We are always looking for effective ways to fall asleep faster and sleep more deeply. (Truly, sleep is a bit of an obsession here at Byrdie.) We've consulted sleep specialists and researchers to learn how to conk out in record time. We've conducted our own sleep experiments and reported on the results. But what about a lesser-known perspective on sleep health? This time, we're turning to professional hypnotists.
Every day, hundreds of insomniacs flock to hypnotherapy in search of help. "Hypnotherapy is by no means a magic bullet, but it is a very powerful tool to facilitate a peaceful night's sleep," says hypnotherapist John McGrail.
According to hypnotists, there are a handful of factors that most commonly keep people from sleeping well. We consulted three trusted hypnotherapists to identify those factors and offer their best techniques for correcting them. Keep scrolling to learn hypnotists' top five tricks for falling asleep fast.
The key to restful sleep is to "create balance and harmony in your home, body, and mind," says hypnotherapist Nancy Irwin. One way to throw off that harmony is to overstimulate your mind with technology, disturbing TV shows and movies, even negative conversations.
The hour before bed should be focused on "uplifting, humorous, life-affirming information," Irwin says. Otherwise, your brain will be overrun with negative energy, keeping you from drifting off to sleep.
Instead of catching up on Game of Thrones before bed, wind down with a few positive-minded chapters of The Law of Attraction ($8).
A cluttered environment can also secretly keep you awake. To fall asleep quickly, make sure your bedroom is clean, tidy, cool, and dark. "Darkness encourages a brain chemical called melatonin, which promotes sleep," says hypnotherapist Brice Le Roux. "If you get up in the night, don't switch bright lights on, as they'll encourage your brain to instantly respond as if the sun were coming up."
It's helpful to think of your bedroom as a restful sanctuary, not an office or rec room. "Use your bedroom only for sleep or sex," Le Roux says. "Your bedroom needs to be a place to shut out the concerns of the day, wind down, and relax."
(If you're curious, here's how making my bedroom an iPhone-free zone changed my life.)
Here's a simple mental trick that's sure to help you fall asleep faster in the long run: "Stop using the 'i' word," Irwin says. ("I" for insomnia, that is.) "The more you say you have that, the more you are reinforcing it."
Instead, start mentally affirming that you fall asleep quickly and sleep deeply every night. "Before long, you will!" Irwin says.
According to our hypnotists, this is the list of foods you should avoid at nighttime if you want to fall asleep quickly. "Caffeine effects can last for several hours, so the chances of it affecting sleep are significant," explains Incredible Hypnotist Richard Barker. Nicotine and sugar can have similar effects. "Refined sugars or carbs spike your insulin, which can wake you or prevent you from falling asleep," adds Irwin.
A glass of wine before bed sounds relaxing, but our experts say that won't help either. "Alcohol initially will have a sedating effect but can lead to frequent arousals during the night, causing non-restful sleep," Barker says.
Here is the one exception to our hypnotists' technology rule. Experts agree that listening to a meditation or hypnosis app before bed can help you relax deeply and fall asleep fast.
"Just before you go to bed, put some headphones on and lie peacefully in bed as you listen to the audio," Barker says. "It will teach you how to declutter your mind and remove any thoughts or anxiety that are stopping you from sleeping properly."
Barker says that more you repeat this nightly process, the faster sleep will come naturally. Try listening to an app like Relax With Andrew Johnson ($3) for 30 nights in a row, no skipping, and you should feel results.