How to Sleep Fast: Advice from a Former Insomniatic Night Owl

How to Sleep Fast: Advice from a Former Insomniatic Night Owl

I taught myself how to sleep fast (within 20 minutes) and usually before 10pm with these unusual tweaks that I’m about to share with you. I’m not bragging, though – just laying out the facts. It has been a long, difficult road because I used to suffer from a condition called Sleep Dread, which is the fear of sleep. For about 5 years, I would literally fear going to sleep because every night was always quite the ordeal for me.

But no more!

As a former insomniatic night owl who could never fell asleep before midnight and who always spent at least 3 hours tossing and turning before drifting off to sleep, I feel I am highly qualified to give advice on how to sleep fast. BTW – Is insomniatic a word? 🙂

In this blog post, I’m going to lay out some less common suggestions for how you too can sleep fast. I’m going to warn you, though, most of these suggestions are going to seem unrelated to sleep.

You probably haven’t considered most of these before. As weird as these things may seem, trust me that they are all significant and highly relevant to your journey of learning to fall asleep fast.

Based on my 5 years of experience with insomnia and well over a decade of erroneously labeling myself a night owl, I can say with 100% certainty that all of these things contributed to fixing my sleep issues.

The bottom line is that if you aren’t sleeping well, then you’ll be unable to wake up early or even wake up refreshed – regardless of how much sleep you get. Good sleep is more about quality than it is about quantity (within reason, of course).

It wasn’t any single thing that fixed my insomnia and late rising ways, but all of the following combined. I hope you will give these a try!

Address Magnesium Deficiency

If you think magnesium has nothing to do with sleep, think again. Magnesium is a calming electrolyte, and many people are deficient in it. I dare say most people who live in a Western country are deficient in it… A magnesium deficiency puts you on-edge and fuels anxious thoughts that love to harass you while lying in bed.

Trust me, magnesium deficiency has everything to do with bad sleep.

Take magnesium glycinate and eat magnesium-rich foods like pumpkin seeds and leafy greens. If you have a serious deficit like I did, you’ll want to take a good magnesium glycinate supplement that is derived from natural sources. I take this one from Amazon.

In fact, if you’re a bona fide insomniac, I recommend you start with the supplement and work in some high magnesium foods as kind of an afterthought – until you get the deficiency taken care of.

After I tamed my deficiency, I cut my supplement dosage in half and increased high mag foods. Eventually, I might ditch the mag supplement altogether and completely rely on food sources. Ultimately, it’s best to try getting most or all of your daily magnesium from healthy food sources.

Within a week of taking a good quality, natural magnesium glycinate supplement, you will notice a world of difference on all fronts: You’ll fall asleep faster, feel calmer while trying to fall asleep, wake up earlier, and have more energy. What’s not to love about magnesium glycinate? It saved my life. Too bad it took me nearly 5 years to discover it.

squash seeds - high magnesium - how to sleep fast
I love these magnesium-rich squash seeds that I found at the supermarket for only $2.04! They are also high in potassium, zinc, copper, iron, and other essential nutrients.

Word of Caution about Magnesium Citrate

Don’t bother with magnesium citrate. Yes, it’s a little bit cheaper than magnesium glycinate, but it’s a waste of money. It won’t help much and is meant to be more of a laxative than a calming agent. There’s a reason those familiar clear bottles on the laxative aisle at the pharmacy contain mag citrate. Just saying… 😉

Address Potassium Deficiency – à la Dr. Berg

This one is huge.

Similar to the situation with magnesium, I dare say most Westerners are deficient in potassium as well. The daily recommended dosage of potassium is 4700 mg. Yeah, I know… that’s a lot.

Potassium keeps the body in balance and has numerous functions. Long story short, if you’re not getting enough potassium, you’re going to feel horrible and sleep even worse.

Just eat a banana, right? Wrong! One medium banana contains only 422 mg of potassium, which means you’d have to eat about 11 bananas to get your daily dosage of potassium. For starters, that’s way too much sugar (about 154 g of sugar to be exact). Secondly, who wants to eat 11 bananas every day? No, thanks…

potassium - how to sleep fast

There are other foods that are much better sources of potassium – like avocados, spinach, or kale. Or those squash seeds in the magnesium section.

One whole avocado contains 975 mg of potassium, for example. One cup of spinach contains 540 mg of potassium. One cup of kale contains 299 mg of potassium (for some perspective, I often eat a kale salad with 7 cups of kale). 

I’m not sure why the banana is always the first potassium-containing food to come to mind when thinking of potassium. I enjoy the occasional banana, but it’s not a daily thing for me. I prefer to be smarter about how I get my potassium.

To avoid spiking insulin levels, instead of eating mounds of bananas, Dr. Eric Berg recommends eating 7-10 cups of salad greens per day with as many other potassium-rich foods in the salad as possible (avocado, mushrooms, watermelon, white (navy) beans, black beans, tomatoes, butternut squash, potatoes, dried apricots, swiss chard, beets, pomegranate, sweet potatoes, etc.)

If you add a bunch of veggies (and sometimes fruit) into a ridiculously large bowl like I do for lunch, the potassium in your salad adds up fast. I should probably take a photo of one of my lunch salads so you can see what I’m talking about.

7 cups of salad greens
I eat my 7 cups of salad greens in this ridiculously large mixing bowl. Yes, that entire bowl is my personal portion and I eat the entire thing.

Heal Your Gut with Probiotics

The reason you can’t fall asleep fast might be related to your gut health (or lack of). It’s really easy to blame stress, anxiety, racing thoughts, hectic schedules, kids, work, our relationships, or a multitude of other things for our inability to fall asleep fast, but are those things the root of the problem? What if feeding the good bacteria in our guts is the key to falling asleep fast and calming those racing thoughts?

how to sleep fast - probiotics gut health

Research suggests that taking a probiotic or consume probioti-rich food improves our sleep quality. It seems like a stretch, but it could likely be true. I noticed a huge improvement in my ability to fall asleep more quickly and enjoy more refreshing sleep in general after taking probiotics for a week. So much so that I continue taking probiotics on a daily basis.

Start an Apple Cider Vinegar Regimen

Twice a day, right before breakfast and dinner, add 1 or 2 tablespoons of Bragg apple cider vinegar to 8 oz. of water and drink the whole concoction. Make sure to shake the ACV bottle to evenly distribute “the mother” – AKA the friendly bacteria, before adding it to your water.

ACV helps balance your digestion, absorb more nutrients like magnesium, calcium, and potassium, and it even helps you lose weight if you are consistent with your regimen.

Your ability to sleep fast will greatly benefit from increased nutrient absorption. Believe me, everything is connected.

Load Up on B Vitamins

Just don’t take Vitamin B in the form of a vitamin. Most vitamin supplements are derived from synthetic substances. That’s why they’re so cheap.

The problem is that they aren’t effective and aren’t really being absorbed by your body. You mostly just excrete them through your urine. Not very useful, right? Most B Complex vitamins are a waste of money.

beef liver how to sleep fast vitamin B

Instead, eat foods that are naturally packed with various B vitamins like beans, egg yolks, various forms of liver (if the taste doesn’t make you gag, obviously), fish, spirulina, moringa… Liver, by the way, is a nutritional (and B vitamin) powerhouse, so if you can stand it or can season it in an appealing way, it will give you the highest density of the B vitamins and other vital nutrients like iron.

Another way I make sure to get lots of B vitamins is to sprinkle 1 tablespoon of Bragg nutritional yeast on my daily salad. It also tastes great in soup, on popcorn, and a ton of other stuff.

Most people already know that the B vitamins provide you with energy, but they also help in the sleep department! Don’t skip them!

Get Some Vitamin D – from the Sun!

Get your vitamin D from the sun, which is the best natural source of vitamin D and is a ton more effective than taking vitamin D supplements.

Getting enough vitamin D helps you absorb your magnesium, calcium, and potassium electrolytes better, which will help you sleep faster – and you’ll be in better spirits throughout the day. Aim to spend 30 minutes in the sun each day, if at all possible.

sun vitamin D - how to sleep fast

If that isn’t possible, at least eat foods naturally rich in vitamin D (not food or drinks that have been fortified with a synthetic source of D). Vitamin D fortified orange juice, soy milk and the like aren’t going to help you absorb more vitamin D.

Focus on naturally-occurring sources of D. For example, eat eggs (including the yolks), cheese, fish with fatty acids (tuna, mackerel, salmon, herring, sardines), beef liver, oysters, shrimp, and mushrooms.

Stop Engaging in Negativity in the Late Evening

Outside negative influences might very well be depriving you of precious sleep!

Stop engaging in negativity before bedtime (or at all, if possible!)

This means the following:

Don’t read or watch the news before bedtime.

Don’t have arguments or heated discussions with people in your household, online, or on the phone via voice or text too close to bedtime.

how to sleep fast - avoid negativity

And finally, don’t dwell on your problems while lying in bed. If necessary, write your worries in a physical notebook before turning in for the night. Then put the notebook away until morning so that your mind isn’t thinking about your worries on an endless loop all night.

Shunning any and all negativity an hour or more before bedtime has really helped me reduce the time it takes me to fall asleep.

Wake Up at the Same Time in the Morning, Regardless of When You Fall Asleep

This one was difficult for me to admit to its truth, but it finally got to the point where I couldn’t deny it anymore. Since it was so easy to lie in bed in the morning and justify going back to sleep because I didn’t fall asleep until super late, a frustrating pattern followed: I wouldn’t be all that tired at bedtime and would lie awake late for yet another night. It became a vicious cycle.

The only way I found to break the cycle was to get up when 6am came around (back then I was getting up at 6am instead of 5:30).

Getting up at a set time in the morning no matter what always increased my level of tiredness the following evening, which inevitably made me fall asleep fast.

consistent wake up time -how to sleep fast

This will train your circadian rhythm, help you go to sleep fast, and in addition, train you to be a morning person if you aren’t already.

The human body has a magical way of waking up around the same time every morning without an alarm when allowed to fall asleep and wake up in sync with the setting and rising sun.

A consistent wake-up time is more important than a consistent bedtime – although it’s a great idea to try to fall asleep within the same 30-minute window at night, if possible.

Within a week or so of this Army-like training of getting up at the same time, you’ll easily fall asleep at a time that’s early enough to give you adequate sleep.

Remove EMFs from Your Bedroom

This is one you might not have considered when it comes to falling asleep fast, but hear me out…

Electromagnetic fields (EMFs) are everywhere, but they can be particularly troublesome in your bedroom.

Not sure if you have EMFs in your bedroom? You do if you keep your phone, tablet, TV, Wi-Fi router, and other electronic devices in there. Even Dr. Mercola advises against sleeping with EMFs in your bedroom.

When you sleep at night, that’s when your brain and the rest of your body rests, renews, repairs, or otherwise regenerates itself from the damage and stresses of the previous day.

Because the human body is composed mostly of water and has a high mineral count, the body is amazingly electrically conductive, making removing EMFs from your sleeping space even more relevant and important.

In order to allow your body to properly detox, it must be in an alkaline state. The EMF fields invading your bedroom promote an acidic state rather than alkaline. Since the average person spends about one-third of his or her life asleep, you are likely spending a very long time denying yourself the rest and regeneration you need. EMFs are significantly preventing you from getting rid of toxins on a daily basis.

Having EMFs bouncing around your bedroom, through your head, and who knows where else undoubtedly cause damage over time. Is it worth the risk? Remove any and all electronic devices in your bedroom. At minimum, make sure your head is at least 3 to 6 feet away from electrical outlets and electronic devices.

After ridding my bedroom of all electronic devices except for my beloved sunrise alarm clock (I put it on the other side of the room, much further than 6 feet away) and moving my bed away from one of the electrical outlets, I feel that my bedroom is a much more relaxing, sleep-inducing place.

Call me a tin-foil hat wearing freak if you want to, but the science of all this makes sense. Electricity flying all over the place while you sleep can’t be good.

remove emf from bedroom how to sleep fast

Plus, I’m not going to argue with what’s working for me. I sleep fast these days, and that’s that.

For the record, I’m not perfect. If I break my rule once in a while and fall asleep with my cell phone in the bed next to me instead of in the kitchen where it’s supposed to be, I do genuinely notice a difference. I wake up multiple times that night, usually with a headache. Many times, I’ll wake up 20 minutes after falling asleep and then have trouble falling back asleep.

If your cell phone must be in the bedroom with you, make sure it’s in Airplane Mode or turned off completely – and at least 3 feet away from your head.

At a minimum, making your bedroom an EMF-free zone can’t hurt, right?

For more specific advice, this article from Dr. Mercola can help you create an EMF-shielded home.

I'm the owner of WhyGetUpEarly.com and an enthusiastic early riser. Let's discuss why that is... and maybe I can make you a believer in magical mornings as well!

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