We all need to sleep. And what’s better than a peaceful, refreshing night’s sleep that energizes us for the next day.
Sleep is that time where our bodies are given rest, the time that is given renewal to your skin and other organs, and start off fresh in the morning with renewed energy and vigor.
But falling asleep and staying asleep can be difficult, and that can put you behind in your day, and even be dangerous in some circumstances.
I have included some affiliate links in this article, which means I may make a small commission, at no extra charge to you, should you make a purchase. While I do mention a couple of tools that I use, they aren’t required to achieve these goals without spending money.
Since I get direct messages for recommendations, I have included the few products here; you can go to my other article to see these and more products that you use to improve your sleep, often for a very low cost. If you have any medical concerns and before starting anything new, you should contact your doctor or medical provider first.
Practical Tips to Fall Asleep Fast and Stay Asleep (‘No-Money’ Edition)
I have some guidelines that you can implement in your life today to help you not only fall asleep fast, but stay asleep for longer periods of time.
And best of all, these you can do NOW, without buying any products/spending any money.
If you want more tips, you can go to this post where I talk about some other tips using inexpensive products that I have used to successfully help myself fall asleep and stay asleep.
But you should start with these tips, as they are very easy to try, and may very well solve your sleep problem.
Reduce Your Stress – Get Help
This one, I won’t spend a lot of time on. Just because, we all know that stress is a major hump to get over.
And if stress keeps you awake, not only is it killing you slowly during the stressful time (by affecting your brain which in turn affects your vital organs), but it can also be keeping you from falling asleep because you’re worried about your stressor.
So, either get away from it, or out of it. If could be a friendship or dating relationship, a job, or any number of things that you can’t control, like an illness of yourself or a loved one.
If you can control it, do. Now. Before it kills you. (Yes, I know that’s often easier said than done.)
If you can’t control it, find ways to deal with it. Seek counseling, reduce your exposure, find a religion that fits you.
I will say, as a Christian, I believe in the power of prayer and while it doesn’t magically fix everything, knowing that the power of Jesus is right there with me… well, if you don’t have it, all I can say is, I wish you knew what you were missing.
My life isn’t perfect, no one’s is. I’m not perfect, no one is.
But that ‘peace that surpasses all understanding’, as told in Philippians 4:7 in the Bible, is more than I can describe to you.
When I’m at my limits and fed up with people, I LOVE to read Proverbs in the Bible. It calms me down and reminds me that life isn’t perfect, but this too shall pass.
Whatever you do, brainstorm ways you can reduce or eliminate stress in your life.
And then take steps to make it happen.
The Exercise and Sleep Connection
Not only is exercise good for your mental health, but it will also make your body need recovery more, which will make you more tired.
Whatever you do, it may be walking, running, weightlifting, cardio, high or low impact cardio, it will help you feel better mentally (and reduce stress), and will help you sleep better.
You can do any of those for free, like taking a walk, jogging, etc. But if you need structure, I really like this program that I reviewed here.
Just don’t exercise too soon before bed.
Experts like SleepFoundation.org say it’ll keep you awake; but sometimes, based on how tired I am during my workout, I feel like i disagree with that, lol.
Plus, you could take a nice long bath (bonus points for epsom salts) or shower to relax you, and you’ll be off in dreamland in no time…. ahhhh.
Be Careful of Naps (Especially after 3 or 4pm)
While naps may help us be less groggy throughout the day, some naps, especially long ones, may hinder our ability to fall asleep.
And after 3 or 4pm (for a general 7am-10pm ish kind of day), you may be confusing your body’s sleep signals and it may think you intend to stay awake for later on in the night.
Regulate Your Caffeine Usage
I have found that if I have caffeine from drinks after about 2 or 3pm, it may hinder my ability to fall asleep at night.
If you find yourself at a coffee shop or wanting coffee/tea after that time, opt for decaf.
Most places have a decent selection available or can make it upon request.
Look for ‘Sneaky Caffeine’
After I stopped caffeinated drinks after 2pm, I discovered that I was still suffering from caffeine keeping me awake. And I couldn’t figure out why.
I call this “sneaky caffeine.” I have discovered I, personally, am fairly sensitive to caffeine.
But take note: it isn’t only coffee, tea, and sodas that have caffeine. Care to rack your brain as to what common late-night snack has caffeine?
Yep. I told you – I’m sensitive to caffeine.
Now, this may not apply to many people.
But if you had a chocolate dessert/cake, or a chocolate candy bar, or even just a homemade healthy cup of hot chocolate before bed and are laying wide awake for hours later… you may be caffeine sensitive.
Because this is a post about how to get to sleep for free, I won’t go into too much detail, but I will tell you that I use a holistic remedy to antidote the caffeine keeping me awake.
And it works like a charm… usually only after I’ve lain in bed awake for a few hours and suddenly remember that chocolate that passed through my lips at 9pm.
How Your Electronic Device is Affecting Your Sleep
Two quick tips for how to control your devices so that they don’t have a negative impact on your sleep time:
Put Your Device Away
For two hours before you plan to go to bed, turn your electronic devices (tv, cell phone, computer, tablet) off.
And do something else calming. Like reading.
Studies show that staring at your electronic devices signals to your brain that you need to stay awake.
It’s based on the blue light emitted by your devices. But there’s also so much mental chatter that social media, news, and disturbing images/videos/sounds may bring up to keep you up at night.
And if you refuse to give up your electronic devices before bed (guilty party of one right here), I have a solution that I have found works marvelously – I describe the blue/orange light theory and that solution in a whole section devoted to it here.
How To Set Your Devices in ‘Night Shift’ and ‘Dark’ Modes
Most modern electronic devices with operating systems from the past few years have a mode that emits less of the blue (cool) light and more of the warmer (orange-toned) light.
The warmer the setting, the less blue/cool light your device will emit, which results in less sleep interference.
For Apple devices, it is called ‘Night Shift’ mode – they also have a ‘Dark’ mode option on the same screen that makes it easier on your eyes at night.
On iPhone go to Settings > Display & Brightness > and in the options below, you will see an option to permanently being Light or Dark mode.
‘Dark’ Mode: (see picture for example below) I chose for mine to go into Dark mode by hitting the button by Automatic, and then setting the Options to be > Custom Schedule >Light Appearance 7AM, Dark Appearance 7:30PM.
‘Night Shift’ Mode: Click on the Night Shift, and then click the button by Scheduled so it turns green, then set your From and To times.
Once you do this, your whites on the screen will be a little more yellow-orangey toned during your ‘night shift’ time.
During your dark mode, settings that are usually white on your screen will be black. (I’m sure Android has similar settings.)
These both will help your eyes relax and send signals to your brain that it is time to start winding down.
These are great and be sufficient for some people, but they were not nearly enough for me.
I had to take slightly more drastic measures, as outlined in the other post on sleep.
Be Careful of What You Drink… and When
There are a few factors regarding drinking – and I don’t mean just alcohol – that could be keeping you awake.
Hydrate Well… Before Dinner
I am not someone who does well with tons of water in my belly. It makes my belly swell and actually hurt, plus makes me look fat.
And I seem to have very efficient kidneys, and my bladder fills up quickly.
So, my advice is to watch when you drink anything, even water. I find that I have to get up one or twice in the middle of the night if I have more than a few sips after dinner (which is usually 6:30-8 pm for me).
If you’re getting up once or more to use the bathroom at night, take note of when your fluid intake occurs.
In the interest of being well-hydrated, just do earlier in the day or at least before or with dinner.
Watch What You Drink – Beware of Alcohol Awakening
Particularly alcohol. Though alcohol may make you drowsy initially, your body processes it while you’re asleep, as though it’s a drug.
And once it’s done processing it through your liver, your body sends signals that that drug-like state is over and it can wake you up.
This article states that 27 studies show that while alcohol may help you fall asleep faster, and that you may sleep for a little while, overall, alcohol causes the body to decrease rapid eye movements (REM) during sleep, which is the indication of your deepest sleep.
This may increase daytime fatigue, brain fogginess, and lack of ability to concentrate.
And it may even induce sleep apnea, a potentially life-treating condition where you stop breathing during sleep.
Also, the more you drink, the more the alcohol affects the body in these ways.
Read a Book
I mentioned it earlier, but reading a book before bed is a great tool to help you fall asleep faster and gentler. Here is some more information about reading before bed and whether it’s a good idea (hint: it says it is.)
I will often read a book with the orange glow of my salt lamp, but that’s not required, but turning your lighting down may, just make sure you’re not straining your eyes.
One recommendation, read a Bible. It’s kinda funny, often in the early mornings when I do my devotions, I can stare at social media endlessly, but when I transition to reading my Bible, I can struggle to keep my eyes open.
Do I mean the Bible is boring? Not necessarily.
I’m just being honest about my life & struggles – plus, I think there’s something comforting about reading God’s word that puts our mind and soul in a comfortable, stress-reduced, in-His-arms mentality.
Use ASMR for Sleep
I saved this recommendation for last because I have a few reservations in recommending this one, even though it has worked for me multiple times. But, if all else fails, sometimes this helps me when nothing else will (though I admit, I usually try this in lieu of reading my Bible, as discussed before.)
ASMR (autonomous sensory meridian response) is basically ear tingles. You know how if you don’t like some sounds like nails on a chalkboard or someone chewing loudly or with their mouth open? ASMR is the opposite, it is sounds that soothe and unwind you, reducing stress and increasing relaxation.
Let’s just say, it’s a strategy that not everyone is going to embrace, and that’s okay. I’m sure if I tried to explain it to people, they would look at me like I’m weird. (Hint hint: I am. I get told that all the time and totally embrace it.)
I love videos of girls doing makeup role-plays, the brushing and soft-spoken conversation are so soothing. One of my favorites is Latte ASMR, she just has the hustle down! But lately, these tiny Asian food model videos have been knocking me out so fast, just listening to it.
Tip: if the screen keeps you awake, turn your device over so you don’t have the light and only have the sound. NEVER put your device under your pillow or other blankets where it may overheat and catch on fire.
Although I have used this to fall asleep many times, I am hesitant to recommend it as a long-term solution for a few reasons:
One is because it recommends connecting yourself to a wireless device during your most restful hours, and I’m not convinced that long exposure to WIFI and wireless/cell phone devices is 100% safe.
And, two, I don’t know that there have been any extensive studies on the effect of ASMR on the brain and the ability to stay asleep. Though this article seems to think it’s an okay idea… (until we know better).
And thirdly, I wouldn’t want anyone to become too dependent on it. You need to address your actual cause of sleeplessness, which I am working on. But it’s not perfected yet for me, since it has been at least 15 years since I’ve gotten great sleep.
So, just don’t be too dependent on ASMR. I personally think getting to sleep may be more important than the other hesitations, at least it feels like it in the middle of the night when you’ve laid awake for hours.
Know your Body
I’m just going to say this in short: The more in tune you are with your body, the better your sleep will be.
I am working hard on getting there with mine. Last November or so, I started intermittent fasting (IF) where I don’t eat overnight, for 16 hours total. Apparently with IF, you don’t need as much sleep as if you aren’t doing it.
I don’t know exactly why that is, but sometimes going to bed too early “just because it’s time” has been leaving me wide awake in bed. So, now I try to make sure I’m pretty doggone sleepy before I go to bed.
And though I do have a flexible schedule as to when I get up, my body generally likes to wake up anywhere from 6 am – 7:30 am. So yeah.
Just knowing your body is crucial, how what you’re eating and drinking affects you, and how your daily exercise and activities may help you sleep better.
So, those are some practical tips you can use to help fall asleep fast and stay asleep. Do you have any other tips like this? You can refer to this article where I talk about other tips implementing low-cost products to aid my quest for better sleep.
If any of these helped you, please let me know in the comments. I LOVE feedback!!
Thanks for being here, and God Bless!!