Have you ever had a night (or a lot of nights during a week, month, few months) where you just can’t fall back to sleep after being woken up? It doesn’t matter what the cause of you to wake up is, sometimes it can be very hard to fall back to sleep. I’ve always been a light sleeper. While I was pregnant, it got even worse. My daughter woke me up at the same time every night. 2:30 am. Now, the reasons I wake up now, vary from my daughter waking up to a thunderstorm, a bad dream, having to use the bathroom or a million other reasons.
Once I’m awake, there’s a 50% chance that I’m going to fall back to sleep. Usually, my mind starts thinking and worrying about the tree in the yard and whether it will withhold the storm, the problem I’m trying to solve at work, or the massive To Do List that I’m not making enough progress on.
At some point, trying to fall back to sleep seems like a waste of time and I think to myself that I might as well get up and do something productive. Unfortunately… I am always way too tired to be really productive. I find that I always have an “easy” list of things to do that makes me feel like I didn’t just toss and turn for hours on end. The items on this list are items I can manage without a lot of brainpower. One word of advice: do not make financial decisions that can’t be undone at this hour of the morning.
- Read a book – this is an easy thing to do when you’re too tired to think too much but can’t get back to sleep. Pick up a light read and get lost in a book. When I was waking up with my newborn I got into the habit of reading books on my phone while sitting with her. There really is something to be said for not reading on a phone in the middle of the night. It makes it much harder to fall back to sleep.
- Clean – the kitchen (or other room) – pick a room that is far enough away from the bedrooms that making a little noise in it doesn’t disturb any person or pet.
- Prepare food for the day. Does the chicken need to be baked in order to be ready to throw into that soup for dinner? Stick it in the oven, make some coffee, and move onto something else.
- Update your photo albums – Photo albums and other projects like this really don’t require me to use a ton of brainpower. I make mine online and don’t do a lot of scrapbooking techniques with it, so it’s not hard to drag and drop photos onto a page while you sip coffee.
- Work – is there something for work that you can do without too much brainpower? When I was pregnant, I had 30+ hours of computer based training to do. You could retake the tests until you passed, so this was what I did for weeks of not sleeping.
- Exercise – Okay, if you’re really tired, this might be a hard thing to convince yourself to do. However, stretching or doing yoga might be a good option if you just can’t fall back to sleep.
- Pet the dog/cat – do you ever look at your pet and think “I don’t spend enough time petting the dog?” Well, if you’re awake in the middle of the night, spend some time petting the dog. Most likely, he gets to sleep during the day and won’t mind the attention you give him at 2:30 am.
- Catch up on tv – Is your DVR filling up and you’re having to choose which shows to delete before watching them? Spend your extra time awake clearing off the NCIS episodes you have saved for you.
- File/do your nails – I work in a manufacturing plant and my nails are broken regularly as I go about my job. So I accept that nail polish isn’t going to last long on me. That’s not a bad thing to do early in the morning.
- Home-office work– Yes, I’ve been known to file all the paperwork and clean up the mess in the office at 4:00 am. I also pay bills and update my budget file at this time in the morning. It’s quiet, uninterrupted time – I might as well make use of it. I can go through and categorize my spending while sipping on coffee and then determining how we’re doing for the month.
What do you do when you can’t fall back to sleep in the middle of the night? If you’re ever awake at 4:00 am, I probably am also. Sometimes I even set my alarm for this time to just get up early and have quiet time to get things done. Please note, that by 8:00 pm on these days, I am most likely asleep on the couch while my daughter and husband are full of energy.