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How To Get A Good Night's Sleep -- Tips To Fall Asleep Fast

Updated on May 8, 2012

Another Sleepless Night: Symptoms Of Insomnia

I think almost everyone can recall having a restless night, when you suffer from insomnia and wonder how to get a good night's sleep. You know the ones I'm talking about, where your mind keeps racing, you just can't seem to get comfortable and no matter what you do, you just can't fall asleep. For me, at least, it often seems that the more tired I am or the more that I actually NEED to sleep -- because I have, say, an early appointment -- the more problems I face. For a while, it reached a point where I actually became anxious about sleeping; where the night stretched ahead for me, empty and lonely; where I wasn't sure if I'd ever feel rested again.

The bad news is that lack of sleep can affect you in profound ways: it messes with your mood, your weight, your appearance, your immune system and your overall mental and physical health. The good news is, there are some simple natural means that you can take to alleviate insomnia symptoms. I'm not anywhere near cured yet -- in fact, last night was pretty restless for me -- but here are a few things this insomniac has done to cure insomnia naturally and how to get a good night's sleep.

Of course, before following any sort of advice that relates to your health, you should consult your doctor. You should also pay your physician a visit if your insomnia is chronic or you suffer from a sleep disorder such as sleep apnea.

Winding Down: The First Step To A Good Night's Sleep

Okay, raise your hand if you've had an incredibly busy day, you come home late and you plop into bed immediately -- and then next thing you know, it's 2 a.m., and you can't get back to sleep. I think I'm seeing a lot of hands raised, myself included!

I've found that winding down for at least 20 minutes after coming home is very helpful when it comes to staying asleep at night. If I've come home from a rehearsal or party, yeah, I'm exhausted, but I'm also still on a bit of an adrenaline rush from staying awake and being active. So before hitting the sack, I like to read for a few minutes or lounge in front of the TV. It allows me to clear my mind and not go to bed with my thoughts racing.

Even on nights where I haven't been out late, I like to do a little "winding down" ritual. I'll read a light book (trust me, you don't want to read War & Peace before bedtime!) or spend a few minutes talking about my day with my husband. The more relaxed I feel and the further I take myself away from my busy life, the better I sleep. Usually.

Insomnia Information -- How To Sleep Well

Liquid Assets

Another thing that's helped me fall and stay asleep is having a cup of herbal tea (Sleepytime is my favorite) or a glass of warm milk. Obviously, you want to avoid beverages that contain caffeine, such as coffee, regular tea or soda, and you don't want to drink too much right before going to bed. In my case, I try not to have any coffee or soda after about 5 p.m. because it will keep me awake, even if I've had it that early in the day. As for the tea, I like to have a cup an hour or two before bedtime, usually after dinner. It gives my body plenty of time to relax -- and to use the facilities.

Taking a nice, long, warm shower can also be helpful, especially if you have a cold or any aches or pains. Many people I know prefer taking showers in the morning to help them wake up, but I like to take one at night. This way, I don't have to rush through it and can enjoy my shower as part of my "winding down" ritual, which I mentioned above.

Be Active - Regularly

The thing that's helped me stay asleep best is regularly doing a moderate amount of exercise (about 30 minutes a day). Don't do it too close to when you want to go to sleep, though, or your body will be on an adrenaline overload and you'll end up staying awake ... which kind of defeats the point! I like to workout in the morning or before dinner. This way, I can get it out of the way and relax the rest of my evening.

That said, I've found that if I spend too much time "relaxing" I sometimes have trouble falling asleep -- like if I spend an entire weekend lounging around and reading. So even if you hate exercise, try to get out and do something, even if it's just grocery shopping. You'll sneak at least a little bit of exercise in there.

Some people I know have found success in beating insomnia by creating a routine before going to bed. For me, this doesn't work because I'm often out late and my day ends at different times. But enough friends have suggested this to me, that it's worth trying.

How To Fall Asleep Fast

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Create Your Special Sleep Space

When I was in high school, I did everything in my room: watch TV, do homework, talk on the phone, sleep. Unfortunately, the latter often suffered, probably because I subconsciously associated my bedroom with my "office."

These days, my husband and I make a point to keep our work out of the bedroom. I write in our office and watch TV in our living room. Sometimes I'll read in our bedroom, but it's never something I have to read for an assignment; it's for pleasure and helps me relax.

Try separating your work from your bedroom, if you can. Obviously, this may be difficult if you live in a studio apartment, but even then, you can write by your computer and read at a table, for example.

Tips For A Good Night's Sleep

Noises Off

My husband will kill me for sharing this, but he's a pretty bad snorer. I even once had a dream where a giant, snoring nose was chasing me across a field. That said, my saving grace has been to turn on the fan (for white noise) and use earplugs -- which has been a simple, but effective way to make things quiet.

For earplugs, I recommend using foam plugs which easily mold to your ear. There are also plastic and wax plugs available, but I haven't found as much success with them. Both are rather uncomfortable and don't block out as much noise.

I also recommend creating some kind of "white noise" in your environment, either with a fan, air conditioner or a white noise machine. It seems a little funny to me that I'm so disturbed by snoring when the roaring of a fan puts me to sleep, but that constant, almost invisible sound, helps put me out.

You may also want to get an eye mask if you're sensitive to light. I don't mind sleeping if the light is on, but if you do, this will help you stay asleep if car lights shine through your window or if your roommate turns on the hallway light, for example.

Time To Get Comfy

This final tip is going to sound pretty obvious, but make sure you're comfortable in bed! Do everything you can to get the temperature right (get a fan or A/C if it's hot; get an extra blanket if it's cold) and make sure your bed and pillows are as soft or firm as you like. It's so difficult to fall asleep if you're not even remotely rested in your sleep space.

So have some tea, put your day's troubles behind you and think sweet thoughts. The more measures you take to relax, the sweeter your dreams will be.


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    • Tonipet profile image

      Tonette Fornillos 

      8 years ago from The City of Generals

      Very helpful hub. You certainly got me with the working in the bedroom scene. It's one thing that must be on top of what I need to get rid of for that precious sleep. Bedroom is for sleeping, rule no.1 :-)...I'll try that! This is really great. Thank you Naomi.

    • jeddex profile image


      10 years ago

      gReat HuB! my only secret of getting asleep fast is to study my lesson or read books while in bed...5 minutes is long enough for me to stay awake when i'm READinG! LOL :)

    • earnestshub profile image


      11 years ago from Melbourne Australia

      All useful stuff to know, thank you.

    • prasetio30 profile image


      11 years ago from malang-indonesia

      how to relax and hear soft music. Maybe it can help insomnia.

    • GiftedGrandma profile image


      11 years ago from USA

      Great hub Naomi..I can relate to all of it. Hubby started the process but wouldn't follow through and the old saying is you can lead a horse to water but you can't make it drink(that is hubby).

    • NaomiR profile imageAUTHOR


      11 years ago from New York

      Thanks, I'll keep that in mind! He always stops, though, when he's on his side.

    • Hmrjmr1 profile image


      11 years ago from Georgia, USA

      Naomi- Great Hub but I feel compelled to tell you that you should have your hubby get checked for sleep apnea. My hunny and I blew off my snoring for years until it nearly killed me one night. Got checked got a CPAP machine and whalla no more snoring! Plus no more attacks in the night! It's a dangerous disease. So get him checked...

      (Sorry to get on a soapbox here)


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