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How to Fall Asleep Fast: A Checklist of 31 Things To Try

Fall asleep fast by getting bright light first thing, avoiding light, caffeine, intense exercise, and meals close to bedtime, and doing breathing exercises.
Published
2021-09-08
Updated
2023-12-22
21 MINS
Written by
Jeff Kahn, M.S., Rise Science Co-Founder
Reviewed by
Chester Wu, MD, Rise Science Medical Reviewer
Our Editorial Standards
We bring sleep research out of the lab and into your life. Every post begins with peer-reviewed studies — not third-party sources — to make sure we only share advice that can be defended to a room full of sleep scientists.
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Updated Regularly
We regularly update our articles to explain the latest research and shifts in scientific consensus in a simple and actionable way.
Woman who has fallen asleep fast because of dim light before bed

How to fall asleep fast?

  • Fall asleep fast by getting bright light first thing, avoiding light, caffeine, intense exercise, and meals close to bedtime, and keeping your bedroom cool, dark, and quiet.
  • To fall asleep fast when you can’t, adjust your sleeping position, try aromatherapy, and take a melatonin supplement 4-5 hours before bed.
  • To fall asleep fast when you have anxiety, try breathing exercises, a brain dump, progressive muscle relaxation, or a relaxing bedtime routine.
  • To fall asleep fast when you wake up in the middle of the night, try the military method, keep the lights low, do a sleep reset, and don’t look at the time.
  • Use the RISE app’s 20+ good sleep hygiene habits to fall asleep fast every night.

Laying in bed wide awake is frustrating. Even more frustrating? Getting anxious about how you can’t fall asleep, which makes falling asleep even harder. 

While there’s no magic sleep switch you can flip to turn off your brain, there are science-backed tips that can help you fall asleep fast.

Below, we’ll dive into the many ways you can fall asleep faster and how you can use the RISE app to make drifting off at night even easier.

Advice from a sleep doctor:

“If you’re able to fall asleep within about 30 minutes, you don’t need to worry. My best advice for falling asleep fast would be to get out in daylight as soon as you can each morning. This keeps your body clock running smoothly, so you feel sleepy come bedtime.”

Rise Science Medical Reviewer Dr. Chester Wu

How to Fall Asleep Fast Naturally?

1. Get Light Exposure Early in the Day 

Getting light exposure first thing each day resets your circadian rhythm. This is your body’s roughly 24-hour internal clock, which dictates your sleep cycle.

When you get light first thing, you signal to your brain it’s time to be awake, and you’ll be more likely to feel sleepy come bedtime. 

To fall asleep fast: Aim to get outside for at least 10 minutes as soon as possible after waking up. If it’s overcast or you’re getting light through a window, make that 15 to 20 minutes. 

2. Get Light During the Day 

The more light you get during the day, the less sensitive you’ll be to light in the evenings. 

One study found dim light exposure during the day led to participants having more suppressed melatonin levels (your natural sleep hormone) when they were exposed to light in the evening.

To fall asleep fast: Work by a window and get outside as much as you can during the day. 

3. Avoid Light in the Evenings 

Light suppresses melatonin and evening light exposure pushes back your circadian rhythm, making it harder to fall asleep. 

To fall asleep fast:​​ About 90 minutes before bed, dim the lights and put on blue-light blocking glasses (we recommend these). 

RISE can take the guesswork out of it by telling you when exactly to get and avoid light each day. 

RISE users on iOS 1.202 and above can click here to set up their get bright light reminder.

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4. Avoid or Limit Screen Use in the Evenings 

As part of avoiding light exposure before bed, be careful of how much light you’re getting from devices. 

You may not have to avoid screens altogether, though. Research from 2022 found media use in the hour before bed was linked to an earlier bedtime. And if this was conducted in bed and didn’t involve multitasking — so no scrolling on social media while watching TV — media use was linked to a longer sleep time. 

We’ve covered more on whether you should avoid screens before bed here.

To fall asleep fast: Limit screens an hour or so before bed, or wear blue-light blocking glasses in the evenings. 

5. Keep a Consistent Sleep Schedule 

Your circadian rhythm thrives on a consistent sleep pattern. The more regular you can keep your bedtimes and wake times, the easier you’ll find it to fall asleep on schedule. That means being strict with bedtime and resisting the snooze button each morning. 

To fall asleep fast: Find a sleep schedule that works for you then stick to it, even on weekends. 

6. Go to Sleep in Your Melatonin Window 

RISE app screenshot showing your melatonin window
The RISE app can predict your biological bedtime each night.

When choosing your ideal bedtime, check the RISE app for your Melatonin Window. This is what we call the roughly one-hour window of time when your body’s rate of melatonin production is at its highest. 

As melatonin is the sleep hormone, you should be able to fall asleep faster if you go to bed within your Melatonin Window. Miss the window and it may take you longer to drift off.

To fall asleep fast: Check the timing of your Melatonin Window daily and aim to go to bed during this window. 

RISE users on iOS 1.202 and above can click here to set up a reminder to check their Melatonin Window.

7. Try Diaphragmatic Breathing 

If you’re lying awake in bed, try doing some diaphragmatic breathing. This breathing technique, also known as belly breathing or deep breathing, involves breathing slowly, deeply, and into your diaphragm, the muscle below your lungs. 

It triggers your body’s natural relaxation state and slows your heart rate. And it’s a scientifically proven method to help you fall asleep fast: 

  • A 2021 study found diaphragmatic breathing helped nurses during the COVID-19 pandemic reduce anxiety, sleep disturbances, and the time it took them to fall asleep. 
  • A 2020 study found diaphragmatic breathing helped improve the quality of sleep in those in hospital. Although there’s no set definition for sleep quality yet.
  • A 2022 study found diaphragmatic breathing helped with the sleep disorder sleep apnea feel less daytime sleepiness. 

We’ve covered more on diaphragmatic breathing and other breathing exercises here. 

To fall asleep fast: RISE can guide you through a two-minute diaphragmatic breathing exercise. 

RISE users on iOS 1.202 and above can click here to go right to their relaxation audio guide homepage and get started.

8. Take a Warm Shower or Bath 

A warm shower or bath before bed isn’t just relaxing. It helps your body temperature drop, which is key for falling asleep. 

A 2019 systematic review and meta-analysis found water of 40 to 42.5 degrees Celsius (104 to 108.5 degrees Fahrenheit) was associated with improved self-rated sleep quality and sleep efficiency (the time you spent in bed actually sleeping).

It doesn’t need to be a long bath, either. The research states 10 minutes is associated with a “significant shortening” of sleep onset latency, the time it takes to fall asleep. 

To fall asleep fast: Take a warm bath or shower one to two hours before bed. 

9. Take a Footbath 

A warm foot bath can help you cool down and drift off. A 2023 study found immersing your feet in warm water can decrease your core body temperature, ideal for sleep. 

Footbaths have even been shown to help improve the sleep of older adults and those going through menopause.

To fall asleep fast: Take a 24-minute footbath with 42-degree Fahrenheit water. 

10. Make Your Bedroom as Dark as Possible 

Light in your bedroom can make it harder to drift off as your melatonin production will be suppressed. 

Even when you do fall asleep, one study found sleeping with the lights on can mess up your natural sleep stages. It can lead to more light sleep, less deep sleep, and waking up more often throughout the night.  

To fall asleep fast: 

  • Invest in blackout curtains 
  • Turn off or tape over any electronics that emit light 
  • Use an eye mask 

RISE can remind you to check your sleep environment to make sure it’s as dark as possible before you get into bed. 

RISE users on iOS 1.202 and above can click here to set up their check environment habit reminder.

11. Make Your Bedroom as Quiet as Possible 

If you can, sleep in silence. If that’s not possible, listening to white noise can help to block out sounds that would otherwise keep you awake — like traffic or a noisy neighbor. 

A 2021 sleep study found when participants in New York City slept with a white noise machine they fell asleep faster and woke up less often during the night. 

Don’t like white noise? We’ve covered the best sleep sounds for sleep here.

To fall asleep fast: 

  • Wear earplugs 
  • Listen to sleep sounds or white noise if noise is keeping you awake. RISE has white noise, nature sounds, and ambient music you can play on a timer. 
  • Try to keep noise in your bedroom below 35 decibels, about the sound of a whisper. 

12. Set Your Thermostat to 65 to 68 Degrees Fahrenheit

We all experience a natural drop in body temperature as we drift off. If your bedroom is too warm, your temperature won’t drop, your body won’t produce as much melatonin, and you may struggle to fall asleep. 

We’ve covered ways to cool down for sleep here.

To fall asleep fast: Set your thermostat to 65 to 68 degrees Fahrenheit, open a window, or turn on a fan to keep things cool. 

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13. Wear Socks to Bed 

It sounds simple, but just wearing socks to bed could help you fall asleep faster. Warming your feet helps your core body temperature to fall, which is needed for sleep. 

A 2018 study found sleeping with socks on helped people fall asleep 7.5 minutes faster. It also helped them wake up less often during the night and get more sleep overall. 

We’ve covered more on the science behind sleeping with socks on here.

To fall asleep fast: Wear a pair of socks to bed. If you’re not a sock person, try using a hot water bottle or an extra blanket over your feet.

14. Stop Drinking Coffee About 12 Hours Before Bed 

RISE app screenshot showing when to limit caffeine intake
The RISE app can tell you when to have your final coffee each day.

Caffeine can make it harder to fall asleep. It blocks the adenosine receptors in your brain, which stops you from feeling sleepy. And it can last in your system for about 12 hours. 

Cap yourself to 400 milligrams of caffeine a day, or less if you’re sensitive to it, and aim to stop drinking it about 12 hours before bed. 

We’ve covered more on when to stop drinking coffee here. 

To fall asleep fast: RISE can tell you when exactly to cut yourself off from caffeine based on your circadian rhythm. 

RISE users on iOS 1.202 and above can click here to set up their limit caffeine reminder.

15. Avoid Alcohol Three to Four Hours Before Bed 

Alcohol may make you feel sleepy at first, but it can suppress rapid-eye-movement sleep (REM sleep), suppress melatonin production, and cause sleep fragmentation, or wake you up in the night.

We’ve covered more on how long before bed you should stop drinking alcohol here.

To fall asleep fast: Stop drinking alcohol about three to four hours before bed. RISE can tell you when exactly to cut yourself off each day.

RISE users on iOS 1.202 and above can click here to set up their avoid late alcohol reminder.

16. Stop Eating Two to Three Hours Before Bed 

Eating too close to bedtime can push back your circadian rhythm and cause digestive issues that keep you awake, like acid reflux or bloating. 

If you do need to eat late, try to make it a light and healthy snack, instead of a full meal. Research shows high-caloric food 30 to 60 minutes before bed can increase how long it takes to fall asleep.

We’ve covered more on what time you should stop eating before bed here.

To fall asleep fast: Avoid eating about two to three hours before bed. RISE can tell you when exactly you should avoid large meals.

RISE users on iOS 1.202 and above can click here to set up their avoid late meals reminder.

17. Avoid Naps or Keep Them Short and Early in the Day 

Naps are great for catching up on sleep, but napping for too long or too close to bedtime can make it harder to fall asleep that night. 

Limit your daytime naps to about 90 minutes. Research shows 10-minute naps can be the most effective at boosting energy levels. 

To fall asleep fast: Nap during your afternoon dip in energy. RISE can tell you when this will be each day.

18. Workout During the Day (And Avoid Working Out Within an Hour of Bedtime)

One study found people had a “significant decrease in sleep onset latency” after doing moderate aerobic exercise during the day.

Just be sure to avoid intense exercising within an hour of bedtime as this can keep you up. We’ve covered the best time to work out here.

To fall asleep fast: Prioritize workouts earlier in the day. RISE can tell you when it’s best to skip exercise. 

RISE users on iOS 1.202 and above can click here to set up their avoid late workouts reminder.

19. Invest in a New Mattress

Many of us overlook how comfortable — or uncomfortable — our mattress is. But if you’re in pain or feel any discomfort, it’s going to take you longer to drift off.

The best mattress will keep your head, neck, and spine aligned. If you run hot at night, try a spring or gel mattress. And if you have allergies, be sure to get a mattress made of man-made materials like latex or foam. 

To fall asleep fast: Try medium to soft firmness if you’re a side sleeper, and medium to firm for back and front sleepers. 

20. Experiment with Pillows and Pillow Positioning

Your pillow, or lack of one, could help you fall asleep fast. 

The best pillow position will support your head and neck. Firmer pillows are better for side sleepers and thinner pillows are better for back sleepers. Front sleepers may be better off sleeping without a pillow altogether, or using a very thin one.

And pillows aren’t just for your head. Research from 2021 found body pillows can take pressure off your shoulder, hip, and overall body.

We’ve covered more on proper pillow position here, including the best pillow height and filling.

To fall asleep fast: Experiment with pillow positioning to find the one that helps you fall asleep quickly. 

How to Fall Asleep Fast When You Can’t?

21. Adjust Your Sleep Position

If you’re feeling uncomfortable or unsettled, try adjusting your sleep position. 

The best sleep position depends on if you have a health concern. Sleeping on your side may be best for acid reflux, obstructive sleep apnea, heart health, and snoring, whereas sleeping on your back may be better for your skin.

To fall asleep fast: Experiment with sleep positions to find the one that doesn't cause any pain or discomfort. Switch it up during the night if you can't fall asleep.

22. Try Aromatherapy 

A simple scent can help you relax and feel sleepy. 

To fall asleep fast: Try these scents to increase drowsiness: 

But avoid these scents as they can increase alertness: 

We look at whether aromatherapy works for sleep here. 

23. Try a Melatonin Supplement 

A meta-analysis found melatonin can reduce sleep latency and increase total sleep time. 

But they don’t knock you out like traditional sleep aids do, so you can’t pop one right before bed. And you shouldn’t rely on them as a long-term solution. 

Melatonin can be useful when: 

  • Treating jet lag 
  • Shifting your sleep schedule
  • Adjusting to shift work 

We’ve covered more on how long before bed you should take melatonin in these situations here. 

To fall asleep fast: Take melatonin about four to five hours before your usual bedtime to fall asleep earlier. 

How to Fall Asleep Fast with Anxiety?

24. Do a Relaxing Bedtime Routine 

Help your body and brain slow down for sleep with a relaxing bedtime routine

About one to two hours before bed, you could: 

  • Read a book 
  • Listen to calming music 
  • Drink a cup of chamomile tea 
  • Practice a relaxation technique, like mindfulness meditation or visualization 

To fall asleep fast: Choose calming activities you enjoy doing before bed. 

25. Do a Brain Dump 

If anxious thoughts are keeping you awake, try doing a brain dump. You could write down everything that’s worrying you or journal about your day. 

Writing out tomorrow’s to-do list can also help. A 2019 study found people who wrote a to-do list before bed fell asleep faster than those who wrote down tasks they’d already completed. 

To fall asleep fast: Do a brain dump in RISE. The app will remind you of everything you write down the next day. 

RISE users on iOS 1.202 and above can click here to set up their Brain Dump Habit notification

26. Try Progressive Muscle Relaxation

RISE app screenshot showing relaxation sessions
The RISE app can guide you through progressive muscle relaxation and science-backed breathing exercises.

Progressive muscle relaxation involves slowly tensing and relaxing one muscle group at a time. 

A 2021 study found it can help you feel more relaxed, and another 2021 study found it can help those in hospital feel less anxiety and get better quality sleep.

It may even help those with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and insomnia get more sleep.

To fall asleep fast: RISE can guide you through a six-minute progressive muscle relaxation exercise.

27. Try Cannabis or CBD

More research needs to be done, but cannabis and CBD may help you fall asleep fast. 

Some studies show cannabis can decrease sleep latency and increase melatonin levels.

It may be especially helpful for certain groups. For example, research shows cannabis can decrease pain and improve sleep in those with chronic pain. And THC (the active component in cannabis) may help those with sleep problems as it’s been shown to decrease sleep latency in those with insomnia

As for CBD, research shows it may help those with anxiety and anxiety-related disorders, which could help those with mental health issues fall asleep and increase their overall sleep duration. 

We’ve covered more on whether cannabis helps with sleep and whether CBD helps with sleep here.

To fall asleep fast: Consider cannabis or CBD one to two hours before bed. 

How to Fall Asleep with the Military Method?

28. Try the Military Method 

The military method was developed to help those in the military fall asleep fast. 

To fall asleep fast: 

  • Start with your face and try to relax all of your muscles. 
  • Work your way down your body, slowly relaxing all of your muscles. 
  • Clear your mind and imagine a relaxing scene. 
  • Repeat “don’t think” to yourself if you can’t clear your mind. 

How to Fall Asleep Fast When You Wake Up in the Middle of the Night?

29. Keep the Lights Low or Use a Red Light Night Light 

If you need to get up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom or check on a child, for example, keep it as dark as you can. 

To fall asleep fast: Use a red night light night if you need to move around. Research from 2020 found red light can help night shift workers feel more alert without disrupting their melatonin levels. 

30. Do a Sleep Reset 

If you’ve been trying to fall asleep for 20 minutes with no luck, do a sleep reset. 

Get out of bed, keep the lights low, and do a relaxing activity until you feel sleepy again. This will stop your brain from forming a connection between your bed and wakefulness. 

To fall asleep fast: Get out of bed and read, meditate, or listen to calming music until you start to feel sleepy.  

31. Don’t Look at the Time 

If you’re struggling to fall back to sleep, try your very best to not look at the time. It will only stress you out to see how late it is, which will make it even harder to drift off. 

To fall asleep fast: Resist checking the time and focus on doing a relaxing activity or breathing exercise to keep calm. Remove clocks from your bedroom and charge your phone in another room if need be.

How Long Should it Take to Fall Asleep?

There’s no set rule for how long it should take to fall asleep. But in general, if your sleep latency is under 30 minutes, you don’t need to worry. 

As a general guideline, falling asleep in: 

  • 0 to 10 minutes: Could be a sign of sleep deprivation, narcolepsy, or idiopathic hypersomnia
  • 10 to 20 minutes: Considered normal — this is the average sleep latency. 
  • More than 30 minutes: Could be a sign of insomnia.

Get medical advice if you consistently take longer than 30 minutes to fall asleep and have tried many of the tips we’ve covered. Your healthcare provider can test you for a sleep disorder or other underlying reasons you’re having trouble falling asleep. 

We asked our advisor and medical reviewer, Dr. Chester Wu, for a sleep expert’s take.

“If you’re able to fall asleep within about 30 minutes, you don’t need to worry. My best advice for falling asleep fast would be to get out in daylight as soon as you can each morning. This keeps your body clock running smoothly, so you feel sleepy come bedtime.” Rise Science Medical Reviewer Dr. Chester Wu

Should I Worry if It Takes a Long Time to Fall Asleep?

RISE app screenshot showing how much sleep debt you have
The RISE app can work out how much sleep debt you have.

If you’re falling asleep within 30 minutes, you don’t need to worry. If it consistently takes you longer to fall asleep, it may be a sign of a sleep disorder like chronic insomnia. But it could also be poor sleep hygiene, like drinking coffee too late in the day and having an irregular sleep schedule.  

While it’s important to keep an eye on the amount of time it takes you to fall asleep, it’s not the be-all and end-all. For maximum health and energy, you want to keep your overall sleep debt low. 

Sleep debt is the amount of sleep you owe your body. It’s compared to your sleep need, the genetically determined number of hours of sleep you need. The median sleep need amongst our RISE users is eight hours, but it's not eight hours for everyone; 48% of our users have a sleep need of eight hours or more.

Falling asleep fast is just one part of keeping sleep debt low. You also want to make sure you’re not waking up too often in the middle of the night, you’re getting enough sleep overall, and this is natural healthy sleep. 

RISE can work out your unique sleep need and how much sleep debt you have. 

RISE users on iOS 1.202 and above can click here to view their sleep need and here to view their sleep debt.

Fall Asleep Fast with Good Sleep Hygiene 

Many of the tips we’ve shared here for a good night’s sleep make up something called sleep hygiene. These are the sleep habits and behaviors you can do to fall asleep faster and wake up less often during the night. 

It sounds like a lot to remember, especially as good sleep hygiene starts the moment you wake up, but the RISE app can make it easier. 

RISE can guide you through 20+ sleep hygiene habits, including when to get and avoid light, and when to avoid caffeine, alcohol, intense exercise, and large meals. RISE can also predict your Melatonin Window each night, so you know when to go to bed to get the best chance of falling asleep fast.

It works fast, too — 80% of RISE users get better sleep within five days.

FAQs

How to fall asleep fast?

To fall asleep fast try doing breathing exercises like diaphragmatic breathing or progressive muscle relaxation. Getting light first thing and avoiding light, caffeine, alcohol, intense exercise, and large meals close to bedtime can also help.

How can I immediately fall asleep?

If you immediately fall asleep it may be a sign you’re sleep deprived. It’s normal to take 15 to 20 minutes to fall asleep. To fall asleep fast try doing breathing exercises like diaphragmatic breathing or progressive muscle relaxation. Getting light first thing and avoiding light, caffeine, alcohol, intense exercise, and large meals close to bedtime can also help.

How do you fall asleep in 5 minutes?

If you fall asleep in five minutes it may be a sign you’re sleep deprived. It’s normal to take 15 to 20 minutes to fall asleep. To fall asleep fast try doing breathing exercises like diaphragmatic breathing or progressive muscle relaxation. Getting light first thing and avoiding light, caffeine, alcohol, intense exercise, and large meals close to bedtime can also help.

How to fall asleep when you can’t?

To fall asleep when you can’t, try doing breathing exercises like diaphragmatic breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, and the military method. Getting out of bed and doing a relaxing activity can also help.

How to fall asleep fast with insomnia?

To fall asleep fast with insomnia, try doing breathing exercises like diaphragmatic breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, and the military method. Getting out of bed and doing a relaxing activity can also help. During the day, be sure to get light first thing and avoid light, caffeine, alcohol, intense exercise, and large meals too close to bedtime.

Military method to fall asleep

To do the military method to fall asleep, start by relaxing the muscles in your face. Breathe deeply and relax muscles in the rest of your body. Imagine a relaxing scene and say to yourself “don’t think” if you can’t clear your mind.

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