science-based sleep hacks
Have you tried sleep aids to help improve your sleep quality? Deep sleep is essential to optimize your mind and body. Sleep cycles are most important when it comes to sleep quality. Your body has circadian rhythms close to bedtime. People who suffer from sleep apnea struggle with sleep cycles. During sleep cycles our bodies experience muscle relaxation.
If you alarm clock goes off and you're not ready to get up, you're probably not getting the deep sleep your body needs, which is necessary to improve your sleep quality, which probably means something is going on with your sleep cycles. First you need to reset your circadian rhythms by getting consistent sleep.
sleep hacks with silk
Some sleep hacks include blue light, sleep medicine, telling yourself you're going to fall asleep easily, breathe deeply with your eyes closed, and paint your bedroom black. Other sleep hacks include trying a sleep meditation, trying the breathing method, deep breathing in general and other guided meditations.
sleep hacks with cnnFor people who suffer from sleep apnea, close to bedtime their bodies don't fall into normal circadian rhythms so they don't get to experience muscle relaxation. Muscle relaxation is essential for sleep quality. If your alarm clock isn't your friend, that is telling you something. Even if you don't have sleep apnea but you have a hard time when you go to fall asleep or you experience light sleep, perhaps you're in need of some sleep hacks. To make your alarm clock your friend, try deep breathing, guided meditations, or the breathing method. If a sleep meditation doesn't do the trick, prioritize getting consistent sleep.
10 Sleep Hacks to Fall Asleep Faster
We're better equipped today to deal with most health conditions than at any other point in history. Food is more accessible for most people than it ever was. More people live in good-quality homes than ever before. So why does it feel like our relationship with sleep is at an all-time low?
It's not as if people worked shorter hours during the Industrial Revolution or if beds were more comfortable when mattresses were stuffed with straw. All the same, people around the world are stressed, permanently exhausted, and unable to focus because they don't have the answer to a simple question.
Why can't I sleep?
Why Can't I Sleep?
It's a complex question with many underlying causes. Some of these are social or environmental:
- Background noise from 24/7 urban environments.
- High-stress jobs that don't let you switch off and aren't confined to traditional working hours.
- Greater exposure to screens and constantly available information – news, social media, Netflix, YouTube, etc..
- For many, home working means we have a poorly defined work-life separation and miss out on simple activities like traveling to and from work or speaking to other people.
- That annoying buzzing sound that your laptop charger sometimes makes.
Meanwhile, other reasons are deeply personal. For instance, sleep disorders are extremely prevalent in the United States. Personal problems and relationship worries weigh on our minds. Other common conditions like anxiety disorders affect 40 million adults yearly and make it harder to switch off from your fears.
And sometimes, you just have a badly broken mattress, and your landlord claims they can't afford to replace it. Well, neither can you, and you're the one who has to sleep in it. Or try to, at least.
How To Address the Problem
The hacks to fall asleep faster that we'll provide today are not going to buy you a new bed or act as a cure-all for complex mental health problems. What we promise they will do ishelp. These solutions will help you get to sleep more easily and comfortably. Some of them will work better for you than others – other people will find the opposite.
What we're trying to do is help everybody find routines, behaviors, tricks, and other sleep hacks that actually work because everybody deserves a good night's sleep. That includes you – and you can have one.
Let's jump into the best remedies to catch those zzz's.
Our Top 10 Hacks to Fall Asleep: Holistic, Non-Invasive, and Part of a Healthier Lifestyle
We've prioritized sleep hacks that place a high value on your general good health. Sleep is a critical part of well-being; conversely, a healthier lifestyle improves your chances of getting a good night's sleep. It can be a virtuous circle or a vicious cycle – and it's up to you to break the cycle.
Our sleep hacks include behavioral changes, healthy habits, and things you should avoid because they stop your mind and body from shutting down properly.
1. Read a Pleasant Book
Our first tip is an old favorite – and it still works. Is the problem that we don't read as much as we used to? The statistics would suggest that we don't. But that's not for a shortage of good books – all the old ones are still there, and brilliant new ones are constantly coming out. All you have to do is find one and remember to put it on your bedside table.
Set a Page Limit
The best way to use reading in sleep hacks is to set a limit for how much you will read. Devouring an entire novel in a night and rising from your bed at 5 AM in delight at the world you've just experienced is a great feeling! It's also a sure sign that you're about to get a terrible night's sleep or none at all.
Try reading around ten pages per night. Go with five if you're not accustomed to reading – better to read a little than not at all. If they're not too long, you can also use chapters as a natural stopping point.
What Shouldn't You Read Before Bed?
However, we're not just looking for any book. Everyone has unique preferences, but a book at bedtime works best if it helps you relax rather than gripping your attention tight or boring you so much that your mind starts wandering. Here's a rough list of what to avoid.
- Avid page-turners. Becoming fully engrossed in a story is a beautiful thing. It's what reading is all about for many people. However, books you just don't want to put down should be saved in a different pile – they're best for weekends or long evenings. It's good to read a book that holds your attention, but if you lie down after ten pages and are itching to find out what happens next, the exercise hasn't worked very well.
- Extremely dense books. This depends on your taste. A dense novel might be just the job for those who enjoy small-print, 700-page literary classics. However, if you've never been that into reading, trying to tackle a hefty Russian novel last thing before bed is probably going to feel too taxing to relax you properly. Just remembering the names is a struggle. You could try this type of book earlier in the evening – if you haven't had a mentally stimulating day, a good bit of mental exercise doesn't hurt.
- Horror stories. Don't read anything that's going to give you nightmares. Nightmares affect people differently – some of us wake up from them, while others might technically enjoy a restful night's sleep that is coincidentally filled with bad dreams. In both cases, you wake up feeling like you've just been through a bad time. Stay away from ghoulish tales and especially anything that deals with themes you find upsetting.
What's the Best Book to Help You Fall Asleep?
So which books does this leave us with? Enough to fill several libraries. We've mostly been talking about novels, but there are also (auto)biographies, short stories, non-fiction books, poems, memoirs, and more. Short stories are another great choice because you complete an entire arc each evening – there's no compulsion to find out what comes next.
We like reading, and we know that you will too. Perhaps you already love it, and now is the time to start again. It's one of the most enduringly effective sleep hacks and helps broaden your mind, which is essential for a wholesome, satisfying lifestyle.
2. Keep Your Phone and Laptop in Another Room
If books are your friend, then most other things you could read in bed are the enemy. Phones and laptops are virtually indispensable parts of most people's lives today. Our phones especially come to dominate our nights, with the ease of scrolling through news, messages, and social media sites providing hours of not-quite-entertainment that nonetheless keeps you from sleeping.
Can't Put It Down?
Our phones have the same problem as un-put-down-able books, but with a slightly different effect. Tearing through a book to find out what happens at the end is a bad idea if you want to get to sleep, which is why we recommend against it. However, it's a satisfying and enriching experience in the end.
Scrolling through your phone has the same “can't stop, won't stop” feeling, but what you actually gain is minimal. You read news stories you were already vaguely aware of and feel disconnected from. You check your messages to see if anybody's messaged you – you would know if they had! You have notifications turned on.
You have listless conversations with other friends who can't sleep. You scroll through social media looking for something that might make you laugh, something that might make you angry, something that might make you sad. You can find them all – but it's the same story every night, and there's never a satisfying conclusion.
Switching Off the Lights
We're not here to decry electronic communication or social media – we love them! They connect people across the world, and they've allowed many people a voice that they were never permitted before. They've made so much of our lives easier. There's no contradiction in acknowledging this while pointing out that youcould just use them in the daytime.
That's right. One of the best sleep hacks to fall asleep faster is to treat the nighttime as a time of darkness and rest. It's revolutionary, it's bold, and you might not believe it at first. That little rectangular light is an intruder. It doesn't belong in your sleep system.
Put your phone and your laptop in another room, or at least on the other side of your room. Turn your phone on silent and put something over it so you can't see if the screen lights up. Essentially, get it out of your sight and out of your mind.
This one won't be easy, to begin with, for most people. Our gadgets are just so ingrained in our lives – but trust us, this is one of those sleep hacks that could change the world if more people embraced it. Let it change your life.
3. Make Sure You've Been Active
Some of the best sleep hacks start long before sunset. Some of them can be done at any time during the day. That's right – we're talking about exercise.
Too Much Home
Working from home isn't quite the “new normal,” but it's much more prevalent today. It also brings benefits to many people. It cuts out a lengthy commute if you can separate your working day from your home life and organize downtime. It enables parents to spend more time with their young children. It saves you money on transport and means you can have something nice for lunch without paying through the nose.
A drawback of working from home is that it can easily mean that the most strenuous exercise you do on any given day is walking up the stairs. Or even less if you don't have stairs! Even going out from work to stretch your legs at lunch meant that you were moving more than you might at home. And simply traveling somewhere away from where you live for a few hours affects how you experience the day – you don't “get home tired” anymore; you simply “are still there” in the evening.
What the Body Needs
Fitting some exercise into your routine is essential. It could be yoga, it could be gardening, it could be going for a walk. This is an especially good idea, as it gets you out of the same environment. Try to walk for around half an hour every day at least.
If you can do more, that's even better. A walk and a workout will have your body thanking you. How will it thank you? It'll go to sleep like it's meant to.
We're supposed to use up energy moving about during the day. That's how we evolved, and our body still pays attention to that when it tries to shut down for the night. If you haven't been active, it doesn't know what to do with itself. Exercise-based sleep hacks are even older than books; we've been doing this since before we came down from the trees.
4. Use Lavender Aromatherapy Candles or Essential Oils
We've focused primarily on behavioral sleep hacks to fall asleep faster so far. Reading, switching off your devices, and getting some exercise are all great tips, but you can combine any or all of them with something that requires virtually no effort whatsoever. Welcome to sleep-positive aromatherapy.
Aromatherapy candles often use lavender as a scent not just because it's a wonderful smell but because it helps calm the nerves and relax you. Studies have been conducted (and more are ongoing) into the effects of lavender on the nervous system when ingested or even when its scent is inhaled. There have been suggestions it helps the body to relax, which is essential if you're going to fall into a deep sleep.
There are many aromatherapy candle scents – find your favorite and light it a couple of hours before bedtime. Let it fill the room and relax you long before you start trying to sleep. It's a gentle approach.
Aromatherapy candles are a great choice to put on a couple of hours before sleep. They create a pleasant vibe in the room, and it's good to start preparing for sleep a while before you get into bed. However, leaving candles burning while you doze off doesn't come recommended.
Essential oils like lavender oil are easy to find, and you can dab a couple of drops on your duvet to enjoy a soothing scent in your bed as you lay down to sleep. Blissful relaxation without a fire hazard – that's why this is one of our top hacks to fall asleep faster.
Top tip: buy high-quality essential oils, as these won't stain your bedding.
5. Don't Eat Before You Sleep
Eating habits are intensely personal. We develop a strong sense of the “right time of day” for meals as we grow up; for example, if your parents worked late, there's a good chance you're more used to eating late in the evening.
Later experiences like our first long-term job also determine when we can find time to eat. Different cultures also enjoy food at various hours – other systems have worked in traditional societies worldwide for centuries. There's no “right” way.
However, there's a growing scientific consensus that the most restful sleep can be found if you don't eat a large mixed dinner shortly before you go to bed. As most of us in the West enjoy dinner as our main meal, cramming this in late after work may hurt restful sleep.
While eating a small amount of food (or “supper,” as we used to call it) before bed may even have a positive impact, you should be careful about what you eat in this case – meat, wheat, and dairy aren't good options. They take a long time to digest, and you'll struggle to get comfortable.
6. Use Soothing Background Noise
So this may sound like a direct contradiction of #2 on our list of sleep hacks, as many of us associate soothing noise backdrops with YouTube videos. There's a wonderful variety of soothing backgrounds available on the site, and if you don't mind leaving your laptop on with the screen off, you can use this type of video – but wait.
You can also buy soothing noise collections on archaic devices called CDs or download them as MP3s or MP4s and use a bespoke “media player” and a wire to connect them to a speaker! This means you can leave those screens out of sight and out of mind while still enjoying soothing background noise that can distract you from racing thoughts and provide a gentle focus as you try to doze off.
This focus is essential – wandering, or racing thoughts are a prevalent cause of insomnia. Most things you find to focus on become irritating after a while, such as your clock ticking or the drip of a pipe. Whether you prefer gentle rain, a blizzard in Tokyo, or simply radio static, there are some great backgrounds with long loops to make them more realistic.
7. Optimize Your Pillow Arrangement
Learning how many pillows you like and what type is a lifelong pursuit. You can be sure that you were a three-pillow kind of person, but then you move home and buy fresh pillows, and now you only need two, but those two are so bulky that perhaps you only need one? And why does your neck hurt more now than when you had your terrible old ones? You're back to square one.
It's worth doing some thorough research before you buy new pillows. It's certainly worth purchasing new pillows if you don't sleep well because there's a good chance they have something to do with it. Just don't start spending until you're sure you've found reviewers who sound like they share your preferences and offer favorable reports.
Also, remember that pillows aren't just for the head. Knee pillows and even body pillows can be game-changing. Simple sleep hacks might have the answer if you find it difficult to get comfortable when you sleep. It could just be the bedding.
8. Imagine a Place You'd Like to Visit, a Calm Situation, or a Soothing Voice
Another of our top hacks to fall asleep faster is to practice focusing. This might sound obvious – “just don't get distracted” is deeply unhelpful advice when you've spent your whole life distracted by racing thoughts at night. However, taking time to think about what you might focus on makes it much more manageable. Try it! You'll be surprised.
One strategy is to imagine a place you'd like to visit. Illustrate it in your mind. Build a path that you usually walk along, and add details as you go. You'll become accustomed to familiar sights. If you ever remember your dreams, choosing a dream location can be a great start. This immediately connects the place to sleep.
Alternatively, imagine a static, calm situation, like being on a boat. Again, build the picture steadily. Think of who else is there, what you're doing. Creating details and remembering what you usually imagine is so important.
Finally, you might choose to focus on a soothing voice. Our parents talk to us when we're babies to lull us to sleep: it's one of the first sleep hacks we encounter. It doesn't have to be a parent now, of course – imagine anyone whose voice you enjoy listening to and think about them talking about something ordinary. Just imagine what they'd say. It's a minimal-effort exercise that helps you focus away from distracting thoughts.
9. Don't Be Too Strict With Yourself – But Do Go To Bed
One of the worst things you can do when trying to get some rest is to panic about not falling asleep. “If I'm not asleep by midnight, I'll only have 7 hours left…” Then it's 2 AM, and suddenly you're worried because you'll only get 5 hours sleep, etc. Don't set deadlines once you're in bed: sleeping isn't your job. It's your nature.
The time to set deadlines is when you're still up and about. If you need to wake up the next day, remind yourself to start winding down your activities a couple of hours before you want to go to bed. If you live in shared accommodation, don't “self-peer pressure” yourself into sticking around watching a few more episodes of a show until 2 AM just because your housemates are! It can wait, but sleep shouldn't.
Try to ensure you're in bed by a certain time each night. Give yourself a window of around an hour – you don't run on clockwork, so don't expect yourself to. Likewise, don't punish yourself for not getting to bed in time. Once you're there, it's time to employ our other hacks to fall asleep faster.
10. Try Natural Sleep Remedies
Our final tip, and one of the most effective hacks to fall asleep faster, is to use natural sleep supplements. Any restless sleeper has considered asking their doctor for medication before. Some of us have tried it. It even works for some people. However, conventional medication typically has numerous side effects, and you can build up a tolerance over time. It's not something your bodywants – you're simply fooling your brain into shutting the lights out.
Natural ingredients are a far more wholesome solution and are far less likely to cause side effects in the long term. A sleep supplement that contains natural sleep aids like hops, valerian root, and essential oils harnesses the best sleep hacks that nature has handed us and works in tandem with the other sleep hacks we've outlined above.
It's not a good idea to rely on medication alone. That encourages you to retain unhealthy habits, which means that your body and mine are still being “fooled,” and they never truly have time to adapt or recover. Using a natural medication alongside developing healthy bedtime habits and ensuring that you eat well and get enough exercise is much more effective.
Best Natural Sleep Hacks: Final Thoughts
Our hacks to fall asleep faster are designed to work together and collectively improve your sleep. Adopting one of our sleep hacks is a great first step. Why not try another? Rather than an all-or-nothing medical approach, our natural solutions are designed to work in harmony with each other to produce sleep that gets better and better as you improve your health and well-being.
Try a few of our sleep hacks and see how you get on. Experiment and find what works for you. Ease your mind, relax your breathing, and gently work your way towards a happier, healthier life.