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How to Make Yourself Tired Fast: 30 Science-Backed Tips

Make yourself tired by dimming the lights, taking a warm shower, or doing a breathing exercise. Improve your sleep hygiene to feel tired at bedtime every night.
Published
2021-06-09
Updated
2023-09-06
19 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 in deep sleep after making herself tired

How to Make Yourself Tired? 

  • Make yourself tired before bed by doing a calming bedtime routine, keeping the lights low, and doing a breathing exercise.  
  • Make yourself tired each night by maintaining good sleep hygiene. This includes getting out in sunlight first thing and avoiding light, caffeine, alcohol, intense exercise, and large meals too close to bedtime. 
  • The RISE app can guide you through 20+ sleep hygiene habits each day to help you feel tired night after night.

Your PJs are on, the lights are off, and you’ve crawled into bed. There’s just one problem: you don’t feel tired.

Luckily, there are plenty of science-backed tips to help you feel tired. 

Below, we’ll dive into how you can make yourself feel tired right before bed, when you wake up in the night, and night after night. Plus, we’ll share how the RISE app can help make falling asleep easier. 

Heads-up: Believe it or not, there’s a difference between feeling tired and feeling sleepy. Feeling tired refers to when you’re physically and mentally fatigued, like after a workout. Feeling sleepy is when you have the desire to sleep and could fall asleep if you tried. 

You’re probably looking for how to make yourself feel sleepy, so you can fall asleep. Read on for tips on how to do just that (below, we’ve used sleepy and tired interchangeably).  

Advice From a Sleep Doctor

Dr. Chester Wu is double board certified in psychiatry and sleep medicine. He’s also one of our Rise Science sleep advisors and medical reviewers. Here’s his top piece of advice for making yourself tired.

“You can’t force your body to feel sleepy, but there’s plenty you can do to make it more likely to happen. If you’re lying awake in bed after 20 minutes of trying to sleep, I recommend getting up and doing a sleep reset. Do a relaxing activity, like reading, until you start feeling sleepy. Then you can get back into bed to try and fall asleep.”

How to Make Yourself Tired Before Bed?

Here are 30 tips to help you feel tired. 

1. Dim the Lights 

Light suppresses your sleep hormone melatonin, which can make it harder to fall asleep. 

About 90 minutes before bed, turn down the lights and put on blue-light blocking glasses (we recommend these). 

Heads-up: Avoiding light before bed is part of good sleep hygiene. This is the name for the daily habits that can help you fall and stay asleep. 

RISE can tell you when you should be getting and avoiding light each day to feel tired at bedtime each night. 

RISE app screenshot showing you when to get and avoid bright light
The RISE app can tell you when to get and avoid bright light.

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

2. Do a Relaxing Bedtime Routine 

Spend the hour or so before bed doing a relaxing bedtime routine to help you unwind and slow down for sleep. 

This routine could include: 

  • Reading
  • Journaling
  • Doing yoga 
  • Listening to calming music 
  • Sipping a cup of chamomile tea  

3. Be Careful With Screen Time 

Switch off electronic devices about an hour or so before bed or be strategic with how you spend your pre-bed screen time. 

Make sure you’re watching or doing something relaxing, consider setting a bedtime alarm (so you don’t get sucked into social media scrolling), and don’t forget those blue-light blocking glasses. A 2022 study found a long duration of media use before bed was associated with a later bedtime and less total sleep.

Done right, however, screen time may even help you get more sleep. The content you consume through a screen may help you feel sleepy before bed, such as guided breathing exercises or relaxation techniques. That same 2022 study found short, focused media use in the hour before bed was associated with an earlier bedtime. Even better? If this media use was conducted in bed and didn’t involve multitasking — so no checking emails while watching TV — media use was linked to a longer sleep time.

Learn more about the best way to use screens before bed here.

4. Do a Breathing Exercise 

Breathing exercises can lower your heart rate, help you feel relaxed, and help you fall asleep faster. They can also be a distraction if you’re starting to get anxious about not feeling tired. 

Try: 

  • Diaphragmatic breathing: Deep breathing engaging the diaphragm.  
  • 4-7-8 breathing: Breathing in for four seconds, holding for seven, and breathing out for eight.  
  • Psychological or cyclic sighing: Two deep inhales followed by one long exhale.  

RISE has a two-minute audio guide on diaphragmatic breathing to do when you find yourself awake counting sheep. 

We’ve covered more on the science behind these breathing exercises here.

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5. Try Progressive Muscle Relaxation

Research from 2021 suggests progressive muscle relaxation can help you feel more relaxed and improve the quality of your sleep (although there’s no set definition for sleep quality yet). 

The exercise involves tensing and relaxing one muscle group at a time and slowly working your way around your entire body. 

RISE can guide you through a six-minute progressive muscle relaxation exercise to help promote sleepiness. 

6. Have Sex 

Add sex to your list of relaxing pre-bed activities. 

Orgasms trigger oxytocin and prolactin and suppress the stress hormone cortisol, making you feel more relaxed. 

In women, orgasms have been shown to slow down brain activity in the amygdala, hippocampus, and prefrontal cortex, which reduces alertness and anxiety.

And a 2023 study found partnered sex ending in an orgasm was linked to falling asleep much faster for both men and women. 

No partner? No problem. Orgasms from masturbation in both men and women have been associated in some studies with falling asleep faster and better sleep quality. 

7. Keep Your Temperature Cool 

If your bedroom is too warm, you may struggle to sleep, even if you’re feeling tired

Set your thermostat to 65 to 68 degrees Fahrenheit, turn on a fan, or crack open a window (if it’s quiet enough outside). 

If you’re already lying in bed, try throwing off any thick covers or bedwear to cool down.

RISE can remind you to check your sleep environment before you crawl into bed, so you’re not caught out next time. 

8. Make Sure Your Bedroom is Dark 

It’s hard to feel sleepy if there’s a street light coming through your curtains or electronics are blinking away, lighting up your bedroom. 

Make your bedroom as dark as possible by: 

  • Wearing an eye mask
  • Taping over or covering any electronics that emit light 
  • Investing in blackout curtains

9. Make Your Bedroom as Quiet as Possible

Silence is golden when it comes to sleep, so reach for some earplugs

If you can still hear noise, try listening to a white noise machine or app. RISE has several sounds to help you feel sleepy, including: 

  • Ambient music
  • White noise 
  • Nature sounds 

One study found listening to relaxation instructions or silence for 10 minutes can make you feel tired. Listening to your favorite music, however, can make you feel awake. So if you put on music, make sure it’s calming. Save your favorite playlist for the morning. 

We’ve covered more on the best sounds for sleep here. 

10. Do a Brain Dump 

Feel wide awake in bed? Try doing a brain dump. This can involve writing down everything you’re worried about, journaling about your day, or writing out your to-do list for tomorrow. 

A 2019 study found writing a to-do list can help you fall asleep faster than writing about tasks you’ve already completed. 

Do your brain dump in the RISE app and you’ll get a reminder of everything you write down the next day.

11. Try Aromatherapy 

The right scent can help you feel relaxed and tired. 

These scents can increase drowsiness: 

Skip these scents before bed, though, as they can increase alertness: 

We’ve covered whether aromatherapy works for sleep here (there’s not enough evidence to say for sure, but it may work for you).  

12. Take a Warm Shower or Bath

A hot shower or a warm bath can help to cool you down before bed. The warm water helps to mimic the natural drop in your body temperature needed to fall asleep. Plus, it’s a relaxing activity that’ll help you unwind and start feeling tired. 

You don’t need long, though. Research shows just 10 minutes in water of 40 to 42.5 degrees Fahrenheit one to two hours before bed can help you fall asleep faster. 

Even a footbath can help. A 2023 study found immersing your feet in warm water can decrease your body temperature, which will set you up to feel sleepy.

13. Put on Some Socks 

Here’s a quick and easy tip: sleep with socks on

Warming up your feet can help your core body temperature drop. Research shows sleeping with socks on may help you fall asleep seven and a half minutes faster. 

Hate the feel of socks in bed? Grab an extra blanket to lay over your feet, instead.

14. Adjust Your Sleeping or Pillow Position 

Laying in bed and not feeling tired? Try adjusting your sleeping position or pillow position

There’s no one best sleeping position that suits everyone. You want to be as comfortable as possible, and that could involve a different sleeping position each night.

For example: 

  • If acid reflux flares up, try sleeping on your left side (research from 2022 found left-side sleeping helped reduce reflux).
  • If your lower back is giving you trouble, try sleeping on your side with a pillow between your knees. 
  • If postnasal drip is making you feel wide awake, try sleeping on your back and propping yourself up with a few pillows. 

15. Avoid Sleep Aids 

When you don’t feel tired at bedtime, it can be tempting to take an over-the-counter sleep aid. But sleep aids give you manufactured sleep, not the healthy natural sleep you need to feel your best. 

And that’s not to mention the many side effects and risk of rebound insomnia — which could leave you with more sleep problems when you stop taking sleeping pills than before you started taking them.  

Melatonin also doesn’t work well when you take it right as you crawl into bed. Learn how long before bed to take melatonin here.

And we’ve covered more tips on what to do when you can’t sleep here.

16. Don’t Try to Force Sleep 

You can’t make your body feel tired while lying in bed. And if you try, you could make it even harder to fall asleep. 

This is because of sleep effort. Sleep effort is when you try to control your sleep. But, unfortunately, sleep effort can cause and perpetuate insomnia. So the more effort you put into falling asleep, the less likely you are to drift off. 

Try following these tips and trusting you’ll feel sleepy soon, without getting anxious and trying to rush the process.  

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How to Make Yourself Tired When You Wake Up in the Middle of the Night?

17. Keep Calm 

Waking up once or twice during the night is normal. So try not to panic about being awake in the night. This will only spike your cortisol levels, waking you up further and making it harder to feel tired again. 

18. Avoid Clocks, Screens, and Lights 

Avoid the temptation to look at the time, check your emails, or flip on the lights. These things can make you feel more awake. 

If you need to get up to use the bathroom, keep the lights off or as low as possible. You can also use a red light night light if you get up often in the night, such as to check on a child. 

Research from 2020 shows red light can help night shift workers feel more alert without disrupting melatonin levels. 

19. Do a Sleep Reset 

Still not tired after 20 minutes in bed? It’s time to do a sleep reset. 

This involves getting up and doing a relaxing activity until you feel tired again. 

This could include: 

  • Reading
  • Meditating
  • Folding laundry 
  • Organizing a drawer 

RISE can send you a silent reminder to do a sleep reset when you’re awake and reach for your phone. The app can then guide you through what to do to help you feel tired.

We’ve covered more advice on how to fall back asleep here. 

Bonus tip: Try not to stress about not feeling tired every now and again. Stress can make it harder to feel sleepy the next night, causing even more sleep deprivation.

Instead of worrying about every moment of missed sleep, focus on keeping your sleep debt low overall — this is the amount of sleep you owe your body. 

If you haven’t been meeting your sleep need (the genetically determined amount of sleep you need), you’ll have sleep debt.

Sleep needs vary from person to person, though. When we looked at 1.95 million RISE users aged 24 and up, we found their sleep needs ranged from five hours to 11 hours 30 minutes. The median sleep need was eight hours of sleep. 

Check RISE to see how much sleep you should be aiming for each night and whether you’ve got any sleep debt. 

How much sleep do you need
The RISE app can tell you how much sleep you need a night.

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

How to Make Yourself Tired Every Night?

20. Get Out in Sunlight Each Morning 

Morning sunlight resets your circadian rhythm the day, helping you feel sleepy later that night. Your circadian rhythm is the roughly 24-hour body clock that dictates your sleep cycle. 

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. 

Expert tip: Dark outside when you wake up? Spend time in front of a 10,000-lux light therapy lamp instead. Sit about 16 to 24 inches from the lamp for 30 minutes.

21. Get Out in Sunlight During the Day 

Spend as much time as you can soaking up sunlight during the day. This can make you less sensitive to bright light in the evening. 

Try going for a walk on your lunch break, swapping the gym for an outdoor run, and working by a window, if possible. 

22. Keep a Consistent Sleep Schedule

A consistent sleep schedule can help you stay in sync with your circadian rhythm, making it more likely you’ll feel tired and fall asleep at bedtime. 

Aim to wake up and go to sleep at the same times each day, including weekends.

Need to sleep in? Keep this to an hour or so to avoid messing up your circadian rhythm too much and struggling to sleep the next night.

23. Go to Sleep During Your Melatonin Window 

Your Melatonin Window 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 hormone that primes your body for sleep, you should be feeling tired during your Melatonin Window and have an easier time falling asleep if you head to bed at this time. 

If you try going to sleep earlier, you may find it tricky. Depending on how much earlier you’re heading to bed, you may even find it impossible to drift off.  

That’s because your circadian rhythm dictates when your energy levels fluctuate throughout the day. 

Your sleepiness builds as the day goes on. But you’ll experience a peak in energy that overrides this about two to three hours before bed (we call this phase your Evening Peak in the RISE app). This is also known as the forbidden zone of sleep. 

RISE predicts the timing of your evening peak in energy and your Melatonin Window each night, so you know the best time to head to bed. 

Expert tip: A consistent sleep pattern will help to keep your Melatonin Window at roughly the same time each evening.  

RISE app screenshot reminding you of your melatonin window
The RISE app can predict your Melatonin Window.

RISE users on iOS 1.202 and above can set up their take melatonin supplements reminder here.

24. Avoid Napping for Too Long or Too Late in the Day 

Sleep pressure — or the urge to sleep — builds up all the time you’re awake. And you want enough sleep pressure at bedtime to feel sleepy. 

When you nap, you relieve some of this sleep pressure. So if you nap for too long or too late in the day, you may not have enough sleep pressure to feel tired at bedtime. 

To stop this from happening, keep naps to a maximum of 90 minutes (even a 10-minute nap can boost your energy levels) and snooze no later than your afternoon dip in energy. RISE can tell you when this is each day.

25. Stop Drinking Coffee About 12 Hours Before Bed  

You’re not going to feel tired at bedtime if you’ve had coffee too late in the day. But coffee lasts longer than you might think, so even an afternoon coffee could stop you from feeling tired. 

Cut yourself off about 12 hours before bed and watch out for caffeine in dark chocolate, tea, soft drinks, and even decaf coffees.

RISE can tell you the exact time you should be wrapping up your caffeine consumption each day. 

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

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

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

26. Avoid Alcohol Three to Four Hours Before Bed 

Alcohol may make you feel sleepy, but that doesn’t mean having a nightcap is a good pre-bed habit. 

Alcohol can fragment your sleep, leaving you awake in the middle of the night. It can also suppress melatonin production, which may leave you feeling more awake than you’d like. 

To prevent this from happening, avoid alcoholic drinks three to four hours before bed. 

Learn more about how long before bed you should stop drinking alcohol here. And check RISE for a personalized recommendation each day.

27. Avoid Large Meals Two to Three Hours Before Bed 

Just like with alcohol, a large meal can make you feel lethargic, but it’s actually bad for your sleep. 

Eating close to bedtime can make it harder to fall asleep and it can cause you to wake up in the night. It may also cause digestive issues, like acid reflux — and nothing wakes you up faster than painful heartburn. 

Avoid large meals two to three hours before bed, or check RISE for an exact time each day to be done with dinner.

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

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

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28. Eat the Right Foods 

What you eat before bed also plays a role in how tired you feel. 

Avoid anything spicy, rich, fatty, sugary, or high in carbs before bed as these types of foods can cause digestive issues that make you feel wide awake — not sleepy. 

And watch out for caffeine or alcohol — red wine with dinner, coffee after a meal, and boozy or dark chocolatey desserts may make it harder to fall asleep.

Instead, opt for healthy meals with a balance of fruits, veggies, healthy fats, protein, and complex carbs, such as oatmeal, brown rice, and lentils. 

Don’t worry too much about sleep-promoting foods. Research shows the timing of your food and avoiding foods that make it hard to fall asleep may have more of an impact than eating foods specifically for sleep. For example, you might have heard that tryptophan can make you tired, but you’d need to eat a lot of it to get this effect. 

You can learn more about how food affects your sleep here.

Expert tip: If hunger pangs before bed are stopping you from feeling sleepy, eat a small snack close to bedtime. Go for Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, or fruit and peanut butter. 

29. Workout During the Day (and Avoid Workouts Within an Hour of Bed) 

Working out can help you feel tired at night. But be sure to schedule your workouts during the day and avoid doing any intense exercise within an hour of bedtime, as both the exercise and the bright light you’re probably working out in can keep you awake. 

Learn the science behind the best time to work out here.

30. Use the RISE App 

RISE has plenty of tools to help you feel tired and get a good night’s sleep, including: 

  • Personalized recommendations for when to do 20+ sleep hygiene habits, including when to get light and when to avoid light, caffeine, large meals, alcohol, and intense exercise each day. 
  • Guided breathing exercises and relaxation techniques 
  • Sleep sounds like white noise and nature sounds
  • A place to brain dump and get a helpful morning reminder of what you write down 
  • A gentle reminder to do a sleep reset and step-by-step instructions telling you what to do.

We’ve covered more ways to fall asleep faster here.

Expert tip: Consistently having trouble sleeping and feeling tired at bedtime? Get medical advice. You can get tested for an underlying sleep disorder like insomnia or sleep apnea. 

Make Yourself Tired Night After Night 

There’s no magic pill to make yourself feel tired on command (and get the healthy, naturalistic sleep you need to feel rested in the morning). But these tips can help you feel tired before bed, in the middle of the night, and night after night to fall asleep faster. 

Want to feel tired tonight? Follow RISE’s personalized recommendations for when to do 20+ healthy sleep habits.

These tips can work fast — 80% of RISE users get better sleep within five days. 

FAQs

How can I make myself tired right now?

Make yourself tired right now by doing a breathing or relaxation exercise, doing a brain dump, or doing a relaxing activity with the lights low, such as reading or listening to calming music.

What will make me sleepy?

Focusing on sleep hygiene during the day will make you sleepy come nighttime. Get bright light in the morning but avoid it at night; avoid caffeine, large meals, intense exercise, and alcohol too close to bedtime; and make sure your bedroom is cool, dark, and quiet.

How to make yourself tired at night?

Make yourself tired at night by doing a breathing exercise or a relaxing activity like reading. You can also make yourself tired every night by maintaining good sleep hygiene. This includes getting bright light in the morning but avoiding it at night; avoiding caffeine, large meals, intense exercise, and alcohol too close to bedtime; and making sure your bedroom is cool, dark, and quiet.

How do you make yourself tired when you're wide awake?

Make yourself tired when you’re wide awake by doing a breathing or relaxation exercise, doing a brain dump, or doing a relaxing activity with the lights low, such as reading or listening to calming music.

Foods to make yourself tired

Foods to make yourself tired include fiber-rich foods like beans, broccoli, and whole grains, as fiber has been linked to getting more deep sleep. Tryptophan is a sleep-promoting amino acid you can find in things like chicken, eggs, spinach, and chickpeas. Although you’re probably not eating enough tryptophan to make yourself tired. Focus on eating a healthy balanced diet overall and avoiding meals two to three hours before bed.

What is the fastest way to get tired?

The fastest way to get tired is by doing a breathing exercise, brain dump, or a relaxing activity with the lights turned low, like reading or listening to calming music.

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