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What to do when you can't sleep

girl sleeping

What to do when you can't sleep


Having trouble falling asleep? That can be very annoying, especially when you're bored. Luckily, there are things you could do to help you fall asleep faster, such as breathing techniques and creating a relaxing environment.

You may have difficulty falling asleep for different reasons, and some require a different approach. Whatever the case, poor sleep can affect your mental health, so it's important to find ways to get better sleep.

So what can you do when you can't sleep and are bored?

6 things to do when you can't sleep at night

Below are science-backed techniques to try when you have trouble falling asleep:

1.       Stop trying to sleep

Are you forcing yourself to fall asleep? That can be one of the most frustrating moments ever, as it just feels like your body is fighting against you. So instead of struggling, give yourself time to fall asleep.

If you've been well-relaxed in bed for over 20 minutes without falling asleep, pick up a book to read or play a video game. You could also try meditating. Gradually, your body becomes exhausted and yearns for sleep. Then head back to bed, and you'll likely drift off in a moment.

2.       Tire yourself out during the day

If you have had some sleep late in the afternoon, your body may find less need for sleep when the night comes. So it might help to stay active by day and reserve the nighttime for sleep.

3.       Create a relaxing environment to induce sleep

Your bedroom should be the most peaceful part of your home, your haven. So you want to ensure it is dark, quiet, and cool, and such an environment can induce sleep. If possible, invest in a sound-proofing system and blackout curtains to minimize noise and light disturbance.

More importantly, consider your bedding. If the bed sheets and mattress are not comfy enough, chances are you won't find it easy to fall asleep. So it would help to invest in comfortable ones that promote better sleep quality.

4.       Try a breathing exercise

Breathing exercises are a simple mindfulness practice in which you focus on your breath. By so doing, random thoughts drift past without dragging your attention, and your mind becomes less chaotic, calm enough to allow you to fall asleep.

To do breathing exercises, sit comfortably and close your eyes. Then breathe deeply in and out and focus on each breath. Do so for about 10 minutes and head off to bed.

5.       Try visualization

Another way to practice mindfulness is by visualizing yourself in a peaceful place, say, on a beach. Imagine all the sensations you would feel with the cool air caressing your skin. It's like exploring nature. Although it's all in your head, focusing on that beautiful experience can help ease anxiety, stress, and whatever may have been troubling your mind. This may help you fall asleep faster.

6.       Consider cognitive behavioral therapy for sleep

Sleep problems may occur every once in a while, but when it's recurring (such as insomnia), you want to go for a longer-term solution. Cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBT-I) is a treatment plan that can help crush your insomnia by identifying and changing thoughts and behaviors affecting your sleep. Unlike sleeping pills and other quick fixes, this method helps you treat the underlying cause of your sleeping problems.


Still having trouble falling asleep even after trying the tips outlined above? Then, reach out to us, and we can help personalize a treatment plan just for you.

Satu H. Woodland, PMHCNS-BC, APRN Satu H. Woodland, PMHCNS-BC, APRN Satu Woodland is owner and clinician of Hope Mental Health, an integrative mental health practice located at Bown Crossing in Boise, Idaho. She sees children, adolescents, and adults.  Ms. Woodland with her background in nursing, prefers a holistic and integrative approach to mental health care that addresses the mind and body together. While Ms. Woodland provides medication management services in all her patients, she believes in long-lasting solutions that include a number of psychotherapies, namely cognitive behavioral therapy, exposure and response prevention therapy, attention to lifestyle, evidenced based alternative psychiatric care and spirituality. If you’d like to gain control over your mental health issues, call Hope Mental Health at 208-918-0958, or use the online scheduling tool to set up an initial consultation.

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