You’re lying awake at 2am. Here’s what NOT to do… 27



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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.

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.

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? 

Starts at 60 Writers

The Starts at 60 writers team seek out interesting topics and write them especially for you.

  1. Slept early in the evening, around 8.30pm.Woke at 1am. Made Vic a cup of tea, gave some pain medication, put him up higher in the bed. By then I was wide awake. Fixed all the clocks and got back into bed. Was still awake at 4am and decided to keep reading all night as chances of going to sleep minimal. At 5am, thought I give sleep a go. After a short time awake, I was surprised to wake at 7 20am. Our sleep patterns are shot to hell. Nothing for me to be making cups of tea at 3-4.30am.

    3 REPLY
    • I also have trouble with early awakening. Between 2-5am. Usually start visit to toilet back to bed wide awake, read till tired. But doesn’t always work so am up making coffee and take it back to bed. Try reading till book falls on floor. Then stop and try sleep next thing I know it’s morning yay at last.. I find that the later I stay up the better. Also catch up on sleep with cat naps during the day.. Can’t help wondering is it the cat naps that stop us sleeping thru or not.. My cat naps happen after I have been working outside, or spent time with grandkids, or out shopping. I am new here hello to you all..

      1 REPLY
      • Skip the coffee. Have warm milk or some other alternative. Definitely no Caffine

  2. I’m going to have to revisit the ‘don’t stay in bed’ rule; I used to do this and it was very productive to write a letter or do some sewing or reading; now I just find myself listening to radio insomnia: great through the week but not on the weekends.

  3. 3am seems to be the witching hour. If I am going to wake up it is I just look at the clock..say too early and go back to sleep..important not to think about anything at all.

    3 REPLY
  4. I listen to 2SM some of the people who ring in are quiet interesting I find I drop off to sleep but I never turn off the radio

    4 REPLY
    • yep listen to the radio sometimes works or read a book ,if I can remember what I was dreaming about the night before I try and piece it together and that sometimes gets me to sleep .worse is thinking what I should have ,could have ,must do

  5. Try 4 – 7 – 8 breathing method.
    Breathe IN for 4, HOLD breath for 7, breathe OUT for 8. Slows breathing down and focuses the mind. Works for me.

  6. Oh that,s no good Fred,D, maybe your doctor can help with the anxiety, no it is not fun, all the best with that Fred.

  7. I always listen to talkback radio. Set the timer for one hour and usually asleep before time is up. If I wake during the night I just hit the sleep button again for an hour. This is the only method that works for me and it works 9 out of 10 times. Before this method I would lay awake at night for hours with very little sleep.

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