What Should You Do If You Can’t Fall Asleep?

teenager falling asleep on books

You’re not alone if you’re struggling to fall or stay asleep. Many kids have a hard time getting the right amount of sleep they need. If you can relate, these tips for better sleep can help you feel rested and refreshed every morning!

In addition to resting your body, sleep is important for staying healthy, boosting your mood, and recharging your brain. Kids and teens need a lot of sleep – anywhere from 8-12 hours every night. And babies need even more…up to 17 hours a day!

Not getting anywhere close to this much sleep? You aren’t alone.

Here are 8 easy-to-follow tips for better sleep that really work. Give these a try! Over time, you’ll feel more rested.

Take out electronics from the bedroom

Research shows that using electronics in the bedroom really messes up your sleep.

At the end of the day, the light from phones, tablets, and other things that use electricity can stop your brain from making a hormone called melatonin. Melatonin is supposed to tell your body, “Time to go to sleep!” You want it to kick in when the sun goes down so you can sleep easily and naturally.

Another problem with having electronics in the bedroom is that they are a big distraction! When your phone is within reach, it is super tempting to grab it and keep yourself awake – even when you’re exhausted. To avoid this, keep your bedroom screen-free for the best possible sleep.

Instead, pick out a paperback or hardcover book! Books can help you relax before bed.

no screentime before bedtime

Get lots of physical activity during the day

Tips for better sleep usually focus on things you can do at night. But successful sleep can actually start in the day! You might struggle to fall asleep at night because you have too much energy. Maybe you didn’t move enough during the day. 

The World Health Organization says kids and teens should get lots of physical activity for the best sleep. What does this mean? For at least 1 hour a day, your body should move and sweat so that when it is time to sleep, it will crave rest.

playing outside helps kids sleep better

One of the simplest ways to do this is to play outside or go for a family walk each day. Here are some other ways you can get your muscles moving outside:

  • Jump rope
  • Play sports
  • Rollerblade
  • Ride a bike
  • Go rock-climbing

As you can see, exercise can be fun!

Try not to drink anything before bedtime

urine urgency belly pain toilet

Nothing keeps you awake at night like having to pee! That’s why it’s a good idea to drink most of your liquids during the day.

If you get too thirsty after dinner or eat lots of soup before you fall asleep, you might have to wake up for a bathroom break.

Bathroom breaks can get in the way of restful sleep, so this is a good tip to try!

Wind down with a predictable bedtime routine

Routine is one of the most important tips for better sleep. A normal set of activities leading up to bedtime reminds our minds and bodies that it is time to sleep. 

In addition to better sleep, following a bedtime routine can affect how your brain works in a good way. For example, it may help you pay better attention at school or remember more things you learn!

There are many options to build a bedtime routine that works for your family. Here are some ideas you might already be part of your bedtime routine:

  • Take a relaxing bath or shower.
  • Read a book on your own or with family.
  • Talk about your day.
  • Try a mindfulness activity.

Go to bed at the same time every day

going to bed at the same time is good sleep hygiene

Consistency is key!

What time is your bedtime? Are you able to stick to the schedule?

Staying up late can be tempting when you’re having fun doing something. This tip can be hard to follow in real life.

But if you go to bed at a consistent time, your body will naturally sense when it is time to sleep. You’ll fall asleep faster and stay that way until it is time to get up! And you’ll feel so much better the next day.

Keep your room as dark as possible

sleep tip for kids - turn off all lights

The invention of the lightbulb has made life better in many ways. But, when it comes to sleep, lightbulbs have done way more harm than good. Thomas Edison and his lightbulb have disrupted many internal clocks!

So, how can we get our bodies and minds back on track for better sleep? These tips for better sleep involve making the room as dark as possible. You want the room to be so dark that you can’t see your hand in front of your face.

Turn off the lights!

A dark room is important for sleep because darkness triggers melatonin (remember, the brain’s signal that helps us get sleepy). Keeping the lights on, however, blocks that natural process of winding down.

Block outside light.

Lights outside of your room can also make falling asleep more challenging. Black-out shades or curtains on the windows can transform your room into a cozy sleeping cave.

Cover your eyes.

Another way to block light is by wearing a comfortable eye mask.

Important Tips for Better Sleep for Kids

Turn down the temperature

Temperature might not be the first idea that pops into your mind for getting better sleep. But the temperature can make a big difference!

best temperature for sleep - 65 degrees farenheit

When you fall asleep, your body’s temperature drops just a little. In the morning, it gradually warms up.

That’s why a lower room temperature is better for sleepy time. Before you go to bed tonight, check the thermostat and turn the room temperature down. (Of course, first check with the other people in your home!)

Most people sleep best with a room temperature between 60 to 67 degrees Fahrenheit (15.6 to 19.4 degrees Celsius).

Plus, a warm, stuffy room can be an uncomfortable place to sleep.

Make your bed for sleep only

Your bed should be a special place just for rest. Try to use your bed for sleeping only.

Don’t do homework, eat snacks, or watch TV in bed. If you do other activities in bed, your body can get confused when it’s time to sleep.

If you have more questions about sleep, ask your doctor to help you create a healthy bedtime plan.

Learn more health tips about your amazing body

Updated on November 28, 2023 by Betty Choi, MD

Updated on November 28, 2023 by Betty Choi, MD