How to Fall Asleep Fast: 20 Tips to Beat Insomnia

March 10, 2021 | Casper Editorial Team
Illustration of man and woman sleeping with blanket and pillows Illustration of man and woman sleeping with blanket and pillows Illustration of man and woman sleeping with blanket and pillows

Insomnia is the most common sleep disorder, with up to 30% of adults reporting short-term sleep issues. But if you’ve been up at night wondering how to fall asleep fast, it might be affecting you even more than you realize. 

Failing to fall asleep isn’t only frustrating — the anxiety from not being able to sleep can actually make it even harder to fall asleep in the future. So how can you stop this domino effect to successfully catch some zzz’s?

1. Try The Military Method

The military method is a technique that focuses on muscle relaxation, breathing, and mental visualization. Here’s how to fall asleep fast with the military method. 

  1. Sit or lay down on your bed, slowly relaxing the muscles in your body.
  2. Beginning with your face, tense your muscles then allow them to loosen naturally. Begin to take deep, calming breaths. 
  3. Repeat this process until your entire body feels completely at ease. 
  4. Push all thoughts from your head for 10 seconds. When your brain feels clear, picture one of the following scenarios:
    1. Peacefully lying in a canoe on a calm lake
    2. Gently rocking back and forth in a completely dark room
  5. If the above is unsuccessful, mentally repeat “don’t think, don’t think, don’t think” for at least 10 seconds, and try again. 

2. Use The 4-7-8 Method

The 4-7-8 method is based on Pranayama, a traditional yoga technique. This method can help ease anxiety and lull you into a state of calm. In the 4-7-8 technique, you focus on counting to distract yourself from feelings of anxiety. Here’s how to sleep faster with the 4-7-8 method.

  1. While laying down in bed, allow your tongue to relax behind your front teeth, resting on the roof of your mouth. 
  2. Slowly exhale all of your breath through your mouth, completely emptying your lungs. 
  3. Breath in through your nose for 4 seconds, hold your breath for 7 seconds, then exhale for 8 seconds.
  4. Repeat this process at least four times. 

3. Try to Stay Awake

An unexpected strategy for trying to fall asleep fast is actually to try to stay awake. While it may sound counterintuitive, trying to stay awake can help you lessen the anxiety around trying to fall asleep.

Since falling asleep is an involuntary process, taking your mind off of the task at hand can give your brain the break it needs for you to stop counting sheep. 

4. Turn Down Your Tech

Illustration of phone on top of pillows

With the prevalence of modern technology, surfing the internet before bed is more of a given than a question. While it can be tough to turn off your tech, looking at your screen before bed can negatively impact your quality of sleep. Many devices emit a blue light that simulates sunlight — and while this is helpful before your morning coffee, it can do more harm than good when trying to hit the hay. 

If you’re not able to completely part with your devices for an hour before bed, consider turning down your tech instead. Try listening to music, a calming podcast, or an audiobook for screen-free entertainment while you get ready for bed. 

5. Don’t Worry If You Don’t Fall Asleep Instantly

Is it possible to fall asleep in five minutes? Many people make the mistake of trying to fall asleep almost instantly, but going from wide awake to snoozing isn’t always like flipping off a switch. 

Instead, start to wind down around an hour before bedtime, slowly setting up a sleep-friendly environment in your bedroom by dimming your lights and relaxing your body. 

6. Try Autogenic Training

Autogenic training is a relaxation method created by Johannes Heinrich Schultz, a German psychiatrist. Based on the principles of hypnosis, autogenic training uses a series of statements to create a calming effect in your nervous system. Here’s how to fall asleep fast with autogenic training methods.

  1. Lay down and bring focus to your breath, saying to yourself, “I am completely calm.”
  2. Bring your focus to your arms and repeat to yourself, “My arms are very heavy,” then, “I am completely calm,” at least six times. 
  3. Move your focus to your legs and repeat to yourself, “My legs are very heavy,” then, “I am completely calm,” at least six times. 
  4. Move around to different parts of your body, such as your abdomen, forehead, and heart, repeating the above phrases at least six times. 
  5. Once you feel relaxed, begin to shift your attention to your entire body, where you should then feel relaxed and warm.
  6. Repeat the above steps until you’re ready, at which point you can open your eyes (if you haven’t yet fallen asleep) and enjoy the state of calm. 

7. Do a Body Scan

While a body scan might sound a bit medical-grade, it’s actually an easy relaxation technique you can do before bed to promote better sleep. A body scan is a check-in with yourself and your body that you can do by bringing awareness and intention to each part of your body. 

Similar to the military method, a body scan focuses on one section of the body at a time until you feel completely relaxed. However, with a body scan, you move at a very slow rate throughout your body, taking 10 to 20 minutes to reach the tips of your feet.

  1. Lay down in a relaxed and comfortable position.
  2. Beginning with your head, focus on one section of your body until it feels completely relaxed.
  3. Move down to your shoulders, allowing them to relax before progressing down the right side of your body. 
  4. Once your right side feels relaxed, begin focusing on the left side of your body. 
  5. After 10 to 20 minutes, check in with your body to see if you feel completely relaxed. 

8. Take A Warm Bath or Shower

Illustration of man taking a bath with soap and plants in the foreground

A warm soak has long since been known as a remedy after a long day. But did you know that taking a warm bath or shower is shown to help you fall asleep 36% faster? 

Next time you think you might be up counting sheep, step into the tub for a nice and relaxing soak. Taking time for a hot bath or shower can also improve your quality of sleep — even during warm weather. 

9. Do Progressive Muscle Relaxation

Similar to body scanning, progressive muscle relaxation involves focusing on different areas of your body to put yourself in a relaxed state. However, with progressive muscle relaxation, you tense different muscle groups a few times before allowing them to relax. 

  1. Raise your eyebrows to tighten your forehead muscles, then allow them to relax, focusing on the release of tension from the temples.
  2. Squeeze your eyes shut, then allow them to relax, focusing on how your eyelids fall over your eyes. 
  3. Smile to feel tension in your cheeks and jaw, then allow them to relax, focusing on how each muscle interacts within your face.
  4. Repeat this process through the rest of your body, moving through muscle groups in the shoulders, arms, abdomen, and legs, before finishing at your feet. 
  5. Lay in this relaxed position until you doze off to sleep. 

10. Meditate Before Bed

Research has shown that meditation can actually be a powerful way to overcome insomnia. By taking time before bed to meditate, you can clear your mind of the stresses of the day and focus only on the present moment. Use the below method to meditate before you go to bed.

  1. Sit or lie down in a comfortable position. 
  2. Close your eyes, slow your breathing, and focus on deeply inhaling and exhaling. 
  3. Clear your mind of thoughts. If you feel thoughts intruding, push them away by refocusing your breathing.
  4. Start with as little as five minutes of meditation, working your way up to longer periods as it feels comfortable. 

11. Practice Imagery

Illustration of a lake with rolling hills

Imagery is a mental exercise you can do to calm your senses before bed. To practice imagery, picture a peaceful and happy image from your past and try to “paint” the picture in your mind, down to the very smallest details.

This mental exercise will engage your brain and focus your attention on your chosen image, promoting relaxation and putting you in a state of calm. 

12. Avoid Caffeine Up to Six Hours Prior

While caffeine may be the MVP for getting you out of bed, it’s also a major culprit in keeping you from falling asleep. So how long before bedtime should you be avoiding your daily cup of joe? 

Research has shown that caffeine can impact your quality of sleep up to six hours before bedtime — so if you typically sleep at around 10 pm,  you should probably be finishing up your last cup before 4 pm. 

To get your drink fix before bed, opt for a decaffeinated drink like calming chamomile or lavender tea to satisfy your cravings without sacrificing your sleep. 

13. Create a Bedtime Routine

Creating a consistent bedtime routine can help you set your internal body clock so you know when to wind down for the night. Your bedtime routine can be as simple as playing a pre-bedtime playlist or taking a nightly bath — what matters is that your routine works for you.

Your bedtime routine should be catered to your self-care preferences. There’s no one specific bedtime routine that works for everyone, but if you stick to a simple nightly ritual, your body will thank you for it. 

14. Keep the Thermostat Low

Do you ever feel like you spend your whole night trying to flip to the cold side of the pillow? While you might think sleeping in a warm environment would keep you restful and cozy, it’s actually better to sleep in a cool room. 

The ideal temperature for sleep is between 60 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit. While it might feel too cold for comfort during the day, your internal temperature drops at night as an internal signal that it’s time to sleep, meaning a cooler room provides the right situation for better quality sleep. 

15. Dim the Lights With a Glow Light

Light is an important signal that tells your body what “mode” to be in. While bright lights like blue light are great for keeping you alert, ambient yellow-toned light can help signal to your body that it’s time to turn in.

Using a dimming light, like a glow light, can help your body gradually relax into a sleep-ready state. For the best results, start dimming your lights slowly after dinner, until you’re ready for bed in your dark, cozy haven. 

16. Do Yoga Before Bed

Illustration of a woman in childs pose

If you end the day feeling restless, a bit of calming yoga can be the reset your body needs to wind down before bed. Studies have shown that yoga before bed has helped people with insomnia improve their sleep quality by helping them fall asleep faster and sleep for longer. 

Yoga is a great way to relax your mind and your body by encouraging deep breathing and muscle relaxation. Next time you’re trying to fall asleep, consider spending a few minutes in child’s pose or happy baby first to get yourself ready to catch some zzz’s. 

17. Put Socks On

If you’re struggling to fall asleep and don’t know why, you might be getting cold feet — literally. Research has shown that when your feet are cold, your blood vessels constrict, causing less blood to circulate and sending signals to your brain to stay awake. 

Putting on a pair of socks before bed can help the blood vessels in your feet dilate, sending signals to your brain that it’s time for some sweet dreams. 

18. Take a Walk

Can’t stay still at night? Try taking a walk (kind of). While it may sound counterintuitive, getting up at night and moving to another area of your home for a few minutes can reset your brain so you’re not lying in bed restlessly waiting for respite. 

If you’re still struggling to fall asleep after 20 minutes, it might be time to do a quick reset. Just try to keep your nighttime stroll to around five to 10 minutes, making sure not to do anything jarring like turning on a bright light or causing a loud sound. 

19. Use a Weighted Blanket

Illustration of a man sleeping with a weighted blanket

Weighted blankets are heavy blankets used as a form of pressure therapy to create a calming effect and help stimulate the release of serotonin in your brain. The ideal weighted blanket is around 10% of your body weight, since the blanket applies enough pressure that you’re calm and relaxed without feeling too restricted. 

Whether you use a weighted blanket during your pre-bedtime ritual or throughout the night, your body will surely thank you for it.

20. Turn off the Clock

When you’re struggling to sleep at night, looking at your clock can further compound your sleep anxiety. Try turning off your clock, or turning it around so you can’t see the time at night. 

Additionally, make sure your phone is placed face down if you keep it by your bed. That way, you won’t be as tempted to check the time — or go on a late night web-surfing binge. 

Set Yourself Up For Success

A good night’s sleep does wonders for you, both mentally and physically. But if you’re having trouble falling asleep, the anxiety that triggers can actually make it even harder to catch some zzz’s.

Whether you do progressive muscle relaxation or start dimming the lights after dinner, set yourself up for a great night’s sleep with a soft and supportive mattress for the sleep of your dreams.