A healthy heart, a strong immune system and an improved focus: these are just three examples why restful sleep is important and why you absolutely should smart yourself up in this manner. Better sleep starts with falling asleep. That’s why this article provides you with tips to fall asleep quickly.
In this article, we’ll give you some basics on the science around sleep and how your body and mind benefit from it. Then, we’ll dive deeper into tips for falling asleep and finally, we’ve prepared a routine that will make you fall asleep faster.
Before we get into the main part of this article, two points why this guide is particularly valuable for you:
- Each of our tips is natural. There will be no disadvantages for you and you won’t need any pills or drugs to achieve better sleep.
- There is lots of wrong information buzzing around on the internet today. In this article, everything is backed up by scientific studies. You’ll find a list of the studies we had a look at, at the end of this article.
Jump ahead to any of the sections below:
- Understanding Sleep: The Basics of How to Fall Asleep Quickly
- 23 Natural Tips to Fall Asleep Quickly (Scientifically Proven)
- The Routine That Helps You Sleep Fast
Understanding Sleep: The Basics of How to Fall Asleep Quickly
Unfortunately, it’s not possible to balance sleep deprivation by simply sleeping more. Developing a good bedtime routine and using sleep tips are therefore crucial for a healthy amount of sleep.
A panel of experts recommends the following daily sleep times (1*):
|Age Group||Recommended Sleep Duration per Day|
|Newborns (~1 – 3 months)||14 – 17 hours|
|Infants (~4 – 12 months)||12 – 15 hours|
|Toddlers (~1 – 2 years)||11 – 14 hours|
|Preschoolers (~3 – 4 years)||10 – 13 hours|
|School-aged children (~5 – 9 years)||9 – 11 hours|
|Teenagers (~10 – 19 years)||8 – 10 hours|
|Adults (~20 – 64 years)||7 – 9 hours|
|Older adults (~ 65+ years)||7 – 8 hours|
How does sleep work?
You now know which age group should sleep for how long. An adult person, for example, needs at least seven hours of sleep a day. To understand why sleep is so important, you’ll need to understand the basics of sleep first.
Every night, when you sleep, you go through the four phases of the sleep cycle. These phases will be explained in detail in the following section.
Phase 1 – Changeover from Wakefulness to Sleep
This phase is the transition from the state of wakefulness to sleep. You start to relax, your pulse and breathing slow down. Your brain waves begin to slow down too. All together this state only lasts for a few minutes.
Phase 2 – Light Sleep
You are in the phase of light sleep. You feel more relaxed than in the first phase and your brain waves are slowing down even more.
You typically spend more time in this sleep phase than in the other three.
Phase 3 – Deep Sleep
The third phase is called deep sleep. This phase is crucial for your recovery, both physically and mentally. That’s because you give your body time to regenerate and to recharge your batteries for the next day.
Without deep sleep, you are more likely to become sick, obese or depressed because your body doesn’t get enough time to rest.
Phase 4 – REM Sleep
After about 90 minutes of sleep, you reach the REM phase.
REM stands for Rapid Eye Movement. This is the phase in which you dream and in which your brain is as active as in the state when you’re awake. This increased brain activity is caused by the fact that your mind is processing your memories and emotions.
A lack of REM sleep leads to slower cognitive and social functioning, memory problems and lack of concentration.
In fact, if you sleep well, you’ll pass this 4-phase sleep cycle three to four times (2*).
Using tips to fall asleep and developing a good bedtime routine gives your body the best chance to do so.
Why Is Good Sleep and Enough Sleep Important?
Tossing and turning for hours can reduce your sleep by hours and is not beneficial for your body as it leads to long-term physical and mental health problems.
Healthy sleep, however, has numerous advantages. Here is an overview:
People who sleep either too short or too long feel worse than people who don’t.
This is particularly true for people with chronic insomnia. These are people who have problems falling asleep or sleeping in general, at least three times a week (3*, 4*).
Better Social Interaction
Sleep deprivation affects social skills such as the ability to recognize emotional facial expressions of others. It also makes it more difficult for your mind to process emotions during sleep (5*).
Increased Concentration and Productivity
Good sleep improves overall memory and can help you to find better solutions to your problems (6*). It also increases productivity by making it easier for you to concentrate on challenging tasks.
Stronger Immune System
Sufficient sleep supports the immune system. If you don’t get enough sleep, you’ll have an increased risk of getting sick (7*).
Less Chances of Becoming Overweight
Adults and children showed an increased risk of unhealthy weight gain and obesity caused by a lack of sleep (8*).
Reduced Risk of Type 2 Diabetes
Sleeping too short or too long leads to a higher risk of diabetes type 2. You can reduce this risk by sticking with the recommended hours of sleep. As an adult, you should sleep between 7 and 8 hours a day (9*).
Various studies confirm a connection between sleep deprivation and high blood pressure, coronary heart disease and other cardiac problems (10*).
Increased Performance in Sports
Sufficient sleep is directly related to your physical performance. In addition, your muscles will need less recovery time and you’ll have a smaller risk of injuring yourself (11*).
Prevention of Depression
Various studies showed a remarkable correlation between sleep disorders and depression. Therefore, good sleep prevents depression in some cases. On the other hand, there are people who already suffer from depression and sleep much more than usual (12*).
Do You Have a Sleep Disorder?
Just because you feel that your sleep quality is not particularly good, you need a long time to fall asleep or ask yourself questions like “Why can’t I sleep at night?” that doesn’t mean that you suffer from a sleep disorder.
In order to find out if you really have serious insomnia or if it’s only temporary, we prepared this quick test for you. It’s scientifically proven and includes eight criteria that you need to check(13*):
- You are dissatisfied with the quality of your sleep.
- You have sleep problems at least three times a week.
- The sleep disorder already lasts for at least three months.
- The lack of sleep affects different areas of life such as work, behavior, social interaction.
- You can’t sleep although there are enough opportunities to sleep.
- You have a sleep disorder but not because of taking in medication or drugs.
- The sleep disorder can’t be explained with psychological or medical diseases.
- Your insomnia doesn’t occur exclusively in combination with other sleep disorders, such as narcolepsy.
If you meet several criteria, you should see a doctor.
23 Natural Tips to Fall Asleep Quickly (Scientifically Proven)
You don’t necessarily have to suffer from a sleep disorder to want the best out of your daily sleep.
After all, high-quality sleep has an enormous effect on your health.
This shows the importance of questions like “How can you fall asleep quickly?” or “What helps if you can’t fall asleep?”
Falling asleep fast affects your sleep quality, which in turn affects your health. Most definitely, sleep is a good way to optimize your body and mind.
The next section lists 23 of our best and tips to fall asleep.
Tip 1: Turn off Smartphone / Laptop / E-Reader / Tv on Time
Electronic screens emit light, which prevents your brain from realizing it’s nighttime. The consequence is a higher likelihood of having trouble falling asleep.
Therefore, avoid bright screens two to three hours before bedtime.
Besides light, mental distraction is another problem of using smartphones or laptops before you go to sleep. You certainly know the following situation: right before you want to sleep, you open Instagram for a moment and without realizing it, you see yourself scrolling through your feed for hours and are just not getting tired (14*).
Here’s a video from Dr. Dan Siegel, who explains this tip in detail:
Tip 2: Practice Yoga and Meditation
Yoga and meditation are well-known methods for reducing stress. Yoga relaxes the muscles and meditation relaxes the mind. Together they work perfectly to unwind a stressful day and to promote your inner peace. This was confirmed in countless studies and makes this trick one of the best natural ways to help you sleep (15*).
Tip 3: Adjust the Room Temperature
When you fall asleep, your body temperature drops. If the room temperature is too high, it’s much more difficult for you to fall asleep. Try to keep the temperature in your bedroom between 59 and 73 degrees Fahrenheit (15 and 23 degrees celsius). These temperatures make it easier for your body to fall asleep.
High humidity is another stress factor for your body. Wet heat changes your body’s sweat reaction and causes heat stress. Too much humidity can even decrease the important REM sleep phase (16*).
Tip 4: Avoid Stress
One of the most important hacks to fall asleep quickly is to reduce or completely avoid stress (17*).
You can find more details and specific tips on how to avoid stress in our article on Stress Reduction.
Tip 5: Don’t Look at Your Watch
Taking a look at the watch while you try to fall asleep stops you from doing so.
This is because you unconsciously put pressure on yourself. The thought that you won’t get enough sleep or even suffer from insomnia will occupy your mind so much that it will be difficult to fall asleep again quickly.
We recommend you, therefore, to remove all watches from your bedroom and keep smartphones away from your bed (18*).
Tip 6: Don’t Eat Before Going to Bed
What and when you eat in the evening affects your sleep. A large meal in the evening can make it more difficult or even impossible to fall asleep. One reason for this is the fact, that lying down slows down your digestive process in the body and can, therefore, cause nausea.
How much time your body needs to digest the last meal varies from person to person. A good rule of thumb is to avoid meals, especially larger ones, two to three hours before going to bed.
With regard to food, a carbohydrate-rich and low-fat diet reduces sleep quality compared to a low-carbohydrate/high-fat diet (19*, 20*).
Tip 7: Stay Away from Noise
Persons, who are sensitive to noise are more likely to have sleep disorders. That’s why people in urban and noisy areas are also exposed to an increased risk. What you can do about it, depends on your current situation. Sometimes it’s enough to close the windows and buy noise-reducing earplugs (21*).
Tip 8: Don’t Take Extended Naps During the Day
Experts have different opinions on how a midday nap affects overall sleep quality. While some studies found that extended naps reduce your sleep quality, there are other experts who claim the opposite.
However, we should mention the fact that the study, which claims that naps during the day have no impact on your sleep quality, was conducted on people who were between 60 and 89 years old.
The best thing you can do is test it on yourself and see if regular naps improve your sleep or not (22*, 23*).
Tip 9: Listen to Relaxing Music
Relaxing music is a wonderful thing to help you sleep. Due to its calming and relaxing aspects, it helps you to fall asleep quickly and improves the overall quality of sleep. This is because it slows down your heart rate and breathing, lowers your blood pressure and stimulates your muscles(24*).
Tip 10: Use the 4-7-8 Breathing Exercise
The 4-7-8 breathing exercise for falling asleep represents a certain way of breathing and promotes calm and relaxed feelings. It’s simple and quick, in fact, it’s often referred to as the method with the best chance on how to fall asleep in a minute.
To perform the 4-7-8 breathing exercise, follow these six steps while you’re lying in bed:
- Exhale completely with mouth and nose.
- Place the tip of your tongue behind the upper front teeth and keep your mouth closed.
- Breathe in through your nose for four seconds. Keep your mouth closed and don’t exhale yet.
- Hold your breath for seven seconds, also with your mouth closed.
- Exhale strongly through the mouth for eight seconds. During the whole time, you leave your tongue behind the upper front teeth.
- Repeat steps 3 – 5 four times.
This method requires some practice. That’s why you should test it for a few weeks to see if it helps or not (25*).
Here’s a visual explanation of the 4-7-8 breathing exercise:
Tip 11: Reduce Caffeine
Caffeine helps to stay awake and alert during the day. Nevertheless, you should avoid foods and drinks that contain caffeine before you go to bed. Of course, it would be even better to completely avoid caffeine (26*).
Tip 12: Sleep on Schedule
Most things in life work better with a plan. That includes your sleep schedule. Stick to constant times when going to bed and waking up, because an irregular sleep rhythm can disturb the quality of sleep.
Within 24 hours, a wide variety of processes take place in your body. This is called the circadian rhythm. The most important of these processes is the sleep-wake rhythm, which tells your body when you’re ready to sleep and when you’re not. You support a functioning sleep-wake rhythm by giving your body a consistent sleep schedule (27*).
Tip 13: Do Sports
Sports and other physical activities increase your sleep quality by boosting the serotonin production in the brain and at the same time reducing the stress hormone cortisol (28*).
Tip 14: Pay Attention to Allergies
Symptoms of allergic reactions can lead to problems while trying to fall asleep. A blocked or itchy nose, hay fever, neurodermatitis or asthma can be symptoms of allergies that negatively affect sleep quality (29*).
Tip 15: Sleep on a Comfortable Mattress
The mattress you’re sleeping on has an effect on falling asleep and your quality of sleep. If you ever slept on a worn mattress, you know what we are talking about (30*).
Tip 16: Fight Chronic Pain
Pain is often associated with insomnia because it makes it harder to sleep. Your body and mind are constantly in alarmed state. This, again, causes a mental as well as physical tension and interferes with relaxation.
Especially with persistent pain, falling asleep becomes almost impossible. When you sleep badly because of pain, your body will have a hard time to regenerate, which will cause even more pain (31*).
If you want to take sleeping pills, remember to choose them carefully and strictly follow the dosage. Some sleeping pills can contain caffeine or cause unwanted side effects. If you have doubts, you should talk to a doctor or pharmacist.
Tip 17: Don’t Drink Alcohol
A glass of alcohol can actually help you fall asleep but it loses its effect when you drink more often. Regular alcohol consumption also worsens the overall quality of sleep.
For people with sleep disorders (insomnia), alcohol as a sleep aid leads to increased risk: on the one hand due to unhealthy drinking behavior and on the other hand because there is a certain danger of mixing alcohol with sleeping pills.
In fact, there are a number of reasons why alcohol and restful sleep don’t go hand in hand (32*, 33*).
Tip 18: Drink Chamomile Tea
Chamomile is a mild tranquilizer and sleep inducer.
To help you fall asleep, you should drink the tea an hour before you go to bed (34*).
Tip 19: Use Relaxing Smells and Scents
Aromatherapy was already used in ancient Egypt for therapeutic and ritual purposes. In fact, aromas create certain feelings of relaxation and can help you fall asleep.
Lavender oil is a popular choice (35*).
Tip 20: Overcome Fear
If you’re in your bed with an anxious feeling, it’s very difficult for you to fall asleep. You will feel tired but you simply can’t sleep. This feeling of anxiety can even be caused by insomnia and manifest in your subconscious mind in fear of going to sleep.
Thus, fear is often one of the reasons why you can’t fall asleep (36*).
Tip 21: Visualize What Makes You Happy
Sleepless people often complain about unpleasant thoughts and worries while trying to sleep.
If you have the same problem and your head doesn’t want to rest, visualize places, things or experiences that make you happy. This tip helps to calm you down and guide your thoughts in a positive direction instead of dealing with worries and concerns (37*).
Tip 22: Change Your Sleeping Position
In general, there are three sleeping positions: on the back, stomach or on the side. There is no clear answer to which of these is the best way to sleep, as there are different opinions.
Several studies stated that people who sleep on their backs tend to suffer from poor sleep quality.
Although you probably already know which position works best for you, try a different one and test consciously. Especially as a back sleeper, a different position can help you fall asleep faster (38*).
Tip 23: Avoid Night Shift Work and Jet Lag
Night shifts and jetlag have one thing in common: they mess with your sleep rhythm and your inner clock.
Both scenarios were shown to cause poorer and disrupted sleep. It’s helpful to avoid a mix of day and night shifts and to adjust the sleep rhythm before traveling to other time zones. You can go to bed to a proper time before an upcoming trip to bring your rhythm closer to the new timezone (39*, 40*).
Further Tricks Without Scientific Sources
We were able to refer to scientific sources on all the tips we’ve described above. However, there are ways to fall asleep, such as milk with honey, which you certainly have heard of but are not proved by any scientific study.
We still added these tips in this guide because people report better sleep results by using these tips.
Some of them include:
- Count sheep
- Drink milk with honey
- Write a sleeping diary
- Use special headphones for falling asleep
- Sleep with certain clothes or even naked
- Stretch fascia
- Listen to audiobooks
The Routine That Helps You Sleep Fast
We want to make sleeping as easy as possible for you. That’s why we want to show you a routine that you can adapt to almost every situation. The routine will help you integrate some of the tips into your everyday life.
- Start the day with a 10-minute meditation right after getting up.
- Set an exact time when you will be going to bed in the evening and make sure you meet the recommended sleep duration.
- Make a plan of what you want to do today to avoid stress.
- Avoid situations at work that lead to stress.
- Avoid coffee in the afternoon.
- Get a thermometer, lavender oil, and chamomile tea.
- Don’t take a nap after work.
- At home, remove watches from your bedroom and replace them with the thermometer and lavender oil. If possible, set the room temperature to a maximum of 23 degrees. Check the room temperature daily and replace the lavender oil if necessary.
- Do sports or at least go for a walk.
- Have your last meal two hours before going to sleep.
- Avoid alcohol of any kind.
- Don’t look at electronic screens in the last two hours before falling asleep.
- Listen to calm and relaxing music instead.
Before falling asleep
- Have a cup of chamomile tea.
- Meditate again.
- Visualize three things that make you happy.
- Lie on the side to fall asleep.
- Use the 4-7-8 breathing exercise.
With this daily routine, you prepare yourself for a fast and successful sleep. Many of the suggested tips for falling asleep are already included in this routine.
There’s nothing wrong with your routine looking different than ours. You don’t have to follow all the tips we’ve given you. Try different things until you have found and established a sleeping routine that is optimal for you.
Two things are crucial for good sleep: how long and how well you sleep.
How long you should sleep depends on your age. As an adult, you should at least sleep 7 – 9 hours a day. How well you’re going through the four phases of sleep, especially the REM sleep phase defines how good these 7 – 9 hours of sleep actually are.
Both sleep duration and sleep quality are influenced by how well you fall asleep. If you really want to optimize your sleep, refer to our 23 natural tips and start testing today.
Remember to develop a routine with the help of the techniques for falling asleep. A routine is important because it will help you get the best results. Remember: how well you’ll fall asleep is determined before you go to bed.
By the way: Too much sleep has disadvantages too. Excessive sleep can make you feel weak, unmotivated or even tired (41*).
Falling asleep easily and using some natural sleeping tips will have a direct effect on your health. Understanding and optimizing sleep are one of many ways mindfulness helps you to understand and dominate your life.
Learn more about mindfulness and subscribe now to our free newsletter. Thank you for reading.
If you have doubts or think that you might have a sleep disorder, you should consult a doctor. This article is not intended to replace medical advice.
Scientific studies and sources: