5 Things To Do When You Can’t Sleep

Mercedes Aspland
By Mercedes Aspland / June 20, 2016

This is not another post on ways to prevent insomnia. I think we all know that advice, dark room, lavender, warm bath blah blah.

As someone who has suffered from insomnia in spells for almost my whole life I know all the advice out there and even if you follow every step sometimes nothing works and you just lie in your bed wide awake wishing that sleep would come.

At the moment I am going through a good spell of sleep and rarely remember falling asleep.

The concept of remembering falling asleep has to be something only an insomniac would understand, it is stupid really, no one remembers falling asleep but if you suffer from insomnia what you mean is went to bed and in the morning you don't remember being awake in bed.

So let's go back to the days when insomnia strikes and your mind is super active, you are too hot, too cold, uncomfortable, need the toilet, what do you do then?

These 5 steps are just some ideas and things I have done. Some will work for you, some won't, that's the beauty of being human, we are all different.

1. Accept Being Awake

Ok, so I am starting with a big one but this is always the first thing I go for and it works a lot of the time.

If you are struggling to sleep accept the fact you might be awake all night and just be comfortable that you are getting rest anyway.

This does not mean saying to yourself, "ok I am happy to be awake all night but I really, really want to get to sleep". This is not accepting the situation this is pretending to accept it and a totally different thing.

You have to be totally prepared to stay awake all night and be done with it. So just remind yourself firstly that no one has ever died from lack of sleep and secondly that sleep is not something you can cling to or force to happen.

You would not believe how many times I have truly accepted being awake to turn around and wake up in the morning with no memorable time in between. It really is the key to sleep.

2. Get Up

If being awake in bed is starting to irritate you and bring about negative emotions get up and do something. It can be anything you like, I would say I recommend something repetitive and easy but I have actually got up at 3am and started writing blog posts.

Whatever you need to do to clear your mind is a good thing as usually we are awake because our minds are too active and so anything that brings you back to the present moment, quietens down the ramblings of the mind is ideal.

Take yourself away from trying to sleep and know that you will be ok, it just might mean going to bed at 7pm the next night!

3. Deal With Your Issues

Maybe not all of them but the ones that are keeping you awake.

I usually find that the thing that is keeping me awake is totally insignificant and just a waste of my time and energy.

So now is the time to try a bit of presence and accept your apparent problems, whatever they may be.

Remember that while you are lying in bed there is nothing you can do about them so you can just let them go. On the other hand if there is something you can do then do it. If there is a bill that needs paying or an email you need to write get it done.

One of the biggest impacts on our health is the constant worrying about things and running scenarios over and over in our heads. When this happens to me I just tell myself that I will cross that bridge if I come to it.

4. Count Your Breaths

This is a bit like counting sheep but a lot more effective. Remember that it is normally some mental issue that keeps you awake and when you worry your whole body is affected, as well as its functions, including the breath.

Count the breaths up to 10 and then start from 1 again. You should just let the breath flow naturally and as you count start to become aware of the quality of your breath and if it is ragged or smooth. What temperature is the breath? Is it different on the way out compared to the way in?

This exercise has a number of effects but the main one is it takes you out of your mind and puts you in the observer mode. You will likely find that as you observe your breath it starts to slow and become smoother and in fact your whole body relaxes.You might find that you fall asleep mid count as a clear, present mind always finds it easy to sleep.

5. Do Nothing

Just put up with it. Leave all of your technology alone, put down the phone! Leave your book on the side, leave the lights off and stay in bed.

What does it actually mean to do nothing, do you even know. I'm not sure I have been able to master this one. We are always doing something and so this is actually a far harder task than it sounds.

But seriously just put up with it, who cares that you cannot sleep, I don't. Do you think it is having an effect on anyone you know? No they are probably fast asleep and not giving you a moments thought.

Ok, this last one is a bit harsh but seriously I have been one of those insomnia bores, I talk about it, discuss it with friends and family and the truth is they are not all that interested. The more attention you give to your lack of sleep the more lack you will attract.

If you have a bad night, then you had a bad night. That is not an indication of how you will sleep tomorrow or any other night.

Let me know what you do when you cannot sleep and your tricks for nodding off.

Image courtesy of saphatthachat at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

About the author

Mercedes Aspland

Mercedes is a Yoga Sports Coach with experiences working with athletes from many disciplines and experience levels. She is keen to spread the word of how valuable yoga is to sport. With additional qualifications in nutrition she also shares a number of recipes and nutritional advice to keep you fuelled while training.

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