When insomnia knocks...

I am a long-time sufferer of insomnia. I can't count the number of nights I've spent staring at the clock, watching my potential hours of unconsciousness tick away.


Throughout the years, I've implemented all of the tried-and-true sleep hygiene measures.

  • No clocks in the bedroom

  • No exercise right before bed

  • Stay away from screens (TV, phone, and computer)

  • No coffee after midday

  • Differentiate between your work space and your sleep space

  • Practice a sleep routine

However, in times of stress insomnia visits like an old-friend. Countless cups of chamomile tea and books on tape are no match for my night-time anxiety. In those moments, I've found myself taking solace in the following practices, and personally, they've helped me get some rest (if not actual sleep).


I make lists. I've always been a big list writer. There's something comforting about not only laying out all of my to-dos, but then having the opportunity to cross them off one-by-one. There's something about turning them from the big beasts they were in my head into tasks on a piece of paper that makes them feel doable. I've found that when I'm laying awake in bed, this can be one of the only things that slows my train of thoughts.


I do chores. Let's be honest, as much as you want to get back to sleep, there are some moments when it's just not happening. In those instances, I'm just as bothered by the fact that I'm wasting time as by my chances to rest slipping away. I've found that if I just admit that sleep isn't on the table (for that moment at least) it can feel good to tackle something else that needs doing. Sometimes it will even get my mind off things enough to begin to finally feel tired.


I read (and read and read). Anyone who knows me knows that I'm a huge bookworm. Reading is, and has always been an escape. At times when I just can't turn off my thoughts, reading a good book can be the immersion I need to jolt me out of my cycle of thinking. *Replace as needed with your own escapist passtime.*


I listen to music. One of the worst types of insomnia is the one where you do really feel exhausted, but still can't seem to make the jump to sleep. At those times, I try to distract my brain with some mellow music, something that provide a soundtrack for me to rest my eyes to. Even when I'm not able to sleep, this type of ambient sound can help me relax.


And finally, on those mornings when I know I'm just not going to be able to function throughout the day, I give myself permission to call in a sick day and continue to try and rest.