Skip to main content Skip to secondary navigation

Taking Care of Ourselves & Each Other

Health & Well-Being

Sleep Corner: Finding It Difficult to Catch Some ZZZs?

Main content start

Picture this: You’ve spent all day in class/work. You’ve stayed up all night finishing an important assignment(s)/studying for your upcoming exams. You brush your teeth, throw on your comfiest pajamas, and crawl into bed. Your head hits the pillow, and… your mind is still racing and you are tossing and turning. It’s already late and you know you have an early morning the next day. If you find yourself in this situation, it can be extremely frustrating. Here’s what you can do.


Pre-Bedtime Tips to Help Fall Asleep Quickly

  • If time allows, wind down for at least half an hour before bedtime. Try reading, light stretching, or other relaxing activities.
  • Disconnect from your screens
  • Dim the lights to help your eyes relax
  • Consider using a calming scent, like lavender essential oils or candles

Tips to Help in the Moment

  • Avoid looking at the clock, as this can add additional pressure to fall asleep 
  • Resist the temptation to go on your phone – blue light from your screen delays the production of melatonin (your sleepy hormone) 
  • Try word games. Think of random letters in the alphabet (for example, C) and list words that start with that letter (clover, charm, cat)
  • Try a relaxation technique:
    • 4-7-8 Method: Slowly inhale through your nose while counting to four. Hold your breath while counting to seven. Exhale through your mouth while counting to eight. Repeat this 4-7-8 cycle three more times.
    • Body Scan Meditation: Close your eyes and slowly breathe in and out. Notice the position of your body on the bed and any sensations, good or bad, in your legs and feet. From your legs up to your head, observe each region of your body and its sensations. Stay present and observe your body without judgement and then let each part of your body relax.
    • Imagery: Close your eyes and get in a comfortable position. Think about a place or experience that feels relaxing. Slowly breathing in and out, reflect on the details of this setting and submerge yourself in the calmness of this mental imagery.

Still Can’t Fall Asleep?

If you’ve been lying awake for 20 minutes or more, try getting out of bed and doing something soothing, such as reading or listening to quiet music. Try jotting down what is on your mind so you are not fixated on it. 

For additional sleep tips, check out the “Sleep Corner” in each edition of The Flourish.


Stanford Resources

Additional Resources