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10 Science-Backed Ways To Get To Sleep Fast

Have you had trouble with your sleep schedule?
Have you been exhausted from lack of sleep?
Have you ever felt like you lacked focus?
Well, what if I told you that sometimes you can get more done in the long run and feel better by sleeping more

I just read Arianna Huffington’s book The Sleep Revolution.

And you won’t believe the 10 things I found on why you’re having sleep problems.

I’ve been seeing her everywhere on social media and the Internet promote her message about the importance of sleep. She’s a multi-millionaire entrepreneuer who bought into the sleep myth most of modern society has.

It’s pretty epidemic.

I’ve seen everyone from high school students to CEO’s live off 3 or less hours of sleep a night. Mrs. Huffington herself did this until she collapsed from exhaustion.

How To Get To Sleep Fast

I think she raises some interesting points and I wanted to share with you the top 10 techniques and learn how to fall asleep instantly:

1. Avoid Blue Light Before You Sleep (from Electronics or Lamps)

In the last century thanks to the invention of the light bulb, we are now able to light up our rooms as if it is daytime even though it’s the dead of night. This can wreak havoc on our body’s sleep schedule.

Light can suppress the body’s production of melatonin, which helps regulate our circadian rhythms, something that is essential for our sleep patterns. According to Harvard sleep researcher Steven Lockley, a light of just 8 lux, which is less than most ordinary room lamps and only twice of a night light, is enough to affect us.

The type of light we receive matters as well. Blue light, which is mainly emitted from electronic screens and LED bulbs, has an exceptionally disruptive effect on melatonin levels and circadian rhythm.

A study by Anne-Marie Chang of Harvard Medical school and others found that participants who used an eReader before sleep took longer to fall asleep, a later timing of the circadian rhythm, and had reduced morning alertness.

George Brainard, a circadian-rhythm researcher and neurologist says that the alert stimulus from blue light will frustrate your body’s ability to go to sleep later and is an underlying biological stimulus even after you turn off the light.

Dr. Dan Siegal, a clinical professor of psychiatry, says that exposing your eyes to this stream of photons is telling your brain to stay awake, don’t secrete melatonin, and not to go to sleep.

I don’t recommend you go to such extremes unless you can easily afford it, but some people buy and wear blue-light blocking sunglasses when they go to bed. They look like orange-tinted sunglasses. 

Heather Woods, a sleep researcher from the University of Glasgow, coauthored a study on how social media affects teens. Those who had the highest emotional investment in their social-media lives reported having low sleep quality, increased anxiety and depression, and decreased self-esteem. 

Arianna’s recommendation is to stop using electronics at least 30 minutes before you stop using lights.

For people who are always inside for work or school, it is important to spend a healthy amount of time to get a healthy daily dose of Vitamin D from the sun. For those who spend way too long outside tanning, you probably have gotten more than enough Vitamin D and should limit your time outside to prevent skin cancer from ultraviolet rays.

2. Sleep More To Increase Athletic Performance

Athletes, listen up! Would you like a simple way of shaving a second off your sprint time or increasing your performance by 10%?

In 2011, Cheri Mah of Stanford Sleep Disorders Clinic and Research Lab had 11 members of the Stanford basketball team participate in a study. She found that they averaged just more than 6.5 hours of sleep each night. For the next 5 to 7 weeks, they were asked to aim for a minimum of 10 hours a night. The players’ sleep average went up to 8.5 hours and their sprint time was .7 seconds faster, free-throw shooting went up 9%, and 3-point shooting increased by 9.2%.

A similar study was conducted by Mah on Stanford football players. Their 20-year shuttle sprint went from 4.71 to 4.61 seconds and average 40-yard dash time went from 4.99 to 4.89 seconds. Their day-time grogginess went down and vigor went up.

Golden State Warrior’s Andre Iguodala used to stay up late watching TV then wake up early to hit the gym. One day, he got a sleep therapist and adjusted to a consistent 8 hours per night. His points per minute went up 29%, his free-throw percentage increase by 8.9%, his 3-point shot % more than doubled, his turnovers decreased 37% per game, and his fouls dropped by 45%. He was named the 2015 Finals MVP.

While there are successful people in business or athletics that live off  very little sleep, there are some who sleep more than the average person. Apparently, Lebron James, one of the best basketball players of all time, sleeps 12 hours a day. Roger Federer, one of the best tennis players of all time, says that if he doesn’t sleep 11 to 12 hours a day, it is not right.

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella gets 8 hours of sleep a night. Campbell Soup CEO Denise Morrison says it’s essential for her to get 8 hours as well.

Look at this infographic below to see more of Mah’s findings and other top athletes like Usain Bolt who sleep a lot:

how to get to sleep fast

3. Meditate To Get To Sleep Faster

A 2009 Stanford study found that a 6-week mindfulness meditation course helped people who had trouble sleeping fall asleep twice as quickly, in 15 rather than 33 minutes.

If you have problems sleeping, I highly recommended the app Insight Timer. As of right now, it’s completely free with no in-app purchases and has hundreds of guided meditations for numerous goals.

4. Sleep 7 to 9 Hours A Day

How Much Sleep Should You Get?

In 2015, experts from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and the Sleep Research Society examined thousands of peer-reviewed articles determined the optimal amount of sleep for each age group:

Newborns (0-3 months ): 14-17 hours each day

Infants (4-11 months): 12-15 hours

Toddlers (1-2 years): 11-14 hours

Preschoolers (3-5): Sleep range widened by one hour to 10-13 hours

School-age children (6-13): 9-11 hours

Teenagers (14-17): 8-10 hours

Younger adults (18-25): Sleep range is 7-9 hours

Adults (26-64): Sleep range did not change and remains 7-9 hours

Older adults (65+): Sleep range is 7-8 hours

Note how the minimum sleep recommended is 7 hours. There is no category for super-busy macho men that says 1 to 5 hours.

This chart has been updated and aligns with the National Sleep Foundation‘s.

5. Use Naps To Supplement Sleep

Naps are a great way of supplementing sleep, whether or not you got a good night’s rest beforehand. According to a study by Sorbonne University in Paris, short naps lowered stress and boosted immune response. The study coauthor, Brice Faraut, said that a 30-minute nap can reverse the hormonal impact of a night of poor sleep.

6. Avoid Alcohol and Caffeine Before Bed

Don’t consume any caffeine at least 6 hours before you go to sleep. According to a 2013 study from Wayne State University and Henry Ford Hospital, consuming caffeine even 6 hours before bed can decrease sleep by as much as 1 hour.

Now, caffeine sounds obvious but that’s why it’s overlooked. We usually drink things with caffeine for the purpose of waking up or staying awake. I was having a very difficult time going to sleep on time and realized I was drinking soda filled with caffeine the hours before bed. I didn’t even consider it!

Some people think alcohol acts as a sedative. According to a 2015 study by the University of Melbourne, it does initially but it changes and acts as a sleep disrupter later in the night. The quality sleep you get is significantly altered and disrupted. A study from the London Sleep Centre confirmed that at all dosages, alcohol causes an increase in disruption in the second half of sleep.

7. Drink Cherry Juice To Increase Sleep Time

how to fall asleep instantly

A 2014 Louisiana State study found that participants who drank tart cherry juice twice a day for 2 weeks sleep an average of 85 minutes more each night than those who drank a placebo.

A major reason for this was melatonin and tryptophan. Melatonin is a sleep-wake cycle hormone, and cherries are particularly high in these compounds.

8. Avoid Spicy Foods Before Bed

Australian researchers found that participants who ate Tabasco sauce and mustard before bed took longer to fall asleep and slept less.

9. Avoid High-Fat Diets

Researchers found that rats put on a high-fat diet suffered more from fragmented sleep. It also was linked to excessive daytime sleepiness, something often found in overweight and obese individuals.

Sugary foods, especially ice cream, should be avoided before sleep. Note: This one is more anecdotal evidence than scientific. Founder of the Santa Monica Wellness Center Patricia Fitzgerald said that the number one weakness of her patients in 20 years of practice is late night ice cream.

10. Exercise To Sleep Better and Supplement Sleep

Consistent aerobic exercise seems to be the keystone habit for many things. By doing it, studies have shown it also unlocks greater happiness, productivity, focus, energy, and… of course, better sleep.

There is plenty of science linking sleep with exercise. A 2014 study from the University of Georgia found a strong connection between sleep problems and cardiorespiratory fitness.

A Belarmine University and Oregon State study found that regular physical activity may serve as a non-pharmaceutical alternative to improving sleep if you meet the basic recommended guidelines of 150 minutes of moderate exercise a week. 

University of Pennsylvania researchers found that those who walked for exercise got better sleep. The effects were stronger for more purposeful activities such as running, yoga, and gardening.

A 2013 study from Northwestern University found that exercise added 45 minutes of extra sleep, but it took around 4 months for the full benefits to kick in. It doesn’t happen overnight! It’s a long-term process.

Studies have shown that both things can impact the other:

Participants had bad workouts after a bad night of sleep and better workouts after a good night’s sleep.

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