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8 Ways to Fall Asleep Faster That Actually Work

Grab some fuzzy socks and adjust the thermostat—things are about to get pretty cozy.

Medically reviewed in December 2021

Updated on September 30, 2022

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Ever notice how things just seem easier after a full night's rest? There's a reason why people say to "sleep on it" when you're trying to find inspiration or come up with solutions: Studies suggest sleep improves your ability to store information and learn new tasks. 

Most adults should get seven to nine hours per night, but many fall short. And it can affect more than your ability to think clearly—a chronic lack of sleep raises your odds of obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. Read on to learn how to get more of that precious slumber!

nice sheets
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Design your sleep sanctuary

Help yourself look forward to bed by creating a comfy, personalized sleep space.

Start by adding a simple step to your morning routine. According to a 2011 survey by the National Sleep Foundation, people who made their beds in the a.m. were 19 percent more likely to meet their nightly sleep needs.

Raising your thermostat when you wake up and lowering it to around 65° F before turning in can also help. Doing so supports your internal clock since temperature changes are a key part of your circadian rhythm, the biological processes that tell your body when it’s time to sleep. Keep temperature in mind when picking luxurious sheets and pajamas, too. Both shivering and sweating can prevent deep sleep.                            

woman sitting in bed reading
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Take it easy before bed

A crazy schedule can mean having to squeeze in dinner or the gym late at night, but try changing your routine if you just can’t unwind afterwards. Intense workouts and heavy meals before bed can delay sleep onset. Hit the gym and stop eating no later than two to three hours before bedtime.

Before turning in, try taking a relaxing bath or using aromatherapy, as well:

  • When you step from the bath into cool air, your temperature drops, which can help you drift off.
  • Aromatherapy may reduce stress and encourage deep, restorative sleep.
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Pull on a pair of fuzzy socks

There may be something to the old practice of keeping a hot water bottle at the foot of the bed. It turns out that people with toasty hands and feet fall asleep faster. The warmth causes the blood vessels in your hands and feet to dilate, or widen. As blood flows away from your body’s core to your extremities, your temperature drops, promoting sleep. Plush socks, a hot water bottle (available for $10 and up in most drug stores), extra blankets, or slippers can all do the trick. 

breaking cigarette
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Switch up your caffeine, nicotine and alcohol habits

Many caffeine lovers don’t realize its effects can last up to eight hours. If you need coffee to make it through the day, it’s okay to wake up with it, but avoid it later than the early afternoon.

Post-work happy hours can disrupt sleep, too. Alcohol might make you sleepy at first, but you probably won’t reach deep sleep and you’re more likely to wake up during the night as its effects wear off.

Quitting tobacco is a smart decision for many reasons, including healthier sleep. Smokers tend to snooze lightly and wake up early due to nicotine withdrawal. 

man in bed at night looking at smart device
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Understand how your brain responds to light

Proper lighting is essential for restful sleep. Light waves send messages to your brain, signaling when it’s time to wake up. If you’re a night shift worker, keep bright lights on at work and use blackout shades at home to reverse your natural cycle.

Fighting jet lag? Spend as much time as possible outdoors in the place you’re visiting. Exposure to natural lighting can help you adjust to the new time zone. Remember that electronic devices like TVs, cell phones, and laptops emit energizing blue lights, so disconnect at least one hour before bedtime or adjust the light settings on your devices. 

woman sleepy
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Outsmart your menstrual cycle

Many women report sleep problems and daytime drowsiness during their pre-menstrual cycle or during their periods. Possible reasons include:

  • A spike in core temperature after ovulation, which interferes with sleep
  • Fluctuating hormones like estrogen and progesterone, which control mood and sleep
  • Pain and discomfort from period symptoms

Sound familiar? Lifestyle changes may help. Exercising, eating healthy—instead of binging on the high-fat foods your period may make you crave—and focusing on stress relief are the first steps. 

If symptoms persist, keep a sleep diary and show it to your healthcare provider (HCP). They may recommend other lifestyle changes or adjust your birth control.

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Start a sleep journal

If you’ve tried everything and still can’t sleep through the night, keep a sleep journal for about a week. You can share it with an HCP or sleep specialist to see if they notice any harmful patterns. You might realize that a simple tweak to your bedtime routine is all you need.

Write down:

  • The timing and quality of your sleep sessions
  • Your exercise and meal habits
  • Any caffeine, nicotine, or alcohol you consume
  • Any medications, supplements, or teas you take—some meds can cause insomnia
  • Any naps or periods of intense sleepiness you experience during the day 
patient and doctor
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Know when to see a sleep specialist

Consider seeing a sleep specialist if your journal reveals any of the following issues, which might indicate a sleep disorder:

  • Taking over 30 minutes to fall asleep
  • Spontaneously falling asleep during the day or within five minutes of starting a nap
  • Experiencing daytime sleepiness even after sleeping for seven to nine hours
  • Snoring loudly, having pauses in breathing, or make choking noises while you sleep 
Slideshow sources open slideshow sources

NIH: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Your Guide to Healthy Sleep (pdf). Revised August 2011.
Sleep Foundation. How Much Sleep Do We Really Need? Updated August 29, 2022.
Watson NF, Badr S, et al. Recommended Amount of Sleep for a Healthy Adult: A Joint Consensus Statement of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and Sleep Research Society. Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine. 2015; 11(6).
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. How Much Sleep Do I Need? Last reviewed March 2, 2017.
Sleep Foundation. The Bedroom Environment. Updated June 17, 2022.
Sleep Foundation. How Smell Affects Your Sleep. Updated April 18, 2022.
Sayorwan W, Siripornpanich V, et al. The effects of lavender oil inhalation on emotional states, autonomic nervous system, and brain electrical activity. J Med Assoc Thai. 2012 Apr;95(4):598-606.
Sleep Foundation. Technology in the Bedroom. Updated April 18, 2022.
Sleep Foundation. PMS and Insomnia. Updated March 11, 2022.
Baker FC & Driver HS. Circadian rhythms, sleep, and the menstrual cycle. Sleep Medicine. September 2007; 8(6), pages 613-622
Moline ML, Broch L, et al. Sleep in women across the life cycle from adulthood through menopause. Sleep Medicine Reviews. April 2003; 7(2), pages 155-177.
Royal College of Obstetricians & Gynaecologists (UK). Managing premenstrual syndrome (PMS) patient information leaflet. Accessed September 29, 2022.
National Sleep Foundation. Bedroom Poll: Summary of Findings. 2011.
Okano K, Kaczmarzyk JR, et al. Sleep quality, duration, and consistency are associated with better academic performance in college students. Npj Science of Learning. 2019. Article 16.
Zeek ML, Savoie MJ, et al. Sleep Duration and Academic Performance Among Student Pharmacists. Am J Pharm Educ. 2015 Jun 25;79(5):63.
Cleveland Clinic. Is Eating Before Bed Bad for You? March 23, 2022.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Tips From Former Smokers: 7 Common Withdrawal Symptoms. Last reviewed September 12, 2022.

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