So you’re struggling to sleep. Or maybe you spent last night tossing and turning. Perhaps you spent the better half of the night fighting a blanket-hogger. No matter your reason for not getting enough ZZZ’s, it’s crucial that you try and change that. That’s where we come in with everything you need to know about how to sleep fast. No sheep counting necessary.
But First, What Can You Do If You Didn’t Get Enough Sleep Last Night?
Sometimes, even with the best intentions, those solid seven hours are elusive. But understand the impact of a restless night and you can fight back.
1. Don’t Watch The Clock
First, some good news: you might actually have slept better than you think. Some regions of the brain may be asleep while others are awake, explains Heather Darwall-Smith, a psychotherapist who specialises in issues related to sleep.
So even if you felt restless well into the dawn hours, you might still have fallen within the sleep threshold. Anxiety about sleep loss can often perpetuate the problem, so try to avoid clock-watching if you can. “Don’t feed the beast,” she says.
2. Eat More Protein
Missed sleep can disrupt the appetite-balancing hormones ghrelin and leptin, causing cravings for food your body doesn’t need. Resist the urge to use Red Bull and biscuits as a crutch—oscillating blood-sugar levels further intensify energy dips, making you more tired.
3. Do 10 Minutes Of Cardio
The golden hour for growth-hormone release is shortly after you drop into deep sleep, says Darwall-Smith, so while a single restless night won’t stunt your gains, it can impact muscle growth if the nights start stacking up.
Expect to perform below your usual capacity, too—but that’s no reason to sit down all day. A study by Japan’s University of Tsukuba found 10 minutes of cardio is enough to increase blood flow to the brain, enhancing focus.
4. Have A Nap
Sleep deprived or not, your circadian rhythm naturally includes a mid-afternoon energy dip. Choose between a power nap (10 to 20 minutes) or full sleep cycle (90-plus minutes), says Darwall-Smith.
Avoid the middle ground or you’ll wake up groggy. Resting during the day can help you maintain consistent sleep/wake times and so is preferable to a lie-in. As a bonus? Studies suggest napping boosts athletic performance.
5. Focus On Relaxation Rather Than Sleep
Chronic sleep loss (six hours or less over multiple months) can come with other issues, such as high blood pressure or depression. But assuming you’ve addressed the key stuff—lack of daytime light, alcohol etc—try switching your focus from chasing sleep to pursuing relaxation.
Learn to self-soothe: Darwall-Smith recommends researching non-sleep deep rest or yoga nidra. Even a bath and a book can help. Let the rest take care of itself.
5 Things You Can Do During The Day To Help You Sleep Better At Night
“Getting enough sleep is a crucial step in achieving optimal health. By prioritising good sleep hygiene, rest and relaxation we can improve our overall health and wellbeing, helping us to reap the benefits of a healthier, happier life,” says Márcia Garcia Eugenio, Head of Multiply Incentivised Wellness for Momentum Health Solutions.
According to sleep disorder expert, Dr Alison Bentley, “There are several benefits to maintaining good sleep hygiene, including increased energy levels, improved mood, and a reduction in stress and anxiety. Regular, consistent sleep supports the body’s natural process of repairing itself and restoring the balance of hormones that regulate mood and metabolism.”
These are her tips for the small changes you can make that will have big results come bedtime.
1. Let Natural Light In As Soon As You Wake Up
Research has found that the earlier you are exposed to bright sunlight, the earlier you’ll fall asleep in the evening. Who would’ve thought? Plus, exposure to natural sunlight during the day helps to regulate your body’s internal clock which promotes better rest the following night.
2. Take Short Breaks Every Hour Or So
This can be to stretch, move around, doing something you enjoy or simply resting your eyes. This can help you manage stress and improve your sleep quality. A 20-30 minute power nap goes a long way. But, longer naps can interfere with your sleep at night.
3. Clean Up Your Bedtime Routine
Stimulants, like caffeine, alcohol and nicotine, provide a burst of energy that keeps you awake; swap out these indulgences before bed and opt for a warm bath or a good book.
4. Track Your Sleep
Sleep apps can be a valuable tool to help you achieve better sleep. Other useful tools, like Multiply’s Recharge Score, can even measure your sleep recovery and stress upon waking, which makes for more accurate feedback, ultimately leading to improved sleep.
5. Create A Sleep-Ready Bedroom
A cool, dark and quiet environment promotes better sleep. Investing in a good quality mattress and pillows that support your body will also help you sleep better and wake up feeling more rested.
5 Sleep Gadgets To Help You Sleep Better
Your New Pillow: Fit For Bed 100% Latex Pillow
Memory foam can feel like a brick. Down pillows flatten fast. This finds a balance with a 100% latex moulded pin core constructed design that offers support and comfort. Bonus: It’s moisture wicking.
Your New Lamp: Beurer WL 75 Wake Up Light
Find yourself waking up on the wrong side of the bed? This wakeup light simulates a natural sunrise and has 6 different wake up melodies. Bonus: the four sleep melodies that will lull you to a sweet slumber.
Your New Cover: Pure Mulberry Silk Duvet Cover
This cover is lightweight and can help maintain body temp throughout the night (credit silk being a natural thermal regulator), which means no more midnight kick-the-covers-off battles.
Your New Humidifier: HomeQuip Cool Mist Humidifier
Big, bulky humidifiers suck up floor space and are a pain to clean. This compact, no-frills humidifier keeps your bedroom moisturised overnight to ease congestion, and it comes with mood-lighting colours. Like a lava lamp but actually cool.
Your New Sleep Tracker: Fitbit Inspire 2 Fitness Tracker
Get sleep data like how long you sleep (and in which sleep stages), how often you wake up and receive an overall sleep score. There are also mindfulness and breathing sessions. and Plus, a vibrating alarm will wake you up during the optimal sleep stage.
Your New Sleeping & Breathing Coach: Dodow Sleep Aid Device
This device is a metronome with a light system that teaches you how to fall asleep naturally, without taking any medicine. It’s also great for travelling because its small which is ideal if you struggle to fall asleep in unfamiliar places.
3 Apps To Download Now
The trick to a good night’s rest? Getting yourself to chill out. This app lets you play doze-off DJ, allowing you mix and match over 150 soothing sounds and ambient melodies to create a sound that hits all the right notes in your head. It’s like a lullaby for adults and beats asking your partner for an awkward rendition of “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star”. It also has a sleep tracker and great unique insights for you to check out. Not sold yet? 91% of their listeners say they slept better after using the app for just one week.
Your phone is sucking up precious hours of shuteye, and not because of Twitter. The culprit: blue light. The American Medical Association’s Council on Science and Public Health says exposure to excessive gleam can tank your chances of a decent night’s sleep. The solution? This app slowly drains the colour from your screen, fading out harsh blues to dim reds by the end of the day, stimulating the part of you that wants to sleep, and not the part that wants to stay up and go down a Youtube rabbit hole.
Your alarm clock doesn’t give a damn. That mechanical pest sits and wails, screeching until you can be bothered to hit snooze. Sleep Cycle does away with morning torture, tracking, studying and analysing your sleep patterns and uses the data to wake you up at the right time. You’ll also get relaxing sleep sounds, snore and sleep talking tracking (yes, that’s a thing) and tailored programmes right at your finger tips. It’s backed by science and created by sleep experts, so you know it’s the real deal.
*Words: Troy Da Costa, Scarlett Wrench, Christian Gollayan & Kelleigh Korevaar