How to cope with a bad night’s sleep

Sometimes you can have the best intentions for a day and it just gets completely derailed by a bad night’s sleep. When this happens I think it’s so important to remember self-care. I’m actually going through this right now. After yesterday’s post about the changes I’m going to make to simplify my time I was ready to hit the ground running. I wrote my list of important things the night before and sent myself off to bed…

…where I proceeded to have a particularly bad night’s sleep. As I lay in bed tossing and turning thinking “I’m already really tired, I’m going to feel awful tomorrow, why can’t I sleep?!!”I hit the pause button, took a breath and tried to remember self-care.

Focus on the positive: what can you do to help yourself?

As humans we’re predisposed to focus on the negative more than the positive. We remember criticism but forget compliments, it happens all the time.

Focusing on the positive is hard. We have to go against our ingrained habits, but it can be a total game changer. Last night I gave this a go. I asked myself what I could do to help my not sleeping situation, and remembered hearing on the radio how the musician Moby has created a free album of tracks designed to help you sleep. A quick search later and I’d pulled up all 4+ hours of the album on YouTube.

Other things I sometimes try:

Writing it down – if I’m up with a mind going over and over all my worries/stresses getting up and writing them all down really helps.

Reading – I normally read before bed anyway, so if sleep isn’t coming I sometimes turn the light on and read some more until my eyes are closing.

Getting up – if you really can’t sleep the worst thing to do is lie in bed thinking about it. Going to a different room and doing something relaxing might be the thing to d.

The day after a bad night’s sleep

Listening to the tracks from Moby actually did help me drift off to sleep (success!), but it was still a fitful night and I definitely feel sleep deprived today. So, I’ve been making sure to follow some bad night’s sleep self-care rituals.

Accept you aren’t at your best today, but don’t dwell on it or turn it into a negative feeling.

Sustenance. When you’re tired your body needs more food, and keeping hydrated will help you feel less rotten. I cooked up a yummy, healthy Buddha bowl for lunch.

 Upbeat music. I put on Christine and the Queens and had a little boogie whilst doing the washing up. One of Gretchen Rubin’s 12 commandments in her Happiness Project is to ‘act the way you want to feel’, and it really does help.

Give yourself a break and do the smaller tasks on your to-do list. Your cognitive functioning is impaired when you’re sleep deprived, so don’t try to tackle anything too big. I like to use these days to get household chores done.

Don’t forget to smile! It releases endorphins and makes you feel good.

Thinking about sleep

Getting good, regular sleep is really important for us. It’s taken me a long while to come to terms with my need for sleep and regular sleep patterns. I feel like sleep deprivation has become so the norm in our society that we’ve forgotten a. how it feels to not be sleep deprived and b. that sleep deprivation is really bad for our health. So, whilst accepting that sometimes you’ll have a bad night’s sleep it’s worth figuring out what the healthiest sleep pattern is for you and what you can do to help yourself get a great night’s sleep.

What do you do when you can’t get to sleep? Let me know in the comments below. 

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  • I really enjoyed reading this article.

    Your thoughts about a day after a bad night’s sleep resonated, as I’ve experienced it many times. Tried medication, but I found that stuff like meditation, or reading and writing stuff down, like you mentioned, can be more helpful in clearing the mind and getting a good night’s sleep.

    Most recently, I’ve been searching for a podcast to which I could fall asleep to, as I usually like to hear something in the background. Found this list,, and now I’m trying out the ones that seem appealing. “On Being” seems to be the winner until now 🙂

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

    • Oh interesting, I hadn’t thought of a podcast to fall asleep to. Will definitely give the one you mention I try next time I need something. Yes, I haven’t tried medication for sleep issues and am really trying to avoid going down that route (although recognise it’s helpful for some). I am also getting an aromatherapy diffuser for Christmas so am looking forward to trying some nice essential oil blends to help me relax and sleep. Thanks for reading 🙂