How to Sleep With An Active Mind

How to sleep is a question that got me thinking of all the techniques I know. I can’t say they work every time, as sometimes I have not slept despite all my best efforts. Bipolar will do that to you sometimes. But the main thing is I have learned a lot of little tricks that may help you get a good night’s sleep.


I’m going to provide a night-time routine list. Of all the things I have tried and do, to try to get sleep. Some of them are just common sense. Others are medicated, so you know what to ask your doctor for, and others may seem odd, but they worked for me on one or two occasions.

How to Sleep Starts Hours Before Bedtime

If you have been having trouble sleeping, the first thing you need to consider is what time are you getting up? Now, if you are not sleeping, this could have been the previous day or two ago. But if you are not getting enough sleep, what I am about to say seems like the complete opposite of what you should do.

Get up earlier.

If my sleep is out of kilter, which it normally is, I make sure I set my alarm an hour earlier than normal, and I get up as soon as I hear the alarm. I don’t hit snooze.

You may wonder why I do this if I have only had four hours of sleep. Because I want to make, my mind and body tired for later that evening.

I also know through common sense the less sleep I have the more likely I will sleep that night.

Some people can get by on only a few hours every night; I, unfortunately, have adapted to a system whereby I sleep for one night and then stay awake the next. Sometimes I can manage three nights sleep on the trot, but it is sporadic.

But, guess what? I don’t worry about it.

Worry Will Stop You Sleeping

Sounds obvious, doesn’t it, but they are plenty of people who start worrying during the day that they might not be able to get to sleep that night.

insomnia trying to sleep

I used to be one of them.

Nowadays, I take a c’est la vie attitude. If I sleep all well and good, I don’t; I’ll make infographics or design a t-shirt.

Building up worry during the day will only transfer into your sleep later in the evening. You need to plan your day around relaxation.

You may be in a high pressured job, or you might have a very active family, but this doesn’t mean to say you have to neglect your needs. It would help if you functioned well to carry out your tasks.

But how do you stop worrying about sleeping?

By making a plan of what you will do with the extra time if you don’t sleep. Look at the benefits. Without sleep, you can achieve so much more. Admittedly you’ll feel cruddy doing it, but you need a plan for when sleep is not forthcoming.

My plan is always my website; I work on it if sleep eludes me.

You can type up all your worries and concerns and send them out into the world, or you can help people like I try to do. But the main thing is to have a plan.

Make sure it is a mental plan, not a physical plan.

Why? Because your body will be naturally tired anyway. But your brain needs wearing out. This is where the problem lies, hence why I blog.

Write up your plan; it could be going through your accounts, working out your calendar for the year, writing a story, anything which involves the brain.

This way, there is no reason to worry about not sleeping because you have been given the gift of time. You can get stuff done.

You’ll find just having a plan will take the pressure off, allowing you to relax more, maybe even enough to sleep.

A word of caution, don’t put things on the plan that needs doing; for example, if you have to do your taxes by the deadline date and worry about that, you will only add fuel to the fire.

Keep it simple and no deadlines.

What Food Helps With Sleep?

Taking a logical approach to this helps; the last thing you want to do during the day is laden yourself with high caffeine products. I’ve even found taking my iron tablets too late in the day will impact my sleep because of the energy they give me. I have to take vitamins and minerals very early in the day.

You may find the same applies to you. It took me many, many years to realise that my daily dose was impacting my sleep.

Some foods are conducive to sleep, and then there are some like sugar which is not. Although I say this, you can get a sugar overload which makes you crash and burn. So it is swings and roundabouts.

But generally, you want to eat a well-balanced diet.

I used to include lettuce a lot into my meals for its sleep properties, but my stomach cannot tolerate raw vegetables anymore. You should try lettuce if you can, as it does help with tiredness, but your salad or sandwich has to have plenty of it in it.

A heavier meal in the evening will also help you to sleep. You know how you feel when you’ve eaten a big lunch, all lethargic. Well, eat later in the evening and generate that feeling. Fill your belly with a healthy meal with a side salad, but avoid fruit or high sugared foods. Skip the pudding.

Sounds and Screens


Nowadays, we have many screens around us, and they emit a blue light that, like the sky, signifying it is daytime. You need to add a red tint to your screens for the evening time.

You can download various apps or adjust your computer settings to give you the red-light effect. This should be introduced as early into the day as possible.

As for screens and tv’s in the bedroom, this is a big no-no.

You do not want to go to sleep watching tv, although saying that my mum has tinnitus and needs the sound to sleep. It numbs noise in her ears.

However, you can listen; you just want to avoid the blue light. So either wear an eye mask or put a red filter on your tv if you must have it in your room. I’m not sure if these exist of modern TV settings as I don’t have a tv in my bedroom.

Sleep Aids & Hypnotherapy

There are so many hypnotherapy apps and binaural sound apps that it is a wonder anyone sleeps when trying to find the perfect one before bed.

So choose it during the day. Test it out. Did it make you feel sleepy? There is nothing worse than saving one for bedtime, and it was a pile of crud.

Always test them out before you even begin to use them before bed.

I have to say I find the hypnotherapy ones work best, and it is all trial and error as to which will work best for you. I personally cannot fall asleep with earphones in my ears, but if you can, then I suggest going down this route.

I have in the past used them for cat-naps during the day, which I only recommend if you haven’t slept for a few days. You need to get the sleep when you can if this is the case.


There is quite a lot of medication out there to help with sleep, and I find the off the shelf ones useless. It might be because I have serious sleep problems, but the herbal remedies just do not cut it for me.

However, if your sleeping problems are mild, I suggest a herbal tea containing chamomile and liquorice on top of taking a tablet-like Nytol.

I don’t recommend this regularly, but cold and flu remedies with a night-time tablet will also help—Night Nurse springs to mind. But only use sparingly as I once knew someone who became addicted to Night Nurse.

You can also try a spoonful or two of children’s Piriton. I use this if I have zero pharmaceutical medications in my cupboards. But it is quite rare for me nowadays.

Others also suggest Benedryl as having a sedative effect, although I have not tried it. But you don’t want to take the non-drowsy version as this defeats the object.

I tend to use Zopiclone sleeping tablets or Promethazine, which sounds like part of the Alien franchise. But the latter is used in hospitals to calm a patient before surgery.

I use sleeping tablets sparingly as they can become addictive. Doctors in the UK do not like giving these out, so you are in a better shout if asking for Promethazine as non-addictive.

Evening Time

Once you have everything in place, make sure you don’t take a bath or shower close to your bedtime, as, for some reason, this can stimulate all your senses and keep you awake.

You might find it useful to keep a really boring book by your bedside. I have one, which is the same one I’ve had for years. I don’t change it; I keep it because I have read it numerous times, and it is boring as anything and can help me drift off within a few minutes.

Your book’s choice will depend on your own preferences, but choose a well-written book as the errors sometimes found in a self-published book could set your brain on edit mode, which you do not want. Also, use a real book, no kindles.

Make sure your quilt, duvet, blankets, whatever you use are heavy in the winter and just a sheet in the summer. Prepare with the seasons; your body expects this.

And lastly, they say a warm glass of milk aids sleep, and it can do, I believe, from a psychological perspective. Avoid putting any cocoa in it. Just have milk; it has dopamine in it, but not enough to warrant a full-on sleep. But combined with the other things I have suggested, it is worth a shot.

Peace & Blessings x

P.S To Monitor Your Sleep Use The Device From Go2Sleep Below (AF)

im not a doctor

Lou Farrell

Welcome to the mental health blog of Lou Farrell. I am a writer and copywriter who pens all manner of articles relating to mental wellness and mental illness. I write about my own experiences and the knowledge I have gained over the years as someone who has bipolar disorder. I hope you enjoy the website :-)

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