Everyone has the occasional bout of insomnia, but when you're tossing and turning at 3am, knowing that "everyone goes through this" is small comfort. What you need to know is what to do. Should you get up, or stay in bed? Here are some tips to help you decide what do when you can't sleep.
When to Stay in Bed
If you've woken up in the middle of the night, it's often a good idea to stay in bed, at least for a while. Waking up in the wee hours of the morning is quite common, and often all you need to get back to dreamland is to just lie there quietly. If you choose to do this, it helps to think about something pleasant, like a favorite memory or a place you find relaxing, like a mountain meadow or peaceful beach.
When to Get Up
If you've been struggling to nod off for more than half an hour, it's often best to get up. That doesn't mean, however, that you've given up for the night. Getting up can actually help you get back to sleep. By getting up and moving around, you can stretch your muscles to relieve tension and get your mind off your worries. Then, once you feel sleepy again, you can go back to bed.
What To Do When You Get Up
What you do once you've decided to get up is crucial to helping yourself begin to feel tired. Don't turn on any bright lights or use a computer or a cell phone. The white light emitted by electronic devices mimics that of a daytime sky, telling your body it's time to be awake when it isn't. Instead, turn on a dim reading lamp. Avoid any activities that might be upsetting, like scary movies. Instead, do something that will hold your attention without being over-stimulating, like reading a well-known book, doing a crossword puzzle, listening to soft, soothing music, or doing some gentle stretches.
Avoid a Nightcap
Many people rely on alcohol in order to rest, but drinking late at night is a bad idea. Alcohol in your system interferes with normal sleep patterns, making your sleep less restful. Instead, try some warm milk or herbal tea. By knowing when to get up and what to do when you are up, you'll be well on your way to a good night's rest.