There are few things worse than spending your nights tossing and turning. Whether it’s anxiety about work, stress about financial woes or just plain insomnia, when you can’t sleep, the repercussions are more serious than just feeling drowsy the next day.
Sleep is one of the most important things you can do to keep your body healthy. In fact, according to a study in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, a lapse in adequate sleep time — at least seven hours a night — can lead to a decreased attention span, depressed feelings and difficulty processing ideas. (1) It can also lead to increased weight gain and increase your chances of getting sick.
Not getting enough shut eye? Try my 20 favorite tried-and-true strategies to help you get a good night’s rest on those nights you can’t sleep. Your body will thank you!
Top 20 Ways to Fall Asleep Fast!
1. Set the right temperature
A too-warm room makes you sweaty, while super cold temps leave you shivering. Opt for a range between 60 and 73 degrees F. A slightly chilly temperature helps decrease your body’s internal thermometer, initiating sleepiness and ensuring you stay comfortable throughout the night.
2. Set the mood.
Dim the lights at least 30 minutes before bedtime. Turn off extra noises, lights and distractions. Turn on a fan, white noise machine, calming instrumental music or use earplugs to adjust your environment to be the most comfortable to you. Try to make this a routine to tell your body it’s time to sleep and help it ease into a peaceful night’s rest.
3. Use essential oils
Incorporating essential oils, or aromatherapy, into your nightly routine is a safe, natural and therapeutic way to encourage your body to wind down. I especially love using lavender essential oil and roman chamomile oil to get me in a drowsy mood on those nights I can’t sleep.
I recommend diluting the pure oil with a carrier oil like almond or coconut oils and then spritzing on your pillow or rubbing on your neck. Or add just a few drops to an essential oils diffuser to fill the room with a relaxing scent. Learn more about the power of essential oils and diluting them in my essential oils guide.
4. Unwind your mind.
Settle into bed with a good novel or a spiritual growth book a half hour or so before bedtime. This practice gives your body a chance to unwind instead of forcing it to try and head straight to sleep. But steer clear of thrillers or other brain-jarring reads — you want to lull yourself to bed, not stay awake with a page turner!
5. Skip late night sugar and simple carbs.
Avoid eating sugary sweets, chocolate, simple carbs, juice or high-glycemic fruit just before bed, as it can spike blood sugar, boost your energy and you can wake up feeling hungry. Instead, try a little bit of protein with vegetables or a small amount of complex carbohydrates with protein, which can boost melatonin and help you fall asleep fast!
Some people can tolerate some fruit before bed, but make your snack with a combination of melatonin-forming foods and high-protein snacks so you don’t wake up in the middle of the night. Some good bedtime snacks are:
- half a banana with almond butter on a slice of sprouted grain bread
- hummus with carrots, cucumber or celery
- apple chips and sunflower butter
- a small handful of cashews, 1/4 cup dried fruit with some seed-based crackers
6. Keep electronics out of bed
Watching television in bed and answering late-night work emails trick your brain into thinking that your bed is just another spot to get things done and not the place to settle down after a long day. (It’s also a sign of nomophobia.) Watch your evening programs in the living room and keep that space sacred by eliminating electronics.
7. Maintain a regular sleep schedule
Keep your circadian rhythm in check by adhering to a regular sleep schedule as much as possible — yes, even on weekends! As your body becomes used to getting into bed and waking up at the same hours, you’ll find it becomes easier to fall asleep and wake up naturally. Aim for an average of eight hours of quality sleep a night.
8. Limit caffeine after 12 p.m.
Did you know caffeine’s effects can last up to 12 hours? If you can’t sleep at night, your mid-afternoon cup of joe and even a caffeine overdose might be to blame. Try an alternative, caffeine-free drink for a daytime jolt instead.
I love this Cilantro Ginger Smoothie. Filled with refreshing cucumber and ginger, it’ll give you a boost of energy without the sleep-depriving effects of caffeine.
9. Work out in the morning
That rush of endorphins you feel after a solid workout is awesome — until it’s the reason you can’t sleep at night. Try shifting your workout schedule to the mornings. You’ll feel great having completed your exercise session bright and early, and it’ll be easier to unwind at night.
10. Journal before bed
Oftentimes, it’s our own thoughts preventing us from falling asleep. Instead of running through situations or problems in your mind after lights out, try journaling before bed. It’s a therapeutic way to address what might be troubling you and chronicle your day before drifting to sleep.
11. Eat melatonin foods and melatonin-producing foods
Melatonin is one of the major keys to a natural, healthy sleep cycle. So eating a combination of certain fruits and carbohydrates that support melatonin or contain tryptophan, which contributes to melatonin production, will help you sleep and stay asleep.
I don’t recommend having a heavy meal right before bed or eating a large amount of sugary fruits, but include these items during your dinner or an hour before bed as an evening snack, to increase your melatonin production and ensure a sound sleep.
“Foods that contain tryptophan can also be eaten in the evening as these help induce production of serotonin, which is required to make melatonin.” (2)
- Grass-fed dairy products
- Fish, chicken, turkey
- Sprouted grains
- Beans and pulses
- Rice (black, brown or red rice are the best)
- Sesame seeds
- Sunflower seeds
NOTE: Most people notice a better sleep when they combine 15–20 grams of carbohydrates in their evening snacks; however, some people do better without carbohydrates later at night. So, listen to your body. If snacking late doesn’t sound good, then just incorporate these foods into your dinner.
12. Add magnesium food or supplements
A magnesium deficiency can lead to sleepless nights. While there are plenty of magnesium-rich foods you can eat naturally, adding a supplement can help jump-start your levels and help you sleep better. In fact, one study in the Journal of Research in Medical Sciences found that magnesium supplements improved insomnia and sleep efficiency. Opt for 500 milligrams daily. (3)
13. Don’t count sheep
If you find yourself having trouble going to sleep for over 20 minutes, and you still feel restless, don’t just lay there trying to force yourself to sleep. It’s better to get up and do something else for a few minutes, rather than lay there worrying about the clock. Again, avoid technology, watching TV or doing any work, but try reading a book, journaling or any lower light activity. (4)
14. Get some sunshine
Starting your day with natural light exposure helps reset your biological clock. It also balances your body’s melatonin and cortisol levels. Try going for an early morning walk or leaving the office during your lunch hour to get your dose of sunshine.
15. Relax with a detox bath
Instead of taking a rushed shower, try a Detox Bath instead. It’ll help relieve your body of toxins, release the power of essential oils, and soothe both your body and brain. The lavender bath is my favorite to bring the body into balance and help it feel relaxed.
16. Sip on chamomile tea
If you’re the type who likes curling up with a warm beverage after dinner, cozy up to a mug of chamomile. Not only can sipping on a warm drink before bed make you feel drowsier, the naturally caffeine-free tea has a calming effect on the body.
17. Meditate with breathing, prayer and thankfulness
Take several deep breaths, and let it all out. Let your thoughts rest, and focus on relaxing each part of your body. Then spend a few minutes reflecting on what you’re thankful for, praying or just spending some time alone with your thoughts. Always dwell on the positive parts of your day and the bright things you have to look forward to, as it can have a powerful effect on easing your mind into a restful state.
18. Use natural sleep supplements
If you find yourself facing a chronic lack of sleep, consider natural sleep supplements like valerian root, passion flower and melatonin. Often, these are available in a tea or in supplement tablets. These can get you over the hump when you’ve had several sleepless nights and help your body get some much-needed rest. But these should be used for a limited time only — if you find that minimal sleep has become the norm over several weeks or months, consult your doctor.
19. Engage in full-body exercise
Working larger muscle groups during the day, like your legs or all-over body workouts, helps physically exhaust your body, making it easier to fall asleep. I also love burst training; these short but intense exercises really wear you out. You’ll sleep like a baby!
20. Invest in a good mattress and weighted blankets
All these strategies are null and void if you’re sleeping on an uncomfortable mattress! Your health depends on getting a good night’s rest, so you want to be sure your mattress is up for the challenge. Check out my tips to choose the right mattress to ensure great sleep every night.
Lastly, consider using a weighted blanket in order to calm down sleep anxiety, as a study in Occupational Therapy showed that these blankets are effective for many types of anxiety-related conditions. (5) The blanket can weigh anywhere from 10 to 20 pounds and is weighted down by beads lined inside the blanket that work like a deep tissue massage. This weight apparently can create serotonin in your body, of which some of that becomes melatonin and helps you get your rest.