Picture of white bedding & pillows crumpled up on top of a bed like someone just got out from under the covers. Background of photo is all black.

What To Do When You Can't Fall Asleep

June 18, 2023

Author: Josie Sivigny

We’re guessing that you came across this post because it is somewhere between midnight and 4 a.m. and you can’t sleep. You’ve tried your back, your side, your other side, two pillows, three pillows and… nothing. Sleep just won’t come and now you’re unsure if you’ve ever really known how to fall asleep.

Everyone has been there and insomnia really is a big problem for a lot of people. Sometimes your mind is racing and you just can’t shut it off. Other times, you’re perfectly fine but, for whatever reason, sleep is nowhere in sight. Insomnia can range from being a minor one-, two- or three-night problem to a month- or years- long major issue.

Whether this is your first or 345th night of not being up all night, below we have some ways to fall asleep to help you get the rest you need.

What to do right now

Don’t force it If you aren’t tired, don’t try to make yourself go to sleep. You’ll only make yourself angry or worried and then you’ll start to associate going to sleep with fear or anxiety, which could become a long-term problem.

Instead: grab a book (maybe not a thriller though), try some relaxing yoga poses or listen to some soothing music. Try to go back to sleep once you feel your eyelids get heavy.

Meditate/focus on your breathing Meditation is an extremely challenging activity that just so happens to have a boat load of benefits, including relaxation. It’s difficult but if you’re lying in the dark not able to do anything else, why not give it a try?

Simply focus on your breath: in, out, inhale, exhale. Try not to control it, rather just observe your body’s natural responses to your breath.

Turn off the lights—and the heater A very dark, cool room is typically best for getting a great night’s sleep. So turn on that fan or remove that extra blanket. Making sure you have a dark, cool environment in which to fall asleep is vital.

Your mattress can also aid in this. For example, Tuft & Needle’s mattress is made of T&N Adaptive® Foam which is made specifically to help you sleep cool.

What to do tomorrow morning

Exercise in the morning Are there any life hack, health help or weight loss list articles on the internet that DON’T mention exercise? We all know we should do it more—we all know we claim we don’t have time. But do yourself a favor and break your insomnia rut by giving an early morning workout a try. It’ll not only be better for your general health and make you and your body more tired when nighttime rolls around, but putting that much time between your workout and bedtime will help you reap the benefits and give you enough time to slow down before trying to sleep. It seems like a simple concept, and wearing yourself out might just be one of the best tricks to fall asleep.

Stop drinking caffeine early A coffee after dinner really is the worst way to get to sleep. Even decaf has a bit of caffeine in it! If you need a warm drink in the evening, make it a relaxing, herbal tea like chamomile that is naturally caffeine free. Also make sure you watch for foods and drinks you might not realize contain caffeine: protein bars, chocolate, sodas and even some ice creams.

See the sun Getting outside every single day to make sure you see the sun has many benefits: it can make you happier, you can get a healthy dose of vitamin D and it can even help you get to sleep. It seems obvious, but spending some time outdoors in the sun can help jumpstart our circadian rhythm so when it does get dark, our melatonin levels increase and we can start going to bed at a more natural time.

What to do in the coming weeks

Pick the right mattress The right mattress can make all the difference to making sure you can fall asleep and stay asleep. Finding a mattress that is the perfect combination of comfortable (for you) and supportive will help your whole body to feel relaxed so you don’t wake up in the middle of the night with pain in your lower back.

Tuft & Needle pioneered the idea of a single model, universally-comfortable mattress that is soft without the sink. Their T&N Adaptive® Foam combines the pressure relief of memory foam with the support and breathability of latex and is specially made to help you stay cool (which we mentioned above can help your sleep).

Track Your Sleeping/Find Associations Begin keeping a journal by your bed and track the nights that you can’t sleep, have trouble falling asleep, or can’t stay asleep and see if any of these correlate to specific things you did the day before or the following day. Does your weekly check-in with your boss cause you to not be able to sleep the night before? Can you not stay asleep after you’ve had two glasses of wine instead of one? Keeping track can help you figure out what’s keeping you up.

See A Doctor If you start to feel helpless and can’t seem to figure out what else to do, don’t hesitate to reach out to a doctor. A doctor will be able to look deeper into your patterns, medications and overall health and help safely get you access to things to help you sleep. Bringing along your log or journal that you made could be very helpful to your physician and they might see a pattern that you don’t.

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