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How to Sleep Fast in 6 Steps
Do you have trouble sleeping? I’ve not slept well for my entire adult life. I’d go to bed and take at least one hour to fall asleep. Once I did fall asleep, I’d wake up several times a night and take at least half an hour to go back to sleep. I’ve run on four to five hours of sleep per night for almost 20 years. Then I found out how to sleep fast, sleep deeply, and sleep deeply. Join me to find out how!
The Importance of Sleep
It’s hardly groundbreaking news that sleep is important. But how important is it?
Let’s look at the symptoms of sleep deprivation:
Memory and cognitive impairment
Relationship Problems (keeping your partner awake)
Increased risk of injury (work, driving)
High blood pressure
Depression and other mood disorders
Poor quality of life
Aside from these awful symptoms, how do you think your wallet is going to fare if you’re not sleeping well? Sleep deprivation, at best, will not help you gain financial independence. At worst, it’ll make you underperform at work and get fired (not FIREd). You’re not going to have the energy for side hustles either.
The 5 Steps to Better Sleep
1) Pick a consistent bed time and waking time
Like toddlers, our own bodies prefer habits, consistency, and predictability. As part of a broad category of sleep habits called “sleep hygiene”, it’s important to have a consistent time that you get in bed and get out of bed. This includes the weekends as well! If you’re sleeping poorly, there’s a good chance you’re going to bed and waking up at inconsistent times.
2) Avoid screen time for at least two hours before bed
We’ve all heard about how disruptive “blue light” is to our ability to fall asleep. The prime culprits for emitting blue light are those pesky cell phones in our pockets. If at all possible, put your phone away! If not, see if there’s a setting to change the light from the screen to more of a yellow hue, which evidently helps. TV is another culprit. Instead of watching TV, read a book. DO NOT have a TV in your bedroom. Your bed is for sleeping and dancing the horizontal tango, not for watching TV in.
3) Wear an eye mask
The ideal bedtime environment is pitch black. Unless you want to hang blackout curtains over your windows, you need an eye mask. I’ve tried many eye masks and most are uncomfortable and ineffective at blocking out light. I take most eye masks off in my sleep. After several years of experimentation, I’ve found an eye mask that is comfortable and blocks out all light. You can waste your money trying out many masks like I did, or you can give this one a shot first and see what an eye mask is supposed to feel like.
4) Wear ear plugs
I’ve always been hypervigilant. Any small noise will immediately wake me up at night. I’m not alone in this and many people are also sensitive to noise. If this describes you (and even if it doesnt, you may be waking up due to sounds and not know it), get some ear plugs! Like eye masks, I tried many different types of ear plugs before I found the ones below. Not only are they on the cheaper side, they also work incredibly well and are comfortable to wear.
Your body needs exercise. Your mind needs exercise. If you don’t exercise, you could have an excess of energy that keeps you up at night. Not only will your overall health improve with exercise, but your sleep will get deeper and you’ll fall asleep faster. Now, I don’t mean 15 minutes of putzing around on a treadmill. I mean hard, tough, challenging workouts. Running, lifting weights, sports…it doesn’t matter. Go hard and sleep better. If you’re not getting after it at least three times per week (five is even better), it’s likely affecting your sleep.
Related: 5 Reasons to Build a Home Gym Now
6) Sleep Supplements/Tea
Strong prescription sleep drugs have always made me weary. I’ve heard too many horror stories of crazy dreams and other side effects to ever trust a drug like Ambien or Lunesta. They can also be terribly addictive.
Instead, I’ve tried a variety of sleep aids. I started with herbal teas like Sleepy Time tea, which helped a little, and kept experimenting from there. DRIFTOFF is the one I found that works best for me. The ingredients are frequently cited as being helpful for sleep and they’re found in these pills in higher concentrations that what is typical.
Another trick is to get generic Benadryl. The active ingredient in Benadryl (diphenhydramine) is what is added to Tylenol PM and other over the counter sleeping pills. However, with Tylenol PM and those other pills, the pain killer is also packaged. I like feeling my sore muscles and I never take pain killers unless absolutely needed, so diphenhydramine is the way to go. It gets the job done and is much cheaper than the herbal pills, but I do find that it can sometimes leave me groggy in the morning. Unlike the prescription drugs, diphenhydramine is not strongly habit forming. I use this once or twice per week as needed.
After implementing the suggestions above, I now sleep for six to eight hours per night consistently for the first time in my adult life. This amount of sleep is ample for me. Try these habits out: keep what works for you and take out what doesn’t. Once you find the factors that help you, though, establish a nightly routine and incorporate them! A nightly routine is fantastic at preparing your body for sleep and after it becomes habit, you’ll find yourself getting sleepy as you get ready for bed.