How to fall asleep fast and have a restful sleep (the definitive guide)

How to fall asleep fast and have a restful sleep (the definitive guide)

Essential oils are natural compounds that are extracted from plants. These oils have been around for centuries and are used in many cultures for medicinal purposes, cooking, perfumes, and cosmetics. Recently, essential oils have been growing in popularity for their healing and calming effects when used for aromatherapy. If you are one of the millions of people suffering from difficulty sleeping, you might want to consider adding essential oils to your nighttime routine.

How to use essential oils for sleep

There are generally three ways to reap the benefits of essential oils:

  • Inhaling. The most common method of using essential oils is inhaling, which is usually done using a diffuser. A few drops of the oil are put into the diffuser and the oil molecules are dispersed through the air for you to breathe them in.
  • Direct application to the skin. When applied in this manner, the body can absorb the molecules as the permeate through the skin. Because of the volatile nature of the oil, this method will also allow you to inhale and sense the aroma of the oil, as some of it will evaporate. Because essential oils are concentrated, it is best to dilute them with a carrier oil such as apricot oil or almond oil before application. It is recommended to first apply a tiny amount to a small area of your skin to make sure you are compatible with the essential oil.
  • Ingesting. Although essential oils can be added to food and drinks, this method is not recommended without guidance from a medical professional. The risk here outweighs the benefit — especially with the easy options of inhalation and direct application.

When using these methods to help you sleep, they work in two ways, depending on which oil(s) you are using. Some offer soothing effects to help you sleep, and others help to clear your airway so you can breathe easier, allowing you to fall asleep.

How do essential oils work?

When essential oils make their way into your body, they have an impact on your olfactory system, the system relating to smell, and limbic system, which is your “emotional brain.”

When you inhale, molecules from the essential oils make their ways to the brain. When they get to the brain they have an effect on the amygdala, which is part of the limbic system and known as the emotional center of the brain.

Essential oils are also known to work through the olfactory system to cause the brain to secrete neurotransmitters, such as dopamine and serotonin, which can elevate mood. Not only are these neurotransmitters needed to make you feel calm and relaxed, but serotonin is also needed to produce melatonin, the hormone responsible for making you feel sleepy at bedtime.

Best essential oils for sleep

Here are some of the essential oils that may help to calm and relax you, allowing you to sleep:

Lavender. Lavender works to calm anxiety and offers sedative effects. It may not only help you to fall asleep but may also help you to spend more quality time in deep, slow-wave sleep.

Chamomile. Chamomile is known to be calming, reducing stress. Long used as a relaxant, the sedative effects may be due to apigenin which binds to benzodiazepine receptors. Of course, the benefit of Chamomile is not restricted to application of the essential oil. The flower of the plant can be enjoyed as a relaxing hot drink when brewed into a tea.

Bergamot. Bergamot oil can lower your heart rate and blood pressure and help with anxiety and stress, allowing you to get to sleep.

Clary Sage. Clary sage is a natural sedative and may reduce your cortisol levels, which is known as the stress hormone.

Valerian. Valerian has been shown to reduce anxiety, which can help you to fall asleep and stay asleep longer.

Sandalwood. Sandalwood oil can aid in relaxation and calm anxiety. It is also known to have sedative effects.

Ylang ylang. Ylang ylang is also known as a sedative and can have calming effects to relieve anxiety.

Jasmine. Jasmine has been shown to help with restless sleeping, improving the quality of your sleep.

Frankincense. Frankincense may promote relaxation to calm you, helping you to fall asleep.

If you have trouble sleeping due to having a stuffy nose or other mild symptoms of a cold or allergies, you may want to try these essential oils:

Peppermint. Peppermint oil has anti-inflammatory properties. It may help you to clear your nose and airways, reducing snoring and symptoms of mild sleep apnea.

Eucalyptus. Eucalyptus oil can also help to clear your sinuses and airways. It has been shown to break up mucus in your airways and sinuses, which can help you to breathe easier and get to sleep. Eucalyptus oil is an ingredient in over the counter chest rubs used for colds.

These oils can be used separately or you can experiment and combine to create your own essential oil blends for sleep.

Essential oils are not to be used as a treatment for sleep apnea or other sleep disorders but may be used for mild snoring not related to sleep apnea, or in addition to therapy that has been prescribed by your doctor.

If you think you may have sleep apnea or any sleep disorder, it is best to contact your doctor to see if you need a sleep study. To quickly determine if you are at risk for sleep apnea, you can take a home sleep test learn more.

Always be sure to seek advice from your healthcare professional before beginning any kind of treatment on your own.

Tired of feeling tired? Here are some simple tips to help you get to sleep.

After a night spent tossing and turning, you wake up feeling like a couple of the Seven Dwarves: sleepy. and grumpy. Restless nights and weary mornings can become more frequent as we get older and our sleep patterns change—which often begins around the time of menopause, when hot flashes and other symptoms awaken us.

“Later in life there tends to be a decrease in the number of hours slept,” says Dr. Karen Carlson, associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and director of Women’s Health Associates at Massachusetts General Hospital. “There are also some changes in the way the body regulates circadian rhythms,” she adds. This internal clock helps your body respond to changes in light and dark. When it undergoes a shift with age, it can be harder to fall asleep and stay asleep through the night.

We all have trouble sleeping from time to time, but when insomnia persists day after day, it can become a real problem. Beyond making us tired and moody, a lack of sleep can have serious effects on our health, increasing our propensity for obesity, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes.

If you’ve been having trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, you may have turned to sleep medications in search of more restful slumber. However, these drugs can have side effects—including appetite changes, dizziness, drowsiness, abdominal discomfort, dry mouth, headaches, and strange dreams. A recent study in the British Medical Journal associated several hypnotic sleep aids, including zolpidem (Ambien) and temazepam (Restoril), with a possible increased risk of death (although it couldn’t confirm how much of the risk was related to these drugs).

You don’t need to avoid sleep aids if you absolutely need them, but before you turn to pills, try these eight tips to help you get a better night’s sleep:

1. Exercise

Going for a brisk daily walk won’t just trim you down, it will also keep you up less often at night. Exercise boosts the effect of natural sleep hormones such as melatonin, Dr. Carlson says. A study in the journal Sleep found that postmenopausal women who exercised for about three-and-a-half hours a week had an easier time falling asleep than women who exercised less often. Just watch the timing of your workouts. Exercising too close to bedtime can be stimulating. Carlson says a morning workout is ideal. “Exposing yourself to bright daylight first thing in the morning will help the natural circadian rhythm,” she says.

2. Reserve bed for sleep and sex

Don’t use your bed as an office for answering phone calls and responding to emails. Also avoid watching late-night TV there. “The bed needs to be a stimulus for sleeping, not for wakefulness,” Dr. Carlson advises. Reserve your bed for sleep and sex.

3. Keep it comfortable

Television isn’t the only possible distraction in your bedroom. Ambience can affect your sleep quality too. Make sure your bedroom is as comfortable as possible. Ideally you want “a quiet, dark, cool environment,” Dr. Carlson says. “All of these things promote sleep onset.”

4. Start a sleep ritual

When you were a child and your mother read you a story and tucked you into bed every night, this comforting ritual helped lull you to sleep. Even in adulthood, a set of bedtime rituals can have a similar effect. “Rituals help signal the body and mind that it’s coming to be time for sleep,” explains Dr. Carlson. Drink a glass of warm milk. Take a bath. Or listen to calming music to unwind before bed.

5. Eat—but not too much

A grumbling stomach can be distracting enough to keep you awake, but so can an overly full belly. Avoid eating a big meal within two to three hours of bedtime. If you’re hungry right before bed, eat a small healthy snack (such as an apple with a slice of cheese or a few whole-wheat crackers) to satisfy you until breakfast.

6. Avoid alcohol and caffeine

If you do have a snack before bed, wine and chocolate shouldn’t be part of it. Chocolate contains caffeine, which is a stimulant. Surprisingly, alcohol has a similar effect. “People thinks it makes them a little sleepy, but it’s actually a stimulant and it disrupts sleep during the night,” Dr. Carlson says. Also stay away from anything acidic (such as citrus fruits and juices) or spicy, which can give you heartburn.

7. De-stress

The bills are piling up and your to-do list is a mile long. Daytime worries can bubble to the surface at night. “Stress is a stimulus. It activates the fight-or-flight hormones that work against sleep,” Dr. Carlson says. Give yourself time to wind down before bed. “Learning some form of the relaxation response can promote good sleep and can also reduce daytime anxiety.” To relax, try deep breathing exercises. Inhale slowly and deeply, and then exhale.

8. Get checked

An urge to move your legs, snoring, and a burning pain in your stomach, chest, or throat are symptoms of three common sleep disrupters—restless legs syndrome, sleep apnea, and gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD. If these symptoms are keeping you up at night or making you sleepy during the day, see your doctor for an evaluation.

Taking sleep medicines safely

If you’ve tried lifestyle changes and they aren’t working, your doctor may prescribe hypnotic sleep medications. These drugs can help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer, but they also can have side effects. Here are some tips for ensuring that you’re taking these medicines as safely as possible:

Tell your doctor about all other medicines you’re taking. Some drugs can interact with sleep medications.

Take only the lowest possible effective dose, for the shortest possible period of time.

Carefully follow your doctor’s instructions. Make sure you take the right dose, at the right time of day (which is typically just before bed).

Call your doctor right away if you experience any side effects, such as excess sleepiness during the day or dizziness.

While you’re taking the sleep medicine, also practice the good sleep habits outlined in this article.

Avoid drinking alcohol and driving while taking sleep aids.

Sleep medications may make you walk unsteadily if you get out of bed in a drowsy state. If you routinely have to get out of bed during the night to urinate, be sure the path to your bathroom is clear of obstacles or loose rugs so you don’t fall.

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As a service to our readers, Harvard Health Publishing provides access to our library of archived content. Please note the date of last review or update on all articles. No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.

Falling asleep sounds so easy, and yet for many people, it can be a real challenge and can even be a pathway to insomnia . Sleep is a basic biological need , meaning that we need to get enough of it for our minds and bodies to function properly.

Luckily, there are a few things you can do to fall asleep faster and stay asleep. First, let’s look at the science behind sleep. Then, let’s go over some sleeping tips that can help you fall asleep fast.

How to fall asleep fast and have a restful sleep (the definitive guide)

Understanding Sleep

Falling asleep is a normal and necessary part of the sleep/wake cycle . During waking hours, the pressure to fall asleep continues to build until sleep time. This pressure to fall asleep, also called ‘ sleep debt ‘, is decreased or ‘paid off’ while sleeping. When the sleep debt, or sleep pressure, is not reduced, sleep deprivation occurs.

Things That Make it Difficult to Fall Asleep

There are many things that can make it difficult to fall asleep, including:

  • Stress
  • Caffeine (including coffee, dark tea, soda, energy drinks, etc.)
  • Nicotine (cigarettes and chewing tobacco)
  • Alcohol
  • A more complex sleep disorder

If you have difficulty falling asleep for more than a few days, you may have insomnia. There are several causes of insomnia. There are also several treatment options for insomnia. Most treatment plans involve cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBT-i) , and following sleep hygiene recommendations. Over-the-counter supplements, like melatonin or CBD oil are sometimes used for the treatment of insomnia.

Every person has a specific amount of sleep that they need. For most, it is eight hours. Some need more, and some need less. If you feel sleepy during the daytime , you probably are not getting enough quantity or quality of sleep.

With so many individuals searching for the secret of how to fall asleep, we felt it beneficial to review a few key sleeping tips to help you fall asleep quickly.

How to fall asleep fast and have a restful sleep (the definitive guide)

Sleeping Tips to Help You Fall Asleep Fast

  1. Have a ritual – go to bed at the same time. Wake up at the same time.
  2. Calm yourself before bedtime – Many enjoy yoga, a hot shower or bath, or listening to soothing music or ASMR. Do something that relaxes you as part of your nightly ritual.
  3. Avoid things that will keep you awake – this includes avoiding alcohol and caffeine before bedtime. Don’t exercise right before bedtime.
  4. Don’t watch TV or read in bed – you only want to associate your bed and bedroom with sleep
  5. While in bed, if you find yourself awake for more than 10 minutes, get out of bed and sit in a chair until you are sleepy .
  6. Don’t stress out about not falling asleep . If you have a bad night, or find yourself awake for longer than expected, don’t be upset at yourself.
  7. Realize that daytime naps will subtract some of the sleep pressure that you will have at night. Use them with caution if you’re having difficulty sleeping at night.
  8. Create a bedroom sanctuary – Create a calming bedroom with things like weighted blankets, essential oil diffusers, soft music, and dim lighting.
  9. Follow goodsleep hygiene – Sleep hygiene is defined as behaviors that one can do to help promote good sleep using behavioral interventions.

It is important to reduce anxiety before bedtime . Realize that falling asleep is a natural, biological process. You do not need a special substance or ‘trick’ to fall asleep. The need to sleep is ingrained in your DNA. Every person has a specific amount of sleep that they require. You cannot force yourself to sleep if you have already slept enough. Similarly, you cannot sleep less than what your body requires. Trying to sleep more than what you need can actually lead to insomnia.

This content was created by the National Sleep Foundation

Develop these five healthy nightly habits to ease into sleep.

Establishing a pre-bedtime routine—a.k.a practicing good “sleep hygiene”—is likely to help you fall asleep more easily at night and stay asleep until morning. And it’s not as hard to do as you might think. Try working these five habits into your evening for better sleep.

Habit #1: Stay on Schedule.

Going to sleep and waking up at the same time every day—even on weekends—is crucial for setting your body’s internal clock, which experts call your circadian rhythm. Staying consistent also means that the quality of your sleep will be better.

Habit #2: Be Mindful of What you Eat and Drink—and When.

Nicotine and caffeine are stimulants that can take hours to wear off, so they’ll make it harder to fall—and stay—asleep. Avoid them all for four to six hours before bedtime. Though alcohol can initially make you feel sleepy, it lowers the quality of your shut-eye, so try not to drink it in the evening. Also, pay attention to when you eat—going to bed on an empty stomach or hungry can keep you up later. And go easy on any liquids before you hit the hay to prevent trips to the bathroom in the middle of the night.

Habit #3: Create a Comfy Bedroom.

Make your room peaceful and conducive to sleeping by keeping it quiet, cool, and dark. Earplugs are helpful if you live in a noisy area. Outside light can keep you awake, so try room-darkening shades. Your mattress and pillow also make a big difference. Ideally, mattresses should be replaced every five to seven years and pillows should be replaced annually. A mattress should feel comfortable, and if you sleep with a partner, make sure it’s big enough so you both have plenty of space.

Habit #4: Start an Evening Ritual.

Whether it’s curling up with a book, listening to calming music or taking a warm bath, doing the same, relaxing thing every night will signal to your body that it’s time to settle down. However, avoid watching TV or looking at any laptop, tablet or smart phone screens before hitting the hay, since those activities can trigger your brain to stay awake.

Habit #5: Don’t Watch the Clock.

Staring at the clock when you can’t sleep can stress you out and make it even harder to snooze. Keep your bedroom clock turned away from you so that you won’t be tempted to watch time tick by. If 20 minutes pass and you still can’t fall asleep, get out of bed and do something peaceful until you feel drowsy.

Waking up in the middle of the night and having trouble going back to sleep are among the most common symptoms of insomnia. We talked to a sleep medicine specialist about what we can do to get back to sleep and get a good night’s rest.

You follow a normal night-time routine. You limit caffeine in the afternoon. You’re getting good exercise and even began a meditation practice. You feel like you’re doing everything right. You fall asleep easily, but you wake up in the middle of the night and you’re wide awake. Sound familiar? You’re not alone. An estimated 20% of Americans deal with this frustrating issue. So, how exactly can you combat this to get back to sleeping soundly? We talked to sleep medicine specialist, Scott Leibowitz, M.D., DABSM, FAASM, who helped explain why this happens, plus gave us his top five tips for falling back asleep when you wake up in the middle of the night.

What’s causing you to wake up in the first place?

According to Dr. Leibowitz, waking up during the night is normal. He says most people will wake up a few times during the night, but generally have no recollection of waking and are able to easily fall back asleep. However, there are times when we wake up and have trouble going back to sleep. When that happens, Dr. Leibowitz says that it is most often due to a loss of sleep inertia.

Sleep inertia is the state of transition between sleep and wake. Think of those moments when you first wake up… you’re confused, slow to move and want to go back to sleep. That is sleep inertia at work. When sleep inertia doesn’t work, you lose the ability to fall back asleep easily. So if loss of sleep inertia is what keeps us awake in the middle of the night, how do we get it back?! Let’s start by identifying common culprits that have a negative impact on sleep inertia

Medical conditions

It’s always important to rule out a medical condition if you are having sleep-related issues. Sleep apnea and sleep related movement disorders can cause you to wake up and have trouble falling back asleep. Some medications can contribute to disrupted sleep as well, so it’s important to make an appointment with your primary care physician to rule out any medical or prescription-related issues.

Worrisome thoughts

Consider what’s on your mind when you wake up in the middle of the night. Anxiety and trouble sleeping are closely tied together. By using techniques to deal with stress and anxiety before you lay down, you allow your brain to deal with your worries while you should be awake instead of allowing them to keep you up when you need to rest. Here are some ways to start reducing anxiety and improve sleep.

Alcohol

Alcohol is a double-edge sword. It helps you to fall asleep initially but as your body begins metabolizing it, sleep becomes disrupted and fragmented which leads to middle of the night awakenings. If you’re encountering sleep-related issues, it’s best to limit or eliminate alcohol. (Here’s exactly what happens to your body when you do quit drinking).

Environment

Think about your bedroom. Is it a restful environment? Environmental issues can be a major component of prolonged awakenings. Factors such as: a room that’s too warm, sleeping with the television on, a partner’s snoring or uncomfortable pillows or mattresses can all be a part of the problem.

Going to bed too early

This sounds counterintuitive, right? You often hear people say, “Go to bed early to get a good night’s sleep!” And many sleep-hygiene regimens would suggest that you set a regular bed time. But there is a problem with those recommendations: they don’t take into consideration how much sleep each individual actually needs.

Dr. Leibowitz explains, “My initial recommendation to 95% of the patients I evaluate with this problem is to push their bedtimes later, which helps to eliminate middle of the night awakenings. Contrary to popular belief, going to bed early in order to get a ‘good night’s sleep,’ will more often than not cause a worse night’s sleep.”

Every human has a clock in their brain which controls and regulates sleep. This biological clock is unique to each individual person and it’s something that we can’t choose. Unfortunately, most of us also can’t choose every aspect of our daily schedule: school and work all start at specific times, so we have to find ways to manage our schedules and our body’s preferred sleep schedule.

How to fall asleep fast and have a restful sleep (the definitive guide)

If you try but are struggling to stay asleep when you are in bed after a long day, there are natural ways to fall asleep at the right time and wake up rested. When you lack enough sleep, your body’s biological mechanisms tend to slow down, which affects your health and performance.

1. Learn basic meditation

Mindful meditation, a process that focuses on your breathing patterns and helps your mind focus on a single idea of the present, has been tried and tested to help people fall asleep faster without having to go for the sleep medicine. Mindful meditation creates a relaxing effect which ultimately helps you fall asleep fast and drift into a deep sleep.

2. Melatonin

This is a hormone produced in the pineal gland of the brain and is known for its effect on sleep cycles and the ease with which people fall asleep. When the gland is not producing enough of this hormone, then you find it hard to fall asleep once you get to bed. You can offset this by making use of melatonin supplements, found in most drug and supplement stores. It is also available in some fruits and vegetables but the quantities in them do not really help you fall asleep unless you take ridiculous amounts of them.

3. Practice breathing exercises

When lying in bed trying to fall asleep quickly, practice this simple breathing method every day. Take a deep breath and hold your breath for a few seconds. Place the tip of your tongue behind your front teeth and then exhale during 10 seconds. Make sure that when you do it, your body is spread out in a relaxing manner and that there is no strain on any part of the torso. Keep repeating this motion for as long as ten minutes, and you will experience progressive muscle relaxation as your lungs expand and relax in perfect harmony – which will lead to better sleep.

4. Stay out of your bedroom during daytime hours

Naturally, staying inside your bedroom during the day tempts you to take a little nap that stretches from 30 minutes to 3 hours. The problem is that this ‘reserved’ sleep was supposed to come into use at night, so falling asleep during the day makes it more difficult to fall asleep faster at night and affects sleep quality. Practice paradoxical intention as this technique has been medically reviewed by written sources. In other words, intentionally not sleeping during the day helps you sleep better at night.

5. Try magnesium supplements

When magnesium enters the bloodstream, it helps the body reduce the levels of cortisol in the nervous system, therefore making falling asleep easier. Cortisol is a hormone notorious for being a stressor and is the main hormone that keeps people tossing and turning at night resulting in poor sleep quality. Magnesium is also a relaxer element, which may make you calmer and sleepier when you hop into bed.

6. Read a book before bed

How to fall asleep fast and have a restful sleep (the definitive guide)

Reading a book while lying awake takes you away from the present and places you in an alternate consciousness, where you are surrounded by nothing other than the author’s imagination and the plotlines of the story. The fleeting window of dizziness that comes through after that grips you and takes you to slumberland even before you have the opportunity to turn a page. The University of Exeter carried out a study in 2009 that showed people sleeping within 6 minutes of starting on a book, so reading can help overcome sleep onset insomnia.

7. Listen to white noise

Many people have sleep problems because they have a lot on their mind or suffer more serious insomnia. Maybe definitive sounds like a blaring car horn or loud music coming from across the street keep invading your thoughts, and that distracts you enough to lose sleep. White noise cancels out that pandemonium and instead replaces it with a mentally relaxing sound that may help slowly ease your mind, and allow you to sleep better.

8. Avoid screens before sleeping

A study by Brigham and Women’s Hospital out of Boston confirmed scientists’ worst fears; light exposure from screens is invading our sleeping space. Screens fight it out with our alertness and alter our normal sleeping schedules. They have also been found to suppress melatonin levels, and that makes it harder for the body to switch to a good sleep phase. A good idea would be to switch off televisions, phones and tablets an hour before you get into bed.

9. Take a quick, warm bath

If you don’t have the time, skip the candles and get down to taking a warm bath. Fill a bathtub with warm water and lather it as much as you can. Soak in it and let the bubbles move around you. Once your body warms up before you go to bed, the brain sends relaxation signals to your torso. When the temperature drops after you get between the sheets, another wave of relaxation is experienced, and this one has you fast asleep in minutes. Studies show that people who take a bath right before bed sleep faster and enjoy a better quality of sleep than those who don’t. So if you want sleep, try a warm bath or shower to improve sleep quality.

10. Get your bedroom ready

How to fall asleep fast and have a restful sleep (the definitive guide)

Your bedroom is a place of calm and relaxation, and its aura should reflect that. If you have all your music speakers and TV screens in there, then it’s hardly a relaxing scene at bedtime. Get rid of anything that produces noise. Use curtains in dark hues and keep your lights dim at all times. Keep the aesthetics inside low key. If you can, keep your phone in another room. It’s all about creating an environment that can actually help you sleep and overcome your insomnia.

11. Keep bedtime consistent

Our sleeping patterns are important to us. If your bedtime is usually 9 at night, get to bed at that time. Over time, your body becomes so ready for bed that you start dreaming the moment you hit the pillow. Inconsistences in sleeping times and durations confuse your hormonal system and strain your mind.

When you sleep, your body works toward making sure that you wake up relaxed and ready to go. Top rated research has also shown that when people sleep, their bodies focus on repairing blood vessels and keeping the heart optimally functioning. Lack of quality sleep can cause a slew of relatively serious conditions; for example, people who don’t sleep enough are at an increased risk of stroke, high blood pressure, diabetes, kidney disease and diseases of the heart.

If you still suffer from insomnia or stay awake at night frequently, you should be medically reviewed by an expert who can provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment for the condition.

Written by: Ellen Craft

Updated March 12, 2021

If you’re having trouble falling asleep, you’re not alone. Insomnia, which is the general clinical term for difficulty initiating or maintaining sleep, is common and reported to occur in up to one-third of adults (1). On average, adults take 20 minutes (2) to fall asleep, though 25% of people take over 30 minutes to fall asleep.

Since many people struggle to drift off to sleep, some resort to alcohol or over-the-counter (OTC) sleep-aid methods to fall asleep faster. However, these remedies can come at a high price. Alcohol has been shown to disrupt the second half of sleep (3). OTC sleep medications (4) are recommended for occasional difficulty with falling asleep, but their safety and effectiveness over long-term use are not well-established.

Rather than turning to a nightcap or OTC methods to induce sleepiness, consider trying the following time-tested guidelines that can help make falling asleep easier. From keeping a consistent sleep schedule and a regular exercise routine, to avoiding electronics and caffeine before bedtime, these seven tips and tricks can help you unwind with peace of mind, and ultimately fall asleep faster.

1. Stick to a Consistent Sleep Schedule

Sticking with a consistent sleep/wake schedule (5) is one key to falling asleep faster and warding off sleep issues, such as insomnia. If you have an inconsistent sleep schedule, including staying up late or sleeping in on weekends, your light exposure patterns become altered. This alteration delays the body’s circadian clock, which makes falling asleep more difficult.

Strive to wake up and go to sleep at the same time every day — even on weekends — for optimal sleep hygiene. A consistent sleep schedule can help facilitate falling asleep.

2. Increase Your Level of Exercise

Exercise has been shown to be one of the most beneficial behaviors for promoting sleep. Whether it’s light, moderate, or vigorous, regular exercise and increased levels of daily physical activity are associated with quality slumber and lower rates of sleep disorders, including insomnia.

Research shows that people with chronic insomnia who exercise moderately just once reduce the time it takes to fall asleep by 55% (6) later that night. Regular exercise over time continues to improve insomnia. One reason for this may be that exercise helps realign the body’s internal clock (7).

To help decrease the time it takes you to fall asleep at night, try increasing your exercise and activity level during the day.

3. Try Some Bedtime Yoga

Yoga is well-known for its benefits, and one of the most researched is its positive association with sleep quality. One study found that 59% of adults who practice yoga (8) for health reasons report that it improves the quality of their sleep.

And for those who struggle to fall asleep at night, another study found that yoga helps people fall asleep more quickly (9). To help calm your mind and body and induce slumber, try some gentle yoga before bedtime.

4. Avoid Using Electronic Devices Before Bedtime

Although it’s hard to deny the conveniences of technology — seemingly everything is a quick click or tap away — it isn’t doing you any favors when it comes quickly falling asleep. Instead, the more you use your devices in the evening, the more elusive sleep can become.

Devices such as tablets, cellphones, and laptops emit blue wavelength light (10), which has been shown to disrupt sleep and cause you to feel alert by suppressing melatonin, a hormone that regulates sleep. To fall asleep more quickly, avoid using your devices within an hour before bedtime (11).

5. Limit Your Caffeine Intake—Especially Close to Bedtime

Caffeine is the most widely consumed stimulant (12) in the world, and it is commonly found in beverages such as coffee, tea, and energy drinks. In addition to enjoying some of the traditions associated with these beverages, many people also appreciate the energy boost they receive from the stimulating effects of caffeine.

However, the same caffeine that helps offset your fatigue during the day can be responsible for negatively affecting your sleep (13) at night. Studies have shown that drinking caffeinated beverages can decrease both the total amount of sleep and the quality of sleep a person receives.

Caffeinated beverages also cause an increase in the amount of time it takes to fall asleep (14), especially if consumed in the hours before bedtime. Tapering off your caffeinated beverages in the evening can help with drifting off to sleep at bedtime.

6. Make Your Diet More Sleep-Friendly

Your diet represents an important component of sleep hygiene. To help get to sleep faster, strive to include specific sleep-promoting foods (15) in your meals. Recent studies have confirmed that many foods and nutrients can help induce sleep. These include foods high in tryptophan (like turkey, cheese, and fish), melatonin (such as cherries, tomatoes, and walnuts), and carbohydrates (found in bread or pasta), as well as nutrients such as zinc and B vitamins.

In general, studies have found that fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains that are high in fiber, and vegetable oils that are low in saturated fat are recommended as part of a sleep-promoting diet (16). Including these foods and nutrients in your diet may help you feel drowsy and fall asleep more easily.

7. Try Melatonin to Improve Sleep Quality

If you find yourself counting sheep each night in an effort to fall asleep, you may want to take melatonin supplements, which help regulate circadian rhythms. The timing of your sleep-wake cycle can be altered by a dysfunction or misalignment of the circadian clock (17), which can lead to a variety of circadian rhythm sleep disorders, including difficulty falling asleep. For those who struggle to fall asleep, recent studies have shown that taking a melatonin supplement can help improve sleep quality (18), as well as reduce the amount of time it takes to fall asleep.

Fall Asleep Quickly

If you’ve been looking for ways to fall asleep more quickly, you may want to try these tips. They can help you rest easier by promoting relaxation for faster slumber, while avoiding the possible side effects that often result from using alcohol or OTC medications to promote sleep.

If you continue to have trouble falling asleep, or if you are concerned you may have a sleep disorder, make an appointment with your doctor or a health professional.

How to fall asleep fast and have a restful sleep (the definitive guide)

Even people without insomnia can have trouble getting a good night’s rest. Many things can interfere with restorative sleep — crazy work schedules, anxiety, trouble putting down the smartphone, even what you eat and drink.

The following three simple steps can help you sleep better.

1. Cut down on caffeine

Caffeine drinkers may find it harder to fall asleep than people who don’t drink caffeine. Once they drift off, their sleep is shorter and lighter. For some, a single cup of coffee in the morning means a sleepless night. That may be because caffeine blocks the effects of adenosine, a neurotransmitter thought to promote sleep. Caffeine can also interrupt sleep by increasing the need to urinate during the night.

People who suffer from insomnia should avoid caffeine as much as possible, since its effects can endure for many hours. Because caffeine withdrawal can cause headaches, irritability, and extreme fatigue, it may be easier to cut back gradually rather than to go cold turkey. Those who can’t or don’t want to give up caffeine should avoid it after 2 p.m., or noon if they are especially caffeine-sensitive.

2. Stop smoking or chewing tobacco

Nicotine is a central nervous system stimulant that can cause insomnia. This potent drug makes it harder to fall asleep because it speeds your heart rate, raises blood pressure, and stimulates fast brainwave activity that indicates wakefulness. In people addicted to nicotine, a few hours without it is enough to induce withdrawal symptoms; the craving can even wake a smoker at night. People who kick the habit fall asleep more quickly and wake less often during the night. Sleep disturbance and daytime fatigue may occur during the initial withdrawal from nicotine, but even during this period, many former users report improvements in sleep. If you continue to use tobacco, avoid smoking or chewing it for at least one to two hours before bedtime.

3. Limit alcohol intake

Alcohol depresses the nervous system, so a nightcap may seem to help some people fall asleep. However, alcohol suppresses REM sleep, and the soporific effects disappear after a few hours. Drinkers have frequent awakenings and sometimes frightening dreams. Alcohol may be responsible for up to 10% of chronic insomnia cases. Also, alcohol can worsen snoring and other sleep breathing problems, sometimes to a dangerous extent. Even one drink can make a sleep-deprived person drowsy. In an automobile, the combination significantly increases a person’s chance of having an accident.

You can also improve the amount and quality of your sleep by getting regular physical activity and creating and sticking to a regular sleep schedule and routine.

For more details on developing strategies to improve your sleep, read Improving Sleep: A guide to a good night’s rest from Harvard Medical School.

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As a service to our readers, Harvard Health Publishing provides access to our library of archived content. Please note the date of last review or update on all articles. No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.

One expert explains why your wake-up time should dictate when you go to sleep, not the other way around.

How to fall asleep fast and have a restful sleep (the definitive guide)

How to fall asleep fast and have a restful sleep (the definitive guide)

In the past year, most of our sleep habits have suffered a blow — after all, nearly all of our routines were disrupted and upended in 2020 due to the pandemic. For many, going to bed at a reasonable hour has been increasingly difficult; whether it’s due to the stress of an overwhelming day, or the glow of a phone while you’re doomscrolling , falling asleep every night isn’t always a given. And due to a change in routine, those who have abandoned or reimagined their regular weekly schedules might wonder — is there a magic hour at which I should head to bed for the best chances at falling asleep, and enjoying a good night’s rest?

How to fall asleep fast and have a restful sleep (the definitive guide)

Despite all the advice we have available for getting to sleep faster or improving sleep hygiene, the answer isn’t the same for everyone. The best time to go to sleep is more closely aligned with how much sleep your body is enjoying every night. Currently, experts at the National Sleep Foundation suggest that adults sleep between seven and nine hours each night, but that the acceptable range can extend towards 10 hours and as few as six hours on a daily basis. But the perfect amount of sleep isn’t always at the top of this range, explains Jade Wu, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist in the department of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Duke University. “You won’t automatically have better sleep if you aim for 10 hours every night, that’s not how it works. If you only need seven, but you’re trying to sleep nine hours, it’s going to actually backfire and you’ll get frustrated… which, ironically, will decrease your sleep quality, making your sleep worse compared to as if you just tried to get seven hours of sleep.”

Believe it or not, the real key to understanding the perfect time to get into bed is more aligned with what time you need to be up in the morning. Think of it this way: Rather than strive for the same bedtime every night, you should focus on waking up every morning around the same time if at all possible. What about weekends, you might ask? Sticking to an hour or so within your usual wake-up time on weekends is best, Dr. Wu says, as it can help you skip grogginess on weekdays.

Keeping your wake-up time consistent — and then using it to formulate your ideal bedtime — may be better than going to sleep every night at the same time with various wake-up calls. A study conducted by researchers at Harvard University and Brigham and Women’s Hospital suggests that a consistent wake-up time, with the same amount of sleep per night, led to more productivity in student’s lives. Determining when you need to be awake and working through a morning routine, then, is important to establish a bedtime, and your body will adjust over time. “The more consistent you are, the more easily your brain will catch up on this pattern and be able to tell you when you should go to bed.”

When is the best time to sleep?

After you’ve settled on your ideal wake-up time, it’s time to start establishing a habit of heading to bed at a time when you’ll be able to get enough sleep, per recommendations from the National Sleep Foundation. Use the below chart to help establish when you should get into bed:

How to fall asleep fast and have a restful sleep (the definitive guide)

Let’s say you’re a 30-year-old currently working from home, but enjoy to workout before the day begins, and you’re dead set to get out of bed by 7 a.m. You’ll need to fall asleep no later than 1 a.m., but should give yourself the opportunity to get in bed by 10 p.m. so that you may get closer to 9 hours if you need it. Over time, your body will dictate when you feel sleepy and ready for bed if you continue to wake up at 7 a.m., especially if you are working on sleep hygiene (like using these apps!).

“After you’ve established that routine, it becomes simple: Go to bed when you feel sleepy. But let yourself have the opportunities to feel sleepy, right?” Wu says, adding that you should actively unplug from television, video games, or your phone, and turn to other things like reading (or even simply closing your eyes!). “Put away work and school and homework and just let yourself sort-of wind down in the evening in advance of your newly established bedtime, and then your body will tell you when you get sleepy.”

The bottom line:

Calculating your own individual window for heading to bed is important, but you should only do so after you’ve settled on a routine wake-up time during the week (and one that you can loosely stick to on the weekends). Wu, a Vanderbilt sleep expert who has been troubleshooting sleep routines for many years, says it’s important to have a general bedtime at first, but not to force a bedtime if it doesn’t feel natural — just focus on getting up at your desired hour. It’ll take time before your body gets accustomed to your new wake-up routine. You’ll soon find yourself feeling naturally tired and ready to lay your head on a pillow at a more stagnant time each night.

Recent research suggests that maintaining a sleep routine is important for productivity and sleep quality, but there’s other research that suggests getting to sleep earlier may also be important. A 2014 study, for example, suggests that those who are “evening” owls (those who go to bed later in the night or early morning) had more negative thoughts and feelings the next day compared to those who went to sleep earlier.

More research is needed to conclude if going to sleep earlier in the evening can provide tangible sleep benefits in the long run. But one thing’s for sure: Keeping a consistent wake up “is really important to help our circadian rhythms stay consistent,” Wu explains. The more stable your routine is, the better your body’s internal clock will be, and the likelier everything else will fall into place. “The easiest way to help your body and sleep is to keep things steady — that’s the one thing you can behaviorally control. You can’t control your metabolism, right? But you can decide when your boots hit the ground in the morning, and that’s really important.”