How to Fall Asleep When Worries Take Over

Do you ever have those nights where you really just can’t fall asleep? You lie awake with one million thoughts running through your mind on loop and can’t seem to shake them. You lie there thinking through tomorrow’s tasks, your friend’s dilemma, or your earlier conversation with a family member, and sleep gets farther away. Those thoughts running through your head won’t stop – and suddenly it’s 3:00 in the morning.

We’ve all been there. Whether you’re an easy sleeper or have trouble daily, everyone has had a night where they simply find it impossible to doze off. If you’ve been there, we feel you. And through practice, we’ve come up with a few tried-and-true techniques to get you off to dreamland.

  1. Acknowledge your worries. Will they worry you again tomorrow morning? Is there anything you can do about it now? By thinking deliberately and intentionally about your worries – rather than letting your mind spin – you have a greater opportunity to solve them, or at least push them off until the morning.
  2. If it still worries you, write it down. Journaling might not be your thing, but sometimes it helps to take your thoughts from your mind and physically put them on a piece of paper to put them in perspective.
  3. Go for a walk. Sometimes your worries get your mind into a tailspin, and in the dark in bed, it can be nearly impossible to break out. If that’s the case, get yourself out of bed and take a quick walk around the house. Even a quick strut to the bathroom can break your mind’s cycle and start your thoughts anew.
  4. Take a deep breath. Deep breathing is key to a successful night’s sleep, so try to get yourself in that rhythm by taking a deep breath and counting to ten. There’s a reason people count sheep: the repetitive counting can set the mind at ease and put you into the tranquil sleeping and breathing rhythm you need to doze off.
  5. Picture something tranquil. If counting sheep or breathing don’t calm you down, picture something that does. Visualization is a key strategy for accomplishing goals, and falling asleep is no different. Picture a scene that soothes you: a beach in Hawaii with the waves crashing, the top of a Colorado mountain you recently hiked, or your living room couch surrounded by family. Picturing your happy place can quickly put your mind to rest.
  6. Don’t fire up the phone. When all else fails, don’t resort to your phone or computer to distract you – it can only make matters worse. The blue light given off by these electronic devices can stimulate the parts of your brain that indicate it’s time to wake up. If you need a change of pace, pick up a book or magazine.
  7. Repeat to yourself: what’s the worst that can happen if you lose sleep? Sometimes, when worries keep you up, the endless additional worry that you’re not getting enough sleep can keep the cycle going longer than it needs to. But what is the worst that can happen if you’re tired tomorrow? You can always grab an extra cup of coffee, cancel your evening plans, and chill on the couch after work if you need to catch up on rest. Take a step back and breathe – it will all be okay!

How do you quell nighttime worries? What are your best strategies for falling asleep? Leave us your thoughts in the comments below!


  • Kitty Kitty
    2 years ago

    Thank you.
    #1 YES, YES, YES
    #2 YES, YES
    #7 YES
    You get the idea…
    Oh – and read. At least you’ll be accomplishing something. And if it’s something that takes a lot of thought to comprehend, well, you just might give up after finding that you really are too tired to work that hard and go back to sleep !
    (In the mean time – did you notice? – you’ve broken the free association of the worry cycle.)

    • Earth Shoes
      Earth Shoes
      2 years ago

      Reading – that is a great one as well, thanks for sharing!

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