How to Fall Asleep

Three Methods:Ensuring You Fall AsleepFalling Asleep QuicklyFalling Asleep Regularly

Falling asleep isn't always as simple as placing your head upon a pillow and shutting your eyes. Thoughts, worries, and discomfort all have a way of worming their way into your mind, preventing you from falling asleep. Fortunately, there are quite a few positive things you can do to restore your ability to fall asleep quickly and regularly.

This article is broken down into three sections, depending on your needs:

Method 1
Ensuring You Fall Asleep

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    Make your room cool, clean, and quiet. The best conditions to sleep are when you are:
    • Cooler than room temperature, a little below 70 degrees Fahrenheit (or 20 degrees Celsius).
    • In soft, breathable clothing. You want room between your skin and the fabric.
    • In the dark. You should turn off all lights and keep nightlights at a distance.
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    Use muscle and mental relaxing exercises to prepare your brain for sleep. Once you've laid down and are ready to sleep, it's time to think about anything but sleep. Use the following techniques to distract your mind. Remember, stressing or thinking about falling asleep is the quickest way to stay awake.
    • Contract and relax your muscles. Tense, then release each and every muscle in your body slowly. Focus on "moving" from your toes to you neck, then back again.
    • Count your breaths. Focus on deep, regular breaths. Inhale for four seconds, hold your breath for seven seconds, then exhale for eight seconds.
    • Visualize something repetitive. Watch yourself shoot free throws, water your garden, or count sheep. Pick an activity you know and drift into it, counting each one.
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    Five minutes before bed, turn on light music or white noise. Constant sounds, unlike those coming from a window or snoring partner, make for great sleep. Even more importantly, they make the odd noises in the night -- like a barking dog-- seem less loud by comparison, soothing you to sleep.
    • Try a classical music station on Pandora, Spotify, or Songza.
    • Listen to waves, raindrops, wind noises, or other calm, consistent sounds. You can find them on many white noise and music apps.
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    Fifteen minutes before going to bed, stretch out gently. Reach down and gently touch your toes. Pull your foot back to your butt to stretch your thighs. Slowly reach your arms up and stretch to the sky.
    • Do the stretches that you love, holding them gently and without pain.
    • A little basic yoga is often used to go to sleep. Try out yoga for meditation.
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    A half-hour before going to bed, take a bath or eat a light snack to start getting drowsy. A warm bath, especially with a little lavender oil, will slow down your body's activity and make it easier to fall asleep. A light snack will do the same thing, creating a pleasant sense of drowsiness.
    • Good snacks include bananas, dairy, avocados, lean proteins like poultry or fish, and nuts. Anything that isn't sugary or fatty will generally feel best.
    • Lavender oil, or lavender essence, is a great way to get the drowsy benefits of a bath without actually taking a bath.
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    An hour before going to bed, turn away from all electronic screens, media, and work. The time for screens and work is over. Computer screens actually trigger your brain to stay awake, as the light tricks you into thinking it's daytime subconsciously.
    • Once work is over, there is nothing you're going to fix or make better by continuing to think about it. If you're really struggling to turn off work mode, try writing your thoughts or plans by hand in a journal.
    • Reading, talking to a partner, and preparing lunch, clothes, etc. for the next day are great ways to get off the screens and start the process of relaxing.
    • Sleep is not a switch you just turn on. The earlier you start relaxing, the easier it will be to sleep.
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    Two hours before bed, dim the lights in your house. Bright light after sundown tells your brain that the sun is coming back up, and it's time to sleep. Use your dimmers, adjust the brightness on computers and TV, and aim for soft, yellow-orange lights. Yellow light can signal sunset, and the need to sleep.
    • Try a computer program like Flux that automatically lowers your screen brightness as the sun goes down, helping your brain adapt.
    • You may not feel like the light is keeping you up, but it actually prevents the creation of melatonin, a neurochemical essential for sleep,
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    In the afternoon, avoid drinking any caffeine or consuming a lot of alcohol. Both of these chemicals will keep you up and lead to uneven, difficult nights in bed. Instead, try exercising in the afternoon, which will give you a boost in metabolism and energy in the short term and make it easier to sleep when night approaches.
    • Switch to decaf after 12:00, as caffeine will stick in your system hours after you've felt the effects.
    • While some people think alcohol makes you drowsy, it leads to uneven, restless sleep in the long run.

Method 2
Falling Asleep Quickly

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    Try muscle relaxing exercises. Starting from the very tips of your toes, gradually flex and then loosen all of your muscles one by one. Move to your ankles, then calves, knees, and upwards towards your neck.
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    Try muscle clenching exercises. Lightly squeeze your left fist, release it, and then repeat it with the right hand. Alternate back and forth, counting each clench as if they were sheep
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    Try laying meditation. Focus on loosening your muscles and sinking into the bed. Don't judge or resist any thoughts, or feel like you need to go blank and avoid all thought. Think of clouds, a quiet place, or nothingness.[1]
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    Count yourself to sleep. Starting at one, slowly work your way up. If you lose track, simply go back to one and start over.
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    Escape into your imagination. Take your mind off sleeping and put it on something relaxing.
    • Build your perfect house or room in your mind.
    • Picture something calming from nature. Explore all the sense in your mind.
    • Invent a movie or story starring you.
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    Blow some bubbles. Get a bottle of bubbles, the kind children play with. Blowing bubbles makes you focus on deep breathing.[2]
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    Force yourself to stay awake. Get comfortable, close your eyes, and try your best to stay awake — you'll be happy when you fail. It is scientifically proven to work.[3]
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    Try self-hypnosis. This is just a calm, relaxed, and perfectly at peace state of mind that is accessible to anyone. To do so:
    • Picture yourself in a warm, safe space.
    • Imagine yourself walking down stairs, relaxing more with each step.[4]
    • Repeat some words to yourself, over and over. "Falling deeply asleep, sleeping deeply," should be enough.
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    Breathe the "4-7-8 Method" to put yourself under. To do so:[5]
    • Place the tip of your tongue behind your two front teeth.
    • Exhale completely.
    • Close your mouth.
    • Inhale through your nose for four seconds.
    • Hold your breath for seven seconds.
    • Exhale completely through your mouth again for eight seconds.
    • Repeat until you fall asleep.[6]
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    Take a few minutes "off" if you still can't sleep. Turn a dim light back on and read for 10 minutes. You could also go for a walk, do some light yoga, or make a small snack.[7][8]
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    Try sleep supplements. There are many supplements which may help you fall asleep, but results vary from person to person. Try out:
    • Chamomile tea. When brewing it, make sure to use 2-3 bags, and keep a lid on the pot to trap the essential oils.[9]
    • Melatonin is the most common sleep supplement on the market. It is naturally produced by the body and is non-addictive.[10]
    • Chlorpheniramine maleate, also sold as 'Chlortrimeton' or 'Coricidin-HBP', is an antihistamine that causes drowsiness without raising blood pressure.[11]
    • Valerian is a relaxing herb that helps with sleep.[12]

Method 3
Falling Asleep Regularly

Getting Comfortable

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    Turn off all lights, including phones and computers. Once you're ready for bed, all sources of direct light need to be off. This includes this article, as soon as you finish reading. Lower the brightness of all lights, screens, etc. 1-2 hours before bed.
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    Position yourself so that your head is level and your spine straight. You want your neck to be straight when your head rests on the pillow, not curved or bent in one direction.
    • If you have sinus problems or a sore throat, prop yourself up with 2-3 pillows so that your back is still straight and your neck is elevated. This lets fluids drain naturally.
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    Get loose, comfortable sleepwear. Put on loose cotton pajamas or a long nightshirt. If that's still not working, strip down to nothing at all. You skin needs to breathe in order to feel healthy and regulate your temperature. Tight clothing will prevent this.
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    Put on socks. Warmed feet are scientifically proven to help your fall asleep quickly. If you don't like socks, place a hot water bottle at the foot of your bed.[13]
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    Eat a small, healthy bedtime snack. Try bananas, avocado, peanuts, almonds, figs, and milk-based drinks.[14]
    • Avoid a sugary or all-carbohydrate meal that releases stress hormones, keeping you awake.[15]
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    Acknowledge distractions instead of trying to block them out. Recognize everything that you notice: "I smell the lotion I just applied to my hands; I feel my legs' weight on the bed; I hear my spouse/partner breathing, etc." Fighting off feelings takes energy. Energy keeps you awake. Accepting things relaxes you, putting you to sleep.
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    Use aromatherapy. Lemon balm oil, chamomile oil, lavender oil, and marjoram can be used singly or in combination for the bath, a massage, or as an air or pillow spray. All of them, alone, also promote sleep.[16]

Managing Noise

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    Use white noise to fall asleep in noisy environments. White noise is a constant, unobtrusive noise that helps you ignore other irregular sounds. It can be the sound of static, raindrops, rustling leaves.
    • Calm, wordless music is a great way to settle into bed with some white noise.
    • Many music apps have an "ambient" option that provides great white noise, like the sound of waves crashing.
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    Consider earplugs if you have constant, inescapable noise. Small earplugs, or bigger, noise-eliminating ear muffs, can provide the tranquil soundscape you need to drift off to sleep.
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    Make a sleep mask. If you're really struggling, make an impromptu sleep mask out of an old tie or a pillowcase rolled lengthwise and tie it gently over your eyes. You can also buy one, or make an effective one at home.
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    Drown out or eliminate sudden/irregular noise. If you're trying to fall asleep but keep getting interrupted by noises from the street or around the house, try to block them out with a regular noise.
    • Turn on a fan.
    • Close the windows.
    • Invest in thick, sound-dampening curtains.
    • Turn your phone on silent, not vibrate.

Implementing Lifestyle Changes

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    Avoid caffeine and alcohol before sleep. Caffeine, in particular, should be avoided after 2-3PM, as it takes a long time to leave your system and will absolutely affect the quality of your sleep. Alcohol may make your drowsy, but it will hurt deep sleep, leading you to wake up later in the night or feel restless or tired the next day.[17]
    • Nicotine has a similar effect as caffeine, so you should avoid smoking before bed for the best sleep.
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    Stick to a regular sleep schedule, even on weekends. If you go to bed at the same time each day, your body will quickly adapt and help you fall asleep at that time each and every night. This same thing happens if you wake up at the same time each day, as you body will adapt to become tired when 7-8 hours before it expects to wake up the next morning. The best way to fall asleep regularly is to make sure your sleep cycle is regular. If you don't know your schedule, or how long you should sleep for:
    • For two weeks, go to bed at the exact same time.
    • Get out of bed when you wake up in the morning — don't hit snooze or keep sleeping.
    • Write down the time you wake up each morning.
    • After two weeks or so, you'll notice that you start getting up at the same time each morning. If you've been going to bed at the same time, you can use this to find out exactly how much sleep your body needs, personally, each night.[18]
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    Exercises 3-5 times a week. Regular exercise, including 1-2 hours of cardio (running, biking, swimming, etc) each week and 2-3 strength training sessions (yoga, weights, aerobics) as been shown by the University of Maryland to significantly decrease sleeping problems in adults.[19]
    • Don't exercise in the three hours leading up to bedtime. Exercise awakens you, with the impact often lasting up to three hours after you've completed the exercise, as well as decreasing the secretion of needed melatonin (naturally helps regulate your sleep).[14]
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    Avoid naps during the daytime. If you need a nap, nap no more than 15 minutes (a power nap). Naps break up your sleep schedule and make it much harder to fall asleep in the future. Anything longer can make it much harder to fall asleep in the evenings.[20]
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    Reduce your stress levels. Stress, anxiety, worry, and depression can all contribute to an inability to fall asleep. Seek help for stress management, including finding positive techniques to handle stress such as yoga, relaxation, cognitive behavioral therapy, self-hypnosis, assertiveness training, meditation, exercise, visualization, etc.[21] Psychotherapy can be helpful if you have underlying anxiety, trauma, or depression issues.[22]
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    Know when to see a doctor. Stress, anxiety, or depression can all affect your sleeping patterns.[23] If it's bad enough that you're losing sleep on a regular basis, contact your primary care physician. Some symptoms to look out for include:
    • Long standing insomnia, continuing for several weeks or months.
    • You are unable to stay awake during the day, especially during crucial moments.
    • You have mood swings, irritability, or constant feelings of stress.
    • You wake up in pain, or unable to breath.[24]


  • Put your legs up against the wall and stay there as if you're sitting on the wall. It's a weird position, but it is scientifically proven to make you really sleepy.[citation needed]
  • Try sleeping with a pet; it can be very calming knowing that there is a living being with you. However, if your pet moves a lot, makes noise and/or lies on you, this can backfire on you!
  • Try sleeping with a cuddly friend! This can be especially helpful if you tend to get lonely at night.
  • Don't get stressed about being awake. If you're lying there, constantly thinking "I need to get to sleep now! I can't sleep; I'm in so much trouble tomorrow" you'll never get to sleep! Go downstairs, get yourself a drink and a good book and relax for half an hour and then daydream peacefully until you doze off.
  • Don't dramatically change your time that you go to bed. For example, one night you go to bed at 10:10 and the next night you plan to fall asleep at 9:00. It helps to change the time by 10 minutes so instead of 9:00 make it 10:00. Then each night reduce it until you get to the time.
  • Close your eyes and keep them closed. If your eyes are open and constantly darting around, looking at things, or blinking, it may keep you from sleeping. Just close your eyes and think of relaxing things.
  • If there's an important event on the next day like a carnival or exam, try to take your mind off of it by choosing your favorite scene in a movie or novel and alter it by adding yourself into the scene and making the scene seem much better.
  • The more active you are in the day, the more tired you will be at the end of the day, so try to stay active in the day hours!
  • If someone else sharing the bed is the cause of your inability to fall asleep, discuss the problem with your bed-mate. Unsolved, such sleeplessness can negatively impact your relationship.
  • Make use of a journal by your bedside. Instead of lying there worrying, write in your journal and leave the thoughts for dealing with during daytime.[25]
  • Get in a comfortable position to sleep in and think about the day you completed and what you achieved. Thinking about it will put your mind off thinking about the worries.
  • Clear your mind. It is scientifically proven to help get a good night sleep.
  • Think of a meadow or a beach. Light and soothing colors help you fall asleep and allow your imagination to take over and you are less stressed out about falling asleep.
  • Drink warm milk dairy helps you fall asleep make sure it is warm it helps top.
  • You can also close your eyes and say the months until you fall asleep.
  • Make yourself really warm but not too hot so you don't sweat and think about all of your favourite things.
  • Close your eyes and tell a story in your head it seems like your dreaming and you'll soon fall asleep.


  • Avoid self-diagnosing your sleep problem. Talk to your doctor about any problems you're experiencing with insomnia or other sleeping problems. It is important to identify the source of the problems and get a proper remedy. Ask your doctor about routine changing suggestions (i.e., tips for breaking a poor habit), what non-addictive sleeping aids are available, if there are any possible herbal remedies before having to tackle the heavier medications (for example, Valerian), and whether there are any suitable nutritional and exercise options.[26] Since prescription medications can bring about addiction or drowsiness, exploring all the possible options is prudent.
  • Always check the side-effects of sleep aids, and essential oils, as some cannot be used during pregnancy, by lactating mothers, people who are immune-suppressed, or others with certain medical conditions.

Things You'll Need

  • Comfortable mattress
  • Comfortable pillows
  • Good bed covers
  • Comfortable sheets
  • Comfortable sleepwear
  • A sleeping mask (optional)
  • Good curtains/blinds and soundproofing (optional)
  • A fan to block out noise (optional)

Sources and Citations

  • American Psychiatric Association (1994).Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, DSM-IV-TR, 4th ed. Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association.
  1. Christopher Titmuss The Power of Meditation, p. 35, (1999), ISBN 0-8069-2693-7
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