Can't Sleep?
Here's How to Get Back to Sleep

When You Can't Sleep, Do You ...

a) Lay awake and wait for sleep to happen

b) Get up and do something

If you can't sleep and it's taking you longer than 20 minutes, get out of bed and go to a relaxing spot in another room ... in your favorite chair or recliner. If possible, don't turn on any lights. However, don't sacrifice your safety if you need some light to navigate. Once you are settled, turn off or turn down the lights, sit back and listen to your favorite soothing music. As soon as you start to feel drowsy go back to bed.

If you can't sleep or can't get back to sleep , the worse thing you can do is to become anxious by staying in bed. This anxiety can develop into a long-lasting, detrimental association with not being able to sleep in your bed and bedroom.

Now that you know the ideal solution recommended by sleep experts to get back to sleep, let's discuss some other solutions while not 'ideal', do work for some people.


Some people find that watching TV helps them fall asleep. There are many reasons why watching TV to help you sleep is not a great solution. For one,  the light from the TV screen suppresses melatonin production vital for deep, restorative sleeps ...  the blue light from the screen signals the brain to wake up. Like wise, using other electronic devices with screens is not a good idea if sleep is your goal.

However, I too have found that watching a mindless, non-stimulating TV program has helped. Although sleep quality may be compromised, it's better than feeling stressed about not sleeping. Just be sure your TV is not in your bedroom.

I've also found that reading a non-stimulating book, while sipping an herbal sleep tea, works  well. Just remember that you're trying to get to sleep. So if your eyes start drooping or if you begin to feel  drowsy, don't fight it! Go directly to bed!

More Can't Sleep Options

Listening to audio files (see below) can sometimes help you focus on something useful and stop the annoying  brain chatter that prevents you from sleeping.


(Duration: 18 minutes. First broadcast: Friday 15 March 2013)

The first of two programmes which looks at human behaviour and sleep.

Why Do We Sleep?
At first glance, it seems a silly question but actually it is one that’s been baffling scientists for decades. We spend a third of our lives asleep, but sleep science hasn’t got much further than being sure that we sleep because we get sleepy.

As Mike falls into a deep slumber to the sound of his own recording voice, we will find out exactly what happens when we sleep, from circadian clocks to sleep spindles to the famous REM, and how we have thought about this dark and private side of our lives across ages and cultures.

We explore conflicting theories about the purpose of sleep. One theory is that we developed our sleep patterns to allow our body and mind to repair itself at night. While we know our body grows and heals while we sleep, we know much less about what our brain is doing and a century after Freud and Jung’s explanations, we’re still far from scientific consensus on what dreams are for.

Are we consolidating memories? Are we rehearsing our responses to threatening situations? Or is it all random imagery created by an organ that is designed to be awake and can never fully shut down? Another theory is that while our bodies use the opportunity while we are asleep for restoration, it is not why we evolved to sleep around eight hours a day. Could it be as simple as we sleep because our ancestors didn’t need to be awake any longer?

Listen to Mike Williams take on Sleep and Dreams -- Part One

Why Do We Get Insomnia?

Duration: 18 minutesFirst broadcast:Friday 22 March 2013

Around 10% of the global population suffers from insomnia. Contrary to popular belief, it is not more prevalent in bustling, noisy cities nor in workaholics. While we might think of insomnia as a modern malaise, people have always had trouble sleeping but are some of us more susceptible to it than others? If so, why?

Where did the idea that we all need seven or eight hours sleep come from? Is it true? Can insomnia really affect our genes and shorten our lives? What really works to cure it? The experts tell us what they think works and why. And we hear from insomniacs around the world about their search for a good night’s sleep.

Listen to Mike Williams take on Insomnia -- Part Two.

Nick Silver Cant Sleep A play by Janice Kerbel for insomniacs performed by Rufus Sewell, Josette Simon and Fiona Shaw,

Biographical Notes:
Janice Kerbel was born in 1969 in Toronto. She completed her BFA at the Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design in Vancouver, and an MA at Goldsmiths College at the University of London). She has held teaching positions at the Slade School of Fine Art, London, and Goldsmiths College, where she currently teaches. Kerbel’s work has been featured in recent solo exhibitions at The Arts Club of Chicago, Art Now Tate Britain (London), the Badischer Kunstverein (Karlsruhe), Chisenhale Gallery (London), the Kitchener/Waterloo Art Gallery, Walter Phillips Gallery (Banff), and Moderna Musset (Stockholm), among many others. Her work has also been included in numerous group exhibitions across North America and Europe, such as in Kolnischer Kunstverein (Cologne), the Bucharest Biennial 5, British Art Show 6 (Newcastle), ICA (London), Kunsthalle Wien (Vienna), de Appel (Amsterdam), Musee des beaux-arts (Montreal), and Biennale de Montreal, among many others. She was a Sobey Art Award finalist in 2006 and received a Paul Hamlyn Foundation Award in 2011. She is represented in Canada by Catriona Jeffries Gallery (Vancouver), and in Europe by greengrassi (London, UK), Galerie Karin Guenther (Hamburg), and i8 Gallery (Reykjavik). Janice Kerbel lives and works in London (UK).

If you find this can't sleep option helpful, check back for future audio articles. They will be posted as they become available. Just be sure to block the computer screen light with a cloth, or adjust the computer's 'sleep' feature ,  or wear a sleep mask -- unfortunately you'll still be exposed to EMF emissions.

If you have some sleep solutions or tips that you would like to share with others, please complete the form below. Or, if you've found an audio copyright-free article that you have found useful, please share it with us.

Want to learn more sleep solutions?

Go to Types of Insomnia from Cant Sleep?

Thanks to Jack Doherty of the Banbury Group, Toronto for his delightful lamb cartoon contribution.

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