For the past year, I’ve been obsessed with figuring out how to sleep early. Ever since I started to prioritize becoming an early riser, I knew that nailing the art of sleeping early was just as important as waking up early itself. After all, it’s impossible to do much of anything if you aren’t getting enough sleep.
After much experimentation, I’ve created a sort of balancing act that works well for me and maintains my natural circadian rhythm.
This daily rhythm keeps me in a harmonious cycle where I’m sleepy at my early bedtime and starting to wake up moments before my alarm clock goes off. Once you get into this rhythm, it’s fabulous because you will have to put forth very little effort to keep it going.
In this blog post, I’d like to share my rendition of how to sleep early with 5 easy tricks (some of which you might not have considered).
Obviously, early is a subjective term that means something different to everyone, and whether early to you means 9pm, 10pm, or 11pm is irrelevant. Shoot for whatever time you identify as early.
Sleep Early Trick #1
Wake up early!
This first trick may or may not be obvious to you, but I feel it’s the most important and worth mentioning as #1. Sleeping early and waking up early are interconnected – two sides of the same coin!
From my experience, the process of how to sleep early starts that very morning. If you don’t get up early, there’s a good chance you won’t be sleepy very early either.
I’ve found that in order to kick off this game of balance, I can’t start by forcing myself to go to sleep early. What happens, in that case, is that I end up lying in bed, tossing and turning because I’m not ready to sleep yet. That stresses me out and does nothing to reset my circadian rhythm.
What I have to do instead is force myself to wake up early one morning -whether I got enough sleep or not. To be honest, I prefer to do it on a morning that I don’t get enough sleep because it’s more effective. The following evening, I’m guaranteed to sleep early because I woke up early and have a sleep deficit.
Keep this cycle up every day and you’ll have no problems falling asleep early as well. I feel this is perfectly fine because it’s only that first night or two that you won’t get enough sleep. After that, your circadian rhythm adjusts itself and you’ll automatically be sleepy early and wake up early.
I’ve learned the hard way that in order to keep up with going to bed on time (early) and waking up early every day, I have to do both at set times, whether I like it or not.
If I sleep in too long one morning or keep myself up way past my bedtime, I throw my whole schedule and circadian rhythm out of whack for at least a couple of days – sometimes longer if I have jet lag or I’m dealing with Daylight Savings nonsense in conjunction.
Sleep Early Trick #2
Establish a morning & evening routine.
The idea here is to coax yourself awake in the morning with a lively morning routine and to lull yourself to sleep in the evening with a cozy evening routine. Each activity in the routine leads to the next, and by the end of the routine, your mind and body know it’s time to either go to sleep or wake up.
I guess what I’m trying to say here is that habits are formed by means of setting up triggers, which prompt automatic responses by you. By going through a routine every morning and evening, this allows you to more easily establish a habit of sleeping early.
Fortunately, you can easily sprinkle triggers into your morning and evening routines, although mostly what I’m talking about here is your evening routine since this blog post is about how to sleep early. (If you’re looking for how to wake up early, I have plenty of other blogs posts about that topic).
So what is an example of a trigger, you might be asking? If you always end your evening routine by reading a fiction novel in your Kindle until your eyelids get too heavy, your body knows that this is the signal for sleep. That is a trigger.
All it takes is a few times of repeating this routine, which ends with the Kindle trigger, and your body will automatically accept it as a bedtime signal.
I believe Jim Rohn said it best when he said:
Success is nothing more than a few disciplines, practiced every day. Failure is nothing more than a few errors, repeated every day.Jim Rohn
The Jim Rohn quote applies very nicely to the practice of sleeping early and waking up early. Success, of course, in our case is falling asleep early and waking up early. Failure, obviously, is the opposite: going to bed late and waking up late – and beating ourselves up emotionally because of it.
If you want to know how to sleep early, know that all you have to do is stop repeating errors (staying up too late and sleeping too late) and start repeating disciplines instead (waking up early so that you’ll consistently be able to fall asleep early).
Pretty simple when you look at it that way, right?
Sitting in bed while scrolling through Instagram on your phone is not a good trigger for bedtime.
Sleep Early Trick #3
Add something relaxing to your evening routine & something stimulating to your morning routine.
Most of us live busy, hectic lives that are non-stop from morning until night. However, the average person can’t just go to sleep or wake up all of a sudden. There has to be a wind-down period before bedtime and a ramp-up period in the morning.
The solution here is simple: Add appropriate activities to the morning and evening routines you established in trick #2. In the morning, you obviously need to wake up and increase your energy, so you might add a cup of tea or exercise (or both) to your routine. At night, you might choose to wind down with a hot bath and listen to relaxing music.
Whatever you choose for your routines can be anything that suits you, but make sure they match your goals. For example, if you’re trying to wind down in the evening, don’t watch a horror or action movie because that’s going to have an unwanted, opposite effect on you. On the other hand, if you want to jolt yourself awake, watching those types of movies in the morning would do the job.
Correctly matching activities to the time of day also help with stress management, as most of us have way too much stress in our lives and have no outlet for it. Getting yourself into a rhythm, as I mentioned in trick #1, I believe, is highly underrated.
Sleep Early Trick #4
Promote melatonin production.
Melatonin is a light-sensitive, sleep-inducing hormone that our body can produce all on its own as long as we aren’t exposing our eyes to bright lights too late at night.
The secret to producing enough melatonin in time for bedtime is to dim the lights and turn off electronic devices (cell phones, tablets, TVs, video games, etc) one to two hours before bedtime to give your body time to kick up the melatonin production.
Taking a short walk outdoors before bedtime can be a great idea, too. I do this every night with my dogs and by the time we get back home around 9:00 or 9:15pm, I’m super sleepy and ready to sleep. I just make sure to have my lights dimmed before I leave for the walk so that when I get back home, I’m not walking into bright lights that are going to wake me up again.
Sleep Early Trick #5
Take a magnesium supplement.
My favorite trick to aid in sleeping early is to simply take a magnesium supplement. Not just any old magnesium supplement, though. Make sure it’s magnesium glycinate of some sort, like this one that I take, for example.
Do not buy magnesium citrate because that one is more of a laxative and is not going to help you sleep at all! 🙂
Most people these days are deficient in magnesium and don’t even realize it. I was experiencing some major insomnia not so long ago, but after someone suggested to me to try a magnesium supplement, I started sleeping well again within two days.
The reason this helped is because magnesium is a calming electrolyte, which promotes sleep health. It is also one of seven essential macro-minerals that the body needs in large quantities yet can’t produce itself, which means we must get out magnesium via diet and supplements.
A helpful Psychology Today article I found supports this claim. It says: “With such a broad, comprehensive role in the body’s functioning, it’s no surprise that the benefits of magnesium are widespread… Magnesium increases GABA, which encourages relaxation as well as sleep. Low GABA levels in the body can make it difficult to relax. Magnesium also plays a key role in regulating the body’s stress-response system. Magnesium deficiency is associated with heightened stress and anxiety. Recent research indicates that magnesium deficiency can negatively affect gut health and is linked to anxiety behaviors.” You can read the rest of the article here.
Take an ashwagandha supplement.
You didn’t think I’d leave you hanging with only 5 ways to sleep early, now did you? 🙂
If you’re not familiar with ashwagandha, it’s an ancient ayurvedic herb that is native to India. It has been used for thousands of years to treat anxiety, depression, and many other ailments, and I find it to be very effective in regulating my mood and energy levels.
I prefer the Organic India brand, but there are many brands to choose from that also work well, so be sure to read the online reviews or ask your doctor. You can start your ashwagandha research by clicking here if you’d like.
The effects of ashwagandha are subtle, but present – and that’s the way I like it. Anything heavy that acts like a drug is a huge turn-off for me. When I take ashwagandha regularly, I notice a difference for the better. If I go a period of time without taking it, I also notice because I’ll be a bit more tired and reserved throughout the day.
Ashwagandha has a superb way of helping my body know exactly what is expected of it at certain times of day because it serves as a sort of internal thermostat that knows when to turn energy up or down. The older I get, the more I appreciate this. 🙂
Whatever you decide to do to train yourself how to sleep early, it’s all really going to come down to your intentions and your ability to force yourself to wake up and sleep early. I say force because that’s what it’s going to take.
You’re not ever going to feel like waking up early or turning off the TV or YouTube to go to bed early (I know I don’t, but after much practice, I do it anyway).
A lot of people have a very hard time going to bed early enough for sufficient sleep and an even harder time getting up early – and this is where self-discipline and grit come in handy.
I’ve given you 6 tips to help you sleep early, it’s up to you to implement them, customize them to your liking, or even to come up with your own tips.
None of this is glamorous, but few things in life are. You can sleep early if you try. I know it’s possible because I’ve been doing it for well over a year using only the tips I mentioned above.
Now that sleeping early is a habit, I am in a harmonious biological rhythm of sleeping and waking early that I never want to break and it is my hope that you’ll be able to experience the same.