10 things to do (or not do) before bed to fall asleep fast
Sleep. The thing every adult wants more of and can never seem to get enough of. My husband will be the first to tell you, I’m a freak. Before I fall asleep, I get comfy, doze off, and I stay in the same position all night. No joke. That is, until this baby I’m carrying decides to pick up her nightly routine of kicking my bladder every day at 5 am (yes, I still consider that night time because it is dark outside and an awful hour to have to be awake). Below are some of my favorite tried and true tips for falling asleep faster at night and staying asleep peacefully through the night. Try them out and see if you don’t have an easier time falling- and staying- asleep.
1 | Write down your to-do list for the next day
Ever feel like you just can’t get your mind to stop wandering? There are so many nights when I can’t stop my mind from thinking about everything I have to do the day because I’m stressed that I’ll forget something or new things keep coming to mind. When I have a busy schedule coming up, I try to make a list before falling asleep the night before, for the sake of my own peace of mind. I use an app called Google Keep to record short memos, take photos, and make quick lists. The cool thing is it syncs with my phone, tablet, and computer so I can add something to my to-do list on my phone, and I can open the same list later on my computer.
2 | Do one thing tonight that you thought you’d have to do tomorrow
Want to make your life just a little bit easier in the mornings? This is especially important if you’re trying to establish a new habit, like working out in the mornings or likewise. Do one thing the night before that will make getting ready in the morning just a little easier and faster. This could be anything from laying out your outfit, packing your lunch and storing it in the fridge, shower the night before, set your coffee on a timer, etc.
3 | Don’t look at your phone after getting in bed
I know I know, scrolling through your phone can seem like a good way to unwind at the end of the day, but as Business Insider says, “A growing body of research suggests that staring at the blue and white light emitted from digital screens prevents your brain from releasing the hormone melatonin, which lets your body know when it’s time to hit the hay. So it becomes harder to fall and stay asleep.”
One of the things I’m pretty proud of recently is the fact that I’ve been able to create a new habit of not scrolling through my phone (social media, email, news sites, etc) after I already get in bed. I even try to set my alarm and noise maker app before getting in bed as well, so as to cut out the temptation to open other apps when I’m done. That way, when I’m sleeping going to bed, I stay sleepy while getting in bed as well avoiding stimulating my mind so that it’s free to fall asleep much faster.
4 | Do exercise
While this might be contrary to some of the things you may have heard, exercise before bed can actually promote a better night’s rest. While you still don’t want to raise your heart rate immediately before bed, most people don’t work out enough as it is (myself included), so using the excuse of putting off a workout because it’s too late might just be that- an excuse. There are some home workouts a person can do, like yoga or some pilates, that will help increase strength and flexibility, without keeping you awake at night. You’ll feel appropriately tired afterwards and ready for a good night’s rest- but maybe after you complete step number 7…
5 | Read a book (a real book, not on a screen)
It’s been said that reading books can produce the hormone melatonin which can make your mind fall asleep faster. Although I love reading, I think the ACT can feel a little monotonous which is perfect for getting your body and mind ready for sleep. Of course, there are those who will stay up all night reading a good book. If that’s you, maybe follow step 3 and try to cut out the book reading before getting in bed (that is, if your goal is to fall asleep quickly). If you’d rather spend all night immersed in a good book, then by all means, go ahead! Just be sure, like we talked about in step 3, this is a real paper book. No screens allowed here!
6 | Use white noise
My husband and I never did this until we had children. We started using a fan in our son’s room in order to block out extra noise in the house while he slept. That, combined with trying to save money during the summer and cutting back on air conditioner use, we became quite accustomed to falling asleep to a low hum or the prerecorded sound of crashing waves. Now if we’re ever forced to sleep without the our white noise makers, which doesn’t happen often, the room always feels annoyingly quiet. It may seem like like a bad thing to some; but since I can take the white noise with me anywhere I go on my phone, I’m never without it when I need it and it does miracles for blocking out smaller noises that might catch your brain’s attention when attempting to drift off.
7 | Take a hot bath or shower
There’s just something about getting in bed feeling warm and clean. It makes one feel as if you’ve folded up the day and put it away in a drawer, ready to be taken out the next day when you need it, but totally ok to be forgotten at the moment. Seriously though, a warm shower or bath before bed, especially mixed with some pleasant lavender aromas will instantly put you in the mood for a good night’s sleep. Hot water is known to release tension, relax muscles, reduce anxiety, and act as a nasal decongestant. So not that you can literally breathe easy, get some sleep!
8 | Use weighted or heavier blankets
I can say first hand that using a heavy blanket really works- especially for those of you who struggle with anxiety. There’s something about feeling securely tucked in that really helps to ease the mind. Take a look at the quote I pulled from Medical Daily, “The idea of weighted blanket therapy, also called deep-touch therapy, goes back to a basic human behavior known to calm us- being held. Clinical studies suggest that when certain pressure points on the body are stimulated by touch, the brain releases serotonin. This neurotransmitter is responsible for regulating various brain functions, including sleep and mood.”
9 | Actually get to bed at a reasonable hour
Come to think of it, a lot of the tips in the post apply to babies the same way they apply to adults. For those of you who are parents, you knw that an overtired child will have the hardest time actually falling asleep. The same goes for adults. Studies show that when you deprive yourself of sleep, you bodies copes by releasing adrenaline, which, of course, is going to keep you awake even if you want to fall asleep. Your best bet? Save what you were going to do tonight for the morning. Get started on your sleep before you become overtired and the adrenaline kicks in.
10 | Cut the caffeine… and sugar
As a coffee addict myself, I know this one might be hard. But often times I find myself simply craving a hot drink rather than just coffee itself. If you’re in the mood for a cup o joe sometime after the afternoon, try substituting it with a cup of decaf or tea. Be careful, though, even decaf coffee has some caffeine in it and can still potentially keep you awake at night. I know it sounds weird, but I’ve actually really come to enjoy a nice hot cup of water before bed. As someone who is always cold, it warms me up right when I need it and gives me the satisfaction of a hot drink without the risk of caffeine- or coffee breath- right before bed.
The same goes for sugar. It’s going to keep you up. And while I highly recommend watching your sugar intake as a whole, cutting it out especially before bed will help you to steer clear from rising heart rates, jitters, and shifts in hormones that can all be caused by sugar. Also, according to Fox News, “It’s also been discovered that eating high-sugar foods before bed causes nightmares, so while the taste might be calming, the results are unnerving.” Your best bet? Stick to non-sweetened foods for the better part of the evening and see if it doesn’t give you a more peaceful sleep.
What are your favorite tips to fall asleep fast? Have you tried anything out of the ordinary that actually seems to work? Share your own tips in the comments below and repin this post if you learned something new!