10 Things to Do When You Can’t Sleep


This post is part of an editorial series, “Sweet Sleep,” brought to you by the Fort Worth Moms Blog. We hope these pieces provide you with helpful information, encouragement, and insight as your navigate your family’s sleep journey.

The internet offers us hundreds of tips and tricks for getting a good night’s sleep.

I’ve tried them all.

Some are more effective than others, but some nights it doesn’t matter if you took the melatonin, the Benadryl, the warm bath, and sprayed your pillow with lavender. Some nights counting sheep just isn’t doing the job. I used to lie awake angry at myself for not sleeping, dreading the day ahead, and creating more of the restless energy that was keeping me awake.

No more. Now, I’ve just decided to give it the old college try, and if it is just one of those nights when the sleep’s not coming, I get up. I do something else for a bit – something productive or something fun – it doesn’t matter. Then, after a while I try again.

Am I exhausted the next day? Sure I am. But, I would have been tired anyway, and at least this way, I’m not tired and angry.

To inspire my fellow sleepless mommas, I polled the moms of Fort Worth Moms, and we have some ideas to keep you busy — or at least entertained — in the middle of the night.

Some people work in bed when they can't sleep.10 Things to Do in the Middle of the Night Instead of Sleeping

  1. Distract yourself. Read a book from your “to be read” pile. Binge watch a TV series you can’t watch when the kids are up. Scroll through your social media feeds following all the rabbit trails. 
  2. Play a game. Your phone probably has a few games already downloaded, but if not, take a scroll through the app store and try something new. Solitaire is a classic card game to let your mind relax, or try a crossword puzzle to challenge yourself.
  3. Be productive. What’s on your to-do list? Clean the kitchen. Make a shopping list or schedule a grocery pickup time. Write a meal plan. Look for new recipes to try.
  4. Reflect. Journal. Make a gratitude list. Pray. Write a letter. Do some yoga.
  5. Check the kids. Give a sneaky smooch on the forehead. Adjust his blankets. Notice her breath.
  6. Go outside. I’m not recommending a stroll in the wee hours, but if you have a porch or a back patio, take some time outside, or maybe just open a window. Listen to the night sounds. Look at the stars. Breathe in the quiet.
  7. Go shopping. (Or window shopping.) Online shopping is my favorite kind of shopping, but I have a hard rule. No midnight purchases. I can put anything in the cart in the middle of the night, but I can’t push the “buy now” button until at least 9:00 a.m. The things that seem so tempting at 3:00 in the morning are often far less necessary in the light of day. Make a wish list. Make a list of gift ideas. Scroll through someone else’s gift list.
  8. Get organized. Go through the the photos. File the papers. Clean out your inbox. Hit unsubscribe on all those annoying emails.
  9. Pop in your earbuds. Listen to a podcast or an audiobook. Try a sleep story or sleep sounds. Try out a new playlist.
  10. Learn a craft. YouTube has endless video tutorials teaching you anything from cookie decorating, to knitting to training your parakeet. We’ve even learned a few guitar chords! Though, maybe I wouldn’t recommend that one in the middle of the night. You might wake the natives!

What do you do when you just can’t sleep?

sweet sleep editorial series

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Heather grew up in Texas and graduated from TCU. Since then, she has made her home in Fort Worth with her husband, her seven-year-old son, one dog, two birds, two frogs and way too many fish. She’s a sucker for a critter and an underdog. Heather has been a teacher for more than 15 years and is currently teaching third grade. She prefers mornings spent watching the Today Show with a cup of coffee and evenings spent on the porch with a margarita. She loves a good, long book, Blue Bell Dutch chocolate ice cream, and relishing every single second of summer.


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