Few things are more stressful than not being able to fall asleep. Tossing and turning is frustrating, and the anxiety that comes with it makes the whole process even more difficult. High-quality sleep is essential to our wellbeing. When you’re rested, you can meet your obligations and manage daily responsibilities like working, studying, and socializing. Not getting enough sleep impacts how you function the next day. This can have a long-term effect on both your physical and mental health.
At SABEResPODER, we understand how important it is to get a good night’s sleep. That’s why we created this guide with simple and effective tips on how to fall asleep quickly and sleep through the night.
The Definition of Sleep
Sleep is a biological process where the body and mind rest and recover from the stress and strain of the day. During sleep, your body is actively working to carry out vital functions. Some of them are:
- Processing and learning new information
- Creating memories
- Improving concentration during the day
- Producing important hormones key to proper function
- Decreasing the risk of heart disease and high blood pressure
- Improving your mood
All of these contribute to your wellbeing and allow you to function properly during the day as you go about your routine. That’s why restorative sleep is so important. There are three important pillars of restorative sleep:
- Duration: The optimal amount of sleep is between seven and eight hours a night
- Continuity: Waking up in the middle of the night interrupts your rest and impacts sleep quality
- Deep sleep: During sleep, your body goes through different stages or phases. Deep sleep is when your body reaches its maximum state of relaxation, essential to achieving complete sleep cycles.
Why Is It So Hard to Fall Asleep?
Insomnia or light sleep can be caused by a variety of factors. Below are the most common:
- Travel or changing work schedules. Your body has an internal clock that tells your brain when it’s time to sleep and when it’s time to wake up. Long trips or work schedules that change frequently can alter this internal clock and make it hard to fall asleep.
- Stress caused by daily worries and/or trauma. Anxiety related to work, school, health, or your family can keep you up at night. A traumatic event like a divorce or the loss of a loved one can also cause insomnia.
- Eating too much at night. Heavy dinners or eating right before bed can lead to a sense of heaviness, discomfort, or stomach pain that can cause insomnia.
- Caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol consumption. Coffee, black tea, and tobacco are stimulants. Alcohol can also negatively impact your sleep.
- Poor sleep habits. Waking up and going to bed at irregular times, stimulating activities at night, taking long naps, and working from your bed can lead to a bad night’s sleep.
- Medications. Insomnia is a side effect of many prescription or over the counter drugs. Asthma, blood pressure, and pain medications are just a few examples.
- Mental illness. Some mental illnesses like anxiety or depression can affect your sleep patterns.
- Medical conditions. Certain illnesses can cause changes in sleep. Cancer, diabetes, chronic pain, asthma, hyperthyroidism, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinsons are just a few examples.
- Sleep disorders. Sleep apnea or restless leg syndrome can alter your sleep quality and schedule.
Tips and Tricks to Fall Asleep Quickly
Sleeping well is important for your health. However, sometimes falling asleep right away can be hard. To fall asleep more quickly and improve your sleep quality, try some of the tricks below.
Eat a light dinner
Heavy or large dinners can lead to discomfort when it’s time to go to bed. This can prevent you from falling asleep quickly. Try to eat light meals that are easier to digest and aim to eat dinner as early as possible. When you increase the amount of time between dinner and bedtime, you minimize digestive discomfort, fall asleep faster, and ultimately sleep better.
Avoid screen time before bed
Your brain releases a hormone called melatonin that indicates it’s time to sleep. Melatonin is mostly produced as a response to darkness, which is why it’s released at night.
Blue light from your smartphone, computer, or TV screens interferes with melatonin production, making it harder to fall asleep. To mitigate this effect, stop using screens at least one hour before bedtime. If you can’t do that, try the following:
- Decrease the brightness on the screens you use
- Avoid interactive video games or social media at night and instead try watching videos, TV shows, movies, or reading
Keep a consistent sleep schedule
Maintaining a consistent sleep schedule strengthens your sleep-wake cycle and makes it easier for your body to prepare for sleep each night. Try going to bed and waking up at the same time every day, even on the weekends.
Keep the room dark and at a pleasant temperature
Controlling the temperature, light, and sound in your room can help you fall asleep faster and sleep more. Try to make your room cool, dark, and quiet. To do this, try the following:
- Control the light by hanging blinds or curtains on your windows. If that’s not possible, use an eye mask.
- Reduce noise and consider how far your room is from the street. The further away, the less you’ll hear cars, honking, and other outside noise. Using earplugs will minimize any noise. You can also turn off your phone to prevent notifications from waking you up.
- Create a cool environment using a fan or air conditioner.
Clear your mind of stressful thoughts
- Organize your daily activities, prioritizing and learning to delegate
- Try to resolve your worries from the day before going to bed
- If you can't solve them, write them down and leave them for tomorrow
- If your stress level remains high, consider working with a therapist
Practice relaxation exercises
Doing something relaxing before bed can promote better sleep. One example is meditation. Meditating before bed can help you:
- Ease worries from the day
- Concentrate on sleeping
- Manage anxiety and worries about the future
- Alleviate racing thoughts
- Minimize nightmares
Limit nighttime stimulant use
Be careful when smoking, drinking coffee or other caffeinated beverages, or consuming alcohol at night. Nicotine and caffeine are stimulants that are slow to leave your system and affect your sleep quality. Smokers are also more than twice as likely as non-smokers to not get as much sleep or experience less restorative sleep
Alcohol might cause you to fall asleep or feel drowsy, but it can wake you up in the middle of the night. This is because alcohol interrupts the normal phases of sleep and impacts the quality of your rest.
There are plenty of benefits to napping, such as relaxation, better mood, and improved daily performance. Long naps, though, can interfere with your sleep at night. If you nap, make sure it’s no longer than a half hour. Avoid napping in the afternoon if possible.
Get some exercise
Physical activity or playing sports regularly can help you fall asleep faster and sleep longer. Just remember to avoid working out two hours before bedtime. Intense physical activity later in the evening can make you feel more awake and trigger insomnia.
When to Consult a Doctor
Episodes of insomnia every once in a while are normal. If you have trouble falling or staying asleep regularly, it might be a sign of a sleep disorder or other condition that prevents you from getting enough rest. In this case, it’s best to consult a doctor so they can identify the root causes and treat them accordingly.
Frequently Asked Questions
What should I do if I can't sleep?
If you lie down but can't fall asleep, try doing something to relax. Keep the lights dim in your room and try a few of the following:
- Drink something warm and caffeine-free, like herbal tea or milk
- Take a hot bath
- Read a book
- Listen to soft music or an audiobook
- Countdown backwards from 300 in intervals of three
- Meditate or do yoga
Is it possible to fall asleep in one minute?
There are a few techniques that combine relaxation exercises, meditation, and visualization that, when done correctly, cause you to fall asleep in a minute or so. One of the most well-known techniques is relaxing all of the muscles in your face and body while taking several deep breaths. The method is effective but not foolproof, and it requires a bit of practice before you can achieve consistent results.
Rest Easy! You’ll Feel Better After a Good Night’s Sleep!
Getting a good night’s sleep is essential to a healthy and high-functioning life. We hope these tips help you sleep better. If your sleep problems persist, don’t hesitate to consult a doctor. With PODERsalud, you and your immediate family can access unlimited virtual medical consults with board-certified professionals for just $16.95 a month.If you have any other questions about this or any other topic, feel free to contact us through our chat. At SABEResPODER, it’s an honor and privilege to help you!