Sleeping problems have been increasing for decades. And since Covid, numbers have been going up drastically. It’s become more challenging nowadays to fall asleep faster.
The American Psychological Association recently reported that two-thirds of Americans are not sleeping as they desire.1Source: APA
Everyone knows what a big impact sleep has on the quality of our lives. There’s a proven relationship between sleep and mental and physical health.
Entire books have been dedicated to sleep and how we can improve it in our lives. But despite all of the helpful content out there, we still struggle with getting a good night’s sleep.
In my experience, sleep is a topic we shouldn’t make complicated. The more I read about it and the more I overthink it, the harder it gets to sleep. I think that’s because sleep is something we can’t force.
Telling yourself to go to sleep hardly ever works. And most of the lengthy books and videos about sleep contain so much information that it’s overwhelming.
What’s one thing that makes everything else irrelevant?
In the spirit of keeping it simple, why not keep it extremely simple? So simple that there’s only one thing you can focus on.
I’m not saying sleeping techniques like taking supplements or doing certain pre-sleep routines don’t work. I’m saying they are not the determining factor.
As a pragmatist, I always try to look for that ONE thing that’s most important.
In other words: What’s one essential thing about sleep that makes all the other things less important?
I actually apply this line of thinking to many areas of my life. For example, I’ve been running regularly since I was 17 years old. Over the years, I didn’t see much progress in my stamina and technique.
I always tried to do a hundred things at the same time. I wanted to run faster, farther, and with better technique. For the past year and a half, I’ve thrown all of my running aspirations out of the window and focused on ONE thing: Consistency.
Running 2 to 3 times a week, every week has made me faster and better. And I started out slowly. I just focused on consistently running at a moderate effort. I didn’t go on specific diets or training programs. I just ran every week.
My sleeping technique: A good day’s work
So that’s my strategy for falling asleep within 15 minutes. When I’m ready to go to bed, I’m tired. I feel my body’s call to sleep.
But that only happens when I make sure I’m active throughout the day. When you wake up in the morning and you’re on your feet all day long, you will be tired by the evening.
And I don’t mean that literally. My job as a writer means I sit at my desk for several hours a day. But when I work, I want to give it my full attention. I want to make real progress and do real work—no chitchat, social media, or clowning around.
I also make sure I have some sort of physical activity every day as well. Whether that’s going to the gym, swimming, or running. Together with the daily chores of life, there’s enough activity to make me tired in the evening.
That’s how I fall asleep faster.
If sleep is the problem, fix your lifestyle first
The point is not to overthink sleep. But none of the things I talked about in this article work if you’re miserable at work, or if you don’t enjoy your lifestyle.
This is true for all sleep tips. If you dislike your life so much that you’re not engaged throughout the day, you don’t get tired in the evening. You will be chronically tired, which somehow messes up your entire system.
I must admit I’ve been there as well. The times I was least focused and least engaged during the day, I was least tired in the evenings.
What does your mind do when you’re aimless? It just wanders and takes you to dark places. That will only put a dark cloud over your life.
I’ve never met a happy aimless person. Even the people who seemingly do nothing all day long do it because that’s their aim.
As human beings, we need to aim for something. We need to work toward that aim every day. When we do that, sleep is a natural part of life. We don’t think about it. We simply sleep.
The moment sleep becomes an afterthought in your life, you know you’re sleeping well.