What to Do When You Can’t Sleep? Top 10 Home Remedies

Sleeping disorders are common these days and people are struggling to find an answer to “what to do when you can’t sleep”. Though it has become a common query, the available remedies and answers are numerous, thus confusing people about which one to follow. 

Insomnia is a major challenge for people across the world. Due to the rise of virtual interactions and digital devices, people are more prone to excessive screen time. The prolonged screen viewing is affecting people physically and mentally. 

According to a study by NCBI, electronic devices emit blue light that can suppress melatonin production and alter circadian rhythms, leading to disrupted sleep. Thus, people are becoming prone to sleep deprivation.

What Causes Insomnia?

When you're tossing and turning at night, wondering what to do when you can't sleep, it's often due to several reasons. One common cause is stress. When you're stressed, your mind races, and you might think, "What do you do if you can't sleep?" or even, "What does it mean when you can't sleep at night?" These worries can keep you awake.

Another factor is your lifestyle and habits. For instance, using electronics before bed or consuming caffeine late in the day can lead to questions like, "What to do if you can't fall asleep?" Additionally, environmental factors like noise or an uncomfortable bed can leave you asking, "What do I do if I can't sleep?"

It's also important to consider medical reasons. Conditions like anxiety, depression, or chronic pain often leave people wondering, "What if you can't sleep?" or "What does it mean when you can't sleep?" Understanding these triggers can help address the root causes of your sleeplessness.

What to Do When You Can’t Sleep?

1. Pre-sleep Ritual 

Creating a calming pre-sleep ritual is vital for signaling your body it's time to wind down. This can involve activities that relax the mind and prepare the body for rest. Enhancing your sleep environment is also crucial. Aim for a cool, quiet, and dark room. Adjusting the light, temperature, and noise levels in your bedroom can significantly impact your ability to fall asleep naturally. A comfortable mattress and pillow tailored to your sleeping preferences further support a restful night.

Steps to do it:

  • Set a consistent bedtime and stick to it every night.
  • Dim the lights an hour before sleep to encourage natural melatonin production.
  • Keep the bedroom at a cool temperature and minimize noise with earplugs or white noise machines.

2. Meditation and Relaxation (including stress and anxiety)

Meditation and relaxation are powerful tools for mitigating the effects of stress and anxiety, common culprits behind sleep disturbances. Techniques such as guided meditation help focus the mind away from the day's worries, while relaxation strategies like deep breathing or progressive muscle relaxation release physical tension. These practices not only improve sleep onset but also enhance overall sleep quality by maintaining a calm mental state at bedtime.

How to go about it:

  • Practice guided imagery or meditation using an app or audio recordings.
  • Write out stressful thoughts in a journal before bed to clear your mind.
  • Engage in progressive muscle relaxation starting from your toes and moving upwards.

3. Limit Screen Time

The blue light emitted by screens is known to disrupt the natural sleep-wake cycle by inhibiting the secretion of melatonin, the hormone responsible for sleep. Limiting exposure to screens before bed can significantly improve your sleep quality. It’s also helpful to adopt habits that reduce your overall screen time during the evening hours, which prepares your brain for sleep and reduces the likelihood of sleep disturbances.

Steps to do it:

  • Avoid screens at least one hour before your bedtime.
  • Use applications that filter blue light on devices that cannot be turned off early.

4. Herbal Remedies

Herbal remedies offer a natural alternative to pharmacological treatments for insomnia. Herbs like chamomile, valerian root, and lavender have been used for centuries to promote relaxation and sleep. These herbs can be consumed as teas or as supplements. They work by increasing the activity of neurotransmitters in the brain that induce sleepiness and relaxation, making it easier to fall asleep naturally.

Steps to do it:

  • Drink a cup of herbal tea like chamomile or valerian root approximately 30 minutes before bed.
  • Consider herbal supplements under the guidance of a health professional.

5. Healthy Diet

Your diet plays a crucial role in how well you sleep. Consuming large, heavy meals or caffeine and sugar close to bedtime can disrupt your sleep cycle, whereas foods rich in magnesium and potassium help relax the muscles and nerves. A balanced diet that supports your circadian rhythm can improve not only sleep quality but also overall health.

Types of food:

  • Include bananas, almonds, and leafy green vegetables in your evening meals.
  • Avoid heavy, rich foods, caffeine, and sugary snacks late in the day.

6. Acupressure and Acupuncture

Acupressure and acupuncture are traditional Chinese medical practices that involve stimulating certain points on the body to relieve stress and pain, thereby promoting better sleep. These techniques are based on the theory that energy flows through pathways in the body, and disruptions in this flow can cause health issues like insomnia.

Steps to do it safely at home:

  • Learn the location of acupressure points linked to sleep, such as the inner wrist or just below the feet.
  • Apply gentle pressure on these points before bed for several minutes.

7. White Noise

White noise helps mask background noises that might disturb sleep. It provides a consistent auditory backdrop that can soothe you to sleep. The sound of white noise or similar sounds like rain or ocean waves creates a calming environment ideal for sleep, making it easier to fall asleep and stay asleep.

How to go about it:

  • Use a white noise machine or a smartphone app that simulates relaxing sounds.
  • Try different sounds to find which works best for you.

8. Improve Daytime Habits

Improving sleep isn't just about what you do at night; your daytime activities play a significant role too. If you often find yourself wondering "what to do when you can't sleep," it may be time to examine and adjust your daytime behaviors. Effective changes can pave the way for better sleep quality and less nighttime restlessness.

What to do:

  • Exercise in the morning or early afternoon.
  • Limit caffeine and heavy meals.
  • Get more light exposure and vitamin D.
  • Reduce long daytime naps.
  • Manage stress effectively.

9. Natural Sleep Supplements

Natural sleep supplements like melatonin, magnesium, and L-theanine can help improve sleep quality. Melatonin helps regulate the sleep-wake cycle, magnesium relaxes the muscles, and L-theanine promotes relaxation. These supplements should be used cautiously and ideally under the guidance of a healthcare provider.

Types of Natural Sleep Supplements:

  • Melatonin for adjusting your body's internal clock.
  • Magnesium to calm nerves and muscles.
  • L-theanine to reduce stress and anxiety.

10. Aromatherapy

Aromatherapy involves using essential oils to promote health and well-being, including sleep improvement. Oils such as lavender and sandalwood can reduce stress and prepare the body for sleep by creating a calming atmosphere in your bedroom.

How to go about it:

  • Diffuse essential oils like lavender or sandalwood in your bedroom before bedtime.
  • Apply diluted essential oil to wrists or temples to help relax your body and mind.

*Additional Tips

When the question "What to do when you can’t sleep" keeps echoing in your mind, it's useful to have a few additional strategies up your sleeve. Managing your sleep environment and habits can make a substantial difference in how quickly you fall asleep. If you often lie awake wondering, "what to do when you can't sleep," consider tweaking your daily routines and bedroom setting.

  • Use soothing colors in your bedroom: Decorate with calming colors like soft blues, greens, and greys to help induce sleep.
  • Incorporate gentle stretching: Light stretches before bed can relieve physical tension and help your body relax.
  • Limit liquids before bed: Reduce fluid intake an hour before bedtime to minimize nighttime awakenings.
  • Check your sleep position: Adjust your sleep position for better alignment and comfort; consider using pillows for support.
  • Create a pre-sleep playlist: Soft, soothing music or ambient sounds can help calm your mind and prepare you for sleep.

Understanding "what to do when you can’t sleep" involves more than following a list; it's about creating a conducive environment for rest. If "what to do if you can't fall asleep" is a regular concern, these small changes can lead to big improvements in your sleep patterns.


When the question "What can I do when I can't sleep?" keeps cycling through your mind, remember you have many natural options. From meditation and herbal remedies to setting up a calming pre-sleep ritual, these strategies can greatly help. 

If you often find yourself wondering, "What should I do if I can't fall asleep?" try implementing these methods gradually into your nightly routine. Knowing "what to do if you can't sleep" is just the first step. Each person's journey to better sleep is unique, so experiment with these suggestions to discover which ones help you drift off peacefully and keep those restless nights at bay.