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Sleep better: Tips and routines to help you fall asleep faster

02/07/2021 6 MIN. READ Mirko Berger
02/07/2021 6 MIN. READ Mirko Berger

From the endless social media scroll to the feeling of restlessness stirred up by the past year of uncertainty, there are plenty of reasons why you can’t sleep at night. Yet now more than ever it’s important to get a proper good night’s sleep: People who sleep well not only get up more easily in the morning but are also more productive and possibly even healthier. [1] But don't let lack of sleep stress you and don't worry, you don't need to meditate for three hours to fall asleep better. There are loads of ways to sleep better with just simple tweaks to your daily routine.

Since sleep requires peace in both body and mind, in this article we’ll take a look at how to calm both. This will help you focus on whichever area is most needed to fall asleep better and improve the quality of your sleep.

Article overview: Fall asleep better

  1. First, a look inside the body: I’m tired but can’t sleep... why?
  2. Clear your mind and give those sheep a rest
  3. Train yourself to sleep better with a positive evening routine

First, a look inside the body: I’m tired but can’t sleep... why?

You may have heard of melatonin, often called the “sleep hormone”. Melatonin regulates the sleep-wake cycle of the human body, and the body industriously produces it as long as no daylight hits the retina. In the dark, the body thinks that it’s night and therefore time to sleep. Seems to make sense.

Occasionally, however, melatonin levels in the body can be too low. There are many possible reasons for this. For example, researchers suspect that blue light emitted by screens and LEDs can suppress production of melatonin. However, regardless of the cause, a low concentration of melatonin can lead to problems falling sleep.

So, it doesn't seem entirely far-fetched that products that promote the production of melatonin can help in getting better sleep. In fact, some studies [2] suggest that such products can reduce the amount of time it takes to fall asleep.

Cutting out caffeine, alcohol and nicotine to sleep better at night?

If you tell people you regularly can’t get to sleep, one of the first pieces of advice they’re likely to give you is to stop drinking coffee. This advice is generally sound, and a Swiss meta study has shown that caffeine prolongs the time it takes to fall asleep while simultaneously reducing the quality of sleep [3] A study at Florida Atlantic University [3] has also shown that alcohol can have a similar effect and in this case, people were reported of being unable to achieve a relaxed, night-long sleep.

Smoking also seems to have a negative effect on sleep, and the same study showed that only smokers who had their last cigarette of the day before the afternoon and early evening, were able to fall asleep better and optimise their sleep.

Remember, though, that the study looked at cigarettes, which contain the active ingredient nicotine that is known to affect sleep. Something like a CBD vape pen contains no nicotine and can be enjoyed in the evening without an effect like cigarettes on sleep.

Clear your mind and give those sheep a rest

If you’ve ever laid in bed watching the clock tick while thinking “I'm so exhausted but just can't sleep,” you’ll realise that the more pressure you put on yourself, the more difficult sleep becomes. The solution to this is as simple as it is challenging: stop trying to fall asleep. It sounds impossible, but it’s not! Here are some things to do when you can’t sleep or can't get back to sleep that will take the pressure off and lull you into rest:

  1. If you have a clock in your room, turn it so that you can't see the numbers at night. This helps avoid the dread of watching your precious hours of sleep slowly tick away.
  2. If you’re unable to fall asleep in a reasonable amount of time, leave the bedroom and do something quiet and calm – like reading, or preferably, something boring – until you feel genuinely tired.
  3. If you’re stressed about how late it is, calm yourself with the idea that you don't necessarily need a certain amount of sleep to be fit in the morning. Quality of sleep can be more important than the actual amount you get.

Pro tip: Listening to a sleep hypnosis recording can give your wandering mind something to focus on and escape persistent thoughts, so you fall asleep faster. Breathing exercises or short guided meditations can also do the same thing, relaxing your mind and soothing you into a peaceful sleep. If you're having a really restless night, a natural sleep aid may also be worth trying.

We also have tips for better sleep with CBD for you if you want to learn more about great sleep.

Train yourself to sleep better with a positive evening routine

Do you have to start your day with a glass of lemon water or a cold shower? Yoga or a coffee and croissant? Most people have their own tried-and-tested ways of waking their body and mind up in the morning.

However, in the evening we often pay less attention to our ourselves, with the last hours of the day spent with friends in the pub or watching Netflix on the sofa depending on the day of the week. A regular evening routine that we’re as passionate about as our mornings can go a long way in helping us sleep better. What does a pro-sleep evening routine look like? Above all, it has to be suited to your everyday life. Here are some suggestions that can be adapted to meet your needs:

  1. First, figure out your chronotype: So-called "larks" are awake early in the morning and fall asleep early in the evening. However, it's the other way around for "owls", who love the nighttime. So as an owl, you won't be happy with an early bedtime.
  2. Set your schedule: Pick a time for sleep and stick to it. Your body will get used to this schedule and know when it’s time to fall asleep. Choose a time that you can (hopefully) work with consistently both during the week and on the weekends.
  3. Afternoon: Refrain from alcohol, nicotine and caffeine for the last 4-6 hours before bedtime (if possible).
  4. .
  5. Late Afternoon: Do some light physical activity (like a walk or yoga session) to give your mood a boost and expend any extra energy that has built up while sitting at your desk all day.
  6. Evening: Eat your last heavy meal at least four hours before going to sleep, and your last light meal at least two hours before.
  7. Late evening: Do something relaxing and screen-free just before bed. Reading is a classic bedtime activity (but nothing too spine-tingling!), and meditation works great too.
  8. Good night!

Speaking of late evening: if you have kids, you probably know the value of bedtime rituals. Everyone knows a child that refuses to turn off the lights until they’ve had their dose of story time. Adults are really just big kids, so it makes sense that bedtime rituals would work on us too. If your wandering mind is preventing you from flipping the sleep switch, a ritual is a secret weapon to turn the brain off.

But rituals can work for adults too—even do if they don’t have anyone to read them a story! The goal of a bedtime ritual is to teach your mind to let go of stressful thoughts before going to bed, and a “turn-off” ritual is a real secret weapon you can use to improve your sleep.

How do you create a ritual that works for you? Well, letting go of stressful thoughts from work, for example, is the main goal before you go to bed. One way to do this is to start journaling, even just for 10 minutes, each night. It works even better if you imagine that every thought that hits the page disappears from your mind, until it’s wonderfully empty and you can fall asleep relaxed. You can also visualise letting thoughts go by doing a short meditation.

One last pro tip to sleep better: You can enhance your evening routine with good sleep hygiene. This can improve the effects of all of our tips on your mind and body to help you sleep better.


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