cartoon drawing show bored man wide awake in bed at night

Fun and relaxing activities to put insomniacs to sleep

By Lambros Hilas

Laying in bed wide awake and feeling not ready for sleep is a common problem.  It could be you’ve had a long day and you’re just looking for something to do to help you wind down.

According to the World Sleep Society, every night as many as a third of adults worldwide struggle with insomnia for various reasons.

Difficulties with falling asleep is one of the biggest challenges in our modern world.  Boredom is likely a factor for many.

Research has shown that boredom can lead to bedtime procrastination.  People put off going to bed.

Unfortunately, boredom can come back to bite you in other ways too. If you choose the wrong activity while you pass the time, it can get your mind racing or keep you up even more past your bedtime.

Either way you’re not getting the sleep you need when your internal clock says it’s time to sleep.

If you get too wound up and anxious, you can find yourself too stressed to sleep.  Stress and anxiety are also well known challenges for sleep. Staying up too late can also stress your body out.

Fun and healthy ways to relax before going to bed

For starters, you should also be following the basic rules of healthy sleep which include going to bed and getting up pretty much the same time every day, even on weekends or during vacation.

You should also keep bedroom dark, cold, and quiet.

As part of your routine go to bed early enough so you get 7-8 hours of sleep.  And do not go to bed unless you feel sleepy.

Ideally, your bedtime routine should help relax your body and mind in preparation for sleep.

So, what should you be doing instead?

Sleep experts say you should block off the last 30 to 40 minutes before bedtime for activities that will help you transition to sleep.

Here are some of my favorite ways to relax at night that are sleep-friendly and time tested:

Light reading

Reading can take your mind off things.  Try a magazine, or the grocery store special of the week.  Don’t read on Sartre’s “existentialism”, or the “surplus value of labor” of Marx’s, Das Kapital.

Music

Listen to something relaxing, whether it’s classical, jazz or something else.  Avoid those heart pumping tunes, or rap or heavy metal.

Bedtime chat

Have a quiet end of the day chat with a bedmate or roommate. If it is your spouse better avoid the “to do list” or similar daily chore requests.

Sleep friendly snacks

How about a warm cup of milk (they say goat milk works best) or chamomile?  You can also try foods with natural sleep-promoting nutrients such as cherries, mixed nuts, or almonds.

Avoid large meals (large pizza loaded with cheese or a spicy burrito, for example), stimulants such as caffeine or a night cup before bedtime.  Alcohol and nicotine are also bad for sleep, even though it’s popular with some people to have a glass of wine and a late night smoke to relax before going to bed.

A relaxing bath

For many, a leisurely soak in warm water with candles and scented oils does the trick.

Prayer

Like meditation, quiet evening prayer can occupy and calm the mind.

Watch the stars and dream

If you’re room is setup so you can see the night sky from your bed, go for it!  Otherwise, grab a chair and find the perfect spot.

What to avoid when bored in bed at night

Here’s another thing that can come back to bite you – Xbox video games, YouTube, Facebook, and other social media rabbit holes!

We all love YouTube because there’s so much interesting stuff right at your fingertips.  And that’s what makes it so incredibly addictive and hard to stop watching at night.

It’s the same for other platforms.  There’s so much to browse – you can spend hours reading posts on Facebook, twitter, and other platforms.

Some of the stuff can really get you riled up.

There’s another reason to stay away from your mobile phone and tablet at night.  Those bright electronic screens confuses your body natural sleep-wake clock.

Finally, avoid sleeping with pets in the same room.  A dog or cat that snore or bark or making noises in the middle of the night interrupting your sleep patterns.

About the Author

Lambros Hilas is a sleep enthusiast and marketing specialist focused on health & wellness in global markets.

Sources:

1. “Talking Points”, World Sleep Society website

2. The Surprising Way Boredom Can Mess With Your Sleep, 2021, Well+Good

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