Natural ways to find sleep fast – and actually stay asleep

No one enjoys lying in bed tossing, turning and fretting because you can’t get to sleep. Here’s how to fall asleep fast and enjoy a solid night’s rest without medication.

There’s nothing better than a good night’s sleep and according to research, we need at least seven hours for optimal health.

But a report commissioned by the Sleep Health Foundation has found nearly 60 per cent of Australians struggle to get enough shuteye.

That is not great news – studies have shown sleep deprivation can impact everything from heart disease and obesity to diabetes and life expectancy.

If you’re tired of tossing and turning, and are keen to ward off possible health issues, here are some expert-backed tips that could help you get to sleep fast and stay asleep.

Listen to ‘brown noise’ for sleep

Could the latest TikTok trend, brown noise, help you slumber more soundly? According to sleep expert Olivia Arezzolo, the answer is yes.

“Brown noise is a frequency of sound that is low, with a deep, bass-like tone – akin to rumbling thunder,” Olivia explains.

It works by masking background noise while encouraging the brain to move into a more rhythmic pattern.

“As deep sleep requires slower brainwaves, moving into this state enables us to fall into deeper sleep earlier in the night, and feel more refreshed in the morning,” Olivia says.

You can listen to brown noise on YouTube, a phone app or a sound machine.

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Music may help you fall asleep fast

If you’re struggling to fall asleep, listening to sleep music may help.

Often helping people with insomnia, psychotherapist Eugenie Pepper says calming music before bedtime can have a positive impact on sleep quality for some individuals.

“Music with slow tempo and low pitch may be particularly effective in promoting relaxation and reducing anxiety, which can contribute to better sleep,” Eugenie explains.

“More recent studies have shown counterintuitively that upbeat music or singing an uplifting song to yourself can be helpful to some people.

“However, individual responses to music can vary, so it’s important to find what works best for you.”

High energy songs such as K-pop band BTS’s ‘Dynamite’ have been suggested to help promote relaxation for sleep especially after repeated exposure and increased familiarity.

Consider melatonin for sleep

Our body produces the hormone melatonin in response to darkness to tell us when to sleep and wake.

“Synthetic melatonin operates on the same premise, which is why it’s often prescribed as a short-term sleeping aid,” Olivia says.

While it could help you get to sleep fast, Sleep Health Foundation’s Dr Gemma Paech warns against buying melatonin online.

“What it says on the label may not be what’s in the product,” Dr Paech says.

“If you’re going to take melatonin, go to your GP and get advice on the appropriate time and dosage.”

Wear blue light-reducing glasses

Electronic devices such as phones, iPads and eReaders emit blue light, which may affect sleep quality.

“If we’re exposing ourselves to a lot of light, particularly blue light, in the evenings it tells our brain it’s daylight and that can impact sleep,” Dr Paech explains.

To counter this, some people wear blue light-reducing glasses to help them get to sleep fast.

But Dr Paech recommends exploring the best options before making a purchase.

“There’s evidence to suggest some blue-light glasses are effective, and others are not, so do your research first,” she says.

Learn how to breathe

Breathing techniques may help you relax, lower your stress levels and lead to better sleep.

Olivia says the best technique is the one you do comfortably, consistently and calmly.

“Overall, there is data to show that deep breathing activates the parasympathetic nervous system, which helps us feel more relaxed,” she says.

More ways to get to sleep

It’s important to set good pre-sleep habits and the 10-3-2-1-0 sleep rule may help establish a better environment for a better night’s rest, Eugenie explains.

It consists of the following steps:

  • 10 hours before bed: Limit your caffeine intake.
  • Three hours before bed: No more food or alcohol.
  • Two hours before bed: No more food or alcohol.
  • One hour before bed: No more screen time.
  • Zero: The number of times you should be hitting the snooze button in the morning.

Otherwise, Olivia adds it may also be beneficial to try using blackout blinds, wearing an eye mask, having a hot shower before bedtime or consider taking lavender oil capsules – found to improve sleep quality in anxious people.

How do you know if you have a sleep disorder?

Dr Paech says having difficulty sleeping even as much as once a week is normal.

“But if you’re struggling to sleep more nights than not, over more than three months, you should go to your GP for advice, because you may have a sleeping disorder,” she says.

For more on getting better sleep: 

Written by Dimity Barber.