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How to Fall Back to Sleep Fast – 8 Proven Strategies

Do you find yourself staring at the ceiling when you wake up at night, struggling to get back to sleep with no solution? Do you want to know how to fall back to sleep fast?

Research shows that everyone experiences nighttime awakenings throughout their life.

When this happens night after night, the effects of poor sleep take a toll on your mental and physical health. 

An inability to sleep and chronic insomnia are brought on by a number of factors. Sleep apnea, street noises, the light from your phone, even your diet — all are reasons you might be waking up in the middle of the night.

Luckily, there are proven tricks to help you fall back to sleep fast.

Read on to discover eight strategies to help you go back to sleep and continue getting the rest that you need.

Want to Know How to Fall Back to Sleep Fast? Here’s How.

Sleep cycles are vital to your circadian rhythm. If you wake-up during the night and can’t fall back asleep, your brain and body do not get the rest they need.

These eight proven strategies will help you fall back to sleep fast and continue to get good, deep shuteye.

#1 – Use the progressive muscle relaxation technique

tight fist using progressive muscle relaxation

When you’re feeling stressed, your muscles will tense. This is your body’s natural response to anxiety, but it can cause trouble when trying to fall back asleep.

Relieving this muscle tension will relax your mind and put you back in a state of slumber.

Progressive muscle relaxation (PMR) is one of the easiest relaxation techniques to sleep quicker. It helps you drop your tension levels, putting you to sleep within minutes.

To practice PMR, you tighten each muscle group one at a time. You take a deep breath in and tighten each muscle group for 15 seconds. When you breathe out, you relax your muscles for a count of 30 seconds. 

You start with your forehead, then move on to your jaw, neck and shoulders, arms and hands, buttocks, legs, and finally, your feet.

The type of tensing you do depends on the muscle group. 


  • Hands: make a fist 
  • Mouth: smile widely 
  • Neck: touch your chin to your chest (careful not strain your neck)
  • Legs: point your toes towards your face

Take a pause before repeating the exercise. 

With each repetition, you should feel the tension drop.

#2 – Lower your body temperature

glass of cold water to lower body temperature

Your body temperature plays a big role in how you sleep.

As your circadian rhythm prepares you for rest, your body temperature drops. This is why you feel the natural urge to curl under a blanket during sleep.

If your bedroom is too hot, your heart rate will increase. This can trick your body into a feeling of panic, which is why you often wake up sweating from a nightmare.

When this happens, you need to cool your body.

If you have a portable fan, point it at your head or your feet. These are the fastest areas for cooling.

Cold drinks will cool your body from the inside. Water is the best option, but anything non-alcoholic or without caffeine will also work.

#3 – Take slow, deep breaths

Research shows that taking slow, deep breaths works wonders for anxiety and stress

Deep breaths slow your heart rate, lower blood pressure, and release mood-boosting endorphins.

Deep breathing exercises are used often in therapy sessions and meditation.

A popular relaxing technique to help you fall asleep quicker is the 4-7-8 breathing method. This was created by American doctor, Andrew Weil.

According to Dr. Weil, the 4-7-8 breathing technique helps those suffering from sleep disorders fall asleep quickly, as well as relieving mild to moderate anxiety.

To start, take a long, deep breath for four seconds. Hold this breath for seven seconds. Exhale and count to eight.

Repeat this pattern until you feel your body relax.

For best results, add the 4-7-8 breathing practice to your pre-bedtime routine.

#4 – Don’t watch the clock

clock pointing to early morning time

Watching the clock is one of the worst things insomniacs can do.

Knowing the time and how little sleep you are getting will raise your anxiety levels.

Likewise, watching the minutes tick by will increase your stress and blood pressure until you are up all night.

As sleep medicine specialist, Dr. Michael Breus explains:

“The worst thing you can do when you can’t sleep is to look at the clock. You immediately start doing the mental math of how many hours you have left until you wake up, which makes you feel more anxious. This elevates adrenaline and cortisol, hormones that make you feel alert and further disrupt sleep.” 

Instead of watching the clock, practice deep breathing methods or Acceptance and Commitment Therapy. 

This therapy, promoted by the founder of The Sleep School, Dr. Guy Meadows, encourages accepting your sleeplessness as a way to reduce stress. By accepting your insomnia, you will release the tension in your mind and eventually fall back asleep.

#5 – Play a soothing sleep soundtrack

woman relaxing listening to soothing music

Music is an easy and effective way to combat sleep issues.

Researchers have found that music helps reduce anxiety and lessens the production of the stress-inducing hormone, cortisol.

Choosing soothing, comfort music without words can have a hypnotic element that lulls you to sleep.

Likewise, listening to a favorite tune will have a similar effect. This is why lullabies still make us sleepy even as adults.

Sleep specialists have found that listening to a soothing track is beneficial to the first stage of the sleep cycle

Music played at least 45 minutes before bedtime helps people suffering from insomnia fall asleep quicker and deeper.

If you do not want to play music before bed, try using a white noise machine. This will have a similar soothing and hypnotic effect.

#6 – Get up and do an uninteresting activity

If you have been awake for more than 30 minutes, get up and leave your bedroom.

Tossing and turning in your bed for a long period of time will only increase your anxiety and distress.

Such uninteresting activities that can aid sleep include:

  • Listen to a podcast (there are some specifically designed to put listeners to sleep)
  • Trace pictures in a magazine
  • Do a crossword or Sudoku puzzle

Whatever your task is, make sure it does not interest or stimulate you. Aim for activities that are repetitive and don’t require a lot of energy. 

Reading is a common and effective practice to add to your sleep routine. Studies show that reading to children before bed helps them associate the activity with a bedtime habit.

Likewise, sleep disorder specialists recommend adults adapt boring habits into the regular bedtime schedule.

These habits train your body to recognize the tasks as sleep aids, promoting overall better sleep hygiene.

#7 – Try bedtime journaling

how to fall back to sleep fast by journaling

Writing in a journal is a great way to help you fall back to sleep fast.

In the same way that talking about your worries relieves stress, so does writing about them.

Sleep experts have even shown that writing a list of the things you need to do the following day is effective to falling asleep faster: 

“[T]he key…seems to be that participants wrote down their to-do list rather than mentally ruminate about their unfinished tasks.”

This study also found that participants with longer, more detailed to-do lists fell asleep faster than those with shorter lists.

Try this yourself by keeping a notebook and pen on your bedside table. Do not use your phone as looking at the screen will stimulate your brain.

Make it a nightly habit to jot down a list of things you need to do in the morning. If you have any anxieties about projects or events coming up, write about those too.

#8 – Use the military relaxation exercise

The military relaxation exercise (also known as the military method) was developed for the US Navy by Bud Winter, a former football coach and relaxation expert. 

The military method was designed to help Navy pilots fall asleep within two minutes.

The method focuses on clearing your mind of the stress that normally comes with a lack of sleep.

To practice the military method, relax all of the muscles in your body. Drop your shoulders and let your hands and legs fall to the side.

Inhale and exhale slowly.

Clear your mind for ten seconds. Try to imagine a relaxing scene or repeat a mantra over and over in your head.

Practice this method every night before bed. In four to six weeks you should start falling asleep within two minutes.

In Conclusion

Now that you’ve got a better idea of how to fall back to sleep fast, you’re ready to try out a few of these strategies, instead of reaching straight from the sleep medication.

If you find yourself tossing and turning in the middle of the night, get out of bed and do an uninteresting activity. Make sure it is repetitive and does not require much thought.

Keep a journal by your bed. Writing down your to-do list for the next day will relieve stress and help send you into deep relaxation.

If you are still suffering from poor sleep, check out our ultimate guide to sleep better at night.

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