10 Things to Do When You Can’t Sleep

trouble sleeping insomnia

Sleep is essential. To lead a healthy and fulfilled lifestyle, we must give ourselves the best chance of a good night’s rest. 

Perhaps insomnia is keeping you up late? According to various studies, an estimated 10% to 30% of the population suffers from insomnia. Women are particularly prone, with one study finding more than one in four women in the United States experience sleep difficulties compared to fewer than one in five men.

Even if you don’t suffer from insomnia, getting to sleep can be an issue for anyone. Resist the urge of scrolling endlessly through Instagram and come with us as we provide you with these ten things to do when you can’t get a good rest.

1. Herbal Tea

If you feel yourself becoming irritable while trying to fall asleep, treat yourself to warm herbal tea. Go for non-caffeinated options with soothing properties to help you drift back off. Chamomile, Lavender and Valerian Root are some herbal concoctions that can help you relax. In order to get a full night of rest, the body must be relaxed. 

Vitamins and minerals are essential for producing melatonin within your body. Melatonin is the compound responsible for regulating your circadian rhythm that naturally follows the day/night cycle. 

Drinking a glass of milk containing magnesium and calcium is perfect at helping to produce this sleep-inducing hormone. Cherries also contain naturally occurring melatonin.

2. Stretch It Out

If you’ve been lying in bed for a while trying to fall asleep to no avail, try another approach and do some soft stretches. 


The body can become stiff and restless when trying to force yourself to sleep; leading you to become more uncomfortable and less likely to rise well-rested. Next time you find yourself tossing and turning, stand up and spend ten minutes loosening your muscles with some gentle stretches. 

Avoid high-intensity activities (e.g. running, swimming), as these will stimulate the body.

3. No More Scrolling

Notice the new ‘night mode’ features on most smartphones these days? That’s because scientific studies have shown that Blue Light inhibits melatonin production – the hormone responsible for promoting sleep. 

Unplug from the endless stream of information and allow your mind the chance to follow its own pace, your thoughts eventually meandering toward slumber. Staring at brightly lit screens will keep the mind active and disrupt your sleep cycle. Try to log off.

4. Meditation

The practise of meditation is considered a holistic approach for many issues. Perfect for achieving mindfulness, meditation allows you a moment to let your thoughts rest and can also be perfect for helping you get to sleep. 

Release any tension in your body by allowing your limbs to become completely limp. 

Placing your hand gently on your stomach or by your sides, notice your thoughts as they enter your mind. Instead of overthinking, practice letting those distracting thoughts pass by becoming aware of them and then letting them go. 

Easier said than done, after some practice, you’ll begin to notice calming thoughts overtake the old.

5. Do Something Boring

If you’re failing to get to sleep after about 40 minutes, try getting up and doing something to get you dozing off again. 

Boring, tedious tasks like folding laundry, or writing a to-do list will prompt your brain into wanting to lie back down. The psychology behind this is unexplored, but it’s been noted people experience an urge to fall asleep while undertaking boring activities. 

Nothing strenuous or anything involving screens may prove helpful. Keep lighting low and after a short while, try hitting the hay again.

6. Breathing Exercises

You may have forgotten that something as simple as breathing could greatly help you fall asleep. 

Automatic and second nature, we rarely focus on our breath and can forget it can be the biggest tool for getting to sleep. Deep breathing exercises have been proven to lower heart rate and slow bodily functions. 

Try the 4-7-8 technique, or spend 15 minutes gently inhaling and exhaling, drawing deeper with each breath. No need to count sheep!

7. Ensure You’re Getting Enough Sunlight

The winter months can be harsh on us, some days receiving little to no sunshine. 

Pair that with a post-pandemic world where leaving the house is no longer necessary may be the cause of your restless nights. Our exposure to light (or lack thereof) can disrupt your body internal clock – offsetting your circadian rhythm. Ensuring you receive enough light is vital in properly regulating your sleeping pattern. Don’t stay cooped up inside, open those curtains and set your smartphone to night mode after sunset.

8. Schedule Sleeping Patterns

Guarantee yourself the best chance of consistent sleep by following a schedule! 

By recognizing your body’s circadian rhythm, structuring a sleeping routine and going to bed at regular times, you can avoid unpredictable late nights and ensure you’re getting enough rest. After practising your new routine for a few weeks, you’ll find it easier to fall asleep at your desired time.

If you want to nap, keep it incremental and try to avoid dozing off in the late afternoon. Catnaps lasting no longer than 30 minutes are recommended. 

9. Avoid Certain Foods

It’s said that eating at least 2 hours before going to sleep is ill-advised. Consuming foods high in carbohydrates contribute to lower quality sleep, leaving your body busy digesting foods when it should be resting. 

Several studies conclude that eating fatty foods are preferred over carbs if you want improved sleep. Cheese, ice- cream, chocolate and other caffeinated foods are to be avoided if you don’t want to feel foggy the next day.

10. Read A Book

The stresses of daily life can stop your mind from descending into a peaceful slumber. 

Work stresses, family commitments and abrasive screens can all keep you up at night. Maintaining your peace of mind by indulging in a good book can improve your sleep tremendously. Immersing yourself within the world of a solid read promotes the use of your imagination and can result in better dreams. 

Helping you better harness knowledge, the mental stimulation of reading a book before bed helps to build imagination and avoid overthinking.

The qualities of a healthy lifestyle sometimes elude the average person. We aren’t always afforded the time to consider whether our eating, sleeping, work habits are working for – or against us. 

Take the necessary steps to educate yourself on the vital components of optimal health. Sleeping habits and maintaining regular sleep patterns should be near the top of anyone’s list. 

We hope you’ve enjoyed this list of what we believe are some of the best ways you can rest easy. Try implementing just a few of our suggestions and let us know if we helped in the comments below. Sweet dreams.



Dan was diagnosed with sleep apnea in 2017 when he was only 32 years old. He has been using a BIPAP machine for his treatment. He hopes to provide a patient's perspective on the sleep apnea experience. Dan lives in Tampa with his girlfriend and 2 dogs.

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