One of the first things sleep physicians tell insomnia patients is to get out of bed if you can’t sleep. The worst thing you can do when you can’t fall asleep is lie in bed and attempt to force yourself to sleep. But you can’t do anything that’s stimulating or in violation of the basic rules of sleep hygiene. So what do you do?
Indulge in a low impact hobby: Do you play a musical instrument, knit or like to draw? All of these activities can be low impact and perfect for when you cannot sleep. Whenever you find yourself ready to nod off, stop what you’re doing and go to bed.
Quality screen time: Netflix, Hulu and a boatload of apps may entertain you but won’t help you fall asleep. Computers, smartphones, televisions and tablets emit blue light, which can reset your circadian clock and make your body think that it is time to be awake. Late-night screen time is one of the most common sleep hygiene violations.
Read Something Boring: Maybe you have a book or magazine you’ve been meaning to read, but instantly lose interest the moment you read half a page. Now is finally the time to learn about the intricacies of legislative process or attempt James Joyce’s Ulysses… or crack open that mildly amusing collection of short stories you’ve been meaning to read.
Read Something Thrilling (or at Least Semi Interesting): Remember that chapter in Game of Thrones where everybody dies? Whatever you do, do NOT read that when you cannot sleep. Don’t read the latest page turner by Dan Brown. If you’re interested in politics or baseball, don’t read about either subject. And remember, don’t do it on a backlit electronic device!
Low Impact Chores: When was the last time you mopped the floor or picked up clutter around your home? As long as you do these at a relaxed pace and don’t work up a sweat, you may find yourself ready to fall asleep in no time. Just don’t make too much noise.
Exercise: There’s a common misconception that you can tire yourself out by exercising. While this could hold true for daytime exercise, doing even moderate exercise in the nighttime is akin to drinking a big cup of coffee. Exercise at night and you will not sleep.
What do you do when you cannot sleep? Share your tips in the comments section below: