How to Sleep When You Are Not Tired

Three Parts:Relaxing Your BodyCalming Your MindDeveloping a Sleep-Friendly Routine

You go to bed early, or for a nap, but for whatever reason, you're not tired or sleepy. There are many tricks you can use to relax your mind and body to make yourself fall into sleep mode more easily. If trying to sleep when you're not tired is a constant problem in your life, you can also change your routine to make it easier for you to fall asleep at night, even if you feel wide awake. See Step 1 below to get started.

Part 1
Relaxing Your Body

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    Adjust the temperature. The temperature in the room should be slightly cooler than what's comfortable for you. A slight drop in temperature induces sleep. This will help a lot. [1] But don't let yourself get too cold, especially your feet; cold feet can be disruptive to sleep, so put on some socks. You may wake up and have to take off those socks in the middle of the night, but that's better than letting those cold feet keep you awake.
    • It can take several hours for your body temperature to cool down after exercise or exposure to excessive heat, so make sure your body is at normal temperature when you get ready for sleep.
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    Adjust the lighting. If you prefer a completely dark room, cover all lights such as digital alarm clocks, or any other electronic device in your bedroom that has a light on it. If you prefer to sleep with dim lighting, wear an eye mask or lower your lights until you are comfortable enough to sleep. Do not sleep with your lights on, as this disrupts sleep and makes it hard to become tired and relaxed.[2]
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    Adjust the sound level. Consider putting on some white noise (sound machine, fan blowing etc.), which has been shown to make people fall asleep more quickly. Also, people find the ticking of a watch or clock soothing. [3] If you prefer everything quiet, turn off anything that causes noise.
    • You can also consider wearing earplugs before you go to bed. It can take some time to get used to them, but they can help block out sounds you didn't even know were keeping you from sleeping. They can also be particularly useful if you share a bed with a partner who can wake you up.
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    Adjust your sleeping position. Keep your back straight, and make sure that your neck isn't resting too high or too low. Avoid sleeping on your stomach, as forcing your head to one side is hard on the spine and neck. If you sleep on your side, put a narrow pillow or rolled-up towel between your knees to keep your hips in a neutral position. Even turning from your right side to your left can help you fall asleep if you're feeling wide awake in the same old position.
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    Make your bed more comfortable. Swap your over or under-stuffed pillows for the ones you keep in the guest room. If your mattress is lumpy, flip it over or cover it with a foam pad or other blankets. The more conducive to sleep your bed is, the more likely you will be to feel ready for bed. We've all lain in a nice, cozy hammock in the sunlight and fallen asleep when we weren't even feeling particularly tired, haven't we? Well, a cozy bed can have the same effect.
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    Get some exercise at least three hours before bed. Go for a run, hit up the gym, take a long walk, or do some stretches to help you get your heart rate going before you ease into bed. This will work out your body and will make you more tired; doing this at least three hours before bed will keep your adrenalin from pumping right before bedtime and keeping you awake. If you work out shortly before bed, then you will feel more awake than ever.[4]
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    Avoid alcohol or caffeine right before bed. Though a glass of wine may initially make you feel drowsy, if you consume alcohol right before bed, it will disrupt your sleep cycle and make you fall into a less deep sleep. If you do like to have a nightcap, just have it 2-3 hours before bed so it doesn't keep you up. As for caffeine, you should avoid caffeine after 2-3 pm, or ideally even after noon, because it can take up to eight hours for the caffeine to fully leave your system, which can definitely make you feel not so tired even when you want to fall asleep.[5]
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    Drink cherry juice. Or snack on a variety of other foods that are rich in melatonin, which are known to help you feel sleepier and to help you drift off faster. Though you should avoid eating right before bed or you may be up with indigestion or general discomfort, eating some of these foods a few hours before bed can help you drift off:[6][7]
    • Barley
    • Tomatoes
    • Rice
    • Sweet corn
    • Oats
    • Oranges
    • Bananas
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    Curl your toes. When you get in bed, curl your toes upward for a few seconds, relax them, and then repeat the gesture. This can help you relax your mind and your body, so performing a series of ten of these if you are feeling way too alert for your own good can help you fall asleep when you're not tired.[8]
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    Drink herbal tea. Herbal tea, whether it's chamomile or peppermint, has been shown to calm your body and mind and to help you feel tired and relaxed. Have a cup an hour or two before bed - you don't want to drink too much liquid right before bed or you'll be more likely to have to get up to urinate. If you make drinking herbal tea part of your pre-bed routine, this will help you fall asleep even faster.
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    Eat a healthy, lighter dinner. Get a healthy dose of carbs, proteins, and fruits or veggies with your daily dinner. Avoid spicy or overly heavy meals that are rich in fat or sugars, or your body will be more alert and uncomfortable throughout the night. Just a healthy, balanced dinner will do the trick in making you feel more tired. Make sure to eat it at least three hours before bedtime so your body has time to digest the food. Here are some great dinner options that can help you feel tired while still feeling healthy:[9]
    • Lighter pasta with cheese
    • Tofu with couscous
    • A glass of warm milk with oatmeal
    • A kale salad, salmon, and rice noodles

Part 2
Calming Your Mind

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    Recreate boredom. This varies from person to person, but whatever that activity is, it should lull your brain, not engage it. Slow, calming music lends itself well to this. Reading something that is completely uninteresting to you is good as well. Some types of puzzles or games may work as well, such as Sudoku or Solitaire. Listen to a very dry podcast. Play tic-tac-toe with yourself. Organize that stack of paper on your desk. Do whatever you think is the most boring thing possible.
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    Perform breathing exercises. Try abdominal breathing, yogic pranayam, or a one-minute breathing exercise. Close your eyes and focus on the breath falling in and out of your body. As you do this, picture each part of your body relaxing, one at a time. Focusing on your body will keep you from thinking about anything else from the outside world.
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    Visualize something relaxing and repetitive. For example, think of small, warm waves washing over your body at regular intervals to coincide with your breathing. Meditate to calm yourself and clear your head. Don't pick anything too exciting or thrilling, or you will start to work yourself up. Picture a calming beach, a gorgeous, lush forest, or a beautiful rose garden. Imagine yourself walking through it all.
    • Think of one of the most beautiful and calming places you have ever been to (a clear stream of running water in a field of wildflowers in the mountains, a peaceful lake, a beautiful beach with a slight breeze in the air). This should help you relax.
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    Read. Reading can help calm your mind and take your thoughts off of anything that might have been troubling you that day. Read something light and not too gripping, such as the local news, a paperback, or a piece of historical non-fiction. If you read a gripping thriller or an emotionally disturbing news story, that will keep you up even longer, and will make you feel even more awake if you just can't stop reading.
    • Challenge yourself and read the most boring thing you can find, from your old chemistry textbooks to a dry report about the state of another country's economy.
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    Turn off all visual stimuli at least an hour before bed. Put away the iPad, phone, computer with Netflix all queued up, and turn off that television. Your eyes should begin to start to rest and to stop seeing all of the images that will make you feel more awake, jumpy, and less able to focus. Stop being the person who drifts off while watching television or with a cell phone in her hand and get rid of all of those high-sensory distractions, which are guaranteed to make your mind feel more alert when it's time for bed.[10]
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    Stick to the fifteen-minute rule. This rule is simple: if you've been lying in bed for more than fifteen minutes and are unable to fall asleep because you're not tired, then try something else. If you continue to lie there, your mind will continue churning, and you may even work yourself up and feel even more awake than you did when you first closed your eyes. Once fifteen minutes have passed and you're no closer to catching those z's, do something else that is not very taxing. Read a magazine. Pace around your room. Drink some herbal tea. Hum to yourself. Sit up and stare at your hands. Do something new and you will start to drift off.
    • Whatever you do, though, make sure to keep the lights dim - even reasonably dim if you're reading.
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    Avoid intense conversations before bed. Five minutes before bedtime is not the time to get into a big fight with your significant other or to call up your best friend and complain about all of the stress you're facing at work in great detail. If you live with someone and have to talk right before bed, make sure you don't bring up anything more intense than the type of herbal tea you're going to buy at the store tomorrow. Otherwise, the conversation will make you feel even more alert and awake, and it will take you even longer to fall asleep.
    • If you live with someone who loves intense conversations right before bed, reschedule them for two to three hours before bed instead, if you can.
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    Think about everything you did that day. Another way to calm your mind is to go through everything you did that day, up to the most boring little detail. Start with how many blackberries you placed in your morning oatmeal and end with which quadrant of your teeth you decided to brush last. Try to break it down hour by hour and see how specific you can get and how many things you can end up remembering. Unless you're a superhero or an ER doctor for a living, chances are that this alone will be boring enough to put you to sleep.
    • If you've gone through your whole day and still feel wide awake, try going through your entire week. Surely that should be boring enough to make you drift off.

Part 3
Developing a Sleep-Friendly Routine

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    Find your sleepy time routine. If you want to feel tired when you want to go to bed, then you have to find a routine that helps you decompress and fall right into bed that starts at least half an hour before it's time to get some shut eye. This can include some light reading, listening to classical music, reading the newspaper, or doing whatever light, low-intensity activities that may help you forget your problems and start to recognize that your body needs rest.[11]
    • Once you find this routine, stick to it, and if you know you have to get to bed a little earlier one night though you're not tired, start the routine earlier and you can trick your mind into feeling tired a bit faster.
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    Go to bed around the same time every night. You may not be feeling tired because you're trying to go to bed three hours earlier than you normally do - probably because you have to wake up earlier. If you want to make it easier for yourself to fall asleep, then you have to get used to falling asleep at around the same time every night and waking up around the same time every morning. That way, your body will get used to feeling more tired at the same time every night or more alert at the same time every morning.
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    Only use your bed for sleeping If you want to regularly be able to fall asleep, even if you're not tired, then you can't watch TV in bed, do your homework in bed, talk to friends on the phone in bed, or do anything in your bed then it'll be easier for you to drift off when you close your eyes, instead of getting all worked up about the weird phone call you just got from your best friend or about all of the homework you still have to do.
    • Find a space in your home or room that is designated for "work only." This will help you save the relaxing stuff for your bed.
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    Get out in the sunlight as soon as you wake up. Once you roll out of bed, head for the window or the balcony as soon as you can. The bright light from the sun will tell your body's biological clock that it's wakey-wakey time, and this same clock will help you get to bed in about 14-16 hours, helping you stabilize your waking up and going to bed routine.[12]
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    Set aside a "worry time" for earlier in the day. If one of the reasons you don't feel tired when you go to bed is because you stay up for two hours worrying about your relationship, your health, your status at work, etc, then you need to work on setting aside a "worry time" earlier in the day so that there's nothing on your mind by the time you're ready to hit the hay. It may sound silly, but if you say, "I'm going to worry from 5-5:30 PM every day" and do nothing but worry, write down your worries, or say them aloud during that time, then you'll get them off your chest.
    • If you wait until bedtime to slow down and really think about your troubles, then yeah, you're bound to feel wide awake for a long time.
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    Try taking a warm bath or shower before bed. Either of these will raise your body's core temperature some. After your shower or bath, move to your cooler bedroom. This will cause you temperature to drop, which is the cue that tells your body it is time to sleep.[13]
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    Get all the pets out of the room. Another way to develop a healthy routine that keeps you from staying awake for longer than necessary is to stop letting your dog or cat share the bed with you. Though you may love nothing more than the feeling of this furry, cuddly creature sleeping beside you, studies show that people who sleep with their pets have a hard time falling asleep and staying asleep because those cuddly creatures can wake you up in the middle of the night.[14]
    • You may think that having your dear pet next to you will help you fall asleep when you're not feeling tired, but it will actually make you even more awake.


  • Sleep with a large pillow or stuffed animal, because no one likes to sleep alone.
  • Clear your mind of all thoughts, try to think of positive memories and visualise calming scenes.
  • Daydream. It will get your mind off of anything stressful or worrisome and just let you drift off into whatever world you create.
  • Use the bathroom before you go to bed to make yourself more comfortable and prevent having to get back up any time soon.
  • Surround yourself with calm, peaceful things that may help you slow down.
  • Fluff your pillow if it's too hard.
  • If you have wet hair, make sure it isn't pressing against your neck. Wet hair can be cold and prevent you from sleeping.
  • Try to keep your body still and sleep in a comfortable position.
  • Don't drink too much water before you sleep or else you might wake up to use the bathroom.
  • Listen to calming music.
  • Think of your dream vacation. Where is it? When Will it be? What is on it? Who is there? What will you do?
  • Maybe open a window, as it could let some fresh air in to your bedroom.
  • Drink a nice warm cup of milk before you go to bed.
  • Herbal remedies that can help include chamomile tea, Valerian root, Kava tea, Suntheanine, passion flower and melatonin (technically a hormone). These can provide deep, restful sleep without the harmful side effects of sleeping drugs.
  • Try lying on your back with your arms and legs spread apart. Focus only on your breathing.
  • Search up some relaxing stretching or meditating routines to do before bed, it should take your mind off worrying and relax your body at the same time.
  • Stay calm and don't stress about work. Just simply think about nothing and then you are sure to drift off.
  • If you feel sleepy in the day, don't sleep. Do some activity or something so you delay the sleepiness to nighttime.
  • Make sure homework and other stress that could make you pre-occupied is finished and completed.
  • Listen to the wind outside.
  • Make sure your door is closed so nothing bothers you when you are trying to sleep.
  • Think of your crush before going to bed. Daydreaming about your crush will help you sleep better.
  • Get snuggled up with something that makes you happy.
  • Try not to think about anything exciting. Getting excited will only keep you from being able to calm down.
  • Put your pillow in the freezer for about 10-15 minutes, then lay down with that pillow. The cool air helps you go to bed faster.
  • Keep a notepad by your bed...when your thoughts or to do list or worries loop over and over keeping you awake...write them down as down load them to the note pad....that way your mind let's them go long enough to relax and sleep...
  • Cold air is really good, so open a window to relax and fall asleep faster.
  • Don't listen to energetic music, listen to slow calming music instead.
  • Have a fan in your room, it will cool you down and might help you sleep.
  • Try to daydream and forget about your worries in life and go in your fantasy place.
  • Close your eyes - curl up and make it dark and just think..
  • If you can't sleep, imagine about things, or make up a story in your head. It can be about anything relaxing.
  • Reading helps to calm the mind.
  • Drink warm milk, it's great!
  • The longer you sleep in the morning, the longer you stay awake at night. So try to make naps for about 15-30 minutes and then go to bed 15-30 minutes before your usual bedtime.
  • Try to use the restroom before you go to bed so you don't have to wake up when you're asleep.
  • Don't watch scary or unsettling things before bed; as this can frighten you.
  • Make sure that your bladder is empty. Always go to the toilet before bed, even if you feel like you don't need the toilet.


  • Don't stress out about falling asleep, thinking "I have to sleep now or else..." This creates anxiety that prevents sleep. Instead, be laid back about it: "It'd be great to sleep right now, but if I don't, no big deal. At least I'll get some rest, and have a chance to relax."

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