What To Do When You Can’t Sleep


I adore sleep. Resting in a gentle cocoon of blankets. Shielding me from my to-do list. When I’m asleep, I completely let go, float, and ride the easy waves of my breath.

Is your sleep always this peaceful and restful? About once a year, I go through a month of insomnia. I look for causes, maybe it’s allergies, stress, overworking, or hormonal changes. No matter what I try, I still wake up in the middle of the night, unable to return to sleep.


I could easily get stuck on the insomnia-worry-go round. Instead of worrying about never getting another good night of sleep, I am working on accepting the way it is. I’ve decided it’s my body’s way of resetting my brain (and maybe my life).

I’m choosing a new way to think about insomnia. Because the more I worry about it, the more awake I stay. When my mind is racing, my body has a hard time relaxing.

Worry is one of the biggest contributors to insomnia. Once you have trouble sleeping, you usually start to worry about not sleeping. You can see how hard it can be to get off the worry-go-round once you start spinning.

7 Ways to Manage Worry about Insomnia:

It’s time to get off the worry-go-round, and find your personal way of embracing what is. If you have great sleep hygiene but are unable to drift back to sleep, what do you do?

  • Get out of bed and read a novel in dim light. When you feel yourself start to drift off, return to bed.
  • Stay in bed and practice deep breathing, meditation, or calming yoga poses.
  • Find something relaxing to do for 8 hours while fasting from electronic devices. No cleaning, work, texting, etc.
  • Don’t watch your clock tick, calculating how many hours until work or school starts.
  • For a morning pick me up, drink less coffee. Instead give green teaa try.
  • Know that your sleep will return. Remember, this too will pass.
  • If your insomnia doesn’t pass, it’s okay to consult your physician regarding sleep aids. There are medications and supplements that won’t add to your next day fatigue and drowsiness.

Although I love to get a restful night of sleep, I know I can’t force it to happen. Instead of focusing on what if I never sleep well again, I focus on drifting on waves of relaxation.

What helps you manage your worry about insomnia?


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Photo Credit: “Relax” by Scarleth White

11 responses to “What To Do When You Can’t Sleep

  1. I always read in bed when I can’t sleep. My iPad has been a godsend; it lets me read in night mode without needing to get up or turning a light on.

    I’ve also used calming aromatherapy scented oils. Dab a little on pulse points to calm the nerves.

    I’ve also use a meditational exercise specifically to help relax the mind and lull the brain to sleep.

  2. Belinda, each of your ideas sound so peaceful to me. I keep lavender oil right by my bed for the same reason. Eventually, sleep returns, so may as well relax into it.

  3. Try the Three Blessings exercise by Martin Seligman. (http://youtu.be/RT2vKMyIQwc) Write down 3 things you’re grateful for from the day, no matter how small or insignificant they may be. It helps focus our minds, before bed, on the positives. I keep my little pad near my bed and write in it almost every nite.
    All too often we go to bed with all the ‘problems’ of the day floating around in our heads and who could fall asleep with that.

    • Harriet, sweet exercise. Remembering to be grateful for what we have instead of what we don’t is probably useful all day too!

      Falling asleep is easy for me, it’s the waking up in the middle of the night that visits me once a year no matter what I do. So, then I embrace relaxing even if sleep doesn’t return.

    • Hey, good to find seomnoe who agrees with me. GMTA.

  4. I typically drink some soy milk. I find I often can’t sleep in part due to digestive issues so that helps calm everything down. Then…TV…which you say isn’t the best option but it’s an easy way for me to unwind. 🙂 Good Post Marci! -Paige

    • Hi Paige, thanks for joining the discussion 🙂 Whatever works to calm your mind and body, do it. I’m still doing yoga poses in bed, child pose works every time…

  5. I’ll have to remember this the next time I drink a coke too close to bed time. That is usually the only time when I can’t sleep. The reading the novel in dim light is a great idea 🙂

  6. Hi marci,
    I get up and read when I can’t sleep. I also listen to meditative music and a sleep CD. I usually am sleeping before it’s finished. I also use the ancient Hawaiian healing technique…I’m sorry, please forgive me, I love you, thank you. It’s a mantra that is to be repeated for healing.

  7. Thank you for this wonderful post and very informative source of deep relaxation when you’re going to rest, and have a peaceful mind.