Aside from the really obvious and usual ‘avoidance advice’ of, “don’t drink coffee, don’t drink alcohol, don’t eat sugar, don’t stare at a screen, don’t work late etc” I thought I’d compile a list of things you should consider to help you fall asleep faster this year…
Maximise your bedroom’s sleep potential
I think this is the number 1 most important thing you need to do to ensure you can get to sleep fast! You absolutely need to ensure your bedroom is as dark and as quiet as you can make it. Rubber backed curtains are great, they keep light out, help with insulation and can reduce outside noise too. Of course, if you can, make sure your bedroom is the right temperature, so try and aim for between 65° and 68°F (about 20°C).
If noise is an issue, consider double glazing. But before you dismiss the idea as being too expensive, there are a few companies that sell magnetic double glazing systems which might make this a more affordable option.
Get a sleep app
I love my sleep app and I recommend Sleep Cycle which costs $0.99. There’s also a free app I’ve tried called sleepbot, but I much prefer Sleep Cycle. You simply turn on the app, place it under the sheets next your pillow and it’ll do the rest.
Now, a lot of experts don’t recommend you use your phone as an alarm as you might be tempted to use it before you go to sleep – a definite no-no. But having the phone under the sheet makes it really hard to get to!
So how does a sleep app help you get to sleep faster? Well it will over time as you’ll begin to understand your sleep patterns better. As a bonus, most good sleep apps wake you up at the best possible time each morning so you get up feeling great! It definitely works for me.
Your feet really matter when it comes to falling asleep
And you thought falling asleep fast was ‘all in the mind’… Did you know that it’s almost impossible to get to sleep if your feet are too cold? So dust off the old hot water bottle, and pop your feet on top for perfectly warm feet!
As soon as you lie down, concentrate on your feet. Most likely those poor little guys have been scrunched up in shoes all day, walking from one end of town to the other.
Catherine Darley, ND, director of the Institute of Naturopathic Sleep Medicine in Seattle. Recommends this technique, "Curl your toes tightly for a count of seven, and then relax. Repeat through each muscle group, working up from your toes to your neck."
Get busy with some with some mental gymnastics
When you’re lying in bed, you have to avoid all those negative thoughts and pre-occupying issues you’re worrying about. I’ve found the best way is to try and count back from 100 in 3’s or 4’s or 6’s.
Your mind has to work pretty hard to count down to the end - it’s a bit of a challenge. This rhythmic process has had me 'out for the count' plenty of times...
Get out of bed
If I can’t get to sleep inside 30 minutes, I get up. You should too. So go grab a glass of milk from the fridge, or even better make yourself a warm one.
I do go back to bed quite quickly and will often read a book for a little while. A real book, not one on a screen.
If you lie in bed unable to sleep, you’re basically training your mind and body to lie in bed and not sleep. I know it sounds counter-intuitive, but you’ll fall asleep faster if you get out of bed.
Get a better pillow
If you can afford it, buy the best pillow you can – one that’s slightly firm and will support your head, neck and shoulders. Or maybe you don't need one at all.
There’s a really interesting resource here which rates all types of pillows based on thousands of customer’s feedback.