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.
Also read: How to Make Working Out a Habit When You’re too Busy and Unmotivated
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!
I’m not sure I could ever cut the caffeine 🙂 I do read before bed, but I do it on my kindle app on my phone…but I do use the night shift function to make the screen dim a bit.
YES! This list came at perfect timing. I already have the no phone rule in bed (sooooo hard to follow some nights) but I’m definitely going to be adding some of these others to my nights. I need to get better at #9 for sure!
I have been sleeping really well lately. I think just staying in a routine is really helpful, and staying hydrated but not having too much caffeine.
Brandi Puga says
I love these tips, especially the one where you do one thing that you thought you would have to do the next day! I really need to start doing that!
I am a terrible sleeper, so I know a lot of these tips already. But – a LOT of what you have to say is a reminder to me to help me (again) in my struggle at night. I like the idea of writing down things to do tomorrow so that I can let my mind rest. And that weighted blanket. Smart… I need more ideas, so thanks for this!
I never knew about the weighted blankets trick! I sometimes suffer from anxiety at bedtime, and it causes my sleep schedule to get way off track. I am going to look into this more as a solution for me.
This is a wonderful list! I do pretty good at some of them but I really struggle with not looking at my phone once I’m in bed.
Julie Porter says
You have some really great tips here. I was in a good routine for quite some time but I have recently gotten off track. I will definitely be using some of these to get back to being able to fall asleep quickly instead of tossing and turning for hours. I am terrible about reading on my phone in bed because that way I don’t have to have a light on.
I love writing lists for what I have to do the next day, they help calm my mind before bed and definitely help me sleep better! definitely no coffee or caffeine before bed!
Joanna @ Everyday Made Fresh says
Oh I’m so guilty of not doing these things! No wonder it takes me 3 Benadryl every night to put me to sleep.
Angela Tolsma says
I want to get a weighted blanket so bad. I think it would really help with my sleep! White noise makes a huge difference on my ability to sleep, I can’t sleep without it!
I have been reading about the weighted blankets and really want to try them. The benefits sound very promising. I too am guilty of thinking of my list of to do’s when trying to go to sleep. Too often I pull out my phone to jot down ideas.
Krystel @ Planning The Magic says
I love all of these tips. For the first time ever, I am right on track with what the posts says. I use at least 8 of these methods.
I like the idea to make a list for the next day, this way I can keep my mind off the laundry list of things I need to do the next day!
I always, always, ALWAYS write down lists of what I need to do tomorrow before I fall asleep (or e-mail them to myself). If I don’t, my mind is always racing.
I really need to do these things. I have such trouble sleeping and I need to take better care of myself to stop getting so burnt out.
Anna nuttall says
Before I go to bed at night I always have a little read or listen to music. It always relaxes me.
My sleep is terrible, just last night I had 3 hours sleep and I am so tired. I like the sound of weighted blankets though!
Jennifer (JenuineMom) says
These are all really great tips for healthy sleep! My favorite is a bath — I usually have one before bed and it’s SO helpful. What I need to work on is getting to bed at a reasonable hour. I’ve never been very good at that.
Amanda Love says
Lovely ideas! I think it’s important to have a night routine that leads you to bed without hassle. I usually write all the things that needs to be done for the next day. I also refuse to check my phone at night.
Debra Schroeder says
These are great tips. I like how you combined the do’s with the don’t’s vs listing them separately. For me, I need to fall asleep before my hubby or his snoring keeps me awake. 🙂
Great tips! And I actually use some of them! I noticed that a hot shower really helps me to sleep better — it work like a switch to me. I trained myself to go straight to bed after taking a shower and I have to say my sleep quality really improved ever since I started doing so.
Also can’t agree more about a warm heavy blanket — it really works especially if combined with cold temperature in the room!
Di Hickman says
Yes! We walk our dog an hour before bedtime, then have a relaxing chamomile tea. I try to stay off phones/pads etc for that last hour too. Great tips
I love writing down my to do list for the next day before I go to bed. It helps me to quiet my mind and let go of it all.
Bianca Jenson says
My problem is number #9 trying to get to bed at a reasonable time. Especially if I start something/project I want to be able to finish it before I go to bed.
This is a great list. I’ve tried a few of these and they work! Never heard of using a weighted blanket but I can totally see how that’s really comfy.
Awesome advice. Improving my sleep habits is top on my new year resolution this year. So this comes at a perfect timing for me!
Great tips, I always plan my to-do list the night before and I am working on getting to bed at a consistent time this year. When I do it makes a big difference!
These are really good tips! I sometimes try to pick out my outfit for the next day before I go to sleep so I don’t have to worry about searching for one. Idk if I can give up looking at my phone in bed though haha!
Amanda Rosson says
So many great tips! I definitely agree that taking a warm shower or bath and feeling clean afterwards ALWAYS puts me in the mood to fall right asleep!
Great tips! To prevent me from touching or hearing my phone, I leave my phone downstairs when I go to bed. One thing I’ve recently found that has helped is a set an alarm on my phone for 30 minutes before I want to go to bed. This way I can wrap up anything I’m doing and get ready for bed with being rushed.
Loved this article. Great advice for all
Eileen Pelletier says
Pay attention to your sleep posture. Side sleepers use a knee pillow between your knees to align hips & cushion knees. Sleepy Kneez knee pillow for side sleepers is the only knee pillow recognized by the Canadian Physiotherapy Association.
I’m so guilty of doing number 3! One app leads to another and I find myself lying wide awake on my bed and waking up groggy the next morning. I really need to incorporate some of the things you have mentioned in the list to sleep better. Thank you for these tips!