Most of us have had nights where we knew we needed to be asleep at a certain time so we could get up early. But instead, we got busy or distracted and didn’t get to sleep on time.
It can take the average American 10 to 20 minutes to fall asleep. According to the Sleep Foundation, adults between 18 and 64 need seven to nine hours of sleep. However, 35.2% of US adults report sleeping an average fewer than seven hours per night.
These are simple practices that can become daily habits once you become used to including them.
For more help getting better sleep, check out our story on how to fall asleep in 10 minutes or less and our list of six natural aids for insomnia.
How to train yourself to go to sleep early
Below are some tips for training yourself to go to sleep earlier, which can become part of your nightly routine with practice.
Make small changes every night
It can be hard to just simply decide to go to bed a full two to three hours earlier. That might require more juggling of your schedule, or your body might not even be used to sleeping at that time.
Instead, try to go to sleep 15 to 20 minutes before your usual bedtime. That way it won’t significantly throw your normal sleep schedule off. Try sleeping at that earlier time for a few nights to a week. Then adjust going to bed 15 minutes earlier than the new time. Continue doing this incrementally until you’re used to sleeping at the time you need to go to bed.
Lights out an hour before bed
A uniquely modern issue with going to sleep earlier is that we have multiple screens that can keep us up. Also, digital screens and energy-efficient lighting can emit blue light. According to Harvard Health, blue light refers to blue wavelengths, which can help during the day because they increase attention, mood and reaction times. But at night, they make getting to sleep that much harder. In one study by Harvard researchers, blue light suppressed the hormone melatonin twice as long as green light exposure, leading to disruption in the natural circadian rhythms that help us sleep.
To cut out the effects of blue light, try reading a physical book before bed, using dimmer lighting sources or even setting your phone to night mode, which reduces the phone’s brightness.
Create the perfect sleep environment
You can also make changes to your bedroom to facilitate better sleep. In addition to reducing light, some ideas to help you go early to bed include:
- Adjust temperature settings: It’s typically easier to sleep in cooler temperatures. The Sleep Foundation states that the ideal bedroom temperature at night is around 65 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Createquiet: You might also want to make sure that your room and home are quiet so that you can relax easier. You might tell family or housemates that there is a noise curfew, and make sure to reduce noise in your room. If you can’t reduce noise, you might want to look into noise-canceling headphones.
- Practice aromatherapy: Certain scents tend to be associated with relaxing vibes. Lavender scents are very soothing scents for many people. You might want to try a diffuser or other scented item for the home.
- Organize the room: Sometimes it can be stressful trying to relax next to that mountain of clothes you have to put away or even that stack of paperwork from work. To reduce these visual reminders of everything you have to do, organize your bedroom.
- Use soft, comfortable bedding: You might also use soft bedding to help relax, like high thread count sheets or sleep textures like satin.
Exercise during the day
Sometimes, the reason it’s hard to get to sleep early is excess energy. To offset this, you can choose a workout routine that is associated with promoting better sleep. Walking, yoga, strength training and flexibility training can help destress or reduce soreness that can lead to tossing and turning.
However, watch out for high-intensity workouts, which can actually disrupt sleep.
Stick to a soothing nighttime routine
You might also create a soothing routine to do right before bed. These can include:
- Have a certain bath routine: A warm shower or bath can help you destress after a long day. According to the Sleep Foundation, they’ve been shown to help with sleep quality.
- Meditating to enter a relaxing state of mind: Meditation can be a great way to calm down, clear your head and destress before bed. You can even try some breathing exercises to help you sleep.
- Include a gentle exercise routine: Yoga poses are recognized by the Sleep Foundation as promoting sleep quality, as is tai chi. Try some of yoga poses before bed to help you sleep better.
- Listen to soothing music: You can create a playlist to listen to before bed. Try to choose calming music that helps you sleep.
Try a natural sleep aid
Sleeping pills can have a number of side effects, like issues with memory and concentration, muscle weakness and sleep disorder. Many have turned to natural sleeping remedies when finding ways for how to fall asleep fast. Some of those include:
- herbal tea: There are many different sleepy-time teas on the market. The idea behind these is that the soothing aromas and properties of the herbs are associated with improving sleep. Some popular teas that help promote sleep include chamomile, lavender and magnolia.
- magnesium: Magnesium regulates many different processes in the body, and can include proper sleep regulation. One study found that magnesium supplementation improved insomnia in the elderly. You can eat magnesium-dense foods like spinach, yogurt or whole grains, or add a supplement. Make sure to talk to your doctor before adding supplements, however.
- Melatonin: You can find melatonin supplements on the market. Besides taking a melatonin supplement, you can also ingest foods that help with melatonin production. One study showed that drinking tart cherry juice can increase melatonin levels that can help aid in sleep.
Sometimes persistent tiredness could be a sign of sleep apnea or another medical condition. If none of these ideas work, you may need to talk with your doctor.
The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.