We’ve all been there.
You’re tossing and turning relentlessly, staring at the ceiling between spans of closing your eyes in vain. The hours drag mercilessly onward without a moment of respite.
Dawn soon breaks and your anxiety rises with the sun. Its encroaching light and the demands of the day bleed through your bedroom window, whether you’re rested enough to face them or not.
When you can’t sleep, the endless nights and tough days after can seem so torturous. Maybe you’ve tried everything to no avail. Or maybe you’re struggling right now looking for answers in bed. When counting sheep just won’t cut it, these 9 natural remedies will.
Read on to learn all about why sleep is so important and 9 effective ways to get to sleep fast.
How can I fall asleep fast?
Before we get into some science of sleep, making some of these changes in your bedtime routine can be a great way to fall asleep fast every time. Try the top 3 for relief right now, and the next 6 for powerful, long-term strategies.
1. Lay in a comfortable position
Some sleeping positions are better than others. The two best positions for long-term health and falling asleep fast are laying on your left side or your back.
First, sleeping on your left side is comfortable, great for your digestion, and helps with conditions like GERD. Try placing a pillow between your knees and under your head to hit the sweet spot.
Second, lying flat on your back is the best position to protect your spine and joints. Try no pillow behind your head for perfect neck alignment and put it under your knees instead for another comfy position.
2. Clear your mind with meditation
If you’ve never tried meditation before, it’s both an amazing tool for mental health and getting to sleep fast. It’s as easy as can be and gives a serene mental clarity to help you sleep. There are so many great ways to meditate, but one method works like this:
- Get into your ideal sleep position from step one.
- Shift your attention to external sounds of your bedroom and outside. Try this for one full minute.
- Scan your body and observe how it feels, paying attention to physical sensations of discomfort and contact points to the bed beneath you. Start from your toes working up to your head. Go as slowly as you can.
- Focus on your breath, counting each exhale from 1 to 10 and then starting again from 1. Allow rogue thoughts to come and go without trying to control them. If you lose count, start again from 1.
- Go back to the body scan and reverse the process to finish after about 5-15 minutes.
There are plenty of apps like Headspace to guide you through the whole experience.
3. Adjust the room temperature
Cool down the room to encourage more restful sleep and stop waking up in the middle of the night. Your body’s internal temperature naturally lowers after falling asleep. So, turning down the thermostat can lead your body into its ideal sleep state.
About 60 to 67 degrees Fahrenheit (15.6 to 19.4 C) is the best temperature to fall asleep fast. That’s one more reason you might also want to try the next tip too.
4. Get into a hot shower or bath before bed
It’s a bit counter-intuitive. But, a hot shower or bath drops your internal temperature. It will raise while you’re in the shower, then sharply drop for 30 to 90 minutes after you finish.
It’s the perfect time frame to try the top 3 methods here to get to sleep naturally.
5. Only go to bed when you’re ready to sleep
It’s tempting to use your phone or laptop to wind down while you’re laying down. It feels like a gentle transition from wakefulness to sleepiness this way. But, you’re hurting yourself in the long run.
Using your bedroom for any mentally stimulating activity sets up your brain to expect those behaviors all the time in that space. You’ll sleep later as a result.
By only using your bed for sleeping, you form a strong, subconscious connection between laying in bed and falling asleep fast. Going a step further could help even more.
6. Cut out all screens an hour before bed
Lights from any kind of device interfere with our circadian rhythm. Even in the case of apps that reduce blue light, looking at screens before bed is terrible for sleep. It fools your brains into thinking it’s seeing daylight, one of the main regulators of your sleep cycle.
Try not to use any devices or watch any media about an hour before bed. Instead, make a habit of doing something less stimulating to have a much easier time falling asleep fast.
7. Have a low-stimulation wind down ritual
Have a replacement habit in mind for cutting all screen time to make putting your phone away easier. Instead, try something low-tech but still enjoyable. Reading a paper book or unlit e-reader, journaling, or taking a short stroll are all solid choices.
The last option is the best way to go since being more active is an amazing long-term strategy for getting better sleep.
8. Get more exercise
Research shows that adding just 30 minutes of moderate exercise per day has a profound effect on mental health and sleep. One sleep study said exercise could be as powerful as sleeping pills, and a much healthier alternative.
Exercise also drops your internal temperature just like a hot shower does. So making it part of your nighttime routine might be the best time.
Finally, all-natural remedies can be a wonderful addition to your life for long-term health and restful sleep.
9. Use natural sleep remedies
Before you reach for a bottle of sleeping pills, consider these far healthier, all-natural alternatives. Your future self will be so thankful you did!
- Lavender and Linalool: The scent of lavender oil and the main plant terpene it contains, linalool, are a powerful combo for sleep. Lavender’s sweet fragrance gives a sense of calm, and a mild sedative effect. Try applying an essential oil to your wrists, neck, or temples just before bed.
- Chamomile Tea: Herbal chamomile tea is a classic natural remedy for sleep. The flowers contain a compound called apigenin that acts like a mild sedative. Try a cup about 45 minutes before bed to sync the onset of chamomile’s effects with your sleep.
- Melatonin: This hormone is naturally made in your body in darkness. Too much light exposure (including screens) late in the day causes a lack of melatonin. Adding a melatonin supplement 30 to 60 minutes before bed, can improve your sleep.
- CBD: Getting to sleep fast is one of CBD’s most popular uses. CBD is another completely natural compound that works with your body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS). Your ECS is an active part of your daily life whether or not you ever try CBD. Try the incredible combo of CBD and Melatonin about an hour before bedtime.
Any of the above methods and natural remedies are a great place to start improving the quality of your sleep. The importance of getting good sleep for your health and your life simply can’t be overstated.
How does sleep affect health?
An occasional late night out or broken sleep is nothing to worry about. But, persistent trouble sleeping can have some serious side effects. Poor sleep affects our health in accumulating and potentially disastrous ways – both mental and physical.
Mental Effects of Poor Sleep
- Brain Fog: Studies have found that sleep has the biggest impact on cognitive functions. You’ll find it more difficult to concentrate and get things done.
- Bad Mood: There’s a proven link between sleep and your mood. Both short and long-term sleep deprivation cause spikes in anxiety, depression, and mood swings.
- More Stress: A 2018 study found a potential link between sleep and anger. Lack of sleep makes it more difficult to deal with everyday inconveniences and leads to higher perceptions of stress.
Physical Effects of Poor Sleep
- Weight Gain: Sleep rebalances chemicals in the brain that manage hunger and appetite. Lack of sleep can interfere with these chemicals and cause unwanted changes in weight.
- Protects Against Diseases: There’s a correlation between lack of sleep and diabetes or heart disease. Getting a full night’s rest greatly reduces your chances of getting either.
- Lower Sex Drive: Researchers found lower libidos in men and women without enough rest. It also affects fertility in couples trying to conceive.
The accumulative, negative effects of poor sleep can seriously impact the quality of life over time. But that begs the question: why?
Why do we sleep anyway?
Needing to sleep at the end of a long day feels like a given. It’s just something we have to do when we’re tired, isn’t it? As natural as it seems to lay down in bed at night, close our eyes, and slip into dreamland, science still has no clear explanation about why we do.
For now, there are four main theories that try to explain why we sleep: inactivity theory, energy conservation theory, restoration theory, and brain plasticity theory.
Imagine for a minute that you didn’t live in a society and instead were forced to survive in an untamed wilderness. It would be a constant challenge, but there would be certain dangers you’d only have to worry about at night. Think attracting predators you’d never see coming, or tripping over some brush in the gloom to sprain an ankle.
Animals inactive at night are far less likely to be injured like this. So, sleeping at night might have been an evolved trait we inherited over time to protect ourselves.
Energy Conservation Theory
Think of animals in the wild one more time. There are no grocery stores and no abundance of food like we get to enjoy. Instead, animals need to find or hunt everything they need to survive. For a long, long time, humans were no different.
It takes a whole lot of energy to move across natural terrain to forage berries or hunt an animal. And since food is a lot more scarce, you wouldn’t want to use any more energy than was absolutely necessary to get what you need.
That’s the basics of the energy conservation theory. Humans sleep at night to save energy while it’s not very efficient to hunt for food. Even though some snacks are usually a short walk to the fridge away, maybe our evolution hasn’t caught up yet.
Our bodies need the restorative property of sleep to perform at their best. The restoration theory says that sleep is the most efficient time to repair our bodies and restore everything that was “used” while we were awake.
Thinking about surviving the day after your last all-nighter might be proof enough. But, strong science backs this theory up too.
In an animal study, sleep-deprived animals lost nearly all immune function until falling ill. And in humans, things like muscle growth, cell repair, and protein synthesis mostly happen while we’re asleep.
Brain Plasticity Theory
Brain plasticity theory says that we need sleep to organize the brain’s structure. This nightly spring cleaning lets us learn new things, perform at our best, and helps brain development in children.
Brain plasticity theory is one solid explanation for why infants need so much more sleep than adults (around 14 hours or more). But it’s just as important for adults and one reason why you’ll want to avoid sleep problems as best you can.
What causes sleep problems?
Finding the culprit behind your sleep problems can be a bit tricky. Any of the following alone or in tandem might be hurting your sleep quality.
- Irregular Schedule: Our circadian rhythm is one of the main influencers that gets us to sleep at the right time. A sudden change in your schedule from working or staying up late disrupts this natural process. So, try waking and sleeping around the same time every day.
- Stress: It’s difficult to sleep with a mind wracked with worries. As hard as it can be to let go of stress, giving yourself some grace to face your troubles in the morning can do wonders. Meditation and exercise are two effective ways to reduce stress.
- Diet: Caffeine or heavy meals late at night can disrupt your sleep or cause indigestion. Try avoiding caffeine after 2PM. And while reaching for a bottle might help you get to sleep, alcohol hurts your sleep quality in the long-run. You’ll wake feeling more tired than if you didn’t drink, even with small amounts.
- Chronic Condition: A medical condition or sleep disorder could be the cause of your problem. Chronic anxiety, PTSD, depression, GERD, and more are all potential causes of poor sleep. If you’re not sure whether these are the case for you, please talk to your doctor.
Sleeping well is so critical for mental and physical health. So, whether it be with meditation or a supplement, make sure you try our 9 natural remedies if you’re having trouble getting 7 to 8 hours of unbroken rest per night.
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