Sleep is the bedrock of our health but it often gets overlooked. We obsess over workouts, our diet, our morning routine, but very rarely do we ever put our energy into falling asleep quickly and staying asleep all night. But sleep is one of the most important parts of our health. We can’t function normally, recover well, or think clearly without proper sleep. In fact, a vast amount of research has shown that, without proper sleep, your short term memory declines, you become more emotionally erratic, and your body doesn’t digest food as well. Your body and mind suffer when you don’t get enough shuteye.
If you’re the type of person who has trouble falling asleep, you’re in luck. I’m going to clue you in to some of the best sleep tips out there. There are a lot of factors that go into your sleep schedule, from the time you eat to the time you workout to the amount of time you spend on electronics. Everything plays a role in your sleep quality. After you get through this list of tips, you’ll be sleeping like a champion every night, which means you’ll recover faster and feel more ready to train like a beast. Here are seven tips to help you fall asleep faster.
Get Enough Sunlight Every Day
Sunlight exposure is the single most important factor in your natural sleep wake cycle. If you don’t get outside in direct sunlight, your body will never really know what time of day it is, which means it won’t naturally produce melatonin at night and know when it’s time to sleep. There’s no way to trick your body into knowing what time of day it is if you don’t get any sunlight.
The best three times of the day to get direct sunlight are at sunrise, during the midday or afternoon, and at sunset. Yes, being outside at sunrise means you’ll have to get up early, but remember that the most successful people in the world get up at the crack of dawn so you might as well start now. Don’t wear sunglasses outside if you can help it because the sunlight going into your eyes will help your body produce more melatonin at night. This is the perfect excuse to workout outside more. You’ll see the results quickly too—after just a few days of being outside for at least 90 minutes a day, you’ll fall asleep much faster than usual.
Put Away Your Electronics at the Right Time
Staring at the blue light for many hours a day is the very thing that will stop you from falling asleep quickly. Give yourself an electronics schedule. Don’t touch your phone for the first hour of your day and the last hour or two of your day. The last thing you see before you shut your eyes for sleep shouldn’t be a TV or a cell phone.
Be strict with yourself. Limit your phone and TV usage throughout the day and especially at night. Too much blue light emitted from electronics will prevent your body from resting and make you feel unnecessarily awake and wired. This is probably why you have trouble falling asleep after watching Netflix for two straight hours. Spend the last hour or two of your evening reading, relaxing, and doing anything but watching TV and scrolling through Instagram.
Don’t Eat Heavy Meals Late at Night
When your body has to digest a large amount of food, it prevents you from feeling rested enough to sleep well. Stop eating heavy meals at least two hours before bed. You want to go to sleep on a fairly empty stomach so your body doesn’t have to spend so much energy digesting a cheeseburger when it should be winding down for sleep. Studies have shown that it takes more energy to digest protein than it does carbohydrates, so if you’re someone who really struggles to sleep soundly at night, you might want to eat a little less protein for dinner than you normally would.
Exercise Earlier in the Day
You know that energetic high you get from a killer workout? It makes you feel invincible and ready for the day. Yeah, that’s not the kind of energy you want coursing through your body when you’re getting ready for bed. Endorphins give us a burst of energy, which is exactly why you should end all your strenuous workouts at least two hours before bedtime. It’s best to workout earlier in the day, preferably in the morning so you don’t risk going to sleep when you’re feeling wired. If you need to do some light stretching or yoga at night to wind yourself down, that works just fine, as long as you don’t get your heart rate up too high.
Cut Off Your Caffeine Consumption at the Right Time
Caffeine has some strong effects on the body. That first cup of joe makes you feel like Superman in the morning, but when you consume caffeine too late in the day, it could seriously affect your ability to fall asleep fast at night. Cut off all caffeine consumption by noon every day. The half life of caffeine is about five or six hours, which means if you have a coffee at 2pm, only half of the caffeine will be out of your system by 7pm. That does not make it easy for you to fall asleep at 10pm. Be strict with your caffeine schedule and don’t let yourself have any too late in the day.
Practice Good Sleep Hygiene
There are a lot of moving parts when it comes to creating the perfect sleep environment. Your room needs to be cooler than during the day as this allows your body’s core temperature to drop in order to relax more. Make sure you’re sleeping on comfortable, clean cotton sheets. I recommend changing your sheets at least twice a week. Remove all electronics from your bedroom so you don’t have any EMFs (electromagnetic field) interfering with your sleep. Wear an eye mask to block out all lights and consider using earplugs too (I recommend Mack’s) so you don’t hear anything going on around you.
End Your Night in a Relaxing Way
No TV, no Instagram, no loud music—instead of all the noise, end your evening on a relaxing note. Meditate or do some breathwork (Wim Hof is awesome), journal, listen to a podcast, or read a book. Your body needs to feel relaxed in order to enter the relaxation of sleep, so eliminate everything that’s getting in the way of reaching that state.