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  • Writer's pictureLisa Hess

Wide Awake? What to do When You Can't Fall Asleep

Updated: Sep 6, 2023

Let’s be honest: We’re all going to ignore the science that says “Don’t look at your phone or watch TV an hour before bed,” so here’s my list of other stuff that may work for you*:

*I do not get any reimbursement for your clicks or purchases



First, the basics: try to make sure your room is cool and dark as is comfortable for you. If you're tossing and turning get up, walk around, go lay down in another room until you feel tired.


Deep Breathing: Discover the power of deep breathing for relaxation. Learn more about these techniques here.


Gentle Noise: I like an app called White Noise. It’s free and has all kinds of unusual noises (Airplane cabin? Dishwasher?), along with more common relaxing sounds like rain or waterfall. It also has delta waves, pink or brown noise. If you haven’t heard of those, I definitely suggest giving them a try.


Bedtime Stories for Adults

Listen to me: These are G-rated short stories for adults. Whatever R-rated version your Google search brings up is probably not suitable for relaxing bedtime reading. Or maybe that’s exactly what you need! Whatever gets you there.


Here are some suggestions:

Nothing Much Happens by Kathryn Nicolai This is my first choice. Well-written.


Physical activity, no less than 1 hour before bed. Walk, run, learn the steps to your favorite ‘00 boy band music video on YouTube, or simply stretch and listen to what shapes your body wants to take.


Bath time. Low lights, read, listen to music or just soak.


Nothing Much Happens Podcast. Literally, nothing much happens in these stories. One is about a garage sale. More effective than you might think.


This podcast offers a stream-of-consciousness style to help your mind wander and relax.


Jason Stephenson Explore his channel here. His mellow accent and “Sleep Talk Down” videos are a favorite calming combo.


Search YouTube for “Visuals for Meditation” or similar. You’ll find videos of nature, moving kaleidoscope patterns, outerspace, jelly fish. A moving visual pattern can help our brain shift focus from repetitive thoughts and physical symptoms of anxiety.



Maybe even reading this list made you sleepy! Sweet dreams.

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