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Background motivation: Is there is a way to correct sleeping patterns to go to bed at least at midnight, not later than that? If I do not feel tired/sleepy enough, can I "prime" or "cheat" myself to fall asleep earlier? Is there any kind of method that works for someone who is not tired enough to fall asleep? I tried waking up earlier, but then when I get tired too early during the day and decide to wait for a time to sleep, somehow I get energized again. I get a new kick of energy, and I'm not sleepy until 2 AM again.

General question:

  • Are there any effective methods for moving the time you fall asleep back by a few hours?
  • Are there any effective methods for falling asleep when you are otherwise not tired?
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2 Answers 2

up vote 5 down vote accepted

If you google "Sleep Hacks" you'll get a lot of good answers.

Start by tracking your sleep with My Sleep Bot for Android or iPhone, or Sleep101 for iPhone. This will help you know more precisely what does and doesn't work. Each app also provides a lot more helpful features for better sleep.

Turn off bright lights within an hour before going to bed. Your body is trained to wake up with the sun and go to sleep when it's dark. Also decrease as much light and sound as you can while you sleep.

Condition your body with the environment. Only use your bed for sleeping, nothing else. Once you train your body to associate your bed with sleeping, it'll have a better chance of going to sleep.

Condition your body with routine. Always have the same routine for going to bed. If you can train your body that the same routine happens followed by sleep, the body will follow the pattern and be primed for sleep. This is classical conditioning. Reading, stretching, breathing exercises, mindfulness, meditation, etc are all excellent ways to help relax before bed. As a personal example, I made a CD with some really soothing music that I would listen to every night. Because it conditioned me, I went from taking 20-30 minutes to get to sleep to 10-12 minutes. If I heard any of those songs during the day, I was so conditioned that my entire body would get really relaxed and I'd want to go to sleep. It was amazing.

Psychology Richard Wiseman used the best research available to make the most relaxing music possible. You can check out the video about it along with the link to it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hqvD8H32wYA

Caffeine not only increases energy, it also increases tension. Although caffeine can be alright early in the day, avoiding caffeine altogether will decrease tension, stress, and help you relax more effectively. Which in turn will help with sleep at night.

Eat healthy and exercise during the day. Getting your body what it needs and building in better rhythms during the day will help it sleep better at night.

Here's a list of 40 awesome sleep hacks from optimizing psychology, diet, using technology, and much more: http://www.scribd.com/doc/3932344/40-Sleep-Hacks-The-Geek-s-Guide-to-Optimizing-Sleep

And here's another resource which supports some of the tips above and provides some more: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/03/17/better-sleep-tips-best_n_4958036.html

Best of luck!

Tips in a visual form:

Sleep Tips Infographic

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1  
Great advice :) Some things you mentioned never crossed my mind. For example, listening to relaxing music before going to bed or meditating. I will try this and darkening my room at the right time. I guess my lifestyle really affected my sleep, even tho it all seamed like harmless little things "everyone does". Thank you :) –  JunJun Jul 29 at 13:33
    
Glad it helped! I really should have been getting ready for bed when I took the time to look up links and write that answer. Now I feel better about taking the time with the positive feedback ;-) –  David Hobson Jul 29 at 15:31
    
Extra tip about caffeine: IIRC, the half-life is 6 hours, so avoid drinking it late in the day. Twelve hours later, 25% of what you drank is still active (even if it doesn't feel like it)! –  Nick Stauner Jul 29 at 17:47
    
@NickStauner Does that mean it is safest to have coffee just in the morning and not any later? I looked up at half life of coffee (it's my first time facing that term) and now I'm confused how much time coffee needs to get out of system completely ? –  JunJun Jul 30 at 14:16
    
Ha! Yeah, you should be confused! Think instead of how long it takes for only a negligible amount of caffeine to remain. In 24 hours, it's about 6.25%. That's negligible enough in my book, but technically, 48 hours later, one would predict from the half-life alone that about 0.4% is still there! Eventually the amount remaining becomes undetectable, but does it ever really leave our systems completely? Who knows! (But yeah, it probably does...I think...) Anyway, yes, that's my take on coffee drinking: I'd give myself at least 12 hours to get rid of 75% of it before trying to sleep again. –  Nick Stauner Jul 30 at 16:54

Taking melatonin is a popular technique. Basically it's a hormone that regulates your sleep schedule- you can buy it anywhere that sells vitamins or dietary supplements.

There's a very detailed writeup on the costs and benefits of taking melatonin that comes out unambiguously in favor of taking it: http://www.gwern.net/Melatonin

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Also, if you do a lot of computing late at night (like me) it can help to have a program that will change the color distribution of your screen to something less blue at night. I use f.lux, but I imagine there's others as well: justgetflux.com –  Adam Strandberg Jul 28 at 17:44
    
I just installed the app, everything is so...different. I'll try to work with this. Is it normal that my screen got warm colored hue now? But way different than just reducing the screen brightness.I hope this will have some effect on me, I do work on computer later at night,too. :) –  JunJun Jul 28 at 18:43
    
@JunJun Yes, the warm hue is normal. It is setting it to more amber because blueish light is more stimulating to your brain (like a blue sky during bright daylight) to wake up. –  Chelonian Aug 30 at 5:33

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