We all have those nights where we can’t sleep. You could be as tired as can be, but no matter what, your brain is ruminating and stirring. Sleep is not an option. This might sound crazy, but one of the best things you can do in this situation is getting out of bed.
There is evidence to suggest that if you’re not asleep within 20-30 minutes of going to bed, you’re not doing yourself any favors by staying there. Instead, get up, go to another room, and sit quietly with a book, music, some knitting, or virtually anything other than looking at a screen, arguing, or exercising. Anything that is relaxing and low intensity will suffice until you become tired.
Of course, this can be far more difficult than it sounds. For starters, the bed is comfortable and pretty hard to leave once you’re in. Second, you’re tired and it’s easy to think that within minutes, you’ll be asleep again; or you might just not feel like moving. There’s also the fact that you might wake up your partner, and that’s no good for anybody.
Doing this, however, can help train you for better sleep. It can create a calming relationship with the bedroom as something that is used only for sex or sleep. Therefore, with enough practice, when you enter, you are conditioned to do only those things in the bedroom.
It appears that lying in bed with your eyes closed, while your mind is racing or consciously trying to fall asleep, has no benefit. Rather, the only way to achieve restful regenerative, aka valuable, sleep is to have neuron activity go completely silent—something that cannot happen in full consciousness. Therefore, getting yourself into a condition where this is attainable is the only way to help.
Leaving the bedroom to essentially cultivate tiredness may help. So, pick up an easy read, ball of yarn, or sip a hot tea until you’re finally ready to get to sleep. Just remember to wake up when your alarm goes off—a sleep schedule helps encourage better and more consistent sleep too.