Tips to Fall Asleep Faster When Stressed

Tips to Fall Asleep Faster When Stressed

Stress and anxiety can make it very difficult to fall asleep at night. Your mind races with worries and your body remains tense, preventing you from relaxing into sleep. This can start a vicious cycle of not getting enough sleep, leading to more stress the next day.

If you struggle to fall asleep due to stress, there are several effective tips you can try to help calm both your mind and body so you can drift off to sleep more easily.

With some simple lifestyle adjustments, stress-relieving routines, and smart sleep strategies, you can break the stress-insomnia cycle and improve your ability to fall and stay asleep.

Practice Relaxation Techniques

Using relaxation techniques is one of the best ways to fall asleep faster when you are stressed. They activate the parasympathetic nervous system which initiates your body’s natural relaxation response.

Try setting aside time before bed to practice:

  • Deep breathing – Inhale deeply through your nose, feeling your belly expand. Exhale slowly out through pursed lips. Repeat for several minutes. Deep breathing lowers blood pressure and heart rate.
  • Progressive muscle relaxation – Tense and relax each muscle group in succession. This relieves tension and makes it easier to fall asleep.
  • Guided imagery – Picture a peaceful scene like a beach. Engage all your senses. This takes your mind off stressful thoughts.
  • Meditation – Focus on something like your breathing. Gently return focus when your mind wanders. Meditation quiets the mind.
  • Yoga – Try restorative poses like a child’s pose. Yoga reduces stress hormones.

woman sleeping on white bedding

Follow a Calming Pre-Bed Routine

Having a relaxing nighttime routine is one of the most effective ways to prime both your mind and body for sleep. The key is to perform activities that gradually decrease your heart rate, and body temperature, and activate the release of sleep hormones like melatonin.

A soothing routine signals to your brain that it’s time to start winding down for bed. This prevents your mind from racing and makes it easier for your muscles to fully relax.

1. Take a Warm Shower. Taking a warm (not hot) shower 1-2 hours before bed helps raise your body temperature slightly. As you get out of the shower, the rapid cooling of your skin tricks your brain into thinking it’s time for sleep.

The sudden temperature change causes your dilated blood vessels to constrict, lowering your core body temperature. This cooling is a key trigger for sleepiness.

Additionally, warm water helps relax tense muscles which commonly occur with stress. This full-body relaxation makes your mind and body receptive to falling asleep faster.

2. Put on Comfortable Pajamas. Slipping into a soft, lightweight pair of pajamas helps reinforce that it’s time for bed. Choose breathable fabrics like cotton that don’t trap heat and lead to night sweats, which can disrupt sleep.

Being physically comfortable reduces restlessness, muscular tension, and fidgeting which can delay sleep onset. This soothing sensation tells your body it’s safe to fully unwind.

3. Enjoy Caffeine-Free Tea. Sipping a warm, decaffeinated herbal tea like chamomile as part of your nightly routine provides comfort and relaxation. Chamomile contains apigenin, an antioxidant that generates calming effects by binding to certain receptors in your brain.

Other excellent options are passionflower, lavender, and valerian tea. Just avoid any caffeinated varieties which act as stimulants that disrupt sleep.

4. Read or Listen to Calming Music. Reading a book or listening to soft, soothing music before bed directs your focus away from stressors that can keep your mind active and anxious.

These activities make it easy to disengage from worries and stressful thoughts, allowing your mind to relax. Calming music at around 60-80 beats per minute aligns with your heart rate at rest.

5. Dim the Lights. Bright overhead and blue light from phones and tablets restrain the release of melatonin, the hormone that regulates your sleep cycle.

Dimming the lights in your home signals to your brain that it’s nighttime. This allows your body to naturally boost melatonin production and prepare for sleep.

By adhering to this sequence of relaxing activities each night, you’ll find it much easier to quiet your mind, relax your muscles, and fall asleep faster, even when stressed.

woman sleeping with sleeping mask

Optimize Your Sleep Environment

Your bedroom environment can greatly impact your ability to fall and stay asleep, especially if you feel stressed or anxious at bedtime. Optimize your sleep space by:

1. Using High-Quality Bedding. Invest in a comfortable mattress and breathable bedding like cotton sheets and blankets. This ensures you sleep cool and comfortable to minimize nighttime restlessness.

Choose a supportive pillow that alleviates neck and shoulder tension. Your bedding has a major influence on sleep quality.

2. Ensuring It’s Cool, Quiet, and Dark. Cooler bedroom temperatures between 60-67°F allow your body to naturally drop its core temperature at night, a key trigger for sleep. Quiet minimizes disruptions.

Total darkness prompts melatonin release; even small lights can interfere. Blackout curtains and an eye mask help achieve complete darkness for improved sleep.

3. Trying a White Noise Machine. White noise machines or apps create gentle, consistent background noise that masks sudden sounds that may disturb light sleepers. Having a droning sound gives your brain one less thing to listen for.

4. Reserving Your Bed for Sleep. Limit your bed to just sleep and intimacy through a process called sleep restriction. This re-trains your brain to associate your bed with sleep instead of wakeful activities.

If you commonly work, watch TV, or use your phone in bed, your mind finds it harder to relax into sleep when getting into bed.

5. Removing Electronics. Phones, tablets, and laptops emit blue light that delays your natural melatonin release by 1-3 hours. This light exposure tricks your brain into thinking it’s daytime when trying to sleep.

Banning electronics for 1-2 hours before bed will help you fall asleep faster when stressed or anxious.

Optimizing your sleep environment removes physical discomforts and distractions, creating conditions that make falling asleep easier.

man sleeping in bed

Avoid Pre-Bed Stressors

Many common evening habits can directly counteract your efforts to fall asleep quickly when feeling stressed or anxious. Avoid these close to bedtime:

Bright Lights

Exposure to bright overhead and blue light from screens inhibits your body’s natural melatonin release by up to 3 hours. This tricks your brain into thinking it’s still daytime, making it nearly impossible to fall asleep.

Big Meals

Consuming a large, heavy meal close to bed can lead to indigestion and acid reflux as you lay down. This discomfort makes it harder to fall and stay asleep. Aim to finish dinner 3-4 hours before bedtime.


While often thought of as relaxing, alcohol actually disrupts sleep by causing middle of the night awakenings. It also suppresses REM sleep needed for mental restoration. Avoid drinking for 3-4 hours pre-bed.


Consuming caffeine too close to bed can severely disrupt sleep, as its stimulating effects can last for 8-10 hours. Caffeine elevates stress hormones, the opposite environment you want for sleep.


Intense late-night exercise raises cortisol and adrenaline levels, inhibits melatonin release, and increases body temperature – all of which make falling asleep very difficult. Exercise earlier in the day if possible.


Working right up until bed causes mental stimulation that makes it hard to unwind. Give your brain time to transition by completing tasks 1-2 hours before laying down. This allows your mind to settle down.

Being mindful of these common sleep disrupters in the evening and allowing enough buffer time can set the stage for faster sleep onset when you’re stressed.

girl sleeping with sleeping mask in white bed

Use Sleep Supplements

Certain natural supplements can help you relax and drift off to sleep more quickly. Always consult your doctor before trying any new supplements. Helpful options include:

  • Magnesium – Eases anxiety and muscles tension
  • Valerian – A sedative that induces calmness
  • Melatonin – The sleep hormone regulates sleep cycles
  • CBD oil – Relieves anxiety without sedation
  • Glycine – Lowers core body temperature

Take supplements 30-60 minutes before bed for best effects.

Seek Additional Help

If you still struggle with stress-related insomnia despite lifestyle changes and home remedies, seek help from a professional. They can provide additional stress and sleep management techniques such as:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) – Addresses anxious thoughts that interfere with sleep
  • Sleep medication – Short-term prescription sleep aids
  • Mindfulness-based therapy – Reduces worrying and rumination
  • Acupuncture – Insertion of needles balances energy to aid sleep
  • Massage – Releases muscle tension and induces relaxation

Getting adequate sleep is important for both your physical and mental health. If stress continues to significantly impact your ability to fall asleep promptly, your doctor can help identify the root causes and craft an effective treatment plan.

The Bottom Line

Having difficulty falling asleep when stressed or anxious is incredibly common. Simple relaxation practices, optimizing your sleep environment, avoiding pre-bed stimulants, and trying natural sleep supplements can help you fall asleep faster when your mind is racing.

If stress-related insomnia persists, consulting your doctor or a sleep specialist is wise to identify the best treatment options.

Consistent implementation of stress management and healthy sleep hygiene habits can break the stress-insomnia cycle so you get the restful sleep your body and mind need. Sweet dreams! Learn here more about falling asleep faster and better  tips.