Train Yourself To Fall Asleep Faster

If you're the like the millions of us who are plagued by insomnia, you'd probably try anything to get a good night's sleep more often. One method that may be successful for you involves just six steps and uses good old Pavlovian psychology.Photo by Hobvias Sudeneighm

PsyBlog outlines the six steps of Stimulus Control Therapy:

  1. Lie down to go to sleep only when you are sleepy.
  2. Do not use your bed for anything except sleep; that is, do not read, watch television, eat, or worry in bed. Sexual activity is the only exception to this rule. On such occasions, the instructions are to be followed afterwards, when you intend to go to sleep.
  3. If you find yourself unable to fall asleep, get up and go into another room. Stay up as long as you wish and then return to the bedroom to sleep. Although we do not want you to watch the clock, we want you to get out of bed if you do not fall asleep immediately. Remember the goal is to associate your bed with falling asleep quickly! If you are in bed more than about 10 minutes without falling asleep and have not gotten up, you are not following this instruction.
  4. If you still cannot fall asleep, repeat step 3. Do this as often as is necessary throughout the night.
  5. Set your alarm and get up at the same time every morning irrespective of how much sleep you got during the night. This will help your body acquire a consistent sleep rhythm.
  6. Do not nap during the day.

Step 3 is the most difficult part, but what you're doing by forcing yourself out of bed is learning to associate your bed only with sleep (except for sex), much like in Pavlov's famous experiments his dogs associated a ringing bell with food, causing a physical reaction (salivating). The physical reaction we want when we lie down is immediate, blissful sleep.

We've previously discussed lots of sleep hacks, including expert tips for ending insomnia and other sleep problems, finding your perfect bedtime, and cooling your head off, but for sleep success, you may need a lot of tricks in your arsenal. Got any advice for falling asleep faster? Share them with us in the comments.

6 Easy Steps to Falling Asleep Fast [PsyBlog]


    I was actually advised to not get out of bed if I can't get to sleep or wake up during the night and can't get back to sleep.

    Make sure you're tired before go to sleep. Tired can be either emotionally or physically. Treadmill-ing for 30-40 mins continued with 10-15 mins cool down period works best for me if i need to sleep fast.

    What about those of us with an over-active imagination? Even if I'm really tired, I will sometimes lay there for ages with all kinds of crap going through my brain, and I just can't seem to make it stop! {]

      It goes against all advice. But I have the same problem.
      My solution is to go to bed earlier than I want to sleep (about half an hour) and read or play my DS or something else interesting. I do this properly in bed with the covers pulled up and head on the pillow (not sitting up). Invariably I notice my eyes start to get heavy, I then immediately put my distraction down and go to sleep.
      It works for me, and I went from being a night-owl and chronic oversleeper, to sleeping from 9.30 to 5.30am. :)

        Heh heh,Gotta ask if you're married?.... ;]

    With my TV and PC in my room I use my bed for everything, so I use the same trick I'd use on a 5 year old: get a bit weary, brush teeth, go to bed. I'm unfit enough that 40 mins of Wii Fit games/exercises does the trick for me. With this cold winter it keeps me warm too ^__^

    3 really quick beers does it for me these days

    Try counting backwards in threes ie: 100 97 94 91 etc

    Getting up and going to another room is really bad advice, in my opinion. My trick is to meditate - or focus solely on your breathing. Watch how you breathe in and out, think of nothing else. If your mind starts to wander, reign it in and try to concentrate on just your breath. It's so boring you'll fall asleep within minutes.

      I combine the two; I count my very slow breathing up to 100 breaths... No other thoughts allowed. If I reach the 100, I have to get up, which i hate doing. The only problem is when I HAVE attempted to meditate, I instantly fall asleep

      I have insomnia every now and then and only in the worst circumstances will I get up. Usually I lie there and meditate.

      I think it's an interesting tip though. Because I am starting to associate my bed with a struggle to get to sleep. So I'm gonna give this one a try.

      The hardest thing will be not to get up and turn on anything electric. Hopefully reading is allowed.

    I let my mind wander actually. I find it turns into daydreams (or equivalent of) which in turn leads to falling asleep.

    Masturbation helps!

      Now there's a bumper sticker.

    I just ask my wife about her day and BOOM.

      I must be getting old. I laughed at Richard's comment, but not at Wanye Kerr's comment....I didn't even laugh at his funny name. sigh

    I am ordinarily a great sleeper, but when I can't get there I opt for extra meditation.

    No matter how you feel about it (I'm a hippy blah blah), guided meditation works, every time. Go buy some Brain Sync (or similar) audio recordings and give the relaxation ones a go.

    Everyone should meditate regardless, but as an aid for getting to sleep it is literally priceless.

    Don't sit there 'omming', just do the breathing exercises and do your best to clear your mind - no need to be a yogi :P

    Insomnia dude...the advise you were given was incorrect. It is contrary to all current research and clinical practice guidelines (and certainly my own clinical experience with patients).

    Also, it's better if you get up first go with the alarm and never use the snooze button.

    i do the opposite of everything listed...i have the TV on (with an off timer set) at a really low volume, and if i can't sleep i repeat in my head everything they are saying on TV...i'll fall right to sleep within 5 mins

Join the discussion!

Trending Stories Right Now