101 Productive Things to Do When You Can’t Sleep


If you’re suffering from insomnia or occasional sleeplessness, you’re not alone. 

Lots of people have difficulty falling asleep once in a while, and it affects people of all age groups. Stress is the main culprit, but taking a long afternoon nap or caffeine can also have a disruptive effect on your sleep.

But whatever the cause, there are plenty of productive things you can do when you can’t sleep. Here’s a list of 101 options. 

1. Try the 4-7-8 Breathing Technique

This is a simple breathing exercise that takes almost no time. It is meant to incorporate moments of deep relaxation to help regulate the brain to end in a calm, stable state. Simply breathe through the nose for 4 seconds, hold your breath for 7 seconds, exhale, making the ‘whoosh’ sound for 8 seconds, and repeat the cycle three to four times.

2. Prepare for the Next Day

Planning for the next day will help you get more things done and become more productive. You can make this a night ritual to achieve better results.

3. Clean Your Room

Tidy up your room; put dirty clothes in the laundry basket, fold clean laundry, and put them in the wardrobe or chest of drawers, throw rubbish in the bin.

4. Organize Your Book Collection

Arrange your books alphabetically, by genre or color. You can as well put your favorite books in front of the bookshelf. Separate the books you haven’t read yet from those that you have.

5. Knock Out Some Chores

Get down to business and clean the dishes, wipe down the countertops, sink, and dish drainer. Waking up to a clean kitchen is liberating.

6. Take a Hot Bath

It not only prepares you to sleep better but also reduces blood sugar levels the same way exercise does. Not that you should substitute this for exercise, as being physically active is important.

7. Organize Your Beauty Products

Get rid of items you don’t use. Separate the everyday items from those that you use occasionally. Then display those every-day products in front of an organizer.

8. Meditate

Meditation just before bedtime can help reduce stress and anxiety from the day, which in turn helps you sleep better and deeper without tossing and turning.

9. Take a Breather

Often overlooked but getting some fresh air can improve your health and well-being considering most of you spend a lot of hours inside buildings, including your home.

10. Go a for Bike Ride

Depending on where you live and the weather, cycling at night is pretty interesting. It’s also much more dangerous than biking during the day. So don’t forget to have lights on your bike, back and front, a white headlamp, reflective gear, and oh, obey the traffic laws.

11. Listen to a Podcast

There are all kinds of podcasts; hence, there’s something for everyone to listen to. It’s a terrific opportunity to gain new interests, learn more about the world, humanity, and basically new things.

12. Listen to Slow/Calming Music

There are plenty of ways you can benefit from relaxing music. Studies have shown it reduces stress, enhances brain function and concentration, prepares your mind and body for better sleep, and more.

13. Make a List of Things That Make You Happy

There will be days when you just need to remind yourself of all the little things that make you happy. Don’t just make a list but try and do one every single day. This way, you’ll learn to appreciate and enjoy life more.

14. Make an Organized Grocery List

Creating a grocery list for an entire week helps you avoid buying things you don’t need really need, thus saving you money and time.

15. Do Some Gentle Stretches

Surprisingly, doing some simple stretching at night relaxes the mind and body, making it easier to fall asleep. Side stretch, lunge, spinal twist, and child’s pose are some of the simplest yet effective stretches you can try.

16. Complete Your Homework Assignments

If you’re juggling your studies with a part-time job, you may find yourself neglecting your homework. When you can’t fall asleep, try and finish your homework. Preparing for upcoming topics in class isn’t the worst thing either.

17. Write a Gratitude List

Writing down the things you’re grateful for may seem insignificant, but it can actually provide you with a sense of purpose. It’s also a reminder of the simple, fundamental things that truly matter.

18. Look for New Recipes to Try at Home

Check out recipes and find something new that will make any night around your dinner table a special one. A delicious meal always gets the good vibes going.

19. A Quiet Yoga Practice

There are so many different types of yoga. Focus on deep breathing to calm your mind and release any unnecessary tension in your body.

20. Solve the New York Times Crossword Puzzle

Solving crossword puzzles does a lot more than help you kill time when you can’t sleep. It’s a great way to keep your brain active and sharp even as you age. Keep in mind game difficulty increases as the week goes on. If you’re a novice, start with Monday’s puzzle.

21. Try the Cognitive Shuffling Technique

This technique attempts to move your mind away from stressful thoughts. It basically scrambles your thoughts into random words and a sequence of objects. This might not make sense, but it’s actually a proven method to help you fall asleep. Check out how it works here.

22. Make Paint-dipped Glass Jars

Obsessed with colorful storage/ décor? How about adding a bit of color to your glass jars? It’s very simple, all you need is spray paint and form letters. You can as well turn the little coffee bottles into stunning color-blocked vases.

23. Solve Tricky Riddles

Who doesn’t love brain teasers? They are fun, make you feel silly sometimes, and so boost overall brain health while increasing memory power.

24. Make Breakfast Ahead of Time

Sometimes we don’t have time to make a delicious breakfast from scratch in the morning. If you prepare your breakfast at night, you’ll have very little to do in the morning. There are lots of make-ahead breakfast you can try.

25. Learn a New Skill

Want to do something fun yet useful? Learn a new skill! There are plenty of valuable things you can learn to improve your personal and professional life. I recommend learning how to draw, learning Photoshop basics, or something else art-related.

26. Make A Poster On Your Kids Door

Sometimes it’s nice to surprise your kid(s) for no reason. It makes them feel loved. It can be ‘reasons l love you,’ art prints, a message of kindness, positive thought, or a compliment poster.

27. Find Boring Materials to Read

As ridiculous as it sounds, finding something dull to read is a legit trick for battling sleeplessness. It can either be a novel, magazine, document, or anything that spells boring.

28. Decorate Your Nightstand

Nightstands are a true breeding ground of clutter. From lip glosses to glasses, magazines to face creams; it’s basically a catch-all. Declutter the nightstand and add a few intimate touches with family photos, vases with flowers, etc. An attractive and functional space can help you sleep better.

29. Practice Mindfulness

Mindfulness is a type of meditation. It’s focusing on being in the present without distraction, interpretation, or judgment. It’s a great way to reduce stress, anxiety, negative thoughts, and improve sleep quality.

30. Write Memoir Stories

Everyone has a story to tell whether you’re 56 or 27. Get a pen and paper or laptop and start to write.

31. Go Through Old Photo Albums

Going through old photos triggers good memories. Looking at photo evidence of those weekend road trips with your friends and the fun-filled camping trip you had with family brings back the good times, and serves as a reminder to reconnect with long lost friends.

32. Knit/Sketch

Did you know keeping your hands busy with knitting can help you reduce stress and increase relaxation? Well, now you know. Knit that scarf, blanket, or sweater you always wanted.

33. Make a Homemade Pasta

When did you last make homemade pasta? It doesn’t matter how late it is, get in the kitchen and make some fresh pasta.

34. Sort and Organize Your iPhoto Library

Lots of unwanted photos duplicate, and it has gotten out of hand. Get your photo mess under control by deleting the photos you don’t want anyone and organizing albums into folders.

35. Take an Online Class

Is there a course you’ve always been curious about? Take a chance to enroll and register for the online class. You’ll thank yourself later.

36. Get Rid of Dust

If there’s one thing you can’t avoid is dust. No matter how precise of a cleaner you are or clean your house is, dust always accumulates on the surfaces somehow.

37. Learn How to Draw Nail Art

Learning how to draw nail art is a skill worth mastering. It’s convenient, can save you money, and you’ll get to come up with cool, unique nail designs.

38. Read a Book

Bought a book that you haven’t read yet? Come to think of it, when was the last time you read a book? Stop feeling guilty, grab a book, and start reading.

39. Listen to an Audiobook

If you don’t want to flip pages, listen to an audiobook instead. Add an hour or two of learning about another world/history and entertainment to your day.

40. Refresh Your Fireplace Mantle

A fireplace is the most forgotten place when it comes to updating décor in your home. Give your fireplace a facelift to complement the look and feel of your living space.

41. Schedule Appointments

Schedule appointments you see fit, whether it is to see the dentist, renew your license, take a permit test, or renew a passport.

42. Learn Words to Your Favorite Song

If you only know parts of your favorite song lyrics, make an effort to learn the entire song. Get the lyrics of the song and try to memorize it.

43. Do Laundry

If you live in an apartment, this might not be a good idea as running the washing machine and dryer at night might not go well with some neighbors. Also, you might not know this, but washing clothes late at night during winter can save energy.

44. Clean and Sanitize the Refrigerator

Ask yourself one question, will I feel embarrassed when my visitors see the inside of my refrigerator? If your answer is a definitive yes, get to work and give your fridge some love it deserves.

45. Create a Reading List

Create a list of books and magazines in the genres you love. You can also try something different. Add books your friends and family are reading to the list.

46. Start Journaling

It’s not too late to start journaling. Starting is the easier part, but keeping up with it every day is something most people struggle with. Challenge yourself to keep up the habit.

47. Yoga

It’s a good way to release any tightness or stress from the day and unwind. It has a lot of surprising health benefits too.

48. Revisit Your Diary

Sometimes it’s important to turn back and analyze your old diary. Don’t read about traumatic experiences, though; it might not be good for your mental health. Focus on the positives.

49. Put Together a Wish List

You probably won’t accomplish half of it, but creating a wish list gives you a sense of urgency.

50. Create a Personalized Photo Book

This is a great way to create a unique memorial item of your life and that of your family and friends.

51. Plan a Week’s Worth of Outfits

Avoid the ‘what am l going to wear today’ mornings and plan your outfits for a week.

52. Shop for Essentials Online

Stock up on household items you don’t like running out of; a roll of toilet paper, bottle of shampoo, cleaning supplies or your favorite spices.

53. Try a New Craft

Ever been curious about trying a new craft? Quilting or photography, maybe? Take the leap, it’s always fun to try something new.

54. Organize your Kitchen Cabinets and Drawers

Maximize your kitchen space by reorganizing your kitchen cabinets and drawers.

55. Expand Your Vocabulary

Some words don’t do a good story justice. You don’t have to be a wordsmith, but try to grasp new vocabulary. Other than adding flavor to the story, it opens new lines of reasoning.

56. Watch Informative Documentaries

Even though watching TV at night is highly discouraged, it won’t hurt to watch something that’s beneficial to your well-being.

57. Clear Out Old Messages

Clear out those old useless text messages that have been sitting in your phone inbox for months to free up space.

58. Write

Just write anything! It could be a letter to yourself, loved one or someone in your life that has passed away.

59. Finish Any Pending Project

Having a little trouble with finishing off tasks? We’ve all been there. End procrastinating and finish that home or work project.

60. Write thank-you Notes to Family and Friends

It’s a good idea to let your family and friends know how much you love and appreciate them. You could be thanking a friend for taking care of your pets while you’re out on vacation or just thanking your parents for bringing you into this world.

61. Organize Your Shoes

If your shoe rack is overflowing with tons of shoes, it’s time to get organized.

62. Play Around with New Technology

Technology is always changing. To stay ahead of the curb, familiarize yourself with new gadgets and learn more about how computers work. Experiment with the hoverboard during the day, though.

63. Update Your Bucket List

There must be some new places you’ve discovered and would like to visit or new stuff you want to try. Write them down and make it happen.

64. Watch an Inspiring Ted Talk

If you want to change in your life or get motivated, watch inspirational TED talk speeches. You’ll also learn to appreciate life more.

65. Improve Your Handwriting

When you’re not a doctor yet your handwriting looks like chicken scratch, that means you need to work on it. You’re not doing it for anyone but yourself.

66. Learn a New Language

If you’ve always been eager to learn a new language, make the move now. Don’t just do it to impressive people, though. You may lose momentum along the way.

67. Evaluate Your Working Habits

Are you always the office complainer or problem solver? How well do you take criticism? Are you the dependable type?

68. Update Your CV

It doesn’t matter if you’re looking for a new job or not. It helps you refocus on career goals and expectations. It’s very easy to deviate once you get comfortable in a job.

69. Delete Contacts You Don’t Need

It doesn’t make sense to keep contacts of people whom you don’t talk to anymore.

70. Rearrange Your Furniture

Put your creativity to the test and rearrange your furniture. It can make your room feel bigger and make yourself feel better.

71. Go Through Your Financial Statements

Getting to know where your money is coming from and going can help you manage your savings better.

72. Unsubscribe from Unwanted Emails and Newsletters 

Get rid of those annoying promotional emails and newsletters.

73. Find a Volunteering Gig

Volunteer in an animal shelter, library or community center and make a difference. There is a lot of cruelty in the world, play your part.

74. Find Interesting Places to Visit

It could be around your state or in a different country. Finding visa-free destinations for American citizens can be a huge plus.

75. Wash Your Makeup Brushes

When was the last time you washed your makeup brushes? Yeah, that’s what I thought. Some of you could use a little reminder.

76. Try a Makeup Tutorial

Every makeup artist started somewhere. Give it a shot.  

77. Make a Must-Watch Movie List

Life can get busy and you might not have time to catch up on your movie viewing. Now is the perfect time to research and come up with a must-watch film list to watch over the weekend.

78. Create a Scrapbook

Keep the special memories like wedding, baby’s first year, graduation, vacation alive by putting together a scrapbook.

79. Try a Coloring App

Some coloring apps for adults are super fun and interesting. It’s actually an art to relieve stress and anxiety.

80. Change Your Laptop Wallpaper

Your kid just turned four, yet your laptop wallpaper is of them when they were two. Time for a change, don’t you think?

81. Clean Your Laptop Keyboard

If your keyboard is stuffed with debris or starts to get sticky, you may find it hard to type. When that happens, it’s time to do a keyboard scrub down. Be sure to check how to safely and thoroughly clean it.

82. Backup Your Computer/ Phone

Phones are fragile and accidents happen all the time. To keep your photos, documents and contacts safe, back them up.

83. Try Your Hand at Calligraphy

How awesome is it to come up with decorative handwriting with a pen or brush? Some people term it as the most personal form of expression. It up to you to find out if it’s indeed true or not.

84. Learn Film and Video Editing Techniques

Editing skills can come in handy when vacationing or documenting special occasions like birthdays, pregnancy, your kid’s first bike rides etc.

85. Organize Paper Files

If you have a home office, go through all your documents and separate your business documents from personal files. Label the files and shred any documents that you don’t need.

86. Plan for Your Next Vacation

It’s not weird or out of the norm to start planning your next vacation early. In fact, travel agents suggest doing so if you want to get the best price on airfares and hotels.

87. Open/Update Your Dating Profile

If you want to get more dates, upload more realistic photos and provide key details on your interests and passions. Just add a few tweaks.

88. Look for Birthday Gifts

If someone special in your life has an upcoming birthday, start searching for a unique birthday gift that will make them feel special.

89. Record a New Voicemail

Your current voicemail is probably out of touch. Use this chance to get creative with it and leave a lasting impression on people.

90. Go Through All Your Paid Subscriptions

Check all your monthly subscriptions and membership programs and determine if they are really worth it. If you feel you’re not getting your money’s worth, unsubscribe.

91. Write Down Some Goals

It doesn’t matter if it’s a career, financial, or life goal. Writing them down will keep you on your toes. And according to studies, you are more likely to achieve those goals if you jot them down.

92. Watch DIY YouTube Videos

Watch something useful on YouTube like how to change a tire, fix a leaky roof or clogged toilet. There are lots of DIY projects and home repairs you can find on YouTube.

93. Learn How to Code

You don’t have to be a genius to learn how to code. While it’s a bit intimidating, almost anyone can crack it if they are willing to learn.

94. Reduce Clutter in Your Handbag

A handbag carries all sorts of things from makeup to jewelry, pack of tissues, notebooks, personal stuff and more. It’s so easy for trash and clutter to accumulate over time. Get rid of all the unnecessary stuff and only pack the essentials.

95. Set Goals for Next Year

Whether you have accomplished your current goals or not, set new ones for next year. You should not by any means ignore the goals you haven’t achieved yet, though. Keep working on them.

96. Move to Another Room

You might wonder how this is productive, but it can help you relax. Find something constructive or relaxing to do in the other room.

97. Make Future Reservations

Make future date reservations. They do come in most of the times.

98. Update Passwords

Change or update your passwords to keep your sensitive and important data safe. Actually, computer users are advised to constantly change their passwords to limit account breaches. The longer you stay with the same password, the higher the chances of people finding out what it is.

99. Review Your Upcoming Schedule

Check to see if you have any upcoming appointments, meetings, interviews, performance review so that you can adjust your plans in light of those schedules.

100. Try Writing with the Opposite Hand 

Learning to write with the wrong hand can help you become more creative, open minded while helping the brain integrate better across the right and left hemispheres.

101. Reprogram Your Sleeping Habits

If you’re constantly battling with insomnia you need to reset your sleep schedule and see if anything changes. If you used to take afternoon naps, don’t; know matter how tired you are. Adjust your bedtime and try to stick to your sleep schedule. Try and find triggers that might be causing your lack of sleep.

Harris

Hello, I'm Harris. For many years, I have no problems with sleeping but as I become older, I find sometimes sleeping well can be a challenge. This website is a collection of questions I have had wondered once and seek out answer on the web or from my doctors. As I accumulate more information about sleeping I will post them here. Hope you find these articles helpful. Thank you!

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