The Insomniac’s Guide of Things To Do When Failing to Sleep

When Failing to Sleep

As one who has been plagued by trouble sleeping my whole life, I thought I’d post my thoughts on this article I read over at

The only part I disagree with is the recommendation to think through the next days work if you can’t sleep. I find that limiting my thoughts to meaningless things is a better approach for me. If I think about work, I could think for hours on end.

When Failing to Sleep

Some other things I find helpful:

  1. I cut out all caffeine by 2:00pm at the latest. I’ve found that if I have any caffeine latter than 2:00pm, I’ll be wide awake till 3;00 in the morning (nothing worse than being physically exhausted with a brain that’s racing a million miles an hour).
  2. Don’t ever look at the clock! If you’re not asleep yet, what good does looking at the clock do? It just stresses you out, and makes it even harder to get to sleep.
  3. As crazy as it sounds … I distract myself by pretending to dream. I start by visualizing myself in a scene somewhere … maybe on a beach in the topics. I create some fictitious, but relaxing scenario. Not sure why that works for me, but it does. Maybe its like “priming the dream pump”.
  1. Clear your head. Keep a notepad, pen, and small light next to the bed to catch ideas (things you would definitely worry about and possibly forget by morning). This is especially a good approach for catching to-do list items, and new creative ideas.
  2. Don’t read/study in bed. I actually learned this one back in college. Reading in bed “programs” your mind to associate bed with thinking instead of sleeping. In my experience it works both ways actually, when I tried reading in bed I would get sleepy. Then when it was time for bed, I couldn’t stop thinking.