17 Sleep friendly things you can do when bored in bed at night
By Jason Wooden, PhD | September 5, 2020
If you’re not careful, night time boredom can lead to sleep troubles from a racing mind or choosing activities that keep you up past your bedtime. Fortunately, there are plenty of sleep friendly ways to pass the time ranging from quiet music to journaling. Sleep experts say it’s also important to have a regular bedtime routine that prepares your body and mind for sleep.
Bedtime boredom can come back to bite you
You’re not the only one wondering what to do when bored in bed at night.
We’ve all been there at one time or another.
Laying in bed wide awake wondering what you can do to occupy yourself…
Or maybe, you’ve just had a long day, you’re feeling restless and not ready for sleep, and looking for something to do to help you wind down.
Every night millions of people struggle with insomnia for various reasons.
Having a hard time falling asleep is one of the most common insomnia issues. Boredom is likely a factor for some, especially if it keeps you from going to sleep.
Your boredom can come back to bite you if it leaves your mind racing or you choose activities that keep you up past your bedtime. Either way you’re not getting the sleep you need when your body says it’s time to sleep.
So, what’s one to do to stay out of the “bored in bed” club?
Let’s take a look at what you SHOULD be doing and some sleep friendly activities to help you pass the time when you’re bored in bed at night.
Do you have a great bedtime routine?
If you want to avoid being bored in bed at night, the first thing is to make sure you have a sleep friendly bedtime routine.
What you do in the evening is an important part of sleep hygiene, the everyday habits that can make or break sleep. Ideally, your bedtime routine should help relax your body and mind in preparation for sleep.
Your body has a natural sleep-wake cycle that’s in tune with day and night. Generally, you should be going to sleep when your body says it time to sleep.
Restlessness can make it harder to fall asleep. You don’t want find yourself in bed saying, “I’m so bored…I’m so bored”, and then you find you can’t even get to sleep.
Stress and anxiety are well known enemies of sleep. If you get too wound up and anxious from boredom, you can find yourself too stressed to sleep.
And if you choose the wrong activity to pass the time, it can keep you up too late and stress your body out.
So, what should be doing instead?
Sleep experts say you should block off the last 30 to 60 minutes before bedtime for activities that will help you transition to sleep. Too often, people try to go sleep without giving themselves this wind down time.
Try listening to quiet music, light reading, or take a warm bath. The goal is to be relaxed, content, and ready for sleep.
While this may seem pretty simple, too many people break these basic sleep hygiene rules.
Sleep friendly things you can do when bored in bed at night
If you find yourself restless and unable to sleep because of nighttime boredom, don’t stay in bed spinning your wheels.
As mentioned earlier, it’s important to get off the “I’m bored” merry go round as it can lead to sleep troubles.
So, get up and do something, but make sure it’s a sleep friendly activity. Doing the wrong activities may pass the time, but can actually make it harder to fall asleep
What you want to avoid is:
- Anything too stimulating
- Foods that interfere with sleep such as caffeinated beverages, alcohol, and unhealthy snacks
- Bright electronic screens (TVs, tablets, smartphone)
Below you will find listed a wide variety of sleep friendly activities to help you pass the time on those nights when you’re bored in bed at night.
1) Light reading
Reading can take your mind off things, be sure to avoid those page turners that can keep you up too late.
3) Bedtime chat
Have a quiet end of the day chat with a bedmate or roommate.
4) Light stretching
Try a little light yoga or some other gentle body stretching.
5) Enjoy a sleep friendly snack
How about a warm cup of milk or herbal tea? You can also try foods with natural sleep-promoting nutrients such as cherries, mixed nuts, almonds, or sliced turkey.
Try mindfulness meditation or some other mental practice. It’s a great way to calm the mind and body.
7) Relaxing bath
For some, a leisurely soak in warm water with candles and scented oils does the trick.
8) Open up a photo album
Brushing off the dust and browsing through an old photo album can be fun.
9) Work on a puzzle
Puzzles are a great way to get your mind off of things.
10) Try a hand of solitaire
Like puzzles, a quick game can be the perfect card trick for your sleep.
Like meditation, a little quiet evening prayer can occupy and calm the mind.
12) Mend some clothes
Sewing ties the hands and calms the mind.
13) Organize or clean
It can get your mind off being bored and you get the satisfaction of getting something done.
14) Make a to-do list
Plan your day and feel more ready for tomorrow.
Reflect and write down the events and thoughts from your day.
16) Chill out by the fireplace
I’m don’t know what’s so relaxing about watching those flames, but it’s a time tested way to destress at night.
17) Watch the stars
If your 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.
Danger! – You want to avoid these rabbit holes when bored in bed at night
Here’s another thing that can back to bite you when you’re bored in bed at night – YouTube and social media rabbit holes!
We all love YouTube because there’s so much interesting stuff right at your fingertips. There’s always something new awaiting you in the suggested videos…
And that’s what makes it so incredibly addictive and hard to stop watching at night.
That means every night millions of bored people are binge watching YouTube and staying up WAY pass their bedtime.
You can say the same for social media. 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.
Making matters worse, those bright electronic screens on a phone or tablet emit blue light that has been shown to play havoc with the body’s natural sleep-wake cycle.
So, you really need to avoid these electronic rabbit holes which can keep you from getting the deep restful sleep your body needs.
If you’re not careful, they can wreck your nights and days.
Other things you can do for better nights
Okay, we’ve talked about some do’s and don’ts for when you’re bored in bed at night.
I’ve already mentioned the importance of a having a regular bedtime routine and including activities that will help you transition to sleep.
There are other sleep hygiene rules that can help keep your sleep-wake cycle on track:
- avoid naps
- exercise during the day
- get outside for natural daylight during the day
- avoid large meals, alcohol, or stimulants such as caffeine before bedtime
- keep your sleep environment dark, cool, quiet, and relaxing
It’s harder to get bored when you’re feeling sleepy.
You should also see a doctor as they’re many other things that can be going on that can make your evenings and nights harder.
Did you know that boredom is sometimes linked to depression?
Also, other health issues can cause problems for sleep including chronic pain, heartburn, diabetes, cancer, dementia, and asthma. You may also be living with an undiagnosed sleep disorder such as sleep apnea.
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