What to Do When You Can’t Sleep

Maybe it’s your roommate’s noisy snoring that’s keeping you awake. Or maybe, you’re worried about your chemistry final tomorrow morning. Whatever it is, the clock is ticking into the wee hours of the night, and you’re still not asleep—and you’re not okay with that.

Suffering from sleepless nights is no one’s cup of tea, and there are some things you can do to relax your body and get your mind to a place where you can calm down. We’ve put together a list of ideas to help you get a solid night’s rest.

1. Adjust your before-bed routine

There’s a lot of talk about sleep hygiene these days and for good reason! What you do in the last hour or so before bed is really important and can affect your ability to sleep. If you find yourself having trouble sleeping multiple nights in a row, consider making some adjustments to what you do before bed.

  • Ban all electronics at least a half-hour before bed—that blue light is doing nothing to help you in the sleep department.
  • Do something calming before you fall asleep. Read a peaceful or fun book, do your devotions, or journal. Light a candle, take a hot bath, or use essential oils on your pillow.
  • Keep things consistent. Start your before-bed routine at the same time every evening and do the same types of things every night before bed. That way, your brain will have a heads up about what’s coming and will start shutting down the necessary functions.

2. Relax

A big reason people have trouble falling asleep or can’t get back to sleep after waking up in the night is anxiety and stress. Unfortunately, you can’t just snap your fingers and make anxiety go away, but there are some steps you can take to manage it. Make sure your exercising during the day and getting those good endorphins in your body. Talk with a friend or roommate about what’s going in your life during the day (not right before you fall asleep), or journal out all your stressful thoughts. Spend some time with the Lord and trust that He will make a way for you. Relaxing can feel tricky sometimes, but keep trying different things and see what works for you.

3. Stick to a regular sleep schedule

It can be easy to let your sleep schedule go haywire when you’re in college; after all, you have finals to study for and social events to attend. Even though it’s tough, try to keep your bedtime and wake-up time somewhat consistent. A regular sleep schedule will aid your circadian rhythms and help you in the sleeping department.

4. Don’t check the clock

When you’re lying awake in the night, it’s really easy to keep looking at the clock and obsessing over how late it is and how you should really be asleep. This kind of thought cycle is cyclical and will only make any stress or anxiety you might be feeling worse. Turn your clock around or cover it with a t-shirt if you’re having trouble not staring at the numbers. This also means that you probably shouldn’t lie in bed and scroll through Instagram because you’ll inadvertently see what time it is on your phone.

5. Get out of bed if you can’t sleep

Tossing and turning rarely does the trick. If you can’t sleep, get up and out of bed and do something calming for a while. Drink a glass of water or make yourself a cup of tea. Read a book under a cozy blanket on your couch. Whip out your journal and write down what’s on your mind. By doing something else and taking a break from all your racing thoughts, you can really aid in helping your mind relax and get back to sleep.

6. Have a talk with your roomie 

If you’re being kept awake by snoring, music, lights, or any other general disregard for quiet hours, it’s probably time to have a kind but direct conversation with your roommate. You are at school to learn, and it’s important that both you and your roommate respect the nighttime rules you’ve agreed upon so that you can be awake and alert for class. Pray about it or seek wisdom from someone you trust, and then have a talk with your roommate. He or she may not have even realized they were disturbing your sleep!