How to Go to Sleep
Lying in bed wide awake at night, watching the clock, and wondering how to go to sleep can be incredibly frustrating.
Thankfully, we’ve come a long way from counting sheep.
Today there’s a variety of things you can try to help you relax and prepare for a restful night.
Some important things to keep in mind:
- Everyone’s individual situation is unique – some ideas might work better for you than others
- For a more long-term solution, you should practice good sleep hygiene and develop healthy sleep habits. You can learn more about sleep hygiene here.
- Talk to your physician as there may be underlying issues causing your insomnia
Meanwhile, here are some things to try…
- Change your sleep environment
So you want to know how to go to sleep? You first need to take a look at your bedroom as your sleep environment can make a big difference.
Turn off the electronics
Surfing the web in bed is not how to go to sleep. Studies have shown that bright light from computers, smart phones, and TV screens can interfere with your natural sleep-wake cycle making it harder to feel sleepy.
Hide your clock
Many of us have fallen into this trap – you watch the minutes tick by and count how many hours are left before its time to get up. The resulting stress and anxiety can keep you from relaxing and getting sleepy.
Cool your room
Colder room temperatures help your body’s natural sleep process. Studies suggest that a room temperature between 60 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit (16 – 19 Celsius) is optimal for sleeping.
Keep your room dark
Similar to electronics, bright bedroom lights can make your body think it’s too early for sleep, interfere with your body’s natural sleep-wake cycle, and keep you from feeling sleepy.
Get rid of unwanted noise
Bedroom noises can make it hard to fall asleep, so turn off your TV, radio, or CD player. For nuisance noises out of your control, you may want to try using ear plugs or creating your own white noise.
Sleep with a heavy blanket
Besides giving you a snug feel, sleeping with a heavy or weighted blanket may help relax your body. Weighted blankets are believed to calm the body through deep pressure touch stimulation which results in the release of serotonin, a chemical that promotes relaxation.
- Drink something warm
A warm cup of herbal tea or milk can help relax your body and mind. Be sure to avoid anything with stimulants like caffeine or drinks that can affect your sleep later in the night such as alcohol or soda.
- Get it off your mind
Having thoughts bounce around your head about things that are worrisome or things you need to get done the next day can keep you from falling asleep. Get them off your mind by writing them down on paper.
- Get up and do something
Sometimes laying in bed worrying about getting to sleep makes things worse. Instead, you may want to get up and leave the bedroom for a while. Do something calming such as reading a book, listening to relaxing music, or stretching.
- Calming Music
Listening to soothing music such as quiet classical tracks can help your body relax and make it easier to fall asleep. Slow rhythm songs (60 to 80 beats per minute) have also been shown in studies to improve sleep.
Studies have shown that lavender essential oils can help relax the body and promote sleep. While lavender is the most studied, oil extracts from other yellow citrus fruits such as bergamot and yuzu can have calming effects on the body. Be sure that the oil extract you use is of therapeutic quality and purity.
For some people, a glass of warm milk or a temporary change of scenery doesn’t do the trick. If you’re still figuring out how to go to sleep, you might want to try a relaxation exercise such as visualization.
It’s a mental technique widely used to relieve stress. The goal is to shift your focus from anxious thoughts to peaceful and restful imagery.
Learn more here.
- 4-7-8 Breathing
Simple breathing exercises are another way to relax the body and promote sleep. The 4-7-8 breathing technique, pioneered by Dr. Andrew Weil, involves regulating your breathing to various counts of 4, 7 and 8.
Here’s a demo from Dr. Weil.
Mindfulness meditation is a mind-calming technique that involves focusing on your breathing and keeping your awareness on the present moment. This simple technique has been shown in studies to promote sleep. It’s recommended to practice this technique during the day.
Here’s a simple exercise to try.
- Gentle Stretching
A little gentle stretching in the evening has been found to help relax the body and mind in preparation for sleep. You may want to try yoga which combines stretching with breath control.
Here are some yoga poses to try.
- Progressive muscle relaxation
Progressive muscle relaxation is a technique where you tense and then relax one muscle group at a time. It has been found to help with stress and insomnia.
You can learn more here.
- Take a warm shower or bath
Your body temperature naturally dips at night before bedtime. Taking a warm shower or bath can help you relax while raising your body temperature. When finished you return to a cooler bedroom and the temperature drop signals to the body it’s time to sleep.
Summary: How to Go to Sleep
- Practice good sleep hygiene (pre-sleep routine and habits)
- Improve your sleep environment
- Have a game plan for those nights you still can’t fall asleep (relaxation exercises, etc.)
- Be sure to talk to a doctor as there may be underlying medical issues keeping you awake
You may also be interested in:
What to try if you’re worried about your job and can’t sleep
The best thing to do before bed and pitfalls to avoid
Is it OK to sleep with AC on? – Tips and remedies
A survival guide for people who can’t sleep after social events
A Practical guide to sleeping with a dog
What to do if cell phone light is waking you up at night
What to try if you can’t sleep after moving
18 things to try if you’re too stressed about grades to sleep
18 fun things to do before bed
What to try if you can’t sleep because of sore muscles
Should you puzzles before bed?
Are plants in the bedroom bad for allergies?
Sleep tips for nurses and care providers
7 things to try if your phone keeps waking you up
Sleeping with a dog and allergies
Can you really cool down with ice in front of a fan?
Sleep tips and insomnia remedies for firefighters and EMTs
12 things to try if car noise is ruining your sleep
14 Remedies for when you’re too hot to sleep after exercise
Sleep tips and insomnia remedies for police officers
10 things to try if your spouse keeps the TV on at night
18 Things to try if you’re too excited to sleep
16 Things to try if you’re too cold to sleep
14 things to try if you’re too lonely to sleep
12 Things to try if a noisy neighbor is keeping you from sleeping
9 Things worth a try if you drank too much coffee
Can lavender plants really help your sleep?
7 Sleep Aids for kids worth a try
4 things to avoid if you sleep with a fish tank in your bedroom
What to do if a barking dog wakes up the baby
How to get sleep during a CPAP power outage
5 things to try if you can’t stop reading at night
12 Sleep-friendly snacks for when you’re too hungry to sleep
10 things to try if you’re losing sleep over politics
5 things to try if you’re waking up in the middle of the night to smoke
How long does nicotine keep you awake?
What to do if too much light is keeping you awake
How to get to sleep after one too many energy drinks
9 things to try if you can’t sleep after drinking Coke or Pepsi
17 Sleep-friendly ways to pass the time when bored in bed
What to try if shoulder pain is keeping you from sleeping on your side
The best sleep calculators to improve your sleep
Pain meds keeping you awake? – 12 things you can try
How to go to sleep when your mind won’t stop racing – 10 things to try
Sleep checklist – see if you’re doing the right things
Can snoring cause nose bleeds? – Here’s what we know
7 Foods to avoid when having insomnia
What you can do if nausea is keeping you from sleeping
5 Foods that can help sleep apnea
8 Natural aids to try if pain is keeping you awake
Sleeping upright with sleep apnea – 3 things to try
Hear directly from experts and insomnia sufferers about how to go to sleep
Yes, music can really help your insomnia
More evidence blue-light blocking glasses can help your insomnia
Can acupressure and acupuncture help jet lag? – What we know, what to try
3 light therapy remedies for jet lag worth trying
Sleep habits of the longest living people in the world
Fun and relaxing activities to put insomniacs to sleep
9 things to try if a cat won’t let you sleep
4 things to try if CBD is keeping your dog awake
Can CBD oil make you feel more awake and cause insomnia?
Can you take CBD oil with sleeping pills?
How I‘m using Joy Organics CBD softgels for pain and better sleep
Connect with us:
Better Sleep Simplified® was founded as a place for you to get clear and well-researched information.
Our goal is to make sure you know about your options so that you take action sooner rather than later.
Find out what you're doing right and what to change
Watch and Learn
Hear from experts, sleep specialists, people with insomnia, and others
This site is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program and other affiliate advertising programs designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to them.
Important: BetterSleepSimplified.com is for informational purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always consult a physician for sleep and health concerns. See additional information.