Help Falling Asleep – How to Fall Asleep Quickly and Easily

By: Michael Lam, MD, MPH; Carrie Lam, MD

Good sleep is a cornerstone of health, happiness, and productivity. More and more research is showing just how much getting high quality sleep is necessary for a high-functioning life and relief from physical or mental health issues. But, actually falling asleep and maintaining it throughout the night is sometimes not so easy, especially if you suffer from health conditions such as Adrenal Fatigue. For some people, getting adequate sleep can be a daily struggle that affects every facet of their lives. If you need help falling asleep, here are some tips and techniques that will aid you in doing so quickly and easily.

Science-Backed Tips For Help Falling Asleep

Do Not Use Electronic Devices Before Bed

Man using his cell phone in bed needs help falling asleepIt’s a modern-life issue that has become one of the main culprits in disrupting natural sleep cycles. There are two reasons why using electronics before bed makes it harder to fall asleep and lessens the quality of sleep. The first is that most electronic devices are interactive and keep your mind stimulated. Social media notifications, late night work emails, online games that keep going, or the latest meme that grabs your attention – one thing leads to another, and time flies by. This happens throughout the day, interrupting workflow or other tasks, and then at night, delaying your bedtime.

The second reason is that electronic screens give off blue wavelength light. This interferes with the brain’s ability to relax and can also block the release of melatonin, the sleep-hormone. Try to steer clear of using devices or watching TV a couple of hours before bed. If you must use electronics at night, invest in blue blocking goggles that reduce, or block out, the sleep-disrupting blue light. In addition, electronic devices and engaging and keep you stimulated.

Read A Book Instead

Reading before bed can have the opposite effect to using electronic devices, if you pick something light and not too interesting. Make sure you are not reading on an electronic device, except if you use a Blue Shade function on an e-reader. It is best to opt for a real book, or paper, that you can be sure will not get you hooked onto the next “must have” thing.

Keep Your Room Dark and Cool

Your bedroom’s atmosphere is another important aspect of healthy bedtime habits. You can manipulate it to give you the best chance at easy and full sleep. The first thing is to make sure light doesn’t enter the room. Get some blackout curtains, not just to keep out sunlight early in the morning, but also to block out streetlights. Also, don’t turn on any bright lights in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom; use nightlights in the bathroom and hallway. Begin dimming the lights a couple of hours before bed. That will send a signal to your body, and mind, that it’s time to prepare for sleep.

The next tip is to keep your room cool. Body temperature naturally drops when falling asleep, and so a hot and stuffy atmosphere can interfere with that. Of course, don’t overdo it. Feeling cold will just as likely wake you up. Keep a window open. If not, use an electric fan or air conditioner set on a cool, not cold, temperature.

Good Nutrition is Vital

Eating a healthy diet and making sure you are getting the right macronutrients, as well as adequate vitamins and minerals, is important not just for help falling asleep, but for all-round good health and a sound mind. The connection between health, food, and sleep goes even deeper: good overall health is a key to good sleep, and good sleep is key to overall health. Both are affected by nutrition. Along with increasing intake of fruits, vegetables, and pulses, which are a main component of any healthy diet, there are more specific tips you can implement for better sleep:
Bowl of seaweed salad which can improve nutrition which will help falling asleep naturally

  • Eat foods containing omega-3 fatty acids, such as algae and seafood.
  • Include tryptophan-rich items in your diet, such as turkey, eggs, meat, milk and fish, which can help bring on the drowsy, sleepy feeling.
  • Don’t be afraid of eating carbs at dinner. Complex carbohydrates are believed to aid in good sleep.
  • Make sure you are getting enough protein, especially in the morning. Protein is what’s used by the body to repair muscles during sleep and is essential for good immune function.
  • Do not drink coffee or other caffeinated drinks after mid-afternoon. Caffeine is a known stimulant and makes it more difficult to fall asleep.

Try not to eat a big meal right before bed. If you have a drop in your blood sugar levels, at night, have a light snack before you go to sleep. If you tend to get hungry during the night, keep a healthy snack by your bedside so that you do not have to get up to go to the kitchen.

Do you enjoy a glass of warm milk in the evening? You might be onto something. This technique, passed down from our great-grandmothers, is still being debated by science, yet somehow it seems to work for many people. The reason could be that, other than the tryptophan contained in milk, there may be a psychological connection between warm milk and nursing. Drinking warm milk can bring you a sense of comfort and coziness from your childhood that relaxes you into a good night’s sleep. Finally, if you have Adrenal Fatigue, consider getting a customized Adrenal Fatigue Supplementation plan to improve your overall nutrition and health.

Do Yoga and Meditation Before Bed

Yoga’s health benefits are widely known. However, certain types of yoga practices, done before bed, can be an excellent relaxation technique. No need to break a sweat. Slow, easy movements and postures can gently relieve tension and pain in your body. Yoga also involves syncing breath and movement, oxygenating your blood and calming your mind. You can also try our Adrenal Yoga Exercises that are designed to relax your body and ease your nerves.

Meditation is another great way to quiet an overactive mind. The sense of peacefulness and serenity it provides is good. It reduces stress during the day, and also helps you fall asleep more easily and quickly.

For more specific breath-work, try our Adrenal Breathing Exercises!

Have A Morning and Night Routine

Setting a specific bedtime, and rising time, is one of the best ways to regulate your mind and body.

Going to bed every night at the same time, and complimenting that with some bedtime rituals we mentioned above, like dimming the lights and reading a book, will eventually turn into a habit that signals your nervous system that it’s time to go to sleep. It is equally important to wake up at the same time every day and get out of bed immediately. Lying around or hitting the snooze button will make your morning sleep choppy and carry drowsiness into your day. This will trigger your craving for caffeine or other stimulants to keep you awake, which in turn will further disrupt your nighttime sleeping pattern.

An excellent way to feel alert in the morning is to get some sunshine as soon as you wake up. If you don’t have sunlight, sit in front of a bright light. If, for whatever reason, you feel you really need a nap, do it earlier rather than later in the day. If you sleep in the late afternoon, you may not feel sleepy when your regular bedtime comes.

Falling Asleep and Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome

On its own, inadequate sleep diffuses focus and lessens the enjoyment of life. Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome can also have a negative effect on sleep and overall wellbeing.

Some of the effects of Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome on sleep are:

  • Difficulty falling asleep
  • Woman lying in bed wide awake while clock reads 3:00 needs help falling asleepWaking up in the middle of the night (usually between 2 to 3 a.m.)
  • Difficulty going back to sleep after waking up in the middle of the night
  • Sleep deprivation

So it’s an absolute must for patients suffering from Adrenal Fatigue to commit to improving the length and quality of sleep. Doing so will greatly assist in normalizing the condition.

If you have Adrenal Fatigue, try to sleep by 10 p.m. in order to avoid the adrenal glands starting up again between 11 p.m. and 1 a.m., the time of their “second wind”. Sleeping during this time will give you the most repair-benefits from your adrenals. Sleeping until 9 a.m., or just before, is also highly advantageous as cortisol levels reach their peak between 6 to 8 a.m., preparing and energizing you for the day ahead. Applying the tips above and getting the proper health plan for your condition is of utmost importance for your health and quality of life.

© Copyright 2016 Michael Lam, M.D. All Rights Reserved.
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Dr Lam,
I am very excited to have found your fantastic website! By reading your articles on the website, I now understand much better what has been wrong in my body since 2006 when I crashed severely after working far too much and sleeping far too little. Now it all makes sense. Finally someone who can explain what the doctors can't.