You go to bed tired but then you just can’t sleep. What’s with that? Here are some ways you can deal with it.

There may be many reasons why you can’t sleep. You could be stressed at work, over-tired or over-stimulated. You could be out of your usual routine – lockdown, anyone? – or your usual surroundings might be different. Perhaps you’re renovating and home doesn’t feel like normal, or maybe you’re away from home such as staying with relatives or living on campus at your uni.

Struggling with wakefulness is counter-productive to sleep. Sounds odd, for sure. But rather than dwelling on why you can’t sleep, it can be helpful to divert your attention away from not sleeping!

  1. Get up and do something that doesn’t involve trying to sleep. You could take a warm, leisurely shower and let the water simply run over your body.
  2. If you have a pet, you could spend some quiet time with him or her in dim lighting.
  3. You might like to sit and ‘daydream’, cosy on the couch with a specific idea in mind such as a holiday or winning lotto.
  4. Do some light exercise. Don’t be too enthusiastic or you’ll set your body up for a second wind. Try some stretches, a little light yoga or go for a short walk around your yard or up and down your street.
  5. Do a tedious task such as folding laundry, tidying a drawer or organising your tech drawer.
  6. If you find it difficult, enlist the help of Headspace, Calm or another meditation app.
  7. Make a cup of soothing camomile tea and focus on the steam coming from the cup while you hold it in both hands. Make it a sensory experience where the cup of tea is your sole focus.
  8. Find a book on your bookshelf that you abandoned long ago and give it another go. If you still find it boring, it might just help you get into drowsy mode.
  9. Do some colouring in. Get out your felt pens or coloured pencils and draw, colour or sketch.
  10. Start a journal. Every night that you find it difficult to fall asleep, add an entry to your journal. It could be about gratitude, goals, your favourite things or any other topic.
  11. Sit on your patio, veranda or balcony and inhale the fresh night air in the dim light.
  12. Treat your body and mind to a mini spa treatment of relaxing essential oils. Either diffuse them in an oil burner or apply some to the souls of your feet and massage in.
  13. Listen to a podcast and let your mind melt into the quiet chatter.
  14. Try sleeping in another room and see if it makes a difference.
  15. Fire up your Spotify ‘chill’ playlist and sit in the dark as you listen. Classical music is great for this as it doesn’t give you lyrics to swim around in your head.
  16. Do some breathing exercises such as box breathing. Breathe in for six seconds, hold for six seconds, breathe out for six seconds, hold for six seconds and repeat.
  17. Tackle your least favourite task. Do you have some homework to do? Is it time to throw out expired medicines? What about cleaning out the cat’s litter box? Weed the garden? Scrub the balcony floor? You don’t have to actually do these things but by sitting and contemplating them, you may just feel so much better about not having to do them that the very thought of them makes you sleepy!
  18. Give yourself a mini massage. Pick a body part – arms, hands, legs, tummy, temples – and apply gentle pressure with your hands. Use some moisturiser or light oil and you’ll even be caring for your skin at the same time.

Hopefully, you’ll have found at least one of these suggestions handy. Keep this list handy so that the next time you can’t sleep, you’ll have something to fall back on.