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How to Fall Asleep Faster

Proven tips to help you fall asleep sooner and stay asleep longer

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USA, New Jersey, Jersey City, Senior woman sitting in bed and suffering from headache
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If you are one of those people who find it hard to fall asleep or stay asleep, chances are you're not getting enough sleep every night. The following tips can help you stop tossing and turning and fall asleep faster:

  • Get rhythm.Teach your body to fall asleep by going to bed and waking up at the same time every day, even on weekends. Sticking to a regular schedule helps you fall asleep by keeping you in sync with your own circadian rhythm, a kind of internal 24-hour body clock that is affected by light and dark. Getting some natural light every afternoon will also help you keep your rhythm and help you fall asleep.

  • Exercise regularly and at the right time. Regular exercise can reduce tension and anxiety, which will help you fall asleep and improve the quality of your sleep, but be sure to finish exercising at least three hours before your bedtime.

  • Don’t nap. Napping during the day may make it harder to fall asleep, or stay asleep.

  • Watch what you eat and drink. Drinking caffeinated or alcoholic beverages late in the day are likely to make it harder to fall asleep when you’re ready. If you like a snack before bed, try a warm drink (without alcohol or caffeine) and a few crackers. Remember that hot chocolate has caffeine, too.

  • Create a safe and comfortable sleeping environment. To help you fall asleep, your bedroom should be dark, with good ventilation, and as quiet as you can make it. For safety’s sake, make sure you have a good bedside lamp that is easy to reach, a telephone for emergencies, and working smoke alarms in your bedroom and all through the house.

  • Follow your evening routine. Do the same things every night before you go to bed. Following a bedtime routine sends a silent signal to your brain and body that it is time to wind down and fall asleep.

  • Your bed is for sleep or sex. Your bedroom is for sleeping or for romantic interludes. It’s not a media center, and not a home office. Avoid any distractions that make it harder to fall asleep.
  • Give yourself 20 minutes to fall asleep. If you’re still awake 15 minutes after you turn out the light, get up and do something that will make you drowsy. Then go back to bed and try again.
  • Don’t worry, get sleepy. To help yourself fall asleep faster, try not to let yourself worry or replay your day at bedtime. And don’t panic if you can't fall asleep, because any kind of mental fretting will only make it harder to fall asleep. Instead, play mental games designed to relax your mind, or do something, like reading, that will refocus your thoughts and make drowsy. For years I kept a boring book handy, which was almost guaranteed to help me fall asleep. It worked so well that a friend borrowed it and didn't give it back!

  • Get professional help. If your inability to fall asleep starts to interfere with your ability to function normally, and persists for more than a couple of weeks, schedule an appointment with your doctor or a sleep specialist.
Getting enough sleep is one of the most important things you can do for your mental and physical health—at any age. So teach yourself to fall asleep, sleep well, and have sweet dreams.

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