How to Sleep In

Three Parts:Encouraging Deep SleepGetting Back to Sleep in the MorningAvoiding Sleep Disruption

If you've racked up a sleep debt or just want a deliciously late morning, the answer is a long, deep sleep. If you disrupt your sleep with the wrong evening activities or bedroom setup, you'll wake up less refreshed, and have a hard time falling back asleep for that extra hour of comfort.

Part 1
Encouraging Deep Sleep

  1. Image titled Sleep In Step 1
    Block morning sunlight. It's much easier to sleep in a dark room. Close your blinds or curtains, and keep your door shut to block light from the rest of the house. You'll be sleeping during brighter hours than usual, so do what you can to make up for it.
    • If your curtains are thin, try slinging a blanket over your curtain rod.
  2. Image titled Sleep In Step 2
    Track your sleep cycles. Ever go from tired to wide awake in ten minutes? This happens when your body moves to the next part of it sleep cycle. Typically, the cycle lasts about three hours. If you track the times you feel most tired, you can go to bed at that time to get better sleep. Set an alarm for a time when you usually feel awake, and there's a better chance that you'll avoid morning grogginess.
  3. Image titled Sleep In Step 3
    Adjust the temperature and bedding. Most people sleep best in a cool room, kept at roughly 65ºF (18ºC).[1] Adjust the thermostat and bedclothes until you are comfortable. You should be warm enough to fall asleep comfortably, but not so warm that you sweat or kick off the blankets in the night.
    • Try warmer or cooler pajamas, sleeping without pajamas, or using a hot water bottle.
    • If you usually shower right before bed, try showering an hour in advance instead. This gives you time to cool down.
  4. Image titled Sleep In Step 4
    Play white noise or relaxing music. Noise can make it difficult to fall asleep, or lead to a restless night. Mask it by running a fan, or a radio set to static. Some people enjoy falling asleep to relaxing music.[2]
  5. Image titled Sleep In Step 5
    Consider staying up late. This will make you tired in the morning, but it's a risky strategy. If you have trouble sleeping in, there's the chance you'll get up anyway and end up with a nasty sleep debt.
  6. Image titled Sleep In Step 6
    Spend time outdoors during daylight hours. Exposure to daylight earlier in the day can help keep your body synchronized with the day-night cycle.[3] Outdoor exercise may be particularly effective, so you don't go to bed full of excess energy.
    • While some people can exercise right before bed, many people find it difficult to sleep until they've cooled down.
  7. Image titled Sleep In Step 7
    Treat sleeping pills with caution. Sleeping pills will knock you out, but overuse can lead to addiction or an inability to sleep without them. Many sleeping medications lead to serious side effects or allergic reactions in some users.[4] Use these only for short-term problems. If you have serious trouble sleeping, visit a doctor and ask about more effective medication.
    • Melatonin is a safer option, but not as powerful. It's usually most effective at fixing jet lag or another disrupted sleep schedule.[5] It may not be your best bet for a one-time sleep-in.
    • Most over the counter sleeping medications are antihistamines, such as diphenhydramine or doxylamine, sometimes combined with painkillers or alcohol. Side effects such as next-day drowsiness or dizziness are common, and it's unclear whether these are even effective.[6]
    • Prescription-strength drugs are usually benzodiazepines. These can lead to severe addiction and withdrawal symptoms, and will only work while you are taking them.[7]
    • Most other prescription-strength drugs have not been around long enough to gather complete data on effectiveness or side effects. Talk to your doctor about zaleplon (Sonata), zolpidem (Ambien), and eszopiclone (Lunesta) and ask for recent information.[8]

Part 2
Getting Back to Sleep in the Morning

  1. Image titled Sleep In Step 8
    Lie still in bed. If you wake up before you'd like, resist the urge to get up. Don't move at all, not even to open your eyes or scratch your nose. If you let the initial discomfort pass, you can usually drift back to sleep.
  2. Image titled Sleep In Step 9
    Take deep breaths. While lying still, take deep breaths through your nose. Try the 4-7-8 pattern to relax yourself:
    • Count to four slowly as you inhale through your nose.
    • Hold as you count to seven.
    • Exhale as you count to eight, through your mouth.
    • Repeat until you fall asleep.
  3. Image titled Sleep In Step 10
    Imagine yourself sleeping. Silently tell yourself that you'll fall back into restful slumber. If you are thinking about what you have to do, or worrying about your inability to sleep in, you'll be less relaxed and more likely to fail.
  4. Image titled Sleep In Step 11
    Take a short break. If you've waited patiently but still can't fall back asleep, sit up and do something to relax. This is especially useful if you are feeling anxious about your inability to sleep. Read a relaxing book, listen to quiet music, or stand up and stretch. Return to bed within fifteen minutes.
  5. Image titled Sleep In Step 12
    Avoid sleep paralysis. Some people suffer from temporary paralysis when they wake up, aware of their surroundings but unable to move. This is harmless, but often accompanied by terror or even hallucinations. Following the advice above for restful sleep reduces the odds of this happening. If you still have these experiences, take additional precautions:[9]
    • Sleep on your side, not your back. If you wake up on your back anyway, try sewing a sock on the back of your pajamas and filling it with a tennis ball.
    • During a paralysis episode, try to move your fingers, toes, and tongue. Some people can even have an "out of body" experience by imagining themselves standing up.
    • Whenever you have a nightmare or sleep paralysis episode, document it in a journal. This can give you the psychological distance you need to overcome your fear.

Part 3
Avoiding Sleep Disruption

  1. Image titled Sleep In Step 13
    Stay away from digital screens before bedtime. Blue light tricks your brain into thinking it's the afternoon, and screens are full of blue light. Avoid computers, television, and cell phones for at least an hour before you plan to fall asleep. This will lead to deeper, more restful sleep.
  2. Image titled Sleep In Step 14
    Minimize alcohol, cigarettes, and caffeine. Many people take alcohol to help them fall asleep, without realizing that it leads to restless sleep. Similarly, the relaxing effect of cigarettes doesn't outweigh the buzz of nicotine. Avoid both of these substances in the late evening, or you may find yourself awake before your alarm. Finally, as you probably know, caffeine from coffee, soda, or chocolate can make it much more difficult to sleep.
    • Some people are extra-sensitive to caffeine, and may have trouble sleeping if they drink coffee or tea in the afternoon. Try skipping everything but your morning dose for a few days. Your sleep may improve.
  3. Image titled Sleep In Step 15
    Avoid heavy meals before bed. Eating large portions or rich foods can lead to restless sleep. Eat dinner at least two hours before you go to bed. If you get hungry in the late evening, eat a light snack and drink a glass of water or milk.
  4. Image titled Sleep In Step 16
    Reduce the amount of water you drink. If you have to get up in the morning to pee, you'll have a harder time sleeping in. Drink no more than a small glass of water to stay hydrated.


  • A regular bedtime routine teaches your body when to relax.
  • If noise wakes you up in the morning, try noise-cancelling earplugs.
  • Don't forget to turn off your alarm.
  • Ask other people in your house to let you sleep in.


  • Sleeping in can make it more difficult to return to your regular sleep schedule. If you have trouble sleeping or often feel tired, try to fit enough sleep into your daily schedule instead.

Article Info

Categories: Better Sleeping