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What you should do when you can’t sleep

Wellness By Audrey Masitsa
There are times when your brain doesn't shut off making it impossible to sleep (Photo: Shutterstock)

There was a time when women sought solidarity in being #teamnosleep; 3 am was an active time on social media.

For quite a long time I subscribed to this group. But I quickly realised that even if there was a sense of community, come the following day, I would be too tired to be productive. Lack of a good night’s sleep also made me grumpy and did nothing to boost my mental health.

More often than not it wasn’t that I lacked sleep, it was that I couldn’t shut my brain off long enough for me to sleep. Or I would wake up in the middle of the night to visit the loo or drink water and that would be the end of my sleep.

If you’re anything like me, below are ways through which, according to health.com, you can switch off your brain and fall asleep within minutes of hitting the pillow.

1. Write your thoughts down

Many times I’d be thinking about things I needed to do or worrying about a challenge I was facing. Writing down these thoughts helps to ‘empty’ your brain, giving it enough time to slow down and sleep. Before you sleep, make a to-do list for the following day. If they’re long-term plans, schedule them in and note down any ideas you might have of how you will accomplish them.

2. Get up

If you find that you’ve been lying in bed for an hour or more with no sleep in sight, get out of your bedroom. Your mind will associate your room with no sleep if you force yourself to lie in bed when you’re not sleepy. Instead, get up, go to the sitting room and do something else until you get sleepy enough.

Instead of lying in bed wide awake, get up and do something else (Photo: Shutterstock)

3. Eat

Many times I struggle to fall asleep because I’m hungry. While some health practitioners may frown upon midnight snacking, sometimes it’s the only way to help reduce hunger pangs and fall asleep.

Instead of having a full-on-meal or eating junk, eat something light but filling like a small portion of popcorn or an apple. Avoid eating too much sugar as this will only keep you awake.

4. Get a sleeping aid

Be it a sleep meditation, ambience noise or soothing music, these sleeping aids can help distract your brain and lull you to sleep.

5. Stay up longer

Sometimes I force myself to sleep even when I’m not tired enough. If this happens to you, change your bedtime so that you only go to bed when you’re truly tired. Nevertheless, ensure that when you do wake up, you’ve had enough sleep.

On the other hand, ensure you tire yourself out both body and mind so that come bedtime you don’t struggle too much. I found that either working out or taking a walk earlier in the day helps to tire my body out while immersing myself in work tires my mind.

How else do you switch off your brain long enough for you to fall asleep?

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