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 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
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.
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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.
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 (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.
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 (gentle) push in the right direction. However, if you’re really struggling with sleep, it’s important to speak to your GP.
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.
A relaxing hobby such as knitting, colouring, reading, yoga, writing a journal, meditating could help you sleep easier each night.