9 Tips to Fall Asleep Faster

Psychologist Michael Breus says you should be caffeine free by 2 p.m.

ByABC News
June 15, 2011, 10:59 AM

June 15, 2011 -- Having trouble falling asleep at night? ABC News spoke with Michael Breus, a clinical psychologist and author of "The Sleep Doctor's Diet Plan," for these suggestions:

1. Count Backwards from 300 by 3s
Breus said the most common reason people have trouble falling asleep is that they cannot turnoff their mind. Breus uses a variety of distraction techniques, one of them is telling people to count backwards from 300 by 3s.

"It's mathematically so complicated you can't do anything else, and it's so doggone boring you are out like a light," Breus said.

He also suggests using a worry journal. A worry journal is where you write down the problems you are thinking about on one side of a piece of paper and a solution to each problem on the other. The solution can be as simple as scheduling a time to think more about the issue.

2. Reduce Caffeine Intake
You should be caffeine-free by about 2 p.m., according to Breus. Most people are not aware that caffeine has a half life of up to eight hours and can affect not only your ability to fall asleep, but also the quality of sleep you are getting.

3. Take a Hot Bath
Take a hot bath 60 to 75 minutes before bed. The bath should be warmer than 100 degrees Fahrenheit and you should be in it for longer than 20 minutes.

Breus said the bath will relax your musculature and increase your core body temperature. He explains the increase in body temperature is important because once you leave the bath your body temperature will start to cool which is a signal to your brain to release melatonin, a hormone that helps you fall asleep.

4. Stop Exercising Four Hours Before Bed
Exercise is great for sleep, but Breus said that it's hard for the body to wind down after doing it. He advises finding an earlier time in the day to do exercise.

5. Keep the Kids and the Animals Out of Bed
Kids and pets can wake you up in the middle of the night and disrupt your sleep cycle.

6. Have a Comfortable Bed
Often times just buying a new mattress can be the secret to getting a better night's rest.

7. Sleep in a Cool Room
According to Breus, people sleep best when the room is between 65 and 75 degrees fahrenheit and the bed's surface is between 82 and 86 degrees fahrenheit.

8. Eat Your Last Meal Three and a Half to Four Hours Before Bed
Eat your last meal three and a half to four hours before bed. The body was not meant to digest food lying down, it was meant to digest food sitting or standing, Breus told ABC News.

9. Monitor the Amount of Light in Your Room
Breus said that light resets your biological clock and can trick your brain into thinking it's morning. As an example he suggests using a book light to read by rather than a lamp on a bedside table that uses a much stronger bulb.