You're lying awake at 2am. Here's what NOT to do...

It’s a scary thing to be left alone with your own thoughts in the wee hours of the morning. While it’s natural to want to try anything and everything to get back to sleep, sometimes human instinct is just plain wrong.

Here are five common bad habits to avoid. Which of these have you found yourself doing? And what others would you add to this list? Let us know in the comments below!

Don’t look at your phone or iPad

Studies show that light from electronic screens at night can confuse our bodies immensely;  such devices give enough light to convince our eyes they’re in daylight. This, in turn, delays the body’s release of melatonin.

Melatonin, which is only released when it’s dark, plays an instrumental role in telling us when to sleep. It may initially seem like the best way to wait out your insomnia, but more often than not, it’s secretly prolonging it.

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Don’t stay in bed

If you have spent more than 15-20 minutes lying awake, try getting up and reading a book elsewhere. This might seem counterproductive at first, but it will help re-teach the brain that bed is only for sleep.

If you are prone to worry while lying awake, it’s even more important for the brain not to associate those worries with what should be a relaxing environment.

Don’t overthink

2am is prime time for many of us to worry. It can be a scary thing to be left alone with your own thoughts. Try an activity that can occupy the brain – thus forcing the usual worries from your mind – without overstimulating it. Knitting and listening to audiobooks are both very effective options. If you’re out of bed, try searching for the dullest TV program you can find. Experiment with various activities to find the right one for you.

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Don’t take a nightcap

Alcohol may be good at putting you to sleep at the start of the night, but it also lowers your threshold for what you can actually sleep through. You are more likely to be woken up at the slightest noise or movement.

Don’t check the time

This is perhaps the hardest one of all. One of the most common instincts is to keep looking at your clock or watch. This serves no purpose except to convince yourself you’re not getting enough sleep. And a belief that you’re tired the next morning can go a long way in making your body actually feel tired.

If there is a visible clock in your room, consider removing it, or at least positioning yourself away from it.

Do you have trouble sleeping? What has helped? And what bad habits would you recommend your fellow insomniacs avoid?