10 Things Insomniacs Can Do Instead of Checking Their Phones

Our first instinct when we're bored is to reach for our phones.

But people who suffer from insomnia struggle with falling asleep and staying asleep. It makes sense that they would use their phones to scroll through social media and play games to pass the time. However, this is counterproductive because your smartphone actually makes your insomnia worse.

According to Sleep Foundation, your electronic back-lit devices like cell phones and laptops can mess with your biological clock and make it more difficult to fall asleep. The blue light emitted from cellphones can reduce the amount of time you spend in two critical stages of the sleep cycle, called REM Sleep. It can also reduce your body's melatonin production in the evenings, which will make it more challenging to fall back to sleep.

We're not suggesting that you stare at your bedroom ceiling until you magically fall back asleep, but it would be helpful to find activities to pass the time that helps you fall back into a natural sleep rhythm. Here are 10 alternatives to using your phone that will make the night go by faster and help you fall back to sleep.

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Read a Book

The best way to pass the time is by reading. It's incredible how fast the hours fly by when you're involved in a captivating story. Reading will also take your mind off other worries. The only problem with reading is that sometimes we get so into the book that it's impossible to put it down. Make sure you can pull yourself away from the book and fall back to sleep, so you're not up all night!

 

Meditate

Yes, meditation is the answer to everything. Meditation can help you fall and stay asleep. On a basic level, meditation lowers your stress levels, relaxing you and allowing you to fall asleep. According to Healthline, meditation may also increase melatonin, reduce your heart rate, activate parts of the brain that control sleep and decrease blood pressure. Guided meditations are a great way to get into meditating if you're new to the practice. Try the Calm app or Headspace.

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Listen to a Podcast

You might not want to listen to a murder-mystery podcast to help you fall asleep, but there are so many interesting podcasts that will entertain you while you're up in the middle of the night. We know you've probably received a million podcast suggestions, but here are a few more! Try listening to Stuff You Should Know, Stuff You Missed in History Class, Office Ladies, MentalMusic, TED Talks Daily, Song Exploder, Get Sleepy, The Adventure Podcast and Adult ISH.

 

Start a To-Do List/Game Plan for Tomorrow

Worrying is one of the worst culprits of keeping us up at night. It's difficult to fall asleep when you can't stop thinking of all the things you have to do the next day. A quick way to organize your thoughts and lessen your worries is by making a small to-do list or game plan for the next day. It will ease your mind knowing that you have a plan for the next day and you might even be surprised that you're worried about a problem that's easily solved. We always make situations worse in our heads, so logically planning it out on paper will always make you feel more in control.

 

Make Yourself a Cup of Herbal Tea

Making yourself a warm beverage is a way to relax and get you into a sleep mood. Herbal teas like chamomile, lemon balm tea, lavender tea, peppermint tea and passionflower have calming effects, which will get you into a better state for sleep. Avoid all drinks that have caffeine, like coffee, green tea or black tea. As a general rule, WebMD suggests that you stop drinking caffeine four to six hours before you sleep.

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Take a Hot Shower

Hot showers relieve tension and relax your nervous system. Taking a shower is a quick way to calm your body and mind. Before you try this, you might want to talk to the other people in your household. The sound of a shower running in the middle of the night might be concerning if they don't know it's you.

 

Journal

It's difficult to fall asleep when you can't stop thinking or when you're dealing with anxiety. You can't relax when your mind is going a million miles an hour. Journaling can help you process your emotions and organize your thoughts. You'll be surprised how quickly you will be able to fall asleep once you get the ideas out of your head and on to pages.

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Try a Calming Activity like Drawing, Stretching or Writing

There are so many soothing activities you can do that will occupy your attention, so you don't feel bored, but will also lull you back to sleep. Activities like drawing, stretching, writing or even using a coloring book will help calm and distract.

 

Play a Sleep Playlist

Make the perfect sleep playlist before you go to bed. Choose songs that relax and make you feel safe. When you're struggling to fall asleep or can't sleep in the middle of the night, turn on your playlist and zone out. Music has been shown to reduce stress, and when you're getting ready for bed, it's one of the few times you can really focus on the music without having other distractions.

 

Turn on Your Favorite Netflix Show

This is last on the list because it technically does include a screen, but it's not as active as playing a game or scrolling through social media. Although it's best to avoid screens at night, we won't pretend that sometimes tuning out to your favorite Netflix show isn't calming. It's best to avoid new or exciting shows because you might be too interested that you won't fall asleep, but sometimes you just need to turn on Friends and slowly dose off.

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You can also decode your wild dreams with a dream journal if you wake-up in the middle of the night but can't get back to sleep. Check out the hidden meanings behind the 35 most common dreams and discover what's going on in your head!