5 Little Known Activities That Can Keep You from Going to Sleep
Updated: Jul 8
Do you find that when you go to bed, you're tired but once the light goes out, you can't go to sleep? Maybe one of these activities is keeping you from getting your zzz's?
Difficult or Important Conversations
Is your day so busy that the only time you have to talk with your SO is while lying in bed? Talking about how your day went (“you know that girl in accounting who makes my life miserable?”) or what’s going on with the kids (“the school called to talk about little Johnny’s failing math grade”) can increase stress and anxiety.
Any kind of difficult or important conversations, whether in person or over the phone, right before bedtime can keep you up thinking, worrying, and planning. It’s best to set aside some time earlier in the evening to have conversations about the day and give yourself time to reflect and digest what you discussed.
Watching The Wrong Show
I think it’s obvious, if horror movies mean you need to sleep with the light on, then avoid them at all costs (that’s what I do). But engaging documentaries, thrillers, shows that make you wonder about character decisions, history, or life can also keep you up during the night. Likewise, a serial TV series with storylines that leaving you hanging at the end of each episode can be hard to turn off and go to bed when you need to.
Be careful what you choose to view before going to bed so your brain doesn’t go into overdrive pondering what you just watched.
Working from home and email on our devices means staying connected to the office is easier than ever. And if you happen to have a side hustle on top of the regular gig, it’s even harder to shut down at the end of the night. There’s no doubt that nagging to do list can lead to the can’t sleep list.
Be sure to set a hard stop time and review or create the to do list for the next day so you don’t have to repeat it in your head over and over again in an effort to remember what you need to do tomorrow.
And, if you find yourself worrying about the list during the night, it’s way better to get up to write it down. The light exposure is a lot less disruptive than tossing and turning with your brain spinning out. When you write it down, your brain can relax without worry that you’ll forget.
Not Taking the Time to Relax
Sometimes life can be busy with work and activities. Sometimes a binge-watching session gets away from you. Either way, when you try to go from being busy and active to bed with no relaxing transition time, you can have trouble shutting down to sleep.
It’s important to prepare you mind and body for bedtime by engaging in a relaxing activity before bed. Whether you meditate, journal, read, or watch TV, consistently doing something relaxing before bedtime will help you get into the proper rhythm for sleep.
Going to Bed When It’s Time
Do you go to bed when you’re ready to sleep or for another reason, like, that’s when your SO is going to bed, or because you think it’s time to go to bed? Maybe you’re going to be because you’re tired. I know. Right now, you’re thinking, “What?!?” Well, tired doesn’t necessarily mean you’re ready for sleep. Tired means a weariness or desire for sleep but not necessarily prepared to sleep.
It’s important to be sleepy and not just tired before going to bed. Sleepy means you physically need sleep and are having difficulty staying awake. The physical signs of sleepy include nodding off and excessive yawning.
An example of the difference is taking a two-hour drive. Tired will make the drive feel very long. Sleepy might easily land you in the ditch because you fell asleep behind the wheel. When you try to go to bed for any reason other than being sleepy, you can set yourself up for a difficult night.
The best results for going to sleep easier is to avoid anything that might cause stress or anxiety, give yourself some time to wind down from the day or digest conversations or shows that might make you think, and wait until you are having trouble staying awake before going to bed.
Looking for more ideas for the perfect bedtime routine? Get my free PDF, 15 Healthy Things to Do Before Bed.