What to Do When You Can't Sleep
Hide the Alarm Clock
The bedside clock can be your No. 1 enemy when you're having difficulty falling asleep. It acts as a constant reminder of how long it is taking you to fall to sleep and how little time you have left before needing to get up. It wakes you up just looking at it. So rather than letting it stare you in the face all night, set it for the waking time desired, then hide it away from your reach, or at least turn it around so you can't see the time.
Trying to rest can be taxing when you just can't seem to fall asleep, especially when you don't know why you can't sleep. But the answer isn't to try harder but instead to just relax.
While lying in bed, tossing and turning, you may become frustrated at your inability to slip into slumber, perhaps even repeating over and over, "I've got to go to sleep." The more you try to will yourself into sleep, the more conscious you become of not being able to doze off.
But sleep is unlike most activities in life. While trying harder is often the surest path to success in business, sports or other waking activities, it is the surest path to failure when you want to sleep. Attempting to force yourself to sleep simply won't work. It only increases anxiety and tension. Sleep is most easily achieved in an atmosphere of total relaxation. Your mind should be empty of thought or turned to soothing and calming thoughts. Your body should be relaxed, your muscles free of tension.
If you find you can't fall asleep, the best solution is to get out of bed. That's right. Contrary to popular belief, the solution is not to stay in bed. If this happens with any frequency, and you do stay in bed, you may begin to associate your room and bed with feeling frustrated, uncomfortable and unhappy. When you walk into your room, you'll immediately begin to worry about how long it will take to fall asleep. Consequently, it will take longer to drift off into slumber.
Let your body associate any feelings of wakefulness with some other part of your home. Go to the kitchen for a drink of water. Go into another room and read, sew, draw. Almost any activity will do as long as it's calming, relaxing and doesn't require intense concentration. Gradually, you'll become tired and bored. Usually, within 15 to 20 minutes, your body will be ready for you to try to sleep again.
To avoid having this problem in the future, you can learn some techniques that will promote sleep. Find them on the next page.