What to do when you can't sleep

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By Dr Simon Kyle

Whilst some lucky people are struck by inspiration during the night, you may well find yourself at a loss for things to do when you can't sleep. With frustration setting in very quickly at these times it is a good idea to have a plan in place if you do wake during the night. This way you know where to go and what to do if you can't sleep – with minimum fuss.

Take up a relaxing activity
Occupying yourself with a relaxing activity at these times may encourage sleepiness to set in again. These activities should put your mind at ease without requiring a great deal of attention or energy. You could try:

• Reading a book
• Knitting
• A jigsaw puzzle
• Sketching

Any activity that has the potential to make you more alert is best avoided both late in the day and during the night. Using computers or other gadgets isn't recommended either, as the light they emit may make you more alert.

Listen to music
Certain genres of music may be more suitable ahead of bedtime, or whilst in bed. This includes undemanding music, which blends into the background and does not increase your heartbeat.

Avoid the television
You may be tempted to retreat to the sofa to watch television when you can't sleep and don't know what to do with yourself; it is important however to find a place and an activity which won't leave you dozing off before you return to bed.

The light and sound emitted by televisions may also cause you to wake during the night, which is not conducive to getting a good night's sleep.

Try relaxation techniques
Relaxation techniques can help loosen up your muscles and prepare your body for rest. A well-practiced relaxation routine may help you fall asleep more easily at the beginning of the night but may also help you get back to sleep if you wake during the night.

People with sleep problems often have difficulty relaxing and yet it is so important that we learn to let it happen naturally and do not try to force it.

Ultimately though, relaxing activities are a matter of personal preference so why not experiment and find out which works best for you?

Filed under: Sleep Tips