In terms of things you need to survive, sleep is second only to air and water. You can comfortably go a couple minutes without air and a couple hours without water (survival time is about two days). Without sleep, normal function begins to degrade after just 18 hours.
Sleep is so necessary and so powerfully auto-regulated by the body that death by sleep deprivation is actually impossible. Under significant sleep deprivation, a person will begin to take forced microsleeps in which the brain will “shut down” for seconds or minutes.
I wrote about how to take short naps to recharge your battery during the day. While I think everyone can benefit from setting aside 30 minutes to chill, you are obviously going to get more out of a nap where you actually fall asleep. Being able to fall asleep instantly is especially handy here.
Falling asleep in general seems to be a big problem for many people I talk to. They’ll complain that they lie down to sleep, but they just can’t get there. Often times they’ll then get up to do something until they’re completely exhausted a few hours later. Ends up being 2am, amirite?
I think everyone can learn how to fall asleep fast. It just takes practice.
How to Fall Asleep Fast
- Start with good, basic sleep hygiene. Here are some creative sleep tactics. Remember, not everything works for everyone so don’t get hung up on supposedly proper sleep methods that don’t work for you.
- Go to bed earlier. A good rule of thumb is that every hour of sleep before midnight is worth two after.
- Once in bed, stay in bed. Don’t get up because you get frustrated that you can’t fall asleep. No matter how long it takes, stay in bed. [Yes, I know this runs counter to common advice. There may be exceptions, but in general you need to train that getting in bed means going to sleep.]
- This is the big one in my experience – treat sleep like meditation. You can’t fall asleep when your mind is racing thinking about a hundred things you have to do. Acknowledge anything that comes to mind, and then immediately dismiss it. At first this will be difficult, and you’ll probably wonder why it’s so hard to just think about nothing. With time, you’ll notice it becomes easier to dismiss a thought as soon as it comes into your head. Soon, you’ll be falling asleep the moment your head hits the pillow.
I truly believe that improving your sleep may be the highest-payoff investment you can make in your health and wellness. Literally everything improves when you get good sleep. Use this tip to learn how to fall asleep fast, become a ninja at falling asleep, and you’ll be one step closer to awesome, restorative sleep.
Piers McCarney says
I don’t know if you’d agree, Dave, but I found that my time-to-sleep, especially with naps, decreased massively when I began to resolve myself that it was okay even if I DIDN’T fall asleep; that simply taking time out from new stimuli to process, resolve and dismiss my thoughts, then ALLOW sleep, if it were to come, helped resolve a lot of the distress around trying too hard to fall asleep.
That had way too many commas, but I can’t think of a good rephrase.
Love it, Piers.
Leon Melnicenko says
Tried this and it works a treat, it does take a while to stop those racing thoughts but the more you do it the less and less they come. Thanks