Jacky Liang Blog

How (not) to Fall Asleep

July 22nd, 2022

Here's a list and review of 20 things I've tried to help me fall asleep - some worked better than others. May be useful for those who also have trouble sleeping.

Ever since I started college I’ve been struggling with falling asleep. The reason is simple. Before college, I was forced to wake up at 7 every day to go to school that started at 8. This made me incredibly tired by the afternoon and usually knocked out by 11. Ironically, after I was able to wake up naturally on my terms and not be groggy since morning, it’s been harder to consistently fall sleep at the same time every day.

When I can’t fall asleep, it’s usually because of two related and stress-induced phenomenon. One is an elevated heart rate, which leads to this incessant and annoying pounding in the chest. Another is an endless stream of thoughts playing in my head that makes sleeping impossible.

Below I’ve listed all the things I’ve tried to help me sleep better. Some worked, some might’ve worked, and some didn’t. I’m better at sleeping now than I was couple years ago, but it’s still a work in progress. Disclaimer — while I hope the following information can be of use, I’m only reporting my personal experience, which are not results of scientific inquiries and randomized controlled trials. I make no claim on how well these results will generalize to others, and I’m not making any specific recommendations.

What didn’t work

What might’ve worked

What worked


In an ideal world, I would always feel perfectly relaxed and comfortable at the end of the day to fall asleep at the same time all the time. Unfortunately, I learned that this ideal world doesn’t exist, and there are always external and internal factors that we don’t have direct control over. Building healthy habits, reinforcing mechanisms, and sleeping environments are concrete things that can be done. If you have comments, questions, or tips on sleep, please let me know, and I’d love to discuss them with you. For additional reading, I’ll point to the book “Why We Sleep” by Professor Matthew Walker, who does research on sleep at UC Berkeley.

Footnotes and Updates

This post was originally posted on Facebook, where I received many helpful feedback and suggestions: