How To Fall Asleep Earlier & Stay Asleep Through The Night, According To Experts
There are two types of people in this world: early risers and night-walkers, and the two are very rarely one and the same. If you’re accustomed to night life, it can be really hard to fall asleep at a "normal" time, so you probably avoid early morning activity if you can help it. But the real world typically demands you start the day when the sun comes up, which means you’re stuck trying to figure out how to fall asleep earlier than your body’s used to. Speaking from experience, I can genuinely sympathize with your struggle; but I can also guarantee you’ll get there. It just takes some practice and getting used to.
For starters, try not to think of going to sleep earlier as a punishment. Consider it a trade-off instead: The earlier you crawl into bed at night, the earlier you'll rise in the morning. You're not losing out on time here, friends. You'll just be experiencing life from an early bird's perspective which, I promise you, isn't all that bad.
Granted, I get it. The time you go to sleep isn't just a matter of schedule structuring. Night-walkers and early risers have completely separate cultures, and they like it that way. Change is daunting, but it's doable, and by incorporating any of the following expert tips into your nightly routine, I promise the idea of nodding off by 9 p.m. won't seem so impossible.
1. Start Eating Dinner Earlier
My husband is quite the night owl, but I've noticed that if we eat dinner around 6 p.m. rather than, say, 8 p.m., it's not too long after I crawl into bed that he's trailing right behind me.
Needless to say, we eat because our bodies needs energy. The later we eat dinner, the more energy we have throughout the night, and as a result, the later we're bound to stay awake.
It's also inherently difficult to easily fall and stay asleep on a full stomach as well, as indigestion and heartburn are likely to happen under those circumstances. Experts from mattress company Serta tell Elite Daily that adjusting your mealtime to earlier in the evening gives your body the time it needs to properly digest before bed.
2. Write In A Journal Before Bed
If your body is used to staying up late, so is your brain. Because your mind is geared up and ready to get the party started when you're putting in your best effort to wind down for the night, don't be surprised if a stream of thoughts distracts you from your mission.
To combat a busy brain, Serta experts suggest writing in a journal instead of calling it quits and turning on the TV or scrolling through Instagram:
Our lives are full, and with so many modes of instant communication, we are perpetually multitasking.
One way to stop mentally rolling over your to-do list is to make a physical list of reminders, thoughts, and tasks that need be completed. Keep the list by your bed, so if you think of something to add, you can write it down and let it go for the night.
3. Lower The Temperature In Your Bedroom
You've probably heard of this helpful tip over and over, but the fact still stands regardless.
The ideal temperature for your sleeping environment is anywhere between 60 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit, but do you know why? Sleep writer from Sleep Train Kelsey Down tells Elite Daily that this temperature range mirrors "your body's natural inclination to lower its temperature for sleep."
So even though you may loathe chilly temps, it's strongly advised that you turn down your thermostat. If you really can't take the freeze, compensate with a cozy down comforter.
4. Establish Some Kind Of Routine
Founder of Shleep Dr. Els van der Helm, PhD., and circadian and sleep expert Dr. Elena Tsimakouridze, PhD. tell Elite Daily that setting aside 15 to 30 minutes before bed solely for the purpose of relaxing and unwinding will encourage your internal clock to hit snooze earlier by "inducing feel-good hormones" and "reducing stress hormones."
Activities like meditation, gentle yoga stretches, taking a bubble bath, and logging off all social media can help prepare you for sleep both mentally and physically.
If you've already established a nighttime routine that works for you, rather than going through them at, say 11 p.m., try putting them into practice a little earlier each night until you've reached your goal bedtime.
5. Exercise An Hour Or Two Before Bedtime
There's an ongoing debate regarding when the best time of day is to work out, but according to co-founder and inventor of Spoon Sleep Herman Fisher, breaking a sweat an hour or two before bed is an easy way to wear yourself out and feel tired enough to hit the sack early.
Your body goes through a process while you sleep called evaporative cooling, which keeps body temperatures balanced for a cool, restful sleep. Fisher tells Elite Daily that when you sweat, your body cools through the evaporation of water coming off your skin.
Therefore, if you're having trouble falling asleep early due to a warmer body temperature, Fisher suggests kickstarting the process by trying "some mild exercise like jumping jacks or running in place" one to two hours prior to your bedtime.
6. Adjust Your Lighting
Aside from the obvious necessity of avoiding blue light before bed (translation: step away from the damn smartphone), it's also important to set the mood by adjusting the lights around your dorm or apartment.
And, if you're willing to splurge, there are smart technology lightbulbs that can be programmed to dim as the evening progresses. This, Down tells Elite Daily, helps you maintain a regular sleep schedule "by mimicking the natural progression of daylight."
An example of this is the Phillips Hue White Ambiance starter kit, which gradually lightens as the day progresses, and dims in the evening into a warm white light to prepare your body for sleep.
Michael Deschamps, product marketing manager, North America at Philips Lighting, tells Elite Daily that "lighting has a profound effect on the human body, how we feel, and how we function." By having lightbulbs in your home that naturally dim down as the day goes on, "you can have the right light for any moment in your day that will help you feel your best."