5 Easy Yet Effective Things to Try When You Can't Sleep

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It happens to everyone. 1am and you are wide awake. A busy day ahead is looming and the thought of it is only adding to whatever reason(s) you are not happily snoozing away right now. I've been there enough to have discovered a handful of things that work for me and, let's face it, if you are awake when you don't want to be, you've got nothing to lose. They are all simple, low-key, medication-free and worth giving a try...

1. Put your phone or tablet away.

The "blue light" associated with illuminated screens has been shown to increase wakefulness. Even if you don't think that checking your phone at night is usually a problem, give your self the best possible chance at a good nights rest and set it aside, out of reach, for the rest of the night.

Also, checking your phone opens up the stresses of the daytime world: news, work, emails, etc. There's plenty of time to think about that stuff during daylight hours.

2. Make a "to do" list.

Sometimes too you just have so many things "to do" bouncing around in your head, that it's hard to let go enough to drift off to sleep. Putting pencil to paper and making a simple list of everything you can think of that you have to do the next day can really help. Something about simply writing them down seems to put those demons to bed so you can get some rest.

3. Count sheep.

Ok, this is so old school, but it, or rather a variation of it, really can help. I don't do the sheep counting thing exactly, but I have found that doing some mental arithmetic problems can be just brain-shushing enough (or nerdy enough) to allow me to drop off to sleep.

4. Get ready for bed...again.

Get up and re-do your last minute bedtime ritual again as a bit of a reset. Straighten the bedclothes, fluff the pillow, hit the bathroom, brush your teeth, get a fresh glass of water, check the alarm and settle back in. The five minutes it takes to do this is sometimes that is all it takes to smooth the path to sleep.

5. Pretend to sleep.

It sounds silly, but even if you'd never ever win acting acclaim during the day, you can sometimes fake it well enough to trick yourself into dreamland. Here's how: stretch out, close your eyes, relax your muscles from your feet to your head, slowly and methodically, while regulating your breathing to a slow, even pace. Repeat...and hopefully, snooze.

What are your go-to tricks to get to sleep? Please let us know in the comments...


(Image credits: Rebecca Bond)