Got Insomnia? What Not to Do at 3 A.M.

Got Insomnia? What Not to Do at 3 A.M.


Are you frustrated with your sleep—or lack thereof? You’re not alone.

Most people experience insomnia at some point in their lives, and 10% have chronic problems with insomnia.

If you’re staring at the ceiling hour after hour, night after night, it’s hard to know what to do or how to fix it.

Here are some mistakes you could be making, and what you should be doing instead.

Don’t look at the clock

Do this instead: Turn the clock around to face the wall, or hide it in a drawer or under the bed. Constantly checking the time will only arouse you and reinforce the idea that you’ll “never” get back to sleep.

Don’t stay in bed more than 15 minutes

Do this instead: Leave your bedroom and do something quiet, such as reading a book or watching boring television in a comfortable chair. It’s important to remind your brain that your bed is for sleeping, not for lying awake and worrying.

Don’t sit in bright light

Do this instead: If you do need to get up, turn on only a dim reading light, or go sit in the glow of your television or computer monitor. Keep bright overhead lights switched off, because light disrupts the production of melatonin—a hormone that regulates sleep—in your brain.

Don’t do anything too stimulating

Do this instead: Find something that occupies your time but gives your brain a break, such as knitting or a boring book or TV show. Reading whodunits or balancing your checkbook, on the other hand, may keep your mind working and alert.

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