The sad reality is that “going to bed” doesn’t usually mean “going to sleep.” Many people, perhaps most people these days, have trouble falling asleep once they hit the sheets.
Here are four proven ways to fall asleep faster.
1. Don’t look at any electronic devices at least one hour, preferably two hours, before going to bed. TVs, computer screens, and smartphone screens emit “blue light” which is similar to the UV rays of the sun. When your eyes see this light, it tricks your brain into thinking that the sun is still out, and thus it’s daytime.
This means when you go to bed and turn out all the lights, your body still thinks it’s the middle of the day. Not good.
I make a strong effort to shut off all electronic devices at least one hour before my bedtime. I admit that some nights this doesn’t happen, but it happens more often than not. And remember, your smartphone and tablets like a Kindle “count” as an “electronic device.” Read a paper book before bed, not a Kindle
2. Don’t read or watch TV in bed. I know, this is a tough one. Having a TV in your bedroom is pretty common and many people love to read in bed. The problem is it establishes a habit (which is a real neural connection in your brain) that creates the thoughts “bed equals TV” or “bed equals reading,” when your brain should be thinking “bed equals sleep.”
I never watch TV while in bed (with very rare exception) and I always read in my cozy chair downstairs in front of the fireplace. Reading in a comfy chair or couch is also more comfortable than reading in bed, at least in my opinion.
3. If you have a lot on your mind, mediate for 10 minutes before going to bed. Just take ten minutes, sit in a comfortable chair, close your eyes, and count your breathing. Or use a relaxation technique like this one. You need to quiet your mind, at least as much as you can. Falling asleep fast is almost impossible if you have a lot on your mind, even if the thoughts are positive.
4. Write down your thoughts before going to bed. This is similar to meditating in that it empties your mind before you go to sleep. If you really have some things on your mind, again, even if they’re positive things, write them down on a piece of paper or in a journal, or type them up in a document, then save it, and go to bed. (Writing with a pen would be better since you won’t be looking at a computer screen!) A lot of people do this and it really works.