What if you can’t sleep?

Sleep is an important factor in our physical and emotional wellbeing. It is thought that on average, we need 8 hours of sleep a night.

Difficulties with sleep are not uncommon, in fact they are very common, which is why I thought I’d share some tips to try and help any of you that may be finding it difficult.


If you can’t stop worrying…

It is not abnormal for us to worry, worrying serves a purpose. You may have an interview tomorrow, or you might be starting a new job. You may have forgotten to do something in the day which you just can’t stop thinking about (this happens to me OFTEN!)

When I feel like this, I think about whether the thing i’m worrying about is something I can control. If not, I might write it down or do something I enjoy for a little while to distract myself (e.g. read or listen to calm music). If it is something you can have control over e.g. You need to revise for an exam that’s next week, then make a plan, mentally or write it down, then do something you enjoy. If it is something you can do then and there without too much disruption, then go and do it e.g. I often forget turn the hot water off, and start to think about it obsessively, and to stop that I get up and turn it off.

The above can be captured by the image below, otherwise referred to as ‘the worry tree’.



Try to avoid napping…

If I am having trouble sleeping at night, I avoid napping all together. But I personally LOVE a good nap, so I avoid napping in the later afternoon, and try to keep my naps short (less than an hour).


Don’t exercise too late
Exercising raises your energy and temperature which is counter productive for sleep. Exercise is of course helpful, but at the right time


Have a good daily intake of fluid 

An easy change to make associated with better sleep. Guidance around fluid intake can be found here. Caffeine is linked to sleep disruption, and it can be active in our body for over 8 hours, so try and avoid caffeinated drinks if you are having trouble sleeping.


No big meals close to bed time

Big meals should be avoided close to bed time, as a rule, I try to have dinner by 8pm. Although, it’s important not to have an empty stomach, so you could have a healthy, light snack.



Go to bed at the same time everyday, and wake up at the same time. Our bodies can adapt and tune into routines so it is worth a go.


If you’ve been trying to sleep for a while and you just can’t… 

Get up and go into a different room for a while and do a low stimulation level activity (definitely do not watch TV!), then try again.


A healthy diet

A healthy diet has positive affects in all areas of our lives, and that includes sleep. I notice if I’ve had a bad day with food, as I find it more difficult to sleep.


Try mindfulness exercises 

There are some great apps out there you can use, and easy to follow breathing exercises that can help. This website has some great ideas around it and BayArt also have posts around mindfulness and meditation.


This is not an exhaustive list and it would be great if you are happy to share your sleeping tips in the comments.
Thank your for reading



NB: This is a combination of my own experience and what’s helped me in the past. This post has also been influenced by my training, however this is not professional advice. I would urge you to seek professional advice if you were experiencing significant distress.

15 thoughts on “What if you can’t sleep?”

  1. Some say alternative sleep patterns can help. 4 hours at night and 3 during the day or 5 at night and 2 during the day. Maybe sleep from midnight until 5:00 am and then take a 2 hour nap from 6:00 pm- 8:00 pm.

  2. Both my boyfriend and I have great difficulties sleeping. I fall asleep easy but constantly wake up. If I’m stressing or overly depressed about something sleep seems impossible. The breathing exercises look interesting and I’ll probably give them a go next time I have difficulty falling asleep. From what I’ve read, and from my own experiences, gaining weight can have a direct impact on sleep. I use to sleep well. Now I find myself waking up because I’m uncomfortable, arms and legs have fallen asleep, or my own snoring (which I never did before being overweight) wakes me up some times now, too.

    • Hey there, thanks for reading and sharing that, I’d be intrigued to hear how you get on with the breathing exercises. Mood and diet are associated for sure, I hope it gets better for both of you

  3. Nice list! I always read to sleep. Sometimes just taking my mind off my own life and mentally living somewhere else for a bit helps me to conk right out. Great post!

  4. Awesome tips, sometimes I just can’t sleep – even if nothing is bothering me – I just lay there and I’m tired. But what a difference when I do sleep 7 or 8 hours straight. You wake up feeling so much better! Love the worry infographic. Thanks for sharing.


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