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How to Get to Sleep Fast

It happens to everyone: you climb into bed, hoping for a good night’s rest. Yet, sleep remains elusive.

According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, most adults need at least seven hours of sleep a night. But it's hard to reach that goal if you struggle to slip into slumber in the first place.

So, how to go to sleep fast? Try incorporating the following tips and tricks.

1. Melatonin and magnesium

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The Cleveland Clinic suggests trying 200 milligrams of magnesium glycinate or magnesium citrate supplements about 30 minutes before bed to help with sleep.

Meanwhile, melatonin is a hormone your brain produces in response to your exposure to light. Melatonin is available as a supplement and is considered safe for short-term use. Johns Hopkins recommends starting with a small dose of 1 to 3 milligrams before bed.

2. Meditation

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Meditation may be the answer if stress and anxiety keep you awake. The Sleep Foundation states that “meditation techniques are intended to promote a more relaxed response to a person’s stressful thoughts and feelings.” There are many free guided meditations available on the internet. Box breathing may also help you relax.

3. Lower blue light exposure

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Harvard University recommends avoiding bright screens for two to three hours before bed. Blue light-blocking glasses are also recommended when using electronic devices later in the evening. Consider making the bedroom a screen-free room. 

4. Cut the caffeine

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Kothare recommends avoiding caffeine after 2 p.m. Caffeine has a long half-life, meaning it takes a while to leave the body. This can lead to difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep. Caffeine isn’t just found in coffee. Four ounces of milk chocolate have the caffeine equivalent of a half cup of coffee, while green tea, kombucha and energy drinks all contain caffeine.

5. Create a better sleep environment

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Creating an environment conducive to rest can improve your sleep. Dr. Fariha Abbasi-Feinberg, a sleep specialist at Millennium Physician Group in Fort Myers, Fla., recommends “making sure the bedroom is cool, dark and quiet. Sometimes white noise, such as a fan, can help.” Consider using blackout blinds or drapes to limit the room's light and setting the temperature a few degrees lower than usual to create the optimum sleep environment.

6. Eat earlier rather than later

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Time your food intake — your last big meal of the day should be at least two to three hours before bedtime. Mount Sinai recommends a small bowl of yogurt or cereal low in sugar if you are hungry closer to sleep. A warm, non-caffeinated beverage may also help you unwind before bed.

7. Limit alcohol and drug use

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Kothare recommends avoiding alcohol and other drugs for better sleep. Alcohol acts as a sedative and may cause you to fall asleep faster. Yet, alcohol is known to disrupt the sleep cycle. The Cleveland Clinic explains that as alcohol starts to metabolize, the sedative effect diminishes. You will wake up easily and more often in the latter half of the night. You will also not experience deep REM sleep and will wake up groggy.

8. Source and more information

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Sources: Fariha Abbasi-Feinberg, MD, sleep specialist, Millennium Physician Group, Fort Myers, Fla.; Sanjeev Kothare, MD, child neurology, epilepsy and sleep medicine, Northwell Medical, New Hyde Park, N.Y.

For more information on general health, check out these additional resources:

Natural Sleep Aids: Get to Sleep Fast Without a Prescription

Is 6 Hours of Sleep Enough?

What are the Best Sleeping Positions for a More Comfortable Day

The Most Common Sleep Disorders, Explained

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