This content was created by the National Sleep Foundation
Stop staring at the ceiling and start dozing off faster with these simple strategies.
For people who struggle to fall asleep, that whole “as soon as your head hits the pillow” description sounds mighty appealing. But not only is instant sleep not realistic, it’s quite possibly not healthy: Drifting off within seconds of getting under the blankets is likely a sign that you’re sleep deprived.
Still, there’s a limit to how long it should take between climbing under the covers and dozing off. The normal amount of time it takes to fall asleep is about 10 to 20 minutes; if you frequently find yourself staring at the ceiling for a good deal longer than that, it may be wise to tweak your daily routine to set yourself up better for easy sleeping at night. Start with the strategies here:
In the Morning: Wake Up Earlier
It sounds obvious, but if you linger too long in bed in the A.M., your body may not be ready to wind down come bedtime. Clock how many hours of sleep you’re currently getting in a sleep diary. If it’s more than the recommended seven to nine, set your alarm so that you wake up earlier.
During the Day: Make Time for Exercise
Work up a sweat during the day with moderate-intensity aerobic exercise such as brisk walking, riding a bike, or playing tennis—it has been shown to help people with insomnia fall asleep faster. Just be mindful of what time you schedule your workout. For some people (although not everyone), exercising too close to bed can make snoozing more difficult.
In the Afternoon: Hold Off on More Coffee
A compound in caffeine can override the body’s natural process that helps it wind down for sleep, tricking you into staying awake. Plan to have your last cup of Joe at least six hours before bed so that you have enough time to metabolize it before going to sleep. To get through the 3 P.M. slump without your caffeine fix, try going on a short stroll instead.
In the Evening: Put Your Phone to Bed
Tech devices like cell phones, laptops, and tablets emit a blue light that can interfere with the body’s circadian rhythm. If you log on too close to bedtime, the blue light acts in a similar way to sunlight, sending you into “wake up!” mode and making it harder to nod off. Put down your gadgets an hour before you turn in to maximize your chance of a fast trip to dreamland.