I wrote another sleeping lifehack post not long ago and it’s had over 12,000 reads so far. That’s amazing to me as I created that blog post article on a spur of the moment idea one night when I realized that by having my head covered with my arms or hands I seemed to be more relaxed and I fell asleep even more quickly than I usually did.
To expand on that I’ve listed 30 more ways to help you get to sleep. I take my sleep seriously. You should too. If you’re not getting enough sleep then you CAN change something and reach the point where sleep comes more quickly. You might be stressed out from life, but one or a combination of these lifehacks about sleeping should work for you!
31 Sleeping Lifehacks that Work:
1. Your bed is for two things. Sleep and sex. If you read in your bed, eat crackers in your bed, or program on your notebook in your bed, then your bed is no longer a special place. It needs to be special. It needs to trigger your brain for sleep. It needs to mean sleep so when you see it, and if you’re not feeling horny, you think, ‘sleep’.
2. Make sure your room is cool enough to sleep. If it’s not cool enough, shoot a fan onto your legs, in your face, wherever you need it. Fans are cheap and efficient. My wife cannot sleep in the warm weather without a fan BLOWING directly at her face – preferably on high speed from about 3 feet away. I can’t possibly sleep like that, so we with my feet at her face and hers at my chest. Works for us.
3. Music on low volume is OK, if the music either – doesn’t have words – is entirely instrumental, or, consists of a sleepy girl’s voice like Sade. I can sleep to Sade’s “Love Deluxe” CD in about 4 minutes. If you don’t have it – get it and I think you’ll see what I mean.
4. Television on low volume works for some people. Not me. The problem is that you wake up at 3 a.m. with the loud static that makes you feel like you’re in a Japanese horror-flick.
5. Fake meditation. Meditation books will tell you, “Don’t’ meditate while lying down.” There’s a good reason for that. You get too relaxed and your mind starts to get dizzy… unfocused and before you know it, you’ve slept yourself right through your meditation. Now, if you didn’t care about meditation, sleeping would be a good thing. Try it in bed on your back and see what happens. Success!
Read my eBook (PDF format) about how to meditate by focusing on your breath here >
6. Progressively relax all the muscles in your body. You can do this one of two ways. You can simply focus on the areas of your body from the head to the toes or toes to head, either way – up to you. Try both ways. Look at your head, the muscles in your face, your nose, your ears, your throat… feel them relax… you know the drill. We’ve all heard audio suggestions like this on mp3 or god forbid if you were alive during tape recorders, you listened to a tape of it. Don’t tell anyone if you heard an 8-track of it.
7. The other way to progressively relax all the muscles in your body is not just to focus on them, but to tense them first. Contract the muscles you’re focusing on tightly and hold it for a couple seconds. Do this with each group of muscles as you focus on them. Then when you let go of the contraction you really can sense the relaxation because it’s so opposite of the tenseness. Do this with every group of muscles in your body… head, face, neck, traps, shoulders, biceps, triceps, forearms, wrist, hands, fingers, chest, etc. Don’t miss anything.
8. Enlist the help of your friend for one of the following…
- To clean your fingernails and toenails as you lay in bed, ready to sleep. I’ve never fallen asleep faster in my life than when my wife did this recently. She started on my toes. By the time she got to third toe of the first foot I didn’t get to enjoy the rest of it – because I was asleep quick!
- Rub your feet gently.
- Rub your hands gently.
- Trace a line with one finger on your feet, hands, across your whole body, or back.
- Tell you a bedtime story.
9. Remember there are only 2 positions to sleep correctly: On your back or on your side. Don’t sleep on your stomach as your neck has no alternative but to twist oddly. You know what pulling a neck muscle is like, don’t you? Thought you had sleep problems before?
10. Try the WINE! (Quote from, ‘A Clockwork Orange‘) Wine or beer, anything with that magic ingredient, will relax you. That’s why they tell you, don’t drink alcohol with your sleeping pills. They accomplish the same thing. I rarely have trouble falling asleep immediately, but if I am, I’ll have a glass of wine or a beer and I’m out cold in 15 minutes.
11. If laying on your back, straight out like a corpse you might find that you have some weird feeling in the area between your butt and your middle back. This is your lower back. It might not feel relaxed. There’s a reason for that. It isn’t. You might feel better if you put a pillow under your knees. This will lift your legs and allow your lower back to contact the bed where it should be, not up like a suspension bridge or an eleven-year-old’s back-bend in gymnastics’ class.
12. If you still don’t feel right, try crossing your legs Indian-style on top of the pillow, still laying on your back. This works for me really well. I think too much meditation in the past made my legs pliable enough to do this and now it feels more comfortable to sleep like this than with legs straight.
13. Assume the fetal position. What do fetuses do best? Sleep. They sleep a good part of the time they’re in there. Make yourself fetus-like and curl up on your side. Heck, suck your thumb if you want. Nobody is watching.
13.5 A hammock will help you get into something resembling the fetal position. It works wonders for infants!
14. When choosing to lay on your side and sleep, your pillow must help you sleep, not hinder it. You need a pillow when you sleep on your side. Or else something that will keep your spine in a straight line. If you sleep without a pillow your spine curves at the neck because the width of half of your cranium does NOT equal the same width of your spine to the outside of your shoulder. See the disparity? You need something under your head to pick it up and line up the vertebrae so your spine stays in a straight line horizontally.
15. Sleep horizontally. What I mean is… your bed, the floor, a lounge chair, whatever it is – really should be horizontal. It shouldn’t be angled, tilted to one side, or so soft that the heaviest part of you (your butt) sinks into the surface and collects all the blood for the next eight hours. Sleep horizontally.
16. Take the major step of improving your sleep patterns by moving your bed into another room – maybe create a TV room or a sex room and buy a firm foam pad two or three inches thick to sleep on in place of your bed. I’ve slept this way for the better part of two years now and my back pain has decreased to where I don’t even notice it. I don’t have any problem sleeping either. There is about a ten day or so adjustment period when you’ll curse me up and down… but, when that’s over you’ll send me internet flowers or something warm and fuzzy.
17. Drink warm milk. For some reason it works. Look at breastfeeding babies. Half the time they fall asleep AT the source. While your milk might not be 98.6°F, it is better warm and it has a relaxing effect due to the tryptophan, an amino acid that acts as a sedative.
18. Go to sleep at about the same time everyday. If sleep is part of the schedule then the brain is wired for it to happen at a certain time. If you have an unsteady schedule, you’re more likely to suffer periods of insomnia.
19. Exercise to the point of exhaustion right before you eat dinner. By the time you eat dinner and the blood goes from your muscles to your stomach to help in digestion, your mind doesn’t get the blood it needs to stay awake. You naturally get sleepy. Of course you’ll need to time when you exercise and eat dinner so you’re not falling asleep at 6:30 p.m. Exercise at 6, eat at 8, sleep by 9? Sure you’re eating a late dinner and you’ve heard that’s not such a cool thing to do – but the people that said that are sleeping everyday. You’re not. You want to sleep, don’t you?
20. Cover your eyes with some satin undies. Or whatever you choose, it’s just that satin is nice and cool and very lightweight you won’t even know it’s there. I use a lightweight running t-shirt. Don’t bother with the Bluebeard eye-patches and other gimmicks. You don’t need to buy them when a sock will do just as well. Eye patches invariably have a rubber band or elastic that squeezes your head either too tightly or too loosely.
21. Ear plugs. I’ve not found any that fit my ears correctly. Here in Thailand there is a one size fit all and they leave a quarter inch of rubber plug sticking out the side of my ears like a Herman Munster type deal. Sleeping on the side with those things is impossible. Great for back sleepers though.
22. Put your arms, hands, fingers over your head and face as you sleep.
See my other sleeping lifehack article here with images >
23. Turn your bedroom into a cave. When you shut the lights out, your bedroom should be as black as a cave. No light means your eyes can’t focus on anything if you’re laying in bed wide-eyed. Cave men had the right idea. Sleep was important to them as they were outrunning mammoths and saber-toothed tigers, they needed to conserve energy. What worked for them can work for you!
24. Trick yourself into falling asleep. Reading a book that you really want to finish is a sure-fire way to fall right asleep. Telling yourself that you must stay awake and cannot sleep is another great way. For some reason this works. For some reason if you tell the mind – NO, then it does it. It’s like the mind is always rebelling against what we tell it.
I’ll never forget a trip from Washington DC to Pittsburgh at 2 a.m. when my friend, Mark, with full-blown sleep apnea, reassured me forty or more times that he was fine to drive. I told myself, ‘Don’t fall asleep because if Mark does fall asleep you’ll need to grab the wheel.’ Sure enough I fell asleep. God it’s just heavenly to be sleeping in the car while someone else is driving. Anyway, I woke up to the sound of Mark snoring like a grizzly bear, the car flying down the road at 80 mph. Not one of life’s AWESOME moments I’ll tell you.
25. If you’re in Korea or have access to it, drink “SoJu”. It’s a rice wine that has formaldehyde in it (had in 1986 at least) and not only will you sleep, but you’ll forget what you did the night before. You could also dose yourself on roofies if you’re seeking that particular effect.
26. Intentionally try to stay up all night long every night for a week. See. You sleep. Again, this works on that same principle of telling the mind what you want to do – stay awake. It does the opposite, puts you to sleep. Strange mind we have!
27. Don’t take a hot bath or shower at night, or do some physical activity right before bed since your body needs to lower it’s temperature and heart-rate as you sleep. An elevated temperature or heart-rate will keep you up longer without sleeping.
28. Get yourself some of that white noise. White noise can mask the sounds that annoy you and that inhibit your sleep. For me a fan running close to me works, as long as it isn’t pointing at me. You could buy a CD with an hour of babbling brook, ocean waves, waterfall, rainfall or wind through the trees and that might work for you.
29. Have a power-down routine before you climb into bed. Anxiety about your living space, kids, what you’re going to face tomorrow and so many other things can add up to anxiety before you hit the bed. Go through a power-down routine where you walk around the house, shutting up the blinds, checking windows and door locks, starting the air in the kids rooms, or whatever you need to do. Write a short list of what you’ll need to get done the following day and have a glass of warm milk. Cool your room down to just above freezing and gently slide into the covers. Go through the muscle relaxation progressive exercise and feel consciousness slipping away.
30. An hour before you sleep do some yoga, meditation or stretching exercises to wind yourself down physically.
If nothing else works, resort to the old standby…
31. Just eat a potato! Some researchers are saying that potatoes have a relaxing effect when eaten before you sleep. Who would have ever thought it was that easy?
Anybody have any more? I tried not to rehash the 50 other things most lists have about how to fall asleep, but some of them worked for me in the past so I did mention those.
Let me know if anything above works for you. This post has been here since 2008 and already a couple hundred thousand people have read it. Some report falling asleep quickly after trying some of them. Let me know – I’m anxious to hear if anything worked for you!
Best of Life!
PS – I’ve had ADD/ADHD my entire life, and yet I’ve not had problems sleeping using the tips above. Try them, they work.