, Mozzarella, Cottage Cheese)
- Low Fat Milk Products (Yogurt, Milk)
- Chinese Cabbage (Bok Choy, Pak Choi)
- Fortified Soy Products (Soy Milk, Tofu, Soybean)
- Green Snap Peas
- Canned Fish (Sardines Anchovies, Salmon, Herring, Shrimp)
22. B6: Research found that vitamin B6 converts a small amount of your body’s tryptophan into serotonin, “…a neurotransmitter that helps regulate sleep patterns.” With an inadequate amount of vitamin B6, your body’s serotonin levels may be lowered leading to disturbed sleep and insomnia.
- Seeds (Sunflower, Pistachios, Flaxseeds, Pumpkin, Squash Seeds)
- Fish (Tuna, Salmon, Halibut, Swordfish, Herring)
- Meat (Turkey, Chicken, Pork Tenderloin, Pork Chops, Sirloin Steak, Rib Eye)
- Dried Fruits (Prunes, Apricots, Rasins)
- Fortified Cereals
- Raw Garlic
The Top Sleep Performers
|Tuna & Halibut
Best for last
23. Melatonin: As we know melatonin helps regulate our circadian rhythm which helps bring on sleep. What better way to naturally get melatonin than from foods you can buy at your groceries store.
- Fruits and Vegetables (Tart Cherries, Corn, Asparagus, Tomatoes)
- Grains (Rice, Barley Grains, Rolled Oats)
- Ginger Root
- Seeds and Nuts (Walnuts, Flaxseeds, Mustard Seeds)
24. Kiwifruit: In a study, “2 kiwifruit nightly 1 hour before bedtime for 4 weeks resulted in improved sleep onset, duration, and efficiency in adults with self-reported sleep disturbances.” They are not sure why, however participants slept on average a hour longer every night.
25. High glycemic index: Foods with a high glycemic index (GI) can help you fall asleep. According to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Food with a high GI can boost your insulin and blood sugar levels. That boost will help tryptophan enter your brain, produce serotonin, and bring on sleep. And that is why you get drowsy and lethargic after meals with a high glycemic index.
- Snacks (Pretzels, Rice Cakes, Saltine Crackers, Corn Chips, Jelly Beans)
- Bread (Bagel, French Bread)
- Rice (Jasmine Rice. Instant Rice)
- Cereal (Cornflakes, Grapenuts, Golden Grahams)
- Potatoes (Mashed, French Fries, Red Baked)
26. Foods to avoid: Things to avoid consuming.
- Caffeine after 2pm
- Fast food
- High fat foods
- Spicy Foods
- Refined Carbohydrates
Night time beverages are another excellent source of sleep minerals. Not to mention comforting. Drink your favorite and reap the benefits.
27. Beverages: Minerals in drinks can help you sleep. More importantly drinks fit right into a bedtime routine. Drinking a warm glass of milk every night before bed will condition your body and mind to associate warm milk with sleeping. Therefore you will feel sleepy not only from the calcium and tryptophan in warm milk, but also from the nightly routine. NOTE: Make sure not to drink too close to bed time. You don’t want to interrupt your sleep running to the bathroom.
- Warm Milk
- Almond Milk
- Chamomile Tea
- Passionfruit Tea
- Tart Cherry Juice (The best source of natural melatonin)
- Peppermint Tea
- Chia Seed Drink
- Valerian Tea
Falling asleep is all about putting your body in a routine. There are many different activities you can do to help prep your mind and body for bed. Whatever you decide make sure to stick with it.
28. Same time same place: According to Martin, owner of insomnialand.com, go to bed and wake up at the same time everyday. Even on weekends! This will develop a routine for your sleep cycle. Conditioning your body and mind for sleep makes falling asleep quicker and easier.
29. Read: Read a boring or dry book. We all have been up at night reading a textbook for class and have fallen asleep. Apply that same success to everyday sleep. Don’t read books on a kindle or tablet. The back light will mess with your melatonin production. Another hint, don’t read books that are too mentally stimulating, like self help books or murder mysteries.
30. Write: Writing in a journal will help you let out your emotions and frustrations. Getting negative emotions and frustrations out of your system will help your mind relax.
31. Warm bath: A warm bath for 20 or 30 minutes will raise your body temperature a degree or two. Joyce Walsleben PhD, from New York School of Medicine states, “If you raise your (body) temperature a degree or two with a bath, the steeper drop at bedtime is more likely to put you in a deep sleep,” Just make sure you finish your hot bath within 2 hours of going to bed. If you jump into bed right after a warm bath you will have a hard time falling asleep until your body temperature cools down.
32. Cold bath: On the other hand, Tim Ferris, takes a cold bath 1 hour prior to sleeping. This jump starts the body’s cool down process which allows him to fall asleep quicker. “It’s like getting hit with an elephant tranquilizer.”
33. Limit electronics: Laying in bed on your tablet or phone may seem like a relaxing activity, but it is negatively effecting your sleep. Kevin Philips suggests that, “the light emitting from the devices actually tricks your brain into staying awake because it associates the light with daytime, delaying the release of melatonin, and thus delaying sleep.” Stop looking at your electronic devices at least 45 minutes prior to going to bed and don’t take them into the bedroom.
34. Drink a warm beverage: The best drinks like stated in the food section are. Warm milk, chamomile tea, almond milk, and peppermint tea. Add a spoonful of honey to help the tryptophan enter your brain.
35. Pray: Praying before bed is a good way to clear your thoughts and relieve stress. It has the same calming effects as writing in a journal. Praying every night is another sleep routine habit.
36. Stretching: 5 minutes of stretching before bed is a good way to lengthen and relax muscles prior to sleeping. Muscle tension can keep you awake and in pain. Remember to keep the stretching simple. If it is too demanding it may raise your heart rate, which will in turn raise your body temperature, thus making it hard to sleep. Here are some good night time stretching exercises..
37. Meditation: Meditation can help free your mind of stress and worries. Allowing your brain to quiet down and relax. Sri Sri Ravi Shankar states, “When practiced regularly, meditation can enhance the quality of your sleep.”
38. Lay out your clothes: Laying out your clothes prior to bed can be a part of your bedtime routine. Getting the body and mind ready for sleep just like combing your hair or brushing your teeth.
39. Mantra: A mantra can help ease your mind by cutting out internal chatter. The repeated words or sounds can clear negative thoughts and keep you in the present. A mantra can be like singing along to your favorite song. “If you get really into your song, so that you’re 100% focused on it, you cannot be distracted by thoughts of what’s for dinner tonight, or how to pay the gas bill! The same can be true with a mantra,” The Sleep Guru.
40. Do all unpleasant tasks early: Thinking about bills, doing the dishes, or mowing the lawn close to bed time is not a easy way to fall asleep. Make sure to get all unpleasant tasks done early. Give yourself time to calm down and relax.
41. Don’t drink alcohol: Drinking alcohol may help you fall asleep initially, but it has a big impact on deep sleep. Irshaad Ebrahim, director of London Sleep Center, said “The effect of consolidating sleep in the first half of the night is offset by having more disrupted sleep in the second half of the night” Also drinking can reduce your REM sleep stage. This is the deepest sleep stage where you dream, memories are stored, and where learning occurs. If you are going to drink, give your body the time to process the alcohol before you go to bed. According to drinkaware.com it takes roughly 1 hour to process one unit of alcohol.
42. Don’t drink liquids within an hour of bed: The last thing you want is to interrupt your precious deep sleep by needing to use the restroom.
43. Small snacks: It is never good to go to bed hungry. Eating a small snack of low-glycemic index food will help you feel more rested in the morning. Don’t stuff yourself either because if you have a full stomach your body will be working on digesting it and not relaxing.
44. Orange sunglasses: Blue light effects our production of melatonin. The main culprit of blue light is electronics. Orange sunglasses help mask the blue light at night time keeping your circadian rhythm and melatonin production normal.
45. Seeds of Vaccaria: Auricular therapy is a traditional Chinese medicine that involves pressing key points on the outer ear. This lady says seeds of vaccaria mixed with auricular therapy helped her with insomnia.
In Bed Techniques
Laying in bed awake is no fun. To fall asleep as quickly and soundly as possible you need to minimize interruption and keep your mind focused on something other than not falling asleep.
46. “7-11” breathing: This breathing technique requires you to breath in for 7 seconds then breath out for 11 seconds. Lay in your favorite sleeping position and repeat until you fall asleep. Because you will consistently need to count and focus on your breathing your mind, muscles, and body will all relax. Also your heart rate will begin to slow, helping you dose off.
47. Squeeze and relax: Progressive muscle relaxation is the process of tensing then relaxing all the muscle groups in your body. Phil Gehrman, clinical director of Penn Medicine’s Behavioral Sleep Medicine Program, suggests that progressive muscle relaxation helps you sleep in two ways. It relaxes your muscles and body to help restlessness. And calms your mind.
48. Don’t peek: If you are having difficulties falling asleep, don’t peek at the clock. It will only increase anxiety thus making it even harder to sleep.
49. Comfortable clothes: Wear loose fitting clothes that will keep you either cool or warm respectively. Cotton works best to keep you cool and minimize sweating. Yes, even try a pair sweat shorts. They may help you sleep quickly.
50. Sleep naked: An Australian study shows that body temperature has a direct connection with sleeping and remaining asleep. Sleeping naked is all about keeping your body temperature cool. If you are covering up with heavy pajamas and blankets it may be affecting your sleep.
51. Socks: In winter sometimes cold feet can keep you awake. Put on a pair of socks to warm them up. The layer of sock can help improve circulation in your extremities according to Phyllis Zee, MD, PhD.
52. No pets: According to new research 30% of pet owners who sleep with their fluffy companion report waking up at least once a night. In addition 63% had poor sleep quality. This is a tough one, but if you are looking to sleep better, maybe try and have your pet sleep in another room.
53. Allow your feet freedom: Feeling restricted is no fun if you wake up from a nightmare. Give your feet the freedom to move around and kick if need be. It may keep you sleeping when you are running in your dreams.
54. Sleep on left side: Sleeping on your left side is recommended by the experts. It gives you the least likely chance of getting interrupted while sleeping. Also sleeping on your left side can improve heart circulation, and helps with heartburn and acid reflux.
55. Get out of bed: If you can’t fall asleep after 30 minutes go into another room and do an activity from “Night time habits” to try and relax. Whatever you choose don’t stress that you can’t fall asleep. That will only make it harder. Acknowledge that the issue is there than move forward, focusing on calming your mind and body.
56. Mental exercise: There are a ton of mental exercises that can help you sleep. And a lot of them are better than counting sheep. Check out Sleeping Tricks. You will find many fun ways to distract your mind and fall asleep.
57. Visualize: Research found that sleep related words like cozy, rest, calm, and relax had a positive influence on the participants sleep. 47% slept longer and achieved a deeper state of sleep. So visualize a peaceful and comfortable place. Such as a past vacation or pleasant experience.
58. Be thankful: In a British study, participants who were most thankful slept longer than less appreciative participants. The quality of their sleep was also better. Take a few minutes each night to recognize the things that you are thankful for.
59. Primitive sleep positions: This study suggests sleeping like our close relatives the primates can help alleviate back and joint pain. Maybe a different sleeping style is what is keeping you from the perfect night sleep.
60. Military crawl position: Waking yourself up at night? This sleep position could help you. The reason: it makes it impossible to move. Other cultures have used this technique to prevent infants from moving which calms them. Less moving around results in faster sleep.
61. Getting intimate: After a romantic session you may fall asleep quicker. “After orgasm, the hormone prolactin is released, which is responsible for the feelings of relaxation and sleepiness,” says Sheenie Ambardar, MD.
62. Sleep in different beds: Just like with pets sometimes the person next to you is interrupting your sleep. This article shows why some couples sleep in different rooms. Reasons include snoring, different schedules, sleep habits, or temperature preferences. It may sound strange, but if it is affecting your sleep, it is worth a try. You may be surprised.
With the advancement technology there are now phone apps that can help you sleep. Even though I said not to take electronics into the bed room, if you are using them to help you sleep then I am all for it.
63. Sleep Cycle (iOS and Android – $0.99): Sleep Cycle is all about getting feedback on your sleeping habits. Using a smart phone accelerometer it will analyze and graph your quality of sleep. Also it wakes you in a 30 minute window. This is so you will be woken during your lightest sleep in that period. This will make you feel more rested and refreshed when you wake up.
64. SleepBot (iOS and Android – Free): SleepBot is a free sleep tracking app for both Android and iOS. Just like Sleep Cycle it will track your sleep and analyze the quality of sleep. It also has the ability to record sounds. Any sound above a certain threshold will be recorded. So if you talk or snore in your sleep you will know. SleeBot also has a resource section to help you learn about smart sleeping habits.
65. Sleep as Android (Android – Free, Pay for total access): Originally Sleep As Android was an app to wake you at the optimal time in the morning. When your sleeping the lightest. Now this free app for the Android tracks your sleep habits. It will record sounds at night and possibly help diagnose sleep illnesses. This app will also remind you if you are running on a sleep deficit and will notify you to get back onto a regular sleeping schedule. There are multiple alarms to help wake you, from soothing sounds to puzzles. To access all the features you will have to pay a small fee.
66. Pzizz (iOS – Free): Pzizz is an iPhone app that will help you fall asleep and relax by combining music, sounds effects, words, and beats. You are able to set the music length from 10 minutes to 10 hours. This app generates a unique sleeping sound track from its library of sounds. There are over 10 billion possible combinations to help you drift into sleep land.
67. Relax and Sleep (Android – Free): Relax and Sleep is a ambient sound app for Android devices. It has a list of 35+ ambient sounds including thunder, lightning, ocean, sea, rain, and white noise. You are able to combine and change independent track volumes to create your own unique sound track.
68. f.lux (iOS, Windows, Mac, Linux – Free): Blue light emitted from your electronics can delay the release of melatonin thus delaying sleep. F.lux is a piece of software that is available for Windows, Mac, iPhone, or iPad. It makes the color of the device’s display adapt to the time of day. When it is light out the color is normal. But during night the color is changed to a shade of peach. This makes looking at the screen much easier on the eyes and limiting blue light and it’s effect on sleep.
69. Twilight (Android – Free): Twilight does the same thing as f.lux but is built for Android devices. Now every device you own can limit blue light. All you need is a pair of orange sunglasses for the T.V. and you are set.
70. SleepQ (iOS – $1.99): SleepQ is a smartphone app that provides an at-home pre-bed sleep training. It is an active way to learn how to fall asleep quicker and be confident about sleep. Using short repeated sleep trials, SleepQ guides you from one trial to another improving sleep confidence.
I know there are tons of techniques for falling asleep. Let me know if I missed some good ones. I would gladly add them into the list.
I hope this post was as helpful to you as it was for me to research it. Thanks for reading!
On another note I am not a sleep professional. Just a guy who likes to sleep, being comfortable, and happy.
If you continue to have problems falling asleep or remaining asleep go see a sleep doctor. Everyone is different and sometimes one thing that works for you will not work for another person.
Stay Comfortable. Stay Awesome.