What To Do When You Can’t Sleep? 10 Science-Backed Tips

Fact Checked Medically reviewed by Tanja Premru-Sršen


One sheep, two sheep, three sheep… Unpopular opinion, but counting sheep will not put you to sleep. You see, sleep can get disturbed for various reasons.

Thus it is better to identify those reasons rather than counting sheep.

A person needs sleep to perform even the most basic tasks. Science says that having a full night’s rest can have a higher boost in your immune system.

There are times when you won’t be able to fall asleep, lying wide awake.

It is uncomfortable and lowers your productivity the following day while also messing up your mood.

So if you find yourself wondering what to do when you can’t sleep, here is what you should do instead of counting sheep.

Lower Your Usage Of Caffeine

Ahhhh! A delicious warm cup of java or tea in the morning. That is all one needs when they can’t seem to get out of bed.

Little did you know that it could be messing with your sleep quality.

Caffeine affects certain receptors in the brain, which can increase your energy levels.

That is the reason why most of the time, you end up having trouble falling asleep.

We recommend lowering your caffeine consumption late in the evenings. A good option would be switching to other drinks, such as a warm glass of milk or even water.

They not only keep you hydrated but also improve your sleep quality.

Switch To Reading A Book

Reading is one of the best ways you can spend your extra time.

It can help you gain valuable insight into the wonders of the world.

Not only that, reading before bedtime also makes you fall asleep faster if you have trouble sleeping.

Reduce Your Stress And Anxiety Levels

Due to work or school, you are bound to experience stress and anxiety. It may or may not be an underlying cause of your sleep disorder.

There are many ways to reduce stress and anxiety which can prevent you from getting a good night’s sleep.

Some include:

Make sure your bed is comfy and relaxing

A comfortable bed is exactly what one needs to lie down on after a tough day.

Investing in a comfortable mattress that is not very hard is the ideal solution. Rather it should offer you good back support along with comfort.

Invest in cotton or duck feather pillows

They are extremely soft and support your neck and head, thus improving sleep quality.

Take a warm shower or bath before going to sleep

There is scientific evidence that taking a warm shower right before bedtime is known to significantly relax your mind and muscles.

Avoid eating any spicy food before bedtime

Did you know spicy food not only gives you acidity but can also cause nightmares? Not only that, consuming food items that are quite spicy increases your anxiety levels, thus affecting sleep quality.

It is recommended to avoid having heavy or spicy food right before bedtime. A nutritious light meal is best for dinner.

Listen to soothing and relaxing music

Many of us enjoy listening to music in our daily life.

A relaxing beat can help you fall asleep easily and alimprove your sleep qualityso improve your quality of sleep.

Some sounds such as the rain are also known to have the same effect.

Create A To-Do List Or Journal Before Bedtime

How many times have you found yourself planning out your day right when you hit the bed? Probably countless.

After a hectic day, our brains may find it difficult to relax and rewind thus causing difficulty in falling asleep.

Putting your mind at ease is one of the most important factors one needs to consider.

Before laying down, try to list down all of the things that you need to do for tomorrow.

Jotting down every little detail will help you relax and organized. Thus, in return, you will be able to fall asleep quickly.

Make Use Of Relaxing Exercises

One of the best ways to combat any sleep disorder is to try out relaxing exercises.

Relaxing workouts range from good ol’ yoga and stretching to going for a jog/run in the evening or morning.

Anna Ribaudo, PT, DPT, OCS, Capp-OB, a sleep specialist also recommend making use of progressive muscle relaxation techniques before bedtime.

Keep Your Hands And Feet Warm

During winter time our hands and feet tend to feel cold. This may make it difficult for a person to fall asleep easily.

According to the National Sleep Foundation, the ideal sleep temperature range is between 16 and 27 degrees Celcius.

Adjust your thermostat to an ideal temperature that is not too cold or warm to fall asleep quickly.

Try Being Away From Any Electronic Devices

It is reported that 87% people have trouble sleeping due to their laptops or other electronic devices.

So if you find yourself lying awake it could be due to your phone or laptop.

Harmful Effects Of Blue Light Emitted From Electronic Devices:

The emission of blue light from your electronic devices or even a slight sound in the night can cause discomfort while you’re trying to get a good night’s sleep.

This is why it is better to keep your devices away from your bed.

We recommend putting it in a corner that is far away from your bed. Furthermore, invest in blue ray protection glasses or turn on your blue light filter.

This not only protects your eyes from damage but also helps you get better sleep.

Maintain A Consistent Sleep Schedule

The latest research suggests the ideal sleep-wake cycle for a person is having restful sleep of eight hours nonstop. Along with that being awake for at least 15 hours.

This will lead you to develop better sleep habits and battle sleep deprivation. Furthermore, you will find yourself being more productive and energetic.

Choose Your Ideal Sleeping Position

Finding a comfortable sleep position is not as hard as it seems.

If you find yourself continuously changing your sleep position here is what we recommend:

Try to rest your mind and body by laying on your left side.

It is reported that doing this will allow your heart to pump more blood throughout your body and open up your blood vessels. Thus, helping you feel more relaxed and sleep quickly.

Make Use Of Light Stretching

If you find yourself tossing and turning due to any reason such as negative thoughts we recommend making use of light stretches.

Progressive muscle relaxation techniques such as stretching along with deep controlled breaths are one of the best ways to get a good night’s rest.

How Does It Help?

Not only does it help you go back to sleep if you wake up in the middle of the night but also combat sleep disorders such as chronic insomnia.

The Takeaway

Just like food, water and air, sleep is a basic need for humans to survive. Even the most basic tasks need you to be well-rested in order to perform them.

If you can’t seem to fall asleep on a regular basis the reason could be an underlying sleep disorder. Maintaining a regular sleep schedule should work in most cases along with other tips and tricks.

However, if that does not help then we recommend visiting a sleep specialist who can provide medical advice for your sleep problems.