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Here’s 11 Things To Do When You Can’t Sleep

We all know that sleep is important for our health and wellbeing. Without it, you can’t function at your maximum energy or mental capacity the next day. A lack of quality sleep can be damaging to physical well-being with studies showing that consistent, quality sleep can lower the risk of heart disease, lower inflammation, and help keep our immune systems strong.

But good sleep is also important for our mental health. It can help improve productivity and concentration, and it can even help prevent depression.  Now doubt about it, a good night’s rest is super important if we want to function optimally and be in top form both physically and mentally.

But that’s often much easier said than done! How many of us have experienced times in our lives where deep, peaceful sleep, for whatever reason, completely eludes us? [Raises both hands in the air!] And if you’ve ever gone through something like this, or you’re currently finding it difficult to drift off come nighttime, you know how terrible this can be!

The good news is that there are plenty of other things you can try when you can’t sleep to help you get that rest you need.

Related read: 11 Ways To Prioritize Your Mental Health In Your Daily Routine

Check out our best 11 tips below!

1. Try Not to Panic

Okay again, easier said than done, but this is a very important first step. When we go through periods when we can’t fall asleep easily, we often experience a lot of inner turmoil, which often turns to fear.

As the day draws to a close, we start to feel the panic set in, worrying if we’ll have difficulty sleeping again tonight. But this worry can lead to panic, which, if we stay in a panicked state for long enough, can then cause our adrenaline levels to spike. And adrenaline, while great for helping us escape dangerous situations, is not so great at helping us fall asleep. So, as much as you can, try and remain in a calm state as your bedtime approaches. By doing this, you’ll more than likely find that all our other suggestions have a better chance at success as they’re not first trying to overcome the adrenalin coursing through your veins.

2. Re-Work Your Schedule

Perhaps your sleep issue is that you’re finding that you’re only feeling tired much later in the evening. And this may be a big change than what you’re used to. This could be due to an internal imbalance, but it also might be a result from the different work schedules and habits we’ve all had to develop over the last two years.

If you’re working from home, or now have more flexible work schedules, one suggestion is to simply re-work your schedule to work with what’s happening in your body. You could shuffle your working hours so that you work until later in the evening. Rather than lying in bed for hours waiting to fall asleep, use the time to knock out your work. You can then adjust your waking hours to ensure that you’re still getting your 7/8 hours of sleep. Perhaps you naturally get really sleep late afternoon. Use that time to power nap, recharge, and then you’ll be ready to get to work again.

This may not be a long-term solution, but there’s a good chance your change in sleeping habits is not a permanent thing either. Rather than fighting it and it causing you stress, work with it to find what works best for you and your body.

3. Identify Stress Triggers

One of the leading causes of insomnia is stress. So it follows that if you want to improve your sleep, you need to find out what is causing your stress, and then address it.

Stress can be caused by a number of different things, including your work environment, societal pressures, or personal relationships. The key to not allowing stress to ruin your relationship with sleep is to identify what your stress triggers are. You can then take the necessary steps to eliminate the stress. Oftentimes, the simple act of identifying what is causing us stress helps to diminish the stress considerably. Once identified, you can then find ways to prevent that stress in the future.

Related read: 20 Super Effective Ways To Kick Stress To The Curb

4. Develop an Evening Routine

Developing an evening routine can also be a great aid in sending you off quickly to some sound sleep. Routines bring order, they help you keep on track time-wise, and, importantly in light of this post, they help keep you calm and at peace.

So develop an evening routine that brings order and calm to your evenings, and you’ll be sleepy and ready for bed as you crawl beneath the sheets and put your head on the pillow.

5. Try Relaxing Activities

From taking a warm bath before bedtime, reading a book, or doing yoga poses, these relaxing activities can all help ready your mind and body for sleep. Find what helps you relax, and incorporate that activity into your nighttime routine.

Relaxing activities can allow you the time and space to debrief from the day. This means you can release any worry or pressures, remove the stress, and ease into a peaceful evening.

6. Use Relaxation Techniques

Use relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing or meditation are another strategy to help you sleep that receives praise from all sorts of people.

Relaxation techniques can range from taking deep breaths for 5-10 minutes before going to sleep each night, meditation, or progressive muscle relaxation. You could also try listening to soothing music for 10 minutes, relaxing with your eyes closed. Find what works for you. The Internet is jam-packed with YouTube videos, podcasts, and blogs that can guide you in your relaxation techniques.

7. Limit Your Caffeine Intake

Many of us turn to caffeine whenever we’re feeling tired or lack energy because we know it will give us that much-needed boost. And that is exactly why it can be an excellent idea to limit your caffeine in the latter part of the day.

So if you tend to feel restless in the evenings or frequently find yourself unable to sleep well, you may want to consider switching out those caffeine-heavy beverages for other options like peppermint, ginger, or chamomile tea.

8. Ease Up on Electronic Devices

Studies have shown that extended exposure to blue light can have a marked impact on your sleep patterns. So another strategy that many find helpful is to stay away from screens in the hour or so before trying to sleep.

So set yourself some designated device downtime before you hit the hay. If you have some difficulty putting this into practice, try using smartphone features and put time limits on your social media apps, games, Internet surfing, or whatever other activity you can cut out. This will ‘force’ you to put your phone away as you start preparing for bed. Then get that good sleep

9. Try Sleep Apps

Of course, the digital age has a digital solution to our sleep issues! Apps! Yes, I know we’ve already recommended limiting your screen time to help you sleep better, but this is different. What we’re recommending here are apps that have been specifically designed with getting quality sleep in mind.

And there is quite the number available! They wield technology in our favor and leverage it to help us get that sought-after sleep.

Check out this article for some top-rated, expert-recommended apps designed to help you fall, and stay, asleep.

10. Listen To Podcasts

Did you know there are some fantastic podcasts created solely for the purpose of helping you relax and drift off to sleep? Cool, right?! But you don’t have to go hunting for these gems on your own! We’ve gathered a collection of our current favorite podcasts that are guaranteed to whisk you away to Lala-Land and have you catching up on some quality zzz’s. Our list has everything from guided sleep meditations to calming bedtime stories, as well as some ambient noise and ASMR-focused shows, all of which will have you visiting the land of Nod in no time at all. You can check these out on this post: The Best Podcasts To Help You Sleep

11. Try a Little Aromatherapy

Lastly, you could try incorporating a little aromatherapy into your nighttime routine. The use of essential oil has surged in popularity of late. And while there is still much research needed before they get medical backing in the treatment of illnesses, there is a fair amount of research backing the link between smell and sleep. Just check out this article from the Sleep Foundation. It’s a really interesting read!

If you’re keen to create a great-smelling, calm environment to help you drift off at night, lavender oil is highly regarded to help you relax and fall asleep. Chamomile, rose, and cedarwood are also firm favorites. These oils can be diffused, sprinkled into your bath, and some can even be put directly onto your skin. (NOTE: always do thorough research before using a specific essential oil to find out how best to use it.) Not only will you be surrounded by a wonderful scent, but they may be just the thing to ease any anxiety and help you sleep deeply each night.

Closing Thoughts

Throughout our lives, many, if not all of us experience periods where we have difficulty sleeping. And if you have or are currently experiencing this, know that you are not alone! According to this article on the CDC website, 1 in 3 adults are not getting enough zzz’s each night.

Be it from stress, a busy season in our lives, or just a period where our brain chemistry and chemical balance is a little off, finding it difficult to sleep is a real problem and can cause immense stress. But give the above suggestions a try, and you may soon find yourself drifting off to La-La Land with ease.

*NOTE: This post merely offers suggestions to help improve sleeping habits. For professional help, consult a medical practitioner.

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Jennay Horn

Jennay Horn

Jennay is the Content Director at We Edit Podcasts

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