What to Do If You Can’t Sleep

Sleeping is a necessary component of life. According to MH Advisor W. Chris Winter, MD, a neurologist, sleep expert, and author of multiple books on sleep, including The Rested Child, “sleep is the most important thing on the globe outside of bacon and sex.” And with good cause. You open yourself up to a range of problems, including as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, obesity, and depression, when you don’t get enough good-quality Z’s.

Even if you follow all the appropriate guidelines, including as getting regular exercise, following a routine, abstaining from alcohol after dinner, sleeping in lower temperatures, and keeping your room dark and quiet, getting a good night’s sleep might occasionally prove difficult. Fortunately, it’s not usually a serious worry. “Irrelevant are the occasional cupcake or skipped meal. It’s fatal if either sets the standard. Sleep is the same. The difference between sleeplessness and insomnia, according to Dr. Winter, is the level of anxiety you decide to bring to the issue. “Tonight’s sleep is not that big of a deal,” he adds.

That doesn’t make it any less annoying to be unable to snooze, though. Here are some things you should and shouldn’t do right now if you are having problems.

Take a moment to relax. 

Even if sleep is eluding you, you might not think there is value in simply closing your eyes and lying in bed, but Dr. Winter, who believes that we place far too much emphasis on sleep tips, says that resting is incredibly beneficial from a physical and cognitive standpoint. Simply allowing your body and mind to relax is possible through sleeping. “If it’s impossible to avoid falling asleep, we just need to absolve ourselves and accept staying awake in bed.

It’s nothing to worry about, says Dr. Winter, who also advises us to take the word “unconsciousness” off our list of objectives before going to bed. Dr. Winter advises, “If you don’t mind being in bed, awake, thinking, meditating, praying, or thinking about your crush on a celebrity…stay there.”

Avoid using the screens.

We understand that if you’ve been tossing and turning and sleep still hasn’t arrived, you may want to grab the phone or the remote control for the TV to pass the time by mindlessly browsing. Don’t. Kuljeet (Kelly) Gill, MD, a sleep medicine specialist at Northwestern Medicine Central DuPage Hospital, advises against using any electronics or bright light sources because blue light, also known as glowing light, can further disrupt sleep by inhibiting the production of melatonin, the hormone that controls your sleep-wake cycles.