Some people are lucky enough to fall asleep as soon as they lie down. However for some of us falling asleep quickly seems almost impossible: we lie in bed and have random thoughts for way too much time, then we get frustrated with ourselves, and it can soon turn into a vicious cycle.
It’s important that you don’t stress over not being able to fall asleep, because it’s going to make it even harder to relax. Instead, you want to practice good sleep habits that help your body increase melatonin naturally and wind down at night.
Today we’re going to have a look at five sleep hacks that can make it easier for you to fall asleep faster:
- Wearing blue light blocking glasses
- Listening to white noise
- Eating well before bedtime
- Eating enough magnesium/carbs
- Practicing breathing techniques
1. Wear blue light glasses
During the first part of the day, we get blue light from sun exposure. Then, when it’s dark, we don’t get any, so our body produces more melatonin. The problem is that even when it’s dark outside, most of us get a lot of blue light from computers or phones.
If you spend a lot of time in front of digital screens, then you are at higher risk of diminishing melatonin production at night. This, in turn, means it will be harder for you to fall asleep and sleep deeply.
So how do you fix this? As I mentioned in this article, the best possible solution would be to stop using all digital screens, including TV, at least one hour before you go to bed. Blue light doesn’t just affect your eyes, but your whole body, so even if you wear glasses, you shouldn’t use screens at nighttime.
Having said that, wearing blue light blocking glasses is likely to help. It has been a growing trend, so there’s different brands you can choose from. Some people are skeptical, while others swear by them, and say they significantly increased their sleep quality and made it easier to fall asleep quickly.
One last thing you can try is using warmer colors on your phone or laptop (almost all devices have this option now; it’s usually called Night Mode or Night Light).
Again, as human beings, we are designed to get sunlight during the first part of the day, so at night it would be best to avoid blue light altogether. However some of us need to use screens frequently, so if that’s the case for you, you may want to try blue light blocking glasses and use screens with warmer colors.
2. Listen to white noise
White noise is a sound that blocks out almost all frequencies. In other words, when you listen to it, you will not hear any external sound unless it’s very high-pitched or very loud.
When it comes to studying or working, white noise makes it easier to concentrate. When it comes to sleep, it can be a blessing, especially if you have to sleep in a noisy environment.
Plus, if you are a light sleeper, and you tend to wake up at the slightest sound, you may have a hard time staying asleep even if your room is quiet. If that’s the case, then you definitely want to try white noise. Feel free to experiment with different audio tracks (there’s many online).
In most cases, white noise is even better than earplugs — some earplugs can cause irritation, and don’t necessarily block out noise as much. This may depend on the shape of your ear and the earplug material, so again, feel free to experiment.
If your room is silent, and you don’t need/want to wear earphones, then consider getting a white noise machine. Some of them come with different sound options (such as the sound pitch) as well as a remote.
3. Don’t eat anything at night
Surprisingly, when we digest food our body uses a lot of energy. This is particularly true when we eat high calorie, high fat meals, or food that is difficult to digest, such as dairy.
So if you want to fall asleep fast, don’t eat anything before you go to bed. Try to have dinner at least three hours before you are supposed to fall asleep. If you need to eat something before bed (for example, because you are a shift worker, or you need to eat frequently), then avoid eating too many calories.
Also: don’t drink alcohol! Even if it helps you fall asleep faster, your sleep quality will significantly decrease. There’s nothing wrong with having a drink once in a while, but don’t do it every single night — it’s terrible for your sleep, as well as your overall health.
4. Eat enough carbs and magnesium
People with low carb diets, such as the ketogenic diet, often experience sleep problems. Though restricting carbohydrates may help you lose weight, or achieve any other fitness goal, it’s not ideal for sleep.
When you eat carbohydrates such as rice or pasta, your body produces an amino acid called tryptophan. In turn, this amino acid boosts serotonin levels, which make you feel sleepier and increase the quality of your sleep. So if you want to fall asleep quickly, it’s essential that you eat enough carbs (the good ones, of course).
As for magnesium, it is a mineral that is absolutely essential for good health. Besides relaxing your muscles, magnesium helps you regulate melatonin, so you want to make sure you get enough of it. Supplements are fine, but do try to eat magnesium-rich food such as:
- Leafy green vegetables such as kale and spinach
- Nuts such as almonds and peanuts
- Seeds, especially pumpkin seeds
- Legumes, including kidney beans and lentils
- Seafood such as salmon and tuna
5. Practice breathing techniques or meditation
There are several breathing exercises you can practice to fall asleep faster. The most common one is called the 4-7-8 technique.
As the name suggests, it involves inhaling with your nose for four seconds, holding your breath for seven seconds, and exhaling with your mouth for eight seconds. You can count faster, but make sure it’s still 4-7-8. It is recommended to repeat the process three or four times in total.
Now, don’t expect this breathing technique to work instantly — you probably won’t fall asleep within one or two minutes unless you are extremely tired. You will, however, relax your body and your mind, so naturally it will be easier to doze off.
Lastly, you can try meditation. Almost all techniques will work, however breathing meditation (the one where you close your eyes and focus on your breathing as it slows down) seems to work particularly well for sleep.
You can do it either lying down or sitting with your back straight. Of course, meditation has many other benefits: you can check this article for more information.
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