Falling asleep when you’re not tired can be somewhat… tiresome.
Some people are lucky enough to put their head on the pillow and drift off straight away, however many of us face the reality of not being able to fall asleep because we feel as though we’re just not tired.
Usually this feeling occurs as a direct result of activities taken place during the day that interfere with a normal sleep schedule - more on that later.
Learning how to sleep when you're “not tired” can be a great life lesson that you can take with you into the future at every stage of your life - no matter the scenario. All it takes is a little bit of effort and to try a few actionable tips to keep up your sleeve, if and when you next need them.
Ready to discover actionable tips that’ll teach you how to fall asleep when you’re not tired?
Why am I not tired?
There are many reasons you may not be tired when you’re trying to fall asleep. A simple answer is that it’s just too early for you to go to sleep, but usually this isn’t the case. Many external and internal factors can contribute towards not feeling tired when you should be.
These can include too much blue light exposure, which can mess with your body’s natural ‘sleep clock’ called your circadian rhythm. Blue light exposure at night can make your body think it’s still daytime, as it can’t always differentiate between natural daylight and bluelight which inhibits melatonin production (the hormone that facilitates the onset of sleep) and as a result making you feel more awake.
This means you’ll want to stay awake for longer and wait for ‘darkness’ to help signify that nighttime is here and you’re ready for sleep, which isn’t great for consistent bedtime routines.
Caffeine can stop you from feeling tired when you should be. Caffeine’s a stimulant and increases activity in your brain and nervous system. One study found that 400mg of caffeine taken up to 6 hours prior to bed significantly inhibits your ability to sleep. The study shows that having caffeinated coffee in the afternoon can significantly disrupt sleep.
Stress can cause racing thoughts which can keep you awake for hours, or the entire night - no matter how trivial the worry may be. Heightened adrenaline levels and an increased heart rate can result in entering a fight-or-flight response. In other words, your body thinks it needs to stay awake to survive, making you feel wide awake and not tired.
A number of medications can affect the way you sleep in a negative way and actually cause sleeplessness and that feeling of being wide awake. However, many medications can’t be avoided, so it’s about becoming aware of the medications that can affect your sleep and supporting your sleep in other ways to counteract them.
How to fall asleep when not tired?
There are a few hacks and tips you can try to help you fall asleep when you’re not tired. Some are pretty effortless and others require more intent. Either way, it’s good to try them all to discover when one works best for you.
4 tips on how to fall asleep when not tired...
1. Spruce up your wind down routine
Taking control of what you get up to before bed can help improve your sleep quality and help you to fall asleep when it feels like you’re not tired. Creating and improving your current or non-existent wind down routine doesn’t need to be difficult, it can include something as simple as switching off your devices an hour or so before bed, to limit blue light exposure.
Or you can choose to go to bed consistently at the same time each night and wake up at the same time each morning.
This sleep and wake routine can help your body form its very own structured routine and gives it a cue to feel tired when it knows bedtime is on the horizon. Our wind down article explores 6 ways to relax before bed, which all help you to fall asleep when you don’t feel tired. They’ll also help you to feel sleepy, so you don’t have to worry about not feeling tired.
2. Cut out caffeine
Cutting out caffeine after 3pm (or earlier), can prevent you from feeling awake at night, when you should be feeling tired. Remember, caffeine’s a stimulant and increases activity in your brain and nervous system, so it’ll naturally give you a buzz, even hours after consumption.
One study found that 400mg of caffeine taken up to 6 hours prior to bed significantly inhibits your ability to sleep. So although we say cut the caffeine before 3pm, if you could quit it by midday, you’d be winning.
3. Try noise-masking headphones
Noise-masking headphones for sleep can be the perfect antidote to helping you fall asleep when you’re not tired. Often, if you don’t feel tired, the sounds around you can distract you further and hinder you from falling asleep. Disturbances such as noisy neighbours, a snoring partner, road traffic and other loud noises can make it even harder to fall asleep.
Kokoon Nightbuds are a great example of quality noise-masking headphones. The Kokoon app works with Nightbuds to mask noise by playing white noise as you drift off to sleep.
Sensor detection adapts audio as you drift off to sleep. It fades your audio, then introduces either coloured noise to mask disturbances or switches off your device. These adaptive audio features enable you to get more shut eye whilst listening to your favourite audio.
Check out the Kokoon Nightbuds page to find out more.
4. Listen to meditation
Many studies have found that meditation can have a positive impact on stress and anxiety levels, which in turn can help you feel tired (when you need to) whilst in bed.
Having stress and anxiety is closely linked to sleepless nights, as a result of racing thoughts and an overactive mind at night. So, by reducing stress and anxiety levels, sleep meditation can really boost the quality of sleep you’re getting each night. It also helps to physically, as well as mentally, relax your body and mind, which will help you to fall asleep when you’re not tired.
Our Full Body Scan meditation is just under 20-minutes long and uses a mindful body scanning technique to encourage relaxation and quality sleep for those wide-awake nights. The track asks the listener to focus their attention on their body and how it’s feeling, which in turn distracts their mind from any wandering thoughts.
For more meditation tracks, discover our article that explores the best sleep meditations on the net.
What to do if it happens regularly
If you find you regularly can’t fall asleep because you’re not tired, then it may be time to try some of our top tips as soon as possible. You want to be getting as much consistent sleep as possible, rather than missing out on countless nights because you don’t feel tired.
It’s best to start with the tips you can do straight away, for example listen to a free meditation in bed tonight, cut out caffeine tomorrow afternoon and/or start going to bed and waking up at a consistent time this week. The sooner you start, the sooner you’ll begin to see results and be able to naturally feel tired when it’s time for bed.