50 Things To Do If You Can’t Sleep

23 Mar 2020

So you can’t sleep huh? Tossing and turning in bed, desperately trying to drift off but you just can’t quite shut your brain up for 2 minutes to get enough peace and quiet to slip into the land of nod… we’ve all been there. Here’s a list of 50 different things you can do to help you relax in bed and fall asleep easily.

Why is sleep important?

Sleeping isn’t optional, it’s essential. We spend around a third of our lives doing it. It’s not just us humans who need it; in fact, our furry Koala friends get an impressive 14.5 hours of shut-eye every single day, but first place goes to Bats. Bats are the longest sleepers on record, getting a whopping 20 hours each night. Jealous much?

Getting forty winks makes us feel refreshed and ready to face the day ahead. A good night’s sleep is so important as it also allows us to function normally the following day. One of the most frustrating things is not being able to get to sleep or having a bad night’s sleep.

We’ve all been there and pulled an all-nighter or known what it’s like to try and survive on only a few pathetic hours of kip. The results? Not good. Symptoms can include grumpiness, grogginess and a higher chance of falling asleep at your school desk.

Trouble sleeping is a vicious cycle: we can’t sleep, so we get stressed about it and we get stressed about it, so we can’t sleep… and the cycle begins again.

Not getting good sleep sucks and can affect every part of your life: your mood, your ability to concentrate, your performance at school and even relationships with your friends. So, if you’ve tried counting sheep and still can’t drift off, there’s no point lying in bed trying to force it. Here are some things you should try:

What to do if you can’t sleep

1. Read a boring book

2. Read a good book

3. Meditate – find out how

4. Experiment with your evening routine until you find one that works for you

5. Listen to relaxing music

6. Have a hot shower or bath (but don’t fall asleep in the bath!)

7. Avoid screens at all costs!!!

8. Have a light snack (but nothing too sugary or heavy)

9. Have a cup of Camomile tea

10. Get out of bed and sit somewhere else in the house for a while

11. Monitor the foods you eat and whether they’re affecting your sleep cycle, also try not having caffeine after 1pm

12. Do some light exercise a couple of hours before bed

13. Don’t go on your phone for at least an hour before you go to sleep

14. Activate a ‘night mode’ filter on all your electronic devices

15. Change your diet

16. Do a crossword puzzle

17. Finish on a happy ending… reaching the big O releases hormones that can help you sleep

18. Try a mindful colouring book

19. Write a diary/journal entry

20. Try a brain teaser puzzle

21. Write down all the things you need to do tomorrow

22. Practice mindfulness – find out how

23. DO NOT GO ON SOCIAL MEDIA!!!!

24. Go outside for some fresh air

25. Hide your alarm clock so you can’t see the time

26. Schedule a specific time in your day to think about all the things that worry you

27. Avoid bright lights before bed – try using a night light

28. Keep your bedroom cool

29. Tidy your room before bed

30. Make your bed before you get in it

31. Don’t force yourself to sleep if you don’t feel tired

32. Drink a cup of hot milk

33. Use lavender oil or cream

34. Practise positive thinking before bed

35. Try to keep track of how much sleep you do get each night

36. Listen to a podcast

37. Listen to an audiobook

38. Do some stretches

39. Practise mindful breathing – find out how

40. Try yoga

41. Make a start on that boring homework you’ve been avoiding

42. Get an eye mask

43. Get some earplugs

44. Try a relaxing sounds/white noise app

45. Get some super comfy pyjamas

46. Find a ‘chill out’ playlist on Spotify

47. Pick one thing or object to focus all your attention on

48. Daydream

49. List all the things you’re grateful for

50. Avoid eating a big meal before bed

There: 50 things you can do instead of sleeping when you really can’t drift off.

If you struggle to sleep on a regular basis or think you might have Insomnia, it’s a good idea to speak to your doctor as there are lots of factors that affect our sleep and loads of things that can be done to help.

Got any tips of your own? Let us know in our Community.

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Top Tips for Better Sleep

Avoid lots of caffeine

Especially in the evening. Be warned, caffeine comes in many forms including the obvious; yes coffee and tea but also other treats like chocolate and soft drinks.

While caffeine helps us feel more awake in the morning, it can have bad effects on your following night’s sleep. If you’re a big tea drinker, try having a herbal tea to keep you going instead. Peppermint tea is really refreshing and has minimal caffeine.

Get it off your mind

Stress is the biggest enemy of good quality sleep. If your mind is running in circles, don’t lie there hoping it’ll silence itself because it most probably won’t.

Try putting pen to paper and writing about whatever it is on your mind. If you have difficult decisions to make, use this as an opportunity to come up with some potential solutions. You could also give Stress Reprogramming a try.

The bed is for sleep

This is simple, keep all daytime activities out of the bedroom (apart from a few select things, but we won’t talk about that here) and this will help you associate sleeping with your bed and a relaxing environment (rather than endlessly trying to count sheep).

Try doing your work or studying in another room. Keep activities like eating and watching TV to a minimum (this does not include breakfast in bed).

Turn down the lights

It might sound obvious but bright lights do keep you up, our bodies are biologically sensitive to natural daylight, this is called a circadian rhythm. As it gets dark, our bodies are filled with the hormone melatonin, which signals that it’s time to sleep. Our biological rhythm is thrown off with artificial bright lighting, suppressing the melatonin.

Try and keep things dark at night by lighting some candles or putting a lamp on as you are getting ready to sleep. Plus, it’s environmentally friendly; bonus.

Limit the screens

Blue light wakes you up. fact. Using your phone, laptop and watching TV will all divert you from the ultimate goal of your restful slumber. It’s too easy to fall into a funny-cat-video blackhole on YouTube before realizing it’s 3am and you gotta be up in 5 hours. If you really have to, try turning down the brightness of your screen or switching on a nightmode filter, this will help get your melatonin in check.

Comfort

Make sure you are comfortable before you go to sleep. Although our ideas on comfort might differ, nothing beats the smell of fresh bed sheets and the classic comfy PJs you got last Christmas as you drift off into dreamland. Some of you might enjoy the calming sounds of ocean waves, or rainfall to get you feeling all cosy (there are loads of apps for this). For those of you who are more daring, try a few drops of lavender oil on your pillow to help you chill out.

Don’t force it

If you’re struggling to fall asleep, don’t put pressure on yourself, this will only make you feel more stressed, making you less likely to sleep. Try reading that book you lost interest in, it could even be time to tackle some Shakespeare books (just remember how you felt back in class).

If you just lay there thinking about going to sleep, it’s less likely to happen. Get up and do something for 10 minutes and then head back… AND STOP COUNTING DOWN THE HOURS UNTIL MORNING! Trust us.

Exercise

If your body really ain’t playing the game and is adamant about staying awake, tire it out. After all, it is your body. Go for a run or something an hour or so before bedtime and see if that makes a difference.

Get quacky with it

Literally. Have a bath, romance yourself a lil’ with some candles, relaxing music and your mum’s prized bubble bath.

Listen to the right kind of music

Try to avoid upbeat music before bed. We’d recommend giving peaceful sleep playlists a try. If you’re stuck for ideas, you could try bands such as London Grammar, some lofi hip hop or The xx.


Sleep problems are actually quite common and often linked with stress but following our top tips will hopefully give you a much-needed push in the right direction. However, if you’re really struggling with sleep, it’s important to speak to your GP.

FAQs

How do you fall asleep in 5 minutes?

Breathe deeply and relax every muscle in your body. Make sure you are in a dark and quiet room. If you need to, listen to music that relaxes you (Spotify has some great playlists for this) or use an app such as Calm to listen to ambient noises.

What hobbies can you do when you can’t sleep?

A relaxing hobby such as knitting, colouring, reading, yoga, writing a journal, meditating could help you sleep easier each night.

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