How to fall asleep faster: We’ve got 5 tips to help you 

Drop off quicker tonight with these tips you can do today.

‘What’s the secret to falling asleep faster?’ It’s a question you might have found yourself searching for the answer to in the middle of the night. Sometimes, no matter how tired you think you are, as soon as you get into bed, you feel wide awake.  

Issues around sleep are common, with insomnia, restless leg syndrome and snoring disrupting much-needed rest, and over half of us (53%) are not sleeping for the recommended seven to nine hours.  

The good news is you can do something about it – and it starts as soon as you wake up. 

Man laying in bed asleep with his arm above his head after learning how to sleep fastCredit: Shutterstock/Pressmaster

1. Get some light as soon as you wake up

As soon as you’re ready to get up for the day, open the curtains to get some light. Your body has a natural clock known as your circadian rhythm, which responds to changes in your environment.  

Getting out of bed and exposing yourself to light helps your body understand it’s time to stop sleeping.  

“Sunlight helps the body’s internal biological clock reset itself each day,” explains clinical lead psychologist Luke Cousins. Make it a habit to start your day by getting some light. Even if it’s cloudy or raining, your body will still be able to understand the change from dark to light, which will help regulate your sleep/wake cycle. 

In the winter months, or if you get up when it’s still dark outside, you can try using a sunrise alarm clock – giving you the positive effects of light on even the darkest morning. “They can mimic the effect of gradual light as if the sun was rising,” says Cousins.  

Doing this consistently will help you fall asleep fast, as these light cues help your body to regulate its circadian rhythm.  

2. Keep similar sleep and wake times

It can be tempting to have a lie-in or roll over and go fall back asleep when the weather is horrible, but it won’t help you come bedtime. “Your need for sleep is low when you first wake up and it builds throughout the day,” says The Sleep Charity deputy CEO Lisa Artis 

If you sleep past your usual wake time, it will disrupt your bedtime, she explains: “If on a weekday you’re getting up at 7am, your need for sleep – also referred to as sleep pressure – starts at zero. It builds throughout the day, ready for your 10pm bedtime. 

“However, if you haven’t got up till 11am, your sleep pressure starts at 11am and builds from there. So you can’t shut off at 10pm because your body is not ready, meaning it’s best to keep consistent.”   

It doesn’t mean you can’t lie in bed reading the paper or doing a puzzle. Just wake up at a similar time every day, so you’re not disrupting your regular sleep/wake cycle.  

3. Include good sleep hygiene habits

The term ‘sleep hygiene’ simply refers to actionable habits that can help you fall asleep faster and more easily. 

Healthy sleep hygiene habits can include keeping your bedroom cool (the optimum temperature is 16-18C or 60-65F), limiting screen time before bed, and incorporating exercise in your day. Sleeping with socks on could also help.

You don’t need to try and implement them all in one go; sometimes just changing one small thing could help you fall asleep fast. 

Lady awake stretching her arms up in bed after going to sleep fastCredit: Shutterstock/fizkes

4. Listen to whispering

Autonomous sensory meridian response (ASMR) is used to describe a tingling, calming sensation when listening to certain sounds – including whispering. 

Craig Richard is a university professor who’s researching the link between ASMR and sleep 

He told Saga Exceptional: “Our brain scan study showed that specific areas of the brain are active when someone is experiencing ASMR. The activation of these regions in our study supports the likely involvement of endorphins, serotonin and oxytocin.”

The one most central to ASMR may be oxytocin, which is also known as the love hormone, Richard explains: “Behaviours that trigger oxytocin release are similar to the behaviours that trigger ASMR.  Additionally, oxytocin is known to stimulate feelings of relaxation and comfort, which are similar to the feelings described when experiencing ASMR.”   

Studies into whether ASMR can help with sleep are ongoing, but Richard says participants in his studies have reported that using ASMR content was helpful when trying to fall asleep.  

Sleep Whispers is a podcast Richard hosts to help listeners sleep using ASMR. Some research has found similarities between ASMR and meditation – both involve choosing where to direct your attention, and acceptance of the present moment. Meditation can also be used at bedtime to help lull you into a slumber.

Two of the most popular apps for this are Headspace and Calm and could help you fall asleep faster. We’ve tested a range of the best sleep apps to help you find the right one for you. 

5. Keep calm and relaxed

Don’t overthink sleep, as doing so will have the opposite effect, says NHS consultant and sleep physician Dr Peter Venn.Never ‘try to go to sleep’, because that emphasis on sleep will stop you from getting the desired effect. It must be a natural process without focus if possible.”  

If you’ve been in bed for a while but haven’t fallen asleep, try getting back out of bed. Keep the lights dim (to stop your body from thinking it’s time to get up), and do something you usually find calming. This could be reading a book or listening to soothing music. Go back to bed again when you feel tired.  

Learning how to fall asleep fast is about building a routine that you can manage. But if you’re having persistent sleep problems, seek advice from your GP or a sleep expert.  

Rebecca Frew

Written by Rebecca Frew she/her

Updated:

Becky Frew has written various articles for newspapers and magazines focusing on fitness, is a qualified run leader, and a certified sleep talker trainer who loves to help advise people how they can nod off easier. When she is not writing or reading about fitness, she is at hot pod yoga, bounce class, training for an ultra-marathon or booking anything with a medal and free food at the end.

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