31 Sleeping Lifehacks for Helping You Sleep [Minus the Sheep]

Getting sleep tips.

[Page Updated: 14 February 2018]

I wrote another sleeping lifehack post not long ago and it has had over 178,000 page views (reads) so far. That’s amazing to me because 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 greatly, I’ve listed here another 31 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 quicker. You might be stressed out from life, but one or a combination of these lifehacks about sleeping should work for you!

31.5 Sleeping Lifehacks that Work

1. YOUR BED is for 2 THINGS: SLEEP and SEX. If you read in your bed, eat crackers in your bed, play video games, or program on your notebook computer in your bed, then your bed is no longer a special place. It needs to be special. It needs to trigger your brain to sleep. It needs to mean sleep so when you see it, and if you’re not feeling horny, you think, ‘sleep’.

Sleeping on the side, with hands on top of head helps get you to 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 sleep with my feet at her face and hers at my chest. Works for us most nights.

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 am. with the loud static that makes you feel like you’re in a psycho 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 best-selling ebook –  Meditation For Beginners: A 22 Day How To Meditate Course

6. PROGRESSIVELY RELAX ALL the MUSCLES in YOUR BODY. You can do this one of two ways. You can simply focus on different 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 the time of tape recorders, you listened to a tape of it. Don’t tell anyone if you heard an 8-track of it.

Sleeping on side with hands-on face weird helps you to sleep.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 the third toe of the first foot I didn’t get to enjoy the rest of it – because I was asleep that fast!
  • Rub your feet gently. Get these SOCKS, they’ll help.
  • 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 doctors tell you, don’t drink alcohol with your sleeping pills. They accomplish the same thing. I rarely have trouble falling asleep immediately, but if so, 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 while 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. You DID put a sticker over your iPad camera, didn’t you?

13.5. A HAMMOCK will help you get into something resembling the fetal position. It works wonders for infants! A Home Hammock get it before it goes away

14. When choosing to lay on your side and sleep, your pillow must help you sleep, not hinder it. You need a NEED a PILLOW when YOU SLEEP on YOUR SIDE. Or something else 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.

Women sleeping at Dhamma talk in Thailand
Thais sleep ANYWHERE!

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 2-3″ 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 milk you heat up in the microwave might not be exactly 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 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. Here, this has an alarm that will help…  Alarm – go on, you have a good excuse, right? ;P

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 pm. 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 every day. You’re not. You want to sleep, don’t you?

Don't sleep face down because it won't help you sleep.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-patch and other gimmicks. You don’t need to buy them when a sock or your mom’s bra will do just as well. Eye patches invariably have a rubber band or elastic that squeezes your head either too tightly or too loosely, or pulls your hair.

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 Frankenstein or, dare I say it – Herman Munster type deal. Sleeping on the side with those things is impossible. Great for back sleepers though.

These are amazing. Yes, you need 20. You’ll dirty these all up in a few months. Drift to Sleep Ear Plugs Moldex, 20 Pair.

22. PUT YOUR ARMS, HANDS, or FINGERS OVER YOUR HEAD and FACE as YOU SLEEP. My favorite solution. I don’t know why this works, but like the caveman reference below, I think it’s something to do with our head being protected, and that making us feel more secure to let go – and sleep.

Don't sleep face down because it won't help you sleep. Sleeping on the side, with hands on top of head helps get you to sleep.

23. TURN YOUR BEDROOM INTO a CAVE. When you shut the lights off, your bedroom should be as black as a cave. No light means your eyes can’t focus on anything, even if you’re laying in bed wide-eyed. Cavemen 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. This book, one of the greatest ever written – will get you there. Telling yourself that you must stay awake and cannot sleep is another great way. For some reason, this works. For some weird reason if you tell the mind – NO, then it feels like the opposite is OK. It’s like the mind is always rebelling against what we tell it.

I’ll never forget a car trip from Washington DC to Pittsburgh at 2 am. 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 this adult drink, 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. Disclaimer – drugs are bad. I don’t recommend anything illegal.

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 minds we have!

27. DONT’T TAKE a HOT BATH or SHOWER at NIGHT, or do any physical activity right before bed since your body needs to lower its temperature and heart-rate to 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 inhibit your sleep. For me, a fan running close to me works, as long as it isn’t pointing at me. You could turn on YouTube with an hour of babbling brook, ocean waves, waterfall, rainfall or wind through the trees and that might work for you. I made one of those videos of a little waterfall at a nature resort here.

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 the blinds, checking windows and door locks, starting the air con 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 DO SOME YOGA, MEDITATION, or STRETCHING EXERCISES 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 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 them.

Let me know if anything above works for you. This post has been here since 2008 and already over 860,000 people have read it. Some report falling asleep quickly after trying some of these sleep lifehacks. Let me know – I’m anxious to hear if anything worked for you!

OH, and if you haven’t already – Get this HAMMOCK because, honestly, you cannot beat it for sleeping. It gets your back feeling better too. Sure you’ll have to sleep with your spouse again at some point, but try this and let me know how you feel after a week

A Home Hammock is the best sleep lifehack we can suggest for most people

Best of Life!

Find my books HERE.
Find my in-depth headlamp reviews HERE.

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!