Let me guess. You can’t sleep, can you?
Maybe it’s something that’s always an issue for you, where your sleep has consistently sucked for a long time. Or, maybe it’s just something that comes and goes. Meaning, you sleep a lot better than you presently do most of the time, but then you go through stretches of days or weeks where you have problems sleeping.
What kinds of problems? Well, the two most common tend to be:
- You can’t fall asleep. You get in bed at night and then spend hours lying awake watching the clock and being annoyed that you’re not sleeping yet.
- You can’t stay asleep. Maybe you’re able to fall asleep fast, but you wake up in the middle of the night and can’t fall back to sleep. Or, you just keep waking up over and over again.
Sound familiar? I bet it does.
Why Is Sleep Important… For People Like Us?
We all know sufficient sleep is important/required for being able to live and function as an average healthy human being. But, this article isn’t just for people trying to live and function as average healthy human beings.
It’s for those of us actively working our asses off to improve our bodies in some significant way.
You know… build muscle, lose fat, get strong. That sort of thing. Why – specifically for us – is sleep so important?
Well, studies and anecdotal evidence have shown that insufficient sleep often comes with the following negative effects:
- Lower testosterone levels. (The muscle building hormone.)
- Higher cortisol levels. (The stress hormone.)
- Reduced insulin sensitivity.
- Increased hunger. (This is why sleep deprivation is associated with weight gain.)
- Decreased physical activity. (You’re tired, so you move less. Another reason for the association with weight gain.)
- Impaired cognitive function.
- Impaired recovery.
- Impaired physical performance. (Not always the case, but typically training goes poorly on little/no sleep.)
So what does this mean to us exactly? For starters, the first three items on this list play a big role in calorie partitioning. Which is to say that not getting enough sleep can potentially lead to more muscle being lost while in a deficit (where your goal should be to lose fat WITHOUT losing muscle), and more fat being gained while in a surplus (where your goal should be to gain muscle WITHOUT gaining excess fat).
It also means that training performance/focus/recovery will, at the very least, probably be less-good than it could be, and potentially be complete shit altogether. Maybe not 100% of the time, but most of the time (more about that later).
And strictly from the perspective of weight loss (or just weight gain prevention), insufficient sleep provides the always entertaining combination of making you want to eat more calories due to increased hunger while simultaneously making you burn less calories due to decreased overall movement. Awesome!
There are likely other negative effects as well, plus a variety of negative health effects that I didn’t even bother mentioning (they do still exist, though).
So basically, sleep is important. Get an insufficient amount of it and everything will be worse. Get a sufficient amount of it and everything will be better. Which brings up an obvious question…
How Much Sleep Do You Need?
Honestly, I don’t know. And I really don’t think anyone else knows for sure either.
I mean, the old standby “8 hours a night” number you see all the time is probably a good place to start, but it doesn’t appear to be based on anything truly meaningful. And what it unintentionally serves to do is cause a lot of people to lie awake in bed not sleeping because they’re too obsessed with trying to get exactly 8 hours of sleep.
It also appears that some people just need more or less sleep than others based on everything from their age to their lifestyle, which means there’s probably no exact amount that will ever be universally perfect for everyone.
That’s why the best recommendation I have is just basic common sense: get as much sleep as you can, ideally aiming for 7-9 hours per night.
If you feel as though you don’t get enough… get more. And if all else fails, take naps.
I personally end up getting around 7 hours a night maybe 3 times a week, and around 8-9 hours the other 4 nights. For me, this works… assuming of course it actually happens.
The Big Problems With Sleep
For some people, their lack of sleep can be attributed to their life getting in the way. Work, school, family, whatever. Something gets in the way and prevents a person from having the opportunity for sleeping the amount that they need to. So they CAN sleep, but they just don’t allow themselves the time to actually get as much of it as they ideally should.
But then there’s a separate problem… when the lack of sleep is caused by the inability to actually fall asleep and/or stay asleep.
So you want to get enough of it. You try to get enough of it. You’re giving yourself the opportunity to get enough of it. But, try as you might, you just can’t.
Mild to severe sleep disorders are extremely common and affect the majority of the population at some point or another. And in my experience, I’ve found that people like us (again… people trying to improve their bodies) are maybe a bit more prone to having these problems than “regular” people are.
Why is this? Well, a lot of it has to do with the diet and training methods we’re using to reach these goals (and sometimes just the goals themselves). Some of the things we’re trying to get our bodies to do and some of the things we’re putting our bodies through to make it happen just aren’t always conducive to sleeping well. I’ll cover the most common examples of this in a minute.
But beyond that, I think another big reason is that we are just ultra aware of how important sleep is. Not just in general, but for our specific goals.
We know we need it. We know why we need it. We are purposely trying to get it. And this is precisely what prevents us from sleeping.
Kind of ironic, isn’t it? (It’s like “10,000 spoons when all you need is a knife.”)
I mean, how many nights have you spent lying awake trying to fall asleep while being kept up by your own thoughts about how your not getting the sleep you need to be getting? You watch the clock and count the missed hours of sleep…
“Well, if I fall asleep right this minute I can still get 7 hours.” Which soon becomes 6 hours, then 5 hours, then 4, etc.
Happens to everyone at some point(s) in their lives, myself included. We’re just too aware for our own good.
Which is why we need to fix it.
20 Ways To Fall Asleep Faster And Sleep Better Through The Night
Bear in mind that this isn’t meant to be a list of every single useful “sleep tip” in existence. And I’m assuming you know the really obvious stuff already (e.g. avoid caffeine in the hours before going to bed, avoid drinking a lot of water in the hours before going to bed, get a good pillow/mattress, avoid light, avoid noise, etc.).
This is more a list of stuff that I’ve personally found (and frequently recommended to others) to work best for either promoting sleep, improving sleep, or just eliminating whatever it is that is negatively affecting the ability to fall and stay asleep.
And while all of the following advice can certainly help the average person, the emphasis here is definitely on helping those of us actively trying to improve the way our bodies look and/or perform.
So, let the fun begin…
1. Eat More Carbs At Night.
Most people purposely go out of their way to avoid eating carbs at night due to the fear that those carbs will magically turn into body fat while you’re sleeping.
You know… the carb fairy will fly into your bedroom and use her magic fairy vision to look inside your stomach and see what time you last ate carbs. If it was before 7PM, she moves on to the next house. But if she determines those carbs were eaten even one second after 7PM… she will cast her evil fat storing spell on you and instantly turn those carbs into body fat.
As much as I’d like to see Disney run with this, it is of course pure bullshit and one of the most common diet myths you’ll ever see. Ignore it.
The truth is, eating carbs at night is perfectly fine. It will NOT make you fat any differently than eating that same amount of carbs in the morning would. It’s not the time of day that you eat, and it’s not even the carbs themselves. The one and only cause of fat gain is eating too many total calories. More about all of this here: The Truth About Fat Loss
But what eating carbs at night WILL often do is help you fall asleep faster and improve your overall quality of sleep.
There is some research that shows this (off the top of my head I think it was a mouse study, but I’m much too ‘who-really-cares’ to actually go and look due to what you’re about to read in the second half of this sentence…), but much more importantly there is a TON of anecdotal evidence supporting this. Just a ton of people (myself included) who have made the switch to eating more carbs at night (after typically avoiding it before) who would go on to report sleeping better soon after.
Try it and see for yourself. Or actually, just think about it. You know how when you eat a meal containing a decent amount of carbs during the day… it can sometimes make you feel kinda sleepy afterwards?
Well, what better time for this to happen than when you’re getting ready to go to sleep?
And please note that I’m not recommending that you take your existing diet and just add more carbs on top of it to do this. I’m suggesting that you eat the total amount of calories, protein, fat and carbs you need to eat per day for you specific goal… but just arranging it in a manner that puts a decent portion of your planned daily carb intake at night.
2. Eat More Carbs, Period.
Ever been on a low carb diet? I have. It was some of the worst sleep I’ve ever had in my life. Ever been on a REALLY low carb diet? I haven’t, but I can only imagine you probably wouldn’t get enough sleep for it to even qualify as being the “worst sleep you’ve ever had.”
Why is this? It appears to be because carbs are the macronutrient that affects sleep the most.
To a certain extent (and for most people), moderate/higher carbs = better sleep, and lower carbs = worse sleep. And for most people, this holds true for just about everything else as well (how well you feel, how well you perform, how well you recover from training, etc.). Carbs are not evil. Far from it in fact. And while the human body may not require them, it sure as hell runs a shitload better when they’re around.
This of course is why I don’t recommend unnecessarily restricting carbs and forcing yourself to keep them lower than they actually need to be for your goals or preferences. Instead, set calories where they need to be, get a sufficient amount of protein and fat, and then fill in the rest with carbs. Details here.
3. Eat Enough Calories.
Sleep quality generally tends to be worse in a deficit than it is when you’re at maintenance or in a surplus. That’s just one of those lovely side effects that comes with losing fat.
BUT, there’s a very big difference in sleep quality between a small/moderate deficit and a large deficit. The bigger your deficit is… the more likely it will be for sleep quality to be negatively impacted by it. This is one of the many reasons why extreme forms of dieting usually feel like torture (and why “starvation mode” might be nonsense but the “starvation response” is legit).
It’s also one of the many reasons why I don’t recommend anything more than a moderate deficit of about 20% below maintenance level for most of the people trying to lose fat. Bigger deficits can certainly work (and work faster), and may in some cases be ideal for certain people. But in most cases, it’ll just make fat loss harder to sustain than it truly needs to be.
To avoid or at least lessen this, simply avoid making your deficit unnecessarily large.
4. Include Refeeds And/Or Diet Breaks.
This one actually goes hand-in-hand with the tip above, as it only applies to people who are in a caloric deficit trying to lose fat.
Not only does being in a deficit tend to worsen sleep quality, and not only does the size of the deficit also play a role in sleep quality (bigger deficit usually = shittier sleep), but the duration of time spent in that deficit plays a pretty big role here too.
This really applies to all of the things that suck about being in a deficit besides only sleep quality (e.g. hunger, hormones, metabolic adaptation, strength and performance, recovery, sex drive, etc.). The longer you’re there, the worse and more annoying it all gets.
But two of the best ways to minimize these common issues is to implement refeeds (a planned day of strategically overeating) and/or take a diet break every so often (a period of usually 1-2 weeks where you go back up to maintenance or possibly a small surplus) to give all of these physiological and psychological factors a chance to return to normal (or just prevent them from ever falling too far below normal).
This becomes increasingly important the leaner you get or the longer you’ve spent in a deficit. Meaning, if you still have a ton of fat to lose or have only been in a deficit for a very short period of time, this sort of stuff probably won’t help much and any issues you’re experiencing are mostly just you being a big baby. No offense.
But if you’re starting to get somewhat leanish, or you’re maybe reaching really low levels of body fat, or you’ve just been dieting for months without any kind of break, you’re probably gonna feel it. Including a regular refeed day or taking an occasional diet break will make a huge positive difference across the board… sleep included.
5. Cycle Calories In A Deficit.
This goes right along with the previous tip. Basically, being in a prolonged caloric deficit is something your body doesn’t enjoy. So strategically coming out of that deficit at certain times will be beneficial. Refeeds and diet breaks are two ways of doing that.
A third way is calorie cycling, which I am a huge fan of. Instead of being in a constant and consistent caloric deficit every single day of the week, you can cycle your calories throughout the week so that you’re maybe in a slightly larger deficit on some days (rest days), but then back up at maintenance or possibly even in a small surplus on other days (training days).
At the end of the week, the total weekly deficit remains the same, but your approach to creating that deficit has been adjusted in a way that may not only improve your sleep quality, but also improve a host of other factors (like all of the stuff I listed before).
And yes, I know. You want specifics for how to do it.
The bad news is that explaining it all would take an entire article of its own. The good news, however, is that instead of writing an article about it, I wrote an entire chapter about it inside Superior Fat Loss. Feel free to check it out. It covers everything.
6. Avoid Huge Meals Right Before Bed.
Don’t get me wrong here. I’m a fan of eating a nice big dinner. I’m also a fan of eating that dinner somewhat late (just a personal preference). And as you saw earlier, I’m a fan of eating carbs at night as well.
However, if you’re going to make that last meal a big one, you may want to avoid eating it too late at night.
No, not because it will magically turn to fat, but because you probably aren’t going to enjoy having a huge meal in your stomach right before you get into bed to try to fall asleep… just from a standpoint of comfort and digestion.
So while a small meal before bed might be fine for most people, a large meal at 10:30PM when you’re going to bed at 11:00PM is probably not the greatest idea. I personally tend to have my last meal of the day around 9PM (yup, I eat carbs at 9PM… oh no!!!) and then get in bed around 11:30PM.
Also keep in mind that this one is more of a personal preference thing rather than something with a specific universal rule to it. So feel free to play around and adjust as needed based on what feels right for you and your body. Some might need more or less time between eating and sleeping than others. Experiment and find out.
There are three schools of thought regarding deloading.
The first is that deloads should be built right into the program so that it’s something that is forced to happen every X weeks exactly. The second is that deloads should be based on feel. So instead of deloading every X weeks exactly, you deload when you feel like it’s needed. The third is “Huh? Deloading? Nah, I don’t need that shit.”
Let’s all ignore #3 for obvious reasons. As for the others, while I’m a big fan of #1, I personally tend to prefer #2 most of the time. (Insert your own poop-fetish joke here.)
The question then becomes, how does the “need” for deloading show itself? All sorts of ways, really. For example, stalled progress, decreased motivation/interest in training, feeling a bit more tired and overworked than usual, decreased appetite, etc. are some of the more common ones.
But for me personally, a noticeable drop in sleep quality is one of the biggest signs of all that it’s time to deload. Actually, it’s probably THE biggest.
In fact, if I’m at maintenance or in a surplus, and I’ve been training hard for the last 6-12 weeks, and I’m doing most if not all of what you see recommended in this article… and yet my sleep quality still starts to consistently fall below what it normally is (I don’t fall asleep as fast, or I fall asleep fine but wake up in the middle of the night and then can’t fall back to sleep), then 99.9% of the time it’s a guaranteed sign that I need to deload.
And as soon as I get just part of the way through that deload period, my sleep quality almost instantly begins to improve and then soon returns to normal. Happens damn near every time.
So if you’re having any trouble sleeping and it happens to turn out that you’ve also been training hard for quite a while without any sort of break, definitely consider deloading. Especially if other common signs of needing to deload have presented themselves.
The full details are here: How To Deload
8. Stop Doing Too Much.
This one really just builds off the previous tip. But basically, muscles can actually recover quite well and handle a lot of work. It’s your central nervous system (CNS) that can’t.
So if you’re training too often, or too long, or doing too much, or using too many intensive methods, or going to failure all the time (that’s a big one, actually) or really just doing more of some (or as you commonly see… every) aspect of training than your body is capable of handling, it’s not going to respond well.
It’s tough to define exactly what “too much” is, as it will vary from one person to the next. But generally speaking, common signs include stuff like poor overall results, feeling like crap physically and/or mentally, getting sick more often than usual, injuries, decreased motivation, etc. And guess what else? Difficulty sleeping.
So consider taking a really good look at your training and, if needed, making the necessary intelligent adjustments.
9. Train Earlier In The Day.
As someone who mostly only ever lifts in the morning or afternoon, this isn’t something I have any real experience with.
BUT, I have seen people report that if they train too late in the day, it has a negative effect on their sleep that night. And that when they move their workouts up just a couple of hours earlier, there’s an improvement. So, assuming your schedule can allow for it, this might be something to experiment with if you’re someone who works out later in the day/night.
10. Don’t Think.
Easier said than done, I know. But thinking is a big part of what keeps most of us from sleeping, which means the ideal scenario you want to try to be in at this time is one where your mind is as close to blank as it can realistically be.
How do you make this happen? Well, one of the best ways is by simply avoiding the stuff that gets your mind going. Not just once you get into bed, but for some good chunk of time before you get into bed.
What you basically want to do here is create a sleep routine that gradually takes you away from all forms of significant mental stimulation until there is as close to none as possible.
When I do this, I usually fall asleep pretty fast. But when I don’t? I don’t.
So the nights where I’m working on something even remotely important within an hour or so of the time I get into bed are almost ALWAYS the nights where it takes me longer to fall asleep. For example, when I was working on the book, I’m pretty sure I didn’t fall asleep before 1AM for weeks at a time. I would just be lying in bed mentally rewriting the chapter I was just at the computer writing 15-60 minutes earlier.
And it’s not just “work” stuff that does this. It’s all forms of “life” stuff. Hell, sometimes it’s just unimportant nonsense that you’d forget about in a second any other time of the day but yet somehow stays on your mind at this time of the day.
The best way to avoid it is by… you know… just avoiding it. And ideally replacing it with stuff that has the opposite effect (i.e. stuff that relaxes you, calms you, doesn’t get your mind and/or heart rate going… basically things that help wind you down rather than up).
I don’t have an exact time frame for this, but shooting for a “blank” 1 hour before bed is probably a good place to start. Experiment from there.
11. Reduce The Potential For Thinking.
Similar to the previous tip, I’ve also found that “completing” as many things as you can helps a lot too. Or rather, lying in bed is the time when all of the unfinished/unresolved/annoying things in your life start popping up in your mind… and that’s the worst kind of mental stimulation there is.
The less of that stuff you have in your life, or at least the more of that stuff you can eliminate, complete, resolve, improve and get done during the day, the clearer your mind will be at night and the better you’ll usually sleep.
12. Don’t Stress About Sleep.
I know, again… easier said than done. After all, stressing about sleep is often the biggest reason why you can’t fall asleep in the first place.
But here’s the thing. I can remember lying in the bed unable to fall asleep and spending the whole night thinking about how horrible my workout was going to go that next morning because of this. And MOST of the time, that’s exactly what would happen.
But then, one time, something strange happened. I actually had a really great workout the morning after getting literally 2 hours of sleep the previous night. I specifically remember setting PRs and feeling surprisingly awesome the entire session despite my crazy lack of sleep.
Even though this was the opposite of what normally happens, it gave me enough confidence to think that it could happen this way every time. I’m not saying it would (it probably wouldn’t), but the confidence itself has helped me avoid this scenario in the first place.
Because from that point on, any time I happened to be having any trouble falling asleep as fast as I normally would and the thought of “oh no, if I don’t get exactly 8 hours of sleep my workout will suck and my muscles will fall off and I’ll instantly get fat and [other fun unrealistic things]!!!” starts to show up in my head and only stress me out more and make it even harder to sleep, I just stop and think: “Ah, screw it. I’ve set PRs on 2 hours of sleep. Who cares.”
It’s a very mentally freeing thought that, more often than not, helps me fall asleep just fine soon after.
Find your own mentally freeing thought and use it just the same.
13. Get In Bed Earlier Than You Need To.
Let’s say you’re shooting to go to sleep at 11:00pm. Are you the type of person who gets into bed sometime between 10:50 and 11? Yeah, bad idea.
By doing that, you’re basically setting yourself up to fail. I mean, as soon as you get into bed the countdown begins. “10 minutes before I need to be asleep…. damn, 5 minutes left… uh oh, it’s already past 11 and I’m still awake…”
Or if you get into bed at the exact time you’d like to be sleeping by, you’re already in the negative from the start. “11:01… already a minute behind… damn, 11:10… now I’m already getting 10 less minutes than I wanted to get…” and so on.
To help avoid this, give yourself more time. It’s much easier to fall asleep at or before the time you’re trying to be asleep by when you give yourself more than a few minutes (or literally 0 minutes) to make it happen. It will feel less like a race.
And speaking of time…
14. Avoid Clocks.
Once you get into your bed, the clock is your enemy. Well, technically it’s time that is your enemy, it’s just that the clock is your constant reminder of it. It’s just sitting there… waiting for you to look at it and find out how long you’ve already been lying in bed without falling asleep. And that thought is exactly what stops you from falling asleep even longer.
Yeah… clocks are assholes.
That’s why you should NOT look at a clock again until you’re waking up the next morning. In fact, don’t even give yourself the option of having a clock easily available for you to peek at (purposely or just accidentally).
So if you still have an old school clock-radio sort of thing near your bed, turn it around or cover it. If the time is showing on your cable box (or whatever else), cover that too or set it to show the channel number instead. And I know the time is also right there on your phone, which is probably right there next to you all night, but…
15. Stay Away From Your Phone.
I know, it’s tempting to check your email one last time. Or reply to that text you just got. Or check out that really important thing someone just posted on Facebook or Twitter. #noonegivesashit
But don’t do it. Remember, you want to avoid any remotely significant mental stimulation. Your goal at this time of the day is to get your mind to just chill out and “get blank.” Screwing around on your phone is only going to have the opposite effect.
For me personally, I’m a huge fan of the iPhone’s “Do Not Disturb” setting. I’ve used it every night since the day it existed. I usually turn it on a good 30-60 minutes before I get into bed every night. This not only prevents the phone from making sounds or vibrating when any kind of text, call or notification comes in (both now AND throughout the night), and it not only prevents the screen from lighting up when this stuff happens (both now AND throughout the night), but it also prevents you from knowing that it’s even happening (again… now AND throughout the night).
It’s as distraction-free as it gets.
And yes, it can be set to allow certain calls through from specific people… just in case of emergency.
16. Do NOT Watch TV While Falling Asleep!
Every single “how to sleep better” type of article I’ve ever read recommends NOT watching TV in bed while you’re trying to fall asleep. For some people, this is great advice.
But for others…
17. Screw That… You SHOULD Watch TV!
On the other hand, I’ve personally fallen asleep most nights of my life with the TV on. I’ve been doing this since I was like 3. It became a normal part of my sleep routine early on and stayed with me.
Do you know what that means? Despite all of the “expert advice” to avoid the TV at this time, it’s actually MUCH harder for me to fall asleep without it. Trust me, I’ve tried. Being in a completely silent/completely dark room doesn’t work for me.
And those white noise machines combined with some form of special sleep light just doesn’t cut it. Lying there staring at the ceiling just isn’t the way I’m built to fall asleep. Or really, it’s not the way I’ve unknowingly spent years training myself to fall asleep.
Now if you’re NOT like me, then please see the above tip and keep the TV off. For you, it will probably keep you up. But if you ARE like me, then by all means keep that TV on and ignore all advice to do the opposite… no matter how many “experts” recommend it.
Two other related points worth mentioning. First, a TV can give off quite a bit of light. I have a 55 inch LED in my bedroom which gives off a stupid amount of light. However, while I’ve found that this light doesn’t actually prevent me from falling asleep, I have noticed that it DOES easily wake me up in the middle of the night.
The simple solution for this in my case was to set the TV’s sleep timer so that it automatically shuts off after a certain amount of time.This way it’s on as I’m falling asleep, but then shuts itself off soon after. If you bought your TV within the last decade, it most likely has this setting. (Bonus note: I also keep the volume quite low so that it’s just barely loud enough to hear.)
The second point worth mentioning is that I’m not watching anything all that great at this time. Again, I want to keep mental stimulation as low as possible. So it’s not like I’m catching up on The Walking Dead while I’m trying to fall asleep. I keep my in-bed TV watching limited to stuff that won’t really hold my interest, ideally reruns of shows I’ve already seen 7000 times before.
My go-to favorite is Seinfeld. Occasionally Friends. And lately it’s somehow become a lot of Full House.
Don’t judge me.
18. Lower The Temperature In The Room.
For most people, including myself, it’s impossible to sleep in a room that’s too hot. Too cold I can do no problem. But too hot is just plain torture. Even warm is pretty unbearable. Basically, the hotter the room is, the more trouble most people are going to have falling and staying asleep.
That’s why nearly every resource I’ve ever seen about sleeping better recommends that you keep the temperature in your bedroom cooler than what you usually find comfortable during the entire rest of the day.
Depending on the season or where you live, this could mean lowering or even shutting the heat (I shut the heat completely overnight during the winter). Or turning on a fan. Or putting on air conditioning. Or opening a window.
Also pay attention to your bedding/blanket, as well as what kind of clothing you’re wearing while you sleep. Don’t overdo it and make yourself too hot. When in doubt, lean towards being a little too cool instead. You’ll sleep better because of it.
This is honestly something I have no personal experience with at all. However, I have seen more than enough research and heard more than enough positive feedback from others to know that certain natural, non-addictive supplements can safely and effectively be used to help a person sleep better.
At the top of that list is melatonin, which is the hormone primarily responsible for regulating sleep. I’d tell you more about how to use it, but this is just not an area I have tons of knowledge about.
You know who does, though? The fine people over at Examine.com.
So if supplementation is something you’re interested in, I highly recommend checking out Examine.com’s Sleep Quality Stack Guide. I have it, and I can tell you that it covers exactly which supplements are proven to be effective for improving sleep (and exactly which supplements aren’t), along with exactly what dosage to take, exactly how and when to take, and exactly how to put them all together.
20. Sex… Maybe Try Having Some.
Everything I’ve ever read (and personally experienced) about sex shows that it’s a really great thing for your body and mind. It’s also well known for giving you a nice relaxed, happy, stress-free feeling afterwards that has been shown to be beneficial for both helping you fall asleep fast and sleeping happily/deeply through the night.
So um… feel free to coordinate this with your wife, husband, girlfriend, boyfriend, favorite hand, battery operated buddy, etc.
Now Go Get Some Sleep
And if all else fails, and you still can’t fall asleep no matter what you do, I have one final tip.
Try writing a 6000 word article about sleep.
I think it’s about to work for me.
55 thoughts on “Can’t Sleep? How To Fall Asleep Fast And Sleep Better Through The Night”
FABULOUS, JAY AS ALWAYS!! You never cease to AMAZE!! Thank you for this very comprehensive and insightful (and honest!) Article on Sleep my friend! With Ivory Soul, May Palmer, The Queen of Ivory Soul
Thanks May, glad you liked it!
Perhaps you should re-title this article “Can’t Sleep? Read this!” I kid, I kid 🙂
Actually the thing that stood out most to me was that you have a 55″ LED in your bedroom! I would think that, with an adult movie and bottle of lotion, surely would help number 20!
Many parts of my life are designed with #20 in mind. 😉
Without number 20, is there really a need to train hard and try to look good naked?
Funny, one thing I just learned last night as a guy who usually works out in the mornings…IF you happen to be working out later in the day, don’t drink the pre-workout drinks like C4 Extreme or Optimum Nutrition’s PRE too late in the day…apparently the effects last a bit longer than the workout.
Oh, definitely… all of that stuff is going to contain caffeine (among other stuff not exactly ideal for sleep), so the timing of it is pretty important assuming you’re going to attempt to fall asleep soon after.
What a fascinating news flash, Erin. I always figured pre-workout supplements were designed for the caffeine to know precisely when my workouts end so that the stimulant effects would instantly cease after my last rep.
…or was that just a way for you to shill some crappy products?
Nahhhh, I’ve talked to Erin a few times… definitely not shilling anything here.
lol @ the caffeine comment, though. 😉
Hey thanks for the write up here Jay. I was under the impression that in your sleep your burn calories, but if you eat too late at night, it may inhibit your body from burning calories in your sleep. Do you know anything about this? I notice if I don’t eat a few hours before bed I lose weight in the night.
Also I have a question about protein. Does it matter what type of protein you eat? Like is 15 grams of protein from any source the same for bodybuilding? Assuming your other macros are in order, is 20 grams from beans, steak, pasta, pizza, nuts, all the same with regards to just the protein?
If I’m understanding the first part correctly, it’s all nonsense. Weighing less in the morning than you did the night before (which is completely unrelated to exactly what time you ate your last meal) is the most normal thing in the world and virtually guaranteed to happen. It’s not really a thing to care about.
As for protein, search around for a series of articles Lyle McDonald did called something like “What are good sources of protein.” It will cover EVERY single thing you want to know.
Thanks Jay. I’m going to check out that article now. But in your personal opinion, do you feel 10 grams of protein from any source is equal with regards to muscle building? 10 grams of protein from beans vs 10 grams of protein from steak vs 10 grams of protein from cheese. Just the protein itself, do you think it matters?
Protein quality does matter. Although assuming the sources are all of a similar higher quality, then it’s just the total protein itself that matters. That article series covers all of this.
Great article! One thing I’d like to mention is that the temperature of the light in your room can impact your ability to fall asleep. Blue tinted light, the type that is usually emitted from laptops, tablets, smartphones and TVs tend to keep you alert whereas red tinted light has the opposite effect. I’ve used special apps to change the light temp. of my devices (based on the sunset / sunrise times) and even swapped out the light bulb on my night stand with a red tinted bulb since I learned about that. Tons of research here: https://justgetflux.com/research.html
^This dude is correct.
f.lux has been on my list of stuff to try for a while now. Have you found it to be noticeably beneficial?
Have been using f.lux for a while, didn’t help much.
I now force myself to shut down my laptop an hour before sleep time, and only read books after that. Has helped a lot.
Yup, the 1 hour shutdown time seems ideal for me as well.
I have noticed that it is easier for me to transition in to a more tired / sleepy state using the program, and the nice thing is that it will automatically switch between warm and cool light depending on the sunrise / sunset times for your local area. I have a similar (but different) app for my tablet. It’s a subtle effect however so you have to be careful. Checking Facebook, the news, or similar (in my case, playing blitz chess!) can *easily* nullify any benefit gained from the color temperature effect (falling in line with #15 on your list).
I lost my shit at Full House 🙂
Don’t underestimate the sleep-inducing power of Uncle Jesse!
Oh yeah, that reminds me
I’ll save this for #20 later.
Awesome. Thank You.
First 15 minutes of Ancient Aliens always does it for me. I don’t know if its the narrators voice or that dudes hair.
For a week or two the “Planet Earth” series worked really well for putting me to sleep, but I’d end up having crazy f’ing dreams.
If we are taking Carbs at night do we need to workout late evening…the Carb Back loading concept?
Nope, lifting at night is not a requirement for eating carbs at night.
Also, here’s a good Alan Aragon quote about carb backloading that I often copy and paste whenever someone asks me about it…
“I really don’t buy any of the purported magic of avoiding carbs until night time. Try to recall history for a moment. A couple of decades back, someone decided that carbs after 6 pm will turn you into Jabba The Hutt. The idea caught on. Now someone decided that carbs after 6 pm will turn you into Superman. The idea caught on. The cycle will inevitably repeat itself… To me it’s mostly hype, gimmickry, and cherrypicking the research to support a set of wistful preconceptions. Think about it; any time you have to work your schedule around a diet – instead of the opposite way around – you know there’s some bullsh!t cooking. It reminds me of Dr. Dipasquale’s adamance against postexercise carbs. Same lunacy, different direction. Having your carbs when you personally damn-well want them will result in the best long-term diet adherence. Those who favor carbs at night of course will love CBL, but telling those who prefer most of their carbs during the day (or an even spread across the meals) that they’re compromising progress is… Hilarious.”
Thanks for opening my eyes..:)
So basically if I workout in afternoon and distribute my carbs after workout and in night, and if I am in deficit I will lose fat. Right?
Correct. As long as you’re in the same total net deficit in the end, you’ll lose fat just the same regardless of when you eat carbs.
Praise the Lord. I was thinking about this topic and you put it up. Perhaps God hints to you to put this up.
I have a problem with uninterrupted sleep, as with 3 young children, I naturally wakes up few times to attend to them, but guess there is nothing that can be done on this. Also, I am addicted in drinking water, so naturally waking up to go to the bathroom is a nightly affair to me.
Just 1 advice, perhaps we can all try to pray before sleeping. It always helps me so much in falling asleep fast. Usually half way through my praying before going to sleep, I would be half way through entering the sleep realm. Try it guys, and God bless all.
Ha, could be.
And about the water… try moving the majority of your water intake into the first 2/3rds of the day. That should help a little.
Honestly, I’ve struggled with sleep ever since I can remember and I’ve tried sleeping pills, which sometimes work for like two hours and you wake up and have to start your day at fucking 2 am. The thing that ALWAYS works, even if I drink 2-3 cups of coffee after 5 is the lovely mary jane. If it’s an indica then don’t even worry about waking up haha, but I’ve never had problems going to sleep with something like sour for example.
Finally… someone who can serve as our resident weed expert.
I do research every single day 😉 and it’s all for you Jay
I’m very grateful. 😉
I upgraded to the intermediate 3 – day upper lower body split workout regiment and some weeks (especially with the holidays coming up) it is impossible to stay on a consistent day routine for example Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursdays. I have asked this before but what would be the better choice if you just can’t get those specific days to work? Still try to get three days in with two days back to back or only go twice that week but get back into three days the following week?
I honestly don’t see back to back days being an issue if you are on the upper/lower body split as compared to the beginner routine since you are working different muscles.
last year I tried low carb ketogenic diet (about 25g of carbs per day) for one week
When really I can’t say keto diet is less/more effective or … but it is definitely of the hardest and risky ways to improve your body
Human body needs carbs, without carbs you will totally lose your intermediate anaerobic capacity(cori cycle)… which is extremely important for weight training or HIIT
not to mention the stress you will put on your liver(to make glucose -for some partition of your brain cells- through gluconeogenesis) and your body as whole
and … sleep 😀
this was why I gave up after a week
the mechanism behind it is quite simple, Wikipedia has good explanation and references on it: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tryptophan#Turkey_meat_and_drowsiness
Thank you jay for nice articles
What do you think of Greg’s philosophy (from kinobody.com)?
What philosophy would that be?
Your #12 strategy (Don’t Stress About Sleep) is similar to mine. I always tell myself that even if I don’t fall asleep, my body will still be able to recharge itself if I stay calm in my bed for 8 hours. Most of the time, before I know it, Mr. Sandman visits me. If not, the next day I actually don’t feel that tired if I really stayed calm the whole night.
Yup, good way of thinking about it. Basically, whatever you can tell yourself to make your brain relax and eventually allow you to sleep… think it!
A former college instructor recommended ‘study music’ for the students that could be found on iTunes or youTube. After looking it up I saw other related videos to tons of sleep music or alpha/delta wave tones that you can play when going to sleep and it works great. I have a desktop in my bedroom and I’ll often go to youTube and turn one on low and drift off effortlessly listening to the tones/music… it’s a great way to shut off your mind and almost by hypnotized. There are many that are several hours long and can be found by searching for “sleeping alpha waves” on youTube.
Certain melodic classical music can also be very helpful; almost narcotic. I particularly like the Baroque period material, it can be very relaxing
No. 18 is a big one for me too. I live in TN, so I’m loving winter right now because I can keep my room at a cool crisp comfortable 60 degrees at night by simply turning the heat off or opening a window and not drive my utility bills through the roof blasting the AC like during summer. In fact, the longer nights and cooler temperatures both allow me to sleep longer and more soundly and in turn make more gains in terms of both muscle, strength, and just generally feel better than any other time of year.
For me I hit that point between summer/winter when there’s no heat or AC going and I can just put a fan on to make the room slightly cooler than it naturally is. I always sleep best during those months.
Hello, first month with melatonin: six continuous hours of sleep in a long time!
Thanks so much for the advice
There have been times when I was converting a video file or uploading a video from the camera and just couldn’t shut the computer, a desktop one, down. So, complaining to myself how I would never be able to sleep with the noise of the fan, I would go to sleep with the pc on and actually I found out the noise of the fan put me to sleep soon by almost distracting me from whatever other thought.
Now when I can’t fall asleep I keep the computer on and it does the trick.
P.S. I just hope I’m not getting harmful radiation from the screen or the power generator
Ha, that’s one way to do it. Another would be to just get yourself a white noise machine… the one I have has like 20 different “fan noises” to choose from.
First time here…Love the way you write (with honesty, a touch of fun and no bullshit)..This is very informative and straight to the point.
Thanks, glad you liked it!
Jay, I would say 99% of everything I have learned (at least what ended up turning out to be correct) about training, diet, and rest has come from you. I follow your workout routine and it is the best workout I have ever done in 30 years.
I myself use melatonin and have discovered the best way to use it is every night until you fall asleep easily, fall back asleep easily if you wake up, sleep deeper, and sleep through the night. Then stop taking it. Once you find yourself awakening again too early or not falling back to sleep then take it again until you are regulated.
Chamomile, skullcap, valerian, lemon balm, lavender, passion flower, etc.. are all great herbs that reduce cortisol and relax the nervous system. These are better choices when you have a night time workout and need to bring cortisol levels down and relax the sympathetic nervous system.
Tulsi tea in place of coffee is also good as coffee disrupts sleep, raises cortisol levels, and depletes melatonin levels. Tulsi tea does the opposite.
Hey Jay, I noticed you said you have no experience with Supplements for sleeping such as melatonin, yet you claim to have Examine.com’s Sleep Stack Guide. I’m not sure if you recently bought it go acquire said knowledge/experience or what I am just a bit confused about the statement. I know you’re not really a sellout type of guy I was just fishing for a bit more information as to what your relationship is with them.
I meant I have no personal experience actually using any of the supplements commonly recommended for improving sleep (e.g. melatonin).
And while I could certainly summarize the info included in Examine’s Stack Guides regarding its usage, I’d rather just recommend you get/read it yourself if you’re interested.
Should someone who is very active have their fat intake at the minimum 20% of total calories instead of 30-35% total calories and their protein intake at the minimum 0.8g per pound of body weight instead of 1.2-1.3g per pound of body weight to maximize carb intake to maximize sleep? Or is this being “inconvienantly anal” as you would say :). Would sleep still be fine if i chose the UPPER LIMIT of fat and protein at the same time which makes carbs slighlty lower?
That’s really something you’d have to try for yourself and see. There’s no specific number of grams of carbs that is guaranteed to impact sleep. It’s more just… “low carbs” in general that makes that happen.
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