24 votes

Tips for falling asleep

So sometimes I just can't fall asleep. For example tonight. I think the sun is starting to come up.

What are some tips or tricks you use to fall asleep? I already use quite a few, not sure how good they are though apparently. One is no eating a few hours (i do 3) before sleeping. A strange one but I think it helps for me is to jack off sometimes a few hours before sleep. Another kind of new one for me is some breathing exercise, which I felt work pretty well for a bit. I think it's called 3-7-8 breathing or something like that.

31 comments

  1. [4]
    Omnicrola
    Link
    Here's a TED talk about sleep which has some helpful tips. And also some tips from the CDC. Personally, I find that the most important thing is routine. Always get up at the same time (give or...

    Here's a TED talk about sleep which has some helpful tips. And also some tips from the CDC.

    Personally, I find that the most important thing is routine. Always get up at the same time (give or take half an hour). Going to bed at the same time is also important, but I don't necessarily go to sleep. I disengage from all electronics at least an hour before I want to be actually asleep. Both because blue light (which I think is only a mild contributor) and because most anything I'm going to end up doing on my PC or phone is designed to hold my attention for as long as possible. I usually read a book on my e-reader, which has a passive display. Books can sometimes keep me up late if they're good, but that's less common.

    On the nights where I have trouble, I will usually do some self-directed meditation. My usual go-to is to focus on my muscles one group at a time, tense them slightly, then relax them completely. I often imagine a scifi scanner slowly moving a beam up from my toes, relaxing me as it goes.

    Hope you find some of that useful.

    9 votes
    1. [3]
      Atvelonis
      Link Parent
      This is basically exactly what I was going to write. Since the pandemic begun, I've been having waves of sleeping well/poorly and have been carefully taking notes about my habits each night. I...

      This is basically exactly what I was going to write. Since the pandemic begun, I've been having waves of sleeping well/poorly and have been carefully taking notes about my habits each night. I think most of the bad sleep stems from having an irregular routine, exercising less, and looking at a screen more. I started listening to a short mindfulness podcast a while back and found that it was helpful in relaxing me.

      If I find that my mind is too active to just shut off, I keep a book on-hand that's just interesting enough to keep my attention for a few pages at a time, but boring or dense enough that I'm tempted to close my eyes throughout. My current "boring" book is a biography of Theodore Roosevelt, and next it will probably be Hobbes' Leviathan, which I've never gotten around to reading in full. I don't read anything too exciting before I go to sleep or else it keeps me up. For example, I just finished re-reading Richard Preston's The Hot Zone today. Definitely a daytime book. Gives me chills.

      One additional suggestion would be not to even touch your bed unless you're about to go to sleep (or beginning your pre-sleep routine, which could include reading, a podcast, etc.). If you frequently use your bed during the day to check your phone, do work, talk to people, etc., then your mind will get used to this being an "awake space" and not a "sleep space." Environmental associativity is very much a real thing, perhaps more immediately evident in the realm of alcohol tolerance, but it affects just about everything you do.

      7 votes
      1. [2]
        Tygrak
        Link Parent
        Exercise is definitely a big part and something I am definitely guilty of not doing enough of - maybe even the biggest part. The problem with books for me is that I would actually have basically...

        Exercise is definitely a big part and something I am definitely guilty of not doing enough of - maybe even the biggest part.

        The problem with books for me is that I would actually have basically no problem reading the whole book if I went to read it - but maybe you are right that if it was a "boring" book it would work better - I have to try that.

        Ad the "sleep spaces" yeah that's a great one, I didn't list it but I consider it a big part of sleep hygiene so I do it already for a long time. But I would definitely recommend people to do it if they don't.

        2 votes
        1. Erik
          Link Parent
          You've already got a lot of great advice, so I'll just hammer home on that exercise thing. It helps me quite a bit and I've noticed the same thing with my toddler. When I get him out in the world...

          You've already got a lot of great advice, so I'll just hammer home on that exercise thing. It helps me quite a bit and I've noticed the same thing with my toddler. When I get him out in the world and running around, he sleeps way better than if we have a day in. Just taking an hour out of the day to get the park and run around a bit is really good, even in this heat and during this time where we should social distance.

          Just get in a nice 40 minute walk and listen to a podcast. You don't need to run until your muscles create battery acid or anything. I do weighted vest walks for my cardio myself, which is a good way to add more challenge without flat out running, which I hate.

          2 votes
  2. [2]
    ggarron
    Link
    I put some podcast with timer, I look for podcasters with the same tone of voice, so I can listen to him and fall asleep. My problem is that when I want to sleep my brain wants to think, so...

    I put some podcast with timer, I look for podcasters with the same tone of voice, so I can listen to him and fall asleep.
    My problem is that when I want to sleep my brain wants to think, so listening to something I force "him" to concentrate in the voice and stop thinking, that way I can sleep.

    5 votes
    1. Saigot
      Link Parent
      Have you considered audio books? I have found they tend to be calmer with more soothing and consistant voices and if you find a good series it can last a very long time. I went through the entire...

      Have you considered audio books? I have found they tend to be calmer with more soothing and consistant voices and if you find a good series it can last a very long time.

      I went through the entire game of thrones series over the course of 2 years and am currently working my way through harry potter. Really helps me and my SO fall asleep and it gives us something to talk about.

      1 vote
  3. ohyran
    Link
    Imagine stuff. Thats my best advice. I sort of start a scenario in my head with no proper connection to my real life. The idea is that I wanna force my brain from thinking about daily things that...

    Imagine stuff. Thats my best advice. I sort of start a scenario in my head with no proper connection to my real life. The idea is that I wanna force my brain from thinking about daily things that may cause me to stay awake or be nervous or something - so by imagining these scenarios instead of trying to go "Don't think about X" or something I let them go, then since they are of no real consequence or value I can slip out of them easily when I feel asleep.

    4 votes
  4. [3]
    tomf
    Link
    Here are a few tricks I've used to fall asleep over the years. You can use some of these in tandem, but I will write them all as standalone methods. 4-7-8 breathing --- inhale through your nose...

    Here are a few tricks I've used to fall asleep over the years. You can use some of these in tandem, but I will write them all as standalone methods.

    1. 4-7-8 breathing --- inhale through your nose for a four count, hold for a seven count, and exhale with a whooooosh though your mouth for eight. The counts can be anything that is comfortable, but if you can do seconds, that is excellent.
    2. Stretch your body out straight then, if your palms are facing you, rest the inside pad of your palms on your eyes. Relax your eyes and find the darkest point and visualize yourself moving closer to the darkness or the darkness moving toward you --- allow it to consume you. This works well with the breathing.
    3. Visualize yourself roaming your childhood home. Start at the front door, move through the house toward a stairwell -- when you reach it, count from 1 - 13 and visualize yourself moving up the stairs. When you reach the top, walk to the furthest wall and then come back. As you come back down the stairs, count from 13 - 1.
    4. If you're truly awake and cannot sleep for the life of you, whip out an instruction manual for a television, clock radio, or something equally boring. Read that cover to cover.

    With all of these, it is important to relax all of your muscles (drop your shoulders, relax your face, etc.) Another thing that often works is to sit on the edge of your bed and say, 'I'm going to fall asleep and wake up at 6am (or whatever)'

    It's also handy to be a little cold at night. Cold showers before bed are great, which seems counterintuitive.

    4 votes
    1. [2]
      drannex
      Link Parent
      I adore these things more than any man should, and this will excite my mind to the point that I'll be up for the next several hours imaging how many people put it together, the chain of command,...

      If you're truly awake and cannot sleep for the life of you, whip out an instruction manual for a television, clock radio, or something equally boring. Read that cover to cover.

      I adore these things more than any man should, and this will excite my mind to the point that I'll be up for the next several hours imaging how many people put it together, the chain of command, the hypotheticals of how they conceived the idea from the placement to the development of the technology. So many questions, so few pages.

      The rest of the tips are great, but it bewilders me that it would benefit as a sleeping aide to other people.

      6 votes
      1. tomf
        Link Parent
        haha. this is great. You should pioneer a 'manuals' section on Goodreads with well-written reviews.

        haha. this is great. You should pioneer a 'manuals' section on Goodreads with well-written reviews.

        4 votes
  5. [3]
    mrbig
    (edited )
    Link
    Take medication. Seriously, if nothing works just go to a doctor. You may have something serious that needs to be addressed. You may just need some cheap sleep medication with no side effects. And...

    Take medication. Seriously, if nothing works just go to a doctor. You may have something serious that needs to be addressed. You may just need some cheap sleep medication with no side effects. And you can always choose not to take it if you think you can handle it on your on. But don’t spend years battling alone with insomnia when there’s a much easier solution available.

    4 votes
    1. [2]
      Sill
      Link Parent
      Medication can be tricky because sleep is complicated. You might have medication that can induce the onset of sleep but interferes with transitioning properly between the other phases of sleep...

      Medication can be tricky because sleep is complicated. You might have medication that can induce the onset of sleep but interferes with transitioning properly between the other phases of sleep that occurs many times throughout the night.

      2 votes
      1. mrbig
        Link Parent
        Sleep medication (like many medications) can certainly be tricky. That’s why you should only take it when it is truly required, and with the prescription of a trained professional.

        Sleep medication (like many medications) can certainly be tricky. That’s why you should only take it when it is truly required, and with the prescription of a trained professional.

        2 votes
  6. [5]
    Sill
    Link
    If you're interested, here's my overview notes from a CBT course I went through that pertained to sleep.

    If you're interested, here's my overview notes from a CBT course I went through that pertained to sleep.

    4 votes
    1. [3]
      Tygrak
      Link Parent
      Thank you for sharing the notes! One question I have is about "Don’t lie awake in bed for long periods of time". Is it better to get up and try to just do stuff awake rather than try hard falling...

      Thank you for sharing the notes! One question I have is about "Don’t lie awake in bed for long periods of time". Is it better to get up and try to just do stuff awake rather than try hard falling asleep? Later there is written "Get out of bed if they aren’t able to fall asleep within 30 minutes" and also "Patient is told only to go to bed when they feel sleepy" so probably just lying in bed without falling asleep for an hour/hours is bad. I don't really know what to do when I am trying to fall asleep for example for an hour, after trying all the tricks I know. Most of the time I like get up, go have a glass of water and then try falling asleep in bed again. Should I just stay awake for the whole night if I am not sleepy enough to fall asleep?

      3 votes
      1. [2]
        Sill
        Link Parent
        I'm not sure I'm qualified to answer that, but yeah, my understanding is that it would be better to be out of the bedroom--even all night-- if the alternative would be failing to fall asleep and...

        I'm not sure I'm qualified to answer that, but yeah, my understanding is that it would be better to be out of the bedroom--even all night-- if the alternative would be failing to fall asleep and making those stressful/negative associations with your bed.

        Anxiety about not being able to fall asleep contributes to difficulty falling asleep, and that association is made more potent by it being linked with you being in your sleeping position.

        Instead of lying in bed getting frustrated that nothing is working, or stressing about how you'll mess up your sleep schedule or be useless on the following day, try to get your head in another place. Maybe get up, set a timer for an 30-60 minutes, and decide that you'll do something relaxing or worthwhile for that hour instead of trying to sleep, and repeat that until you feel a bit more sleepy.

        *since /u/Omnicrola mentioned how light can be a cue sleep: there's software like f.lux that can adjust your computers display to kind of match what the light outside would be doing. Might be worth a try if you use a computer a lot. Good luck!

        4 votes
        1. Tygrak
          Link Parent
          Thank you for your replies! I already use f.lux, it's great and recommend it to everyone!

          Thank you for your replies!

          I already use f.lux, it's great and recommend it to everyone!

          1 vote
    2. triple8
      Link Parent
      These are great, thanks!!

      These are great, thanks!!

      2 votes
  7. [2]
    Icarus
    Link
    I do a few things to help me fall asleep: I meditate, focusing on my breathing, calming my mind I think about what it feels like to wake up in the morning, when my bed is so comfortable and I feel...

    I do a few things to help me fall asleep:

    • I meditate, focusing on my breathing, calming my mind

    • I think about what it feels like to wake up in the morning, when my bed is so comfortable and I feel most relaxed. I try to bring that same sentiment to the present moment.

    • Masturbating or having sex is a tried and true method

    • I listen to either a buddhist dharma talk, a lecture, or an audio book. I just put my phone directly under my pillow at a low volume so I can hear it but its not obnoxiously loud in the environment

    • Lower the temp as much as possible.

    • Eliminate as much light as possible

    • If worse comes to worse, I may take a very low dose of melatonin, which as research shows, less is more. I typically buy a 3mg pack and cut them into tiny pieces. But this is not a long term solution.

    • Eliminate caffeine after 2:00pm. If I drink any amount of caffeine in the afternoon, I can tell that my mind is more active at night. Try limiting your intake of any stimulant if possible.

    3 votes
    1. kfwyre
      Link Parent
      Thank you for the info you linked on melatonin. I have a container of 5 mg tablets that I occasionally take, and they do put me to sleep, but I feel incredibly groggy and foggy the next day, so I...

      Thank you for the info you linked on melatonin. I have a container of 5 mg tablets that I occasionally take, and they do put me to sleep, but I feel incredibly groggy and foggy the next day, so I don't like using it unless I really have to. I might try what you suggested and cut them up.

      3 votes
  8. mat
    Link
    In addition to many excellent tips already here, I like the sound of rain. There's lots of rain noise audio tracks and/or apps which generate it. I put one on my phone, turn it down and put it on...

    In addition to many excellent tips already here, I like the sound of rain. There's lots of rain noise audio tracks and/or apps which generate it. I put one on my phone, turn it down and put it on the nightstand. Nothing beats a warm summer night with the window open and an actual storm going on outside though.

    3 votes
  9. crdpa
    Link
    Kindle Paperwhite is my sleeping pill. I bought a cover that keeps it on the side, i lay on my side and start reading it. 15 minutes top i'm sleeping. I used to have a lot of trouble sleeping.

    Kindle Paperwhite is my sleeping pill. I bought a cover that keeps it on the side, i lay on my side and start reading it. 15 minutes top i'm sleeping.

    I used to have a lot of trouble sleeping.

    3 votes
  10. wexx
    Link
    Only using the bed for sleeping did a lot for me. Like if you're having trouble falling asleep do something (not on a screen) until you feel tired/feel like you can go to sleep. I really try not...

    Only using the bed for sleeping did a lot for me. Like if you're having trouble falling asleep do something (not on a screen) until you feel tired/feel like you can go to sleep. I really try not to be in bed if I'm not going to sleep, reading an article/book/prose on my phone.

    3 votes
  11. salis
    (edited )
    Link
    I noticed a paradox: I fall asleep when I don't focus on falling asleep. And I have a simple method that I don't think has ever failed me before. I look at a fixed spot (a specific point on the...

    I noticed a paradox: I fall asleep when I don't focus on falling asleep. And I have a simple method that I don't think has ever failed me before.

    I look at a fixed spot (a specific point on the wall, the corner of an object, etc.) keeping a soft, relaxed focus. My eyes will try to move and, every time, I gently refocus on that spot—over, and over, and over again. Doesn't matter how many times: I'll keep doing it, without worrying too much about the method's effectiveness.

    Boredom and repetition are great facilitators when you try to shut off the brain.

    3 votes
  12. Silbern
    Link
    I'm a weirdo, but for me, the number one sleeping tip I have is to imagine complex, self-regulating systems in action around you. Something like the water cycle, the sun's nuclear fusion cycle,...

    I'm a weirdo, but for me, the number one sleeping tip I have is to imagine complex, self-regulating systems in action around you. Something like the water cycle, the sun's nuclear fusion cycle, the various processes in the cars driving at night (like the engine's combustion cycle or the ECU controlling emissions), the numerous steps in network data transmission on the internet, etc.

    I find it helps because it gives me a deep sense of satisfaction and relaxation to think of something I cannot control and have no influence over, but nonetheless works perfectly, and it provides a lot of visualization material to kickstart dreaming.

    2 votes
  13. [2]
    triple8
    Link
    Monitor your caffeine intake (if you do consume caffeine) and take note of how it affects you. This was a big factor for myself, for a time. I tried 8 months caffeine free, and I didn't find my...

    Monitor your caffeine intake (if you do consume caffeine) and take note of how it affects you. This was a big factor for myself, for a time. I tried 8 months caffeine free, and I didn't find my sleep patterns any worse or better. But afterwards, I did find that I had to maintain regular caffeine consumption for a decent level of tolerance to it. Also, it's helpful to abstain from high amounts of caffeine before bed. A cup of tea is probably fine, but a Red Bull or a coffee is probably not a good idea. But the more caffeine you consume regularly, (at least, I've found, for me) the more tolerant to its negative sleep effects you will become.

    2 votes
    1. Tygrak
      Link Parent
      I don't drink coffee or any coke or energy drinks at all, and don't really drink tea in the summer too much. But still thanks for your tip, I hope it helps other people.

      I don't drink coffee or any coke or energy drinks at all, and don't really drink tea in the summer too much. But still thanks for your tip, I hope it helps other people.

      1 vote
  14. autumn
    Link
    I’m a fan of Headspace sleepcasts and nighttime meditations.

    I’m a fan of Headspace sleepcasts and nighttime meditations.

    2 votes
  15. dozens
    Link
    These are my sleep tips. Leading up to sleep: No caffeine. (Ever, ideally. But definitely avoid the afternoon bump. Take a 30 - 40 minute siesta instead.) No eating before sleep No alcohol before...

    These are my sleep tips.

    Leading up to sleep:

    • No caffeine. (Ever, ideally. But definitely avoid the afternoon bump. Take a 30 - 40 minute siesta instead.)
    • No eating before sleep
    • No alcohol before sleep
    • No screens before sleep
    • Lower the bed temperature (I throw a couple ice packs under the comforter if it's warm)
    • Ritual: I like having a cup of sleepy time tea and reading a book for a while

    When trying to sleep:

    2 votes
  16. Weldawadyathink
    Link
    Try sleep with me podcast. I listen to it every single night. It is bedtime stories for adults.

    Try sleep with me podcast. I listen to it every single night. It is bedtime stories for adults.

    1 vote
  17. pseudochron
    (edited )
    Link
    Have you tried Joe Pera Talks You to Sleep? Also check out the album Weightless by Marconi Union. It was created in collaboration with sound therapists, and neuroscientists found that it was the...

    Have you tried Joe Pera Talks You to Sleep?

    Also check out the album Weightless by Marconi Union. It was created in collaboration with sound therapists, and neuroscientists found that it was the most relaxing song in their tests.

    1 vote