wikiHow to Fall Back Asleep

Two Methods:Getting Back to Sleep in the MomentDeveloping Healthier Long-Term Sleep Patterns

Have you ever fallen asleep, then found yourself wide awake an hour later? Disruptive sleep patterns can be very frustrating and result in exhaustion during the day, when you need to be alert. This article will provide you with some tips and exercises to follow if you find yourself awake in the middle of the night, and also provides suggestions for long-term changes you can make to your sleep habits to develop healthy, uninterrupted sleep patterns.

Method 1
Getting Back to Sleep in the Moment

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    Practice deep breathing exercises. By concentrating on your breath and controlling it, you can slow your heart rate and lower your blood pressure, thus prepping your body to get back to sleep.[1]
    • While lying down on your back, relax all the muscles in your body as much as you can.
    • Inhale slowly through your nose, concentrating on filling the bottom of your chest cavity with air. You should see your stomach rise instead of just your chest.
    • Do this in a slow, controlled manner, taking 8-10 seconds.
    • Hold your breath for 1-2 seconds.
    • Relax and let the air escape your chest at a natural rate.
    • Repeat this process until you feel yourself drifting back to sleep.
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    Practice progressive relaxation.[2] Progressive relaxation is a technique that asks you to focus on each of the major muscle groups in your body individually, relaxing them one by one. Even though we live in our bodies, most people actually find it very difficult to conceptualize the whole body at once. When we lie down and try to relax for sleep, we may be keeping certain parts of our body tensed up. Instead, try the following:
    • Lying on your back, close your eyes and focus on how your body is feeling in the present moment.
    • Focus on your feet, relaxing all the muscles in them and letting them sink into the mattress. Try to imagine the individual muscles in your feet, from your toes to your ankles, and unclench them.
    • Move up into your calves and knees. Working your way up from the ankles, relax any tension you might be holding in your muscles and simply let your legs lie there.
    • Move up into your thighs, doing the same.
    • Move on to your buttocks, then your lower back.
    • Spend some time on your chest and abdomen. Focus on your breathing — deepen your breaths and concentrate on the inhalation and exhalation processes.
    • Move on to your hands. As you did with your feet, imagine all the many small muscles in your hands and relax them one by tone. Begin with your fingers, then your palms, then your wrists.
    • Move on to your upper arms, then your shoulders.
    • Relax the muscles in your neck, where many people carry much of their tension.
    • Relax the muscles in your jaw, which you may be keeping clenched unconsciously.
    • Move on to your eyelids and cheeks. Let you whole skull sink back into your pillow.
    • Once you’ve done a relaxation inventory of your entire body, try to drift back to sleep.
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    Do toe-tensing exercises.[3] Though it may seem as though flexing muscles repeatedly might keep you awake, toe-tensing exercises actually relax the rest of the muscles in your body and prepare you for rest.
    • Lying down in bed, close your eyes and concentrate on your toes.
    • Flex your toes backwards, toward your face. Hold that position for ten seconds.
    • Relax them for ten seconds.
    • Repeat the process ten times, then try to drift off to sleep again.
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    Use a calming mantra to ease anxiety.[4] A mantra is a sound that's repeated in an effort to focus attention away from distracting thoughts. The most common mantra is the sound "Om," though you can use any sound that is relaxing and simple. Mantras draw your focus to 1) the action of producing the sound, 2) the tactile feeling of producing the sound with your mouth and throat, and 3) the soothing sound produced.
    • Lie down in bed and close your eyes.
    • Take a deep breath to fill slowly fill your lungs, drawing air into the bottom of your chest cavity. You should see your belly rise, not your chest.
    • Say "Om," holding the "o" sound for as long as is comfortable.
    • Focus solely on the three dimensions of the mantra — action, feeling, and sound. Think about those three things until everything else falls away.
    • Rest for one second in silence.
    • Repeat until your anxiety has waned.
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    Confront negative thoughts. If you wake up in the middle of the night paralyzed by anxiety or stress, you won't be able to get to sleep again until you deal with the negative thoughts that are taking over your mind.
    • Ask yourself, "Are these thoughts productive? Will they help me reach my goals, or are they just useless, circular, obsessive thoughts?"[5]
    • If they are productive thoughts, let them work their way out. You may feel relaxed, having worked toward a solution to a problem you had during the day.
    • If they are negative thoughts, don't let yourself indulge them. Acknowledge that thinking these thoughts will have no positive effect on your life, and force yourself to stop thinking them.
    • This is very difficult, and will take a lot of practice and will power. You may not be successful at first, but over time, with effort, you can learn to control whether or not you let negative thoughts keep you awake at night.
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    Use positive affirmations. You'll have a lot of trouble falling back asleep if you stay in a negative headspace, so positive affirmations — the technique of repeating positive thoughts to yourself until you feel less anxious — can be useful in the middle of the night.
    • Begin with the more obvious, generic positive affirmations like "I am a good person"; "I believe in myself"; or "I will have a good day tomorrow"
    • Repeat a handful of these affirmations to yourself until you feel slightly relaxed by the process of repetition.
    • Move on, then, to more specific affirmations that pinpoint the root of the anxiety that is keeping you awake. Examples might include:
      • "I will find the man/woman of my dreams."
      • "I will find a better job soon."
      • "I am happy with my body."
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    Lower the temperature.[6] Your brain unconsciously regulates your body temperature at all times, but it tries to achieve different internal temperatures when you are awake versus when you’re asleep. Reducing the external temperature slightly will help your body gear down for rest. If your room is warm, turn down the temperature to 65-68 degrees fahrenheit.
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    Kick your pet out of the bed. Though you may find it emotionally comforting to have your dog or cat snuggle with you at bedtime, studies show that 53% of pet owners who sleep with their pets say their furry friends interfere with their sleep patterns throughout the night.[7] Your pet doesn't have the same sleep cycle as human beings, and won't feel compelled to keep still or quiet on your account. Keeping your pet out of the bedroom may be the key that allows you to sleep through the night.
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    Get up and do something after twenty minutes.[8] If you get too used to laying in bed wide awake, your brain might start making an unwanted connection between your bed and wakefulness. To jar your brain out of making such associations, get out of bed if you can’t get back to sleep after twenty minutes, and perform some kind of light activity until you feel ready for sleep again. Read a book or listen to relaxing music, but avoid the bright light of a television or computer screen, as those can stimulate your brain and keep you from falling back to sleep.

Method 2
Developing Healthier Long-Term Sleep Patterns

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    Get checked and/or treated for a sleep disorder. Though some disorders (such as narcolepsy, in which people fall asleep unexpectedly during waking hours) are obvious and observable, you may suffer from a disorder that you don't even know about. Sleep apnea is a disorder in which people stop breathing in their sleep, causing them to wake up throughout the night, never understanding what woke them up. The American Sleep Apnea Association estimates that of the 22 million Americans believed to suffer from sleep apnea, 80% of sleep-disruptive cases go undiagnosed — so get yourself checked![9]
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    Get checked and/or treated for other medical conditions which may disrupt sleep. Even if you don't have a sleep disorder, there are any number of underlying medical conditions which may be waking you up intermittently throughout the night. For example, people who suffer from acid reflux often suffer from insomnia, sleep apnea, and restless leg syndrome.[10] Men who suffer from enlarged prostates will wake throughout the night with the urgent need to urinate.
    • Describe your sleep disruption to a medical professional and ask for their advice on what medical condition might be causing your problem.
    • This will likely involve a blood test, and if the doctor discovers a medical issue, their suggested treatment might range from a simple change in your diet to surgery.
    • To avoid acid reflux, skip foods like citrus, chocolate, fatty and fried food, garlic, onion, tomato, spicy foods, and drinks containing caffeine.
    • Over the counter medications for acid reflux or heartburn will not treat the underlying cause of the problem, but will spot-treat the symptoms if taken before bedtime.
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    Keep a sleep diary.[11] The best thing you can do to figure out what your body needs for healthy sleep is to keep track of it through a sleep diary. With time, you’ll be able to figure out which habits keep you from getting a good night’s sleep and which ones ensure it.
    • Use the National Sleep Foundation’s template for a sleep diary. Take a few minutes every day to fill it out, making sure to be thorough and to not skip any days.
    • Analyze the data from your sleep diary. Look for any patterns: do you sleep through the nights on the days you exercise? Does watching TV before bed result in interrupted sleep? Are particular medications causing sleep interruptions during the night?
    • Change your day-to-day habits based on the patterns you pick up to set yourself up for regular, uninterrupted sleep.
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    Keep to a regular bedtime. Depending on your schedule, both personal and professional, you may have an erratic schedule that requires you to stay up late one night, then affords early retirement the next. However, to prevent unhealthy sleep patterns that result in frequent sleep interruptions throughout the night, set strict parameters for your sleep schedule. Make it a priority to get to sleep at the same night every night, even if that means you have to rejig your schedule throughout the day.
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    Follow a nightly pre-sleep routine.[12]By following the same steps before bedtime every night, you’ll train your body and brain to anticipate a restful night. Do the same things every single night in the hour leading up to sleep. An example might be:
    • Take a bath or shower.
    • Read a book or listen to relaxing music.
    • Meditate.
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    Avoid screens for at least an hour before bedtime. Research suggests that the bright light from phone, computer, and television screens disrupts the body’s production of melatonin, which is a hormone used to regulate the body’s internal clock.[13]
    • Don’t look at any screens for one to two hours before you’re going to go to bed every night.
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    Don’t consume caffeinated drink before bedtime.[14] Some people are more sensitive to caffeine that others — you’ll know best how your body responds to coffee or soda. If you’re particularly sensitive to caffeine, avoid drinking caffeinated beverages after lunch, just to be on the safe side and ensure that nothing remains in your system to interfere with your sleep at night.
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    Develop a soothing sleep environment. A cool temperature will help lower your body temperature and keep you asleep throughout the night. If you have street lights outside of your windows, get thick curtains (blackout curtains) to prevent any light from disturbing you throughout the night, and do your best to maintain a quiet environment free of background noise.
    • If background noise is unavoidable — for example, if you live in an apartment with thin walls and noisy neighbors — try sleeping with a soothing, regular background sound that will drown out the irregular noise. A whirring fan will do the trick, as will phone or computer apps that play soothing sounds like rain falling or the ocean’s waves breaking on the shore.


  • If you are attached to getting back to sleep and watching the time it probably won't happen so turn the clock around and don't look at it. You don't need to know what time it is until the alarm goes to wake you up.
  • Put on some relaxing sounds like the wind, rain, rushing water, etc. Then take deep breaths and clear out your mind.
  • Take a trip to the sink and pat some cool water on your neck and arms. This helps you cool off and relax. Before you know it you'll be back asleep in no time.
  • Drink warm milk.
  • If you have a digital click, cover it up with something so that the light doesn't bother you.


  • When practicing deep breathing, only hold your breath for a length of time that feels right for you.

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