6 Nightly Techniques to Help You Fall Asleep Fast, According to Sleep Experts
The physical and psychological effort of trying to fall to sleep at night is easier said than done, but learning effective techniques for how to fall asleep quickly and easily is a practice many adults could use. Simply put, we're getting way less sleep than we need—and we're getting less sleep than we used to. In one 2019 study, for example, researchers at Ball State University found that the percentage of Americans suffering from inadequate sleep, which they defined as seven hours or less, increased from 30.9 percent in 2010 to 35.6 percent in 2018. And according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), more than one-third of Americans get less than seven of hours of sleep (the recommended minimum number) needed every night.
It's easier than ever to understand why we're losing sleep. Though nothing will solve our global issues overnight, there are ways we at least can combat personal sleeplessness, including a few tips and tricks to prompt faster sleep onset, starting tonight.
First, Practice Good Pre-Bedtime Habits
Even before that moment of lying in bed, willing yourself to go to sleep, you must be disciplined about carving out time to chill out in the evenings. According to Janet Kennedy, PhD, a clinical psychologist and sleep expert, being able to fall asleep quickly once you're lying in bed starts several hours before tucking in.
"If the first chance you have to be still is when you lie down in bed, you'll be flooded with thoughts about all of the things that happened, everything you need to do, random conversations—everything you didn't have time to think about during the day," Kennedy says. "Ruminating increases arousal, making it much harder to fall asleep."
To start the wind-down process, Kennedy recommends turning off screens at least one hour before bed. That starts with your phone, then your computer, then shutting off the television.
"The mind needs a chance to settle down before bed—which is why it's important to turn off screens at least an hour before bed," she says. "We're taking in so much information all day long and we're multitasking, which keeps the brain extremely active. But we need to take time to process or reflect on the day before going to bed."
There is no one-size-fits-all method for winding down. "Take time to unwind in a way that feels good to you," Kennedy says. "The bedtime routine should be something that you get to do, not something that you have to do."
Do what works for you: listen to relaxing music, do some light stretches, or try journaling. Whatever slows you down, centers you, and makes you satisfied and sleepy. Once you're ready to go to hit the pillow and actually fall asleep, here are seven sleep-promoting techniques to try, straight from the experts themselves.