Stop Tossing And Turning All Night With These Tips

Updated December 30, 2022by BetterHelp Editorial Team

When You're Not Sleeping Well Life Feels Draining. Sleep Is Essential!

It doesn't take too many nights of poor sleep before you start to feel bad. Insomnia wreaks havoc on your mood, energy, and ability to focus. You might find you're short tempered and unable to finish your tasks. Chronic sleep deprivation can be catastrophic to your health. Thankfully, there are plenty of ways to stop tossing and turning all night. In this article, we'll discuss the causes of sleep deprivation and possible remedies

With the Right Tools, You Can Improve Your Sleep Behavior

Chronic sleep deprivation occurs when persistent restlessness leads to a pattern of poor sleep. People who are chronically sleep deprived have more accidents at work, are involved in more auto accidents, and have higher rates of illness.

Insomnia, the formal term for poor sleep, takes many different forms. You may have difficulty actually getting to sleep. You may find yourself waking up frequently in the middle of the night. Or you may wake up hours early and not be able to get back to sleep. It could even be that you may get to sleep quickly, even stay asleep all night, but when you wake up, you find yourself crabby and tired. It doesn't feel like you've gotten the sleep you needed. You're not alone. One study by the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine found that 25% of people struggle with insomnia every year. But the study also found that the vast majority of those people were able to recover with the right treatment.

Causes of Poor Sleep

Poor sleep is caused by everything from simple lifestyle habits to major medical issues such as chronic pain. Here are some of the most common reasons people struggle to sleep at night.


Stress is the most common cause of sleep deprivation. During sleep, your body repairs damage on a cellular level while your brain gets a chance to relax and recharge. Sleep boosts your mood and improves your resistance to disease.

Lack of sleep deprives your body and brain of that much-needed downtime. You get sick more often. It's a vicious cycle – stress makes it difficult to sleep, and lack of sleep makes it difficult to deal with stress. By reducing stress during the day, you have a better chance of sleeping well. Stress causes racing thoughts and a general feeling of being on edge. During the day you're distracted by work, the bills, your friends, what to eat for dinner. In the still of night, all that stress and worry comes crashing down. Sometimes stress and worry turn into anxiety. Anxiety and insomnia often occur together. It becomes hard to relax and shut off the brain.

Poor Sleep Hygiene

Other common causes of tossing and turning are related to poor sleep hygiene: too much caffeine, eating late, alcohol use (you may feel chill and sleepy at first, but alcohol interrupts your circadian rhythm), watching or listening to overstimulating information prior to sleep, blue light from screens, being too warm, not having enough activity during the day, and not having a regular wake-up and bedtime schedule.

20 Daily Habits to Improve Your Chances of a Good Night's Sleep

Good sleep is health-promoting and lifesaving. Sleep is your number one defense against stress, illness, and mental health issues. Insomnia is often the first red flag that we're 'off-kilter.' You're biologically programmed to need sleep. When an erratic schedule, shift work, or stress interrupts your ability to sleep, your health is on the line. Review the following habits to help you sleep soundly.

  1. Stay Awake in the Daytime, Go to Bed at Night

Regulate this schedule and stick to it. Set a time for bedtime before 11 p.m. Early waking (prior to 8 a.m.) is key. Most adults need 7-9 hours of sleep. Sunrise waking is shown to greatly enhance productivity. You'll only need an alarm for a little while, as your body is naturally programmed for early waking. There are a few exceptions to this rule. Before modern civilization, night owls would have been our night watch. But even people who describe themselves as night owls quite easily begin sleeping at night with some behavioral adjustments. If you're a night-shift worker, you need to know shift work is directly correlated with difficulty sleeping.

  1. Exposure to Sunlight When You First Wake Up

This is essential for boosting metabolism, improving mood, and creating an alert brain. Open curtains or blinds or turn on lights. Use light bulbs that mimic sunlight on dark winter mornings. Sit outside for a few moments. Use a therapeutic lightbox in winter to prevent Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).

  1. Make Mornings Your Time for Self-Care

You need a power hour to kick off your day. Take vitamins, supplements, and probiotics in the morning with plenty of liquid. Eat a small meal. If your stomach can tolerate it, try some lemon water in the summer. Switch to hot lemon water with honey in the winter for an immune booster. Morning is also a great time to take a shot of apple cider vinegar – not alcohol. Plan for success and set out your food and supplements the night before. Don't rely on remembering what to do when you're foggy from sleep (or lack of it). Boost your energy and feed your brain first thing. Do your juicing and smoothies in the morning for a healthy start.

  1. Exercise in the Morning

Exercise in the morning (especially outdoors) boosts metabolism. If you can't exercise vigorously, focus on movement. Walking is a great form of exercise if you're not able to jog or run, or simply don't have the energy for it. Cycling is not weight-bearing, so it's good for sore feet, back, knees, and hips, and still great for the legs and core. If music gets you out the door, grab your headphones. Breathe in the sights.

  1. Use Aromatherapy

If you don’t have sensitivity to scents, prompt your wake cycle with peppermint oil or your favorite citrus-based oils. Add stimulating oils to your shower or body care routine. Help yourself relax at night with lavender oil in a diffuser or sprinkle it on your pillow. You can also put those old odd socks to good use by using them for your essential oil pad. Sprinkle, lay by your pillow, and breathe in! Odd socks never smelled so good. #sockhack

  1. No Social Media First Thing

It contributes to brain drain. Avoid the temptation to scroll when you're waking up.

  1. Save Hot Showers or Warm Baths for Later in the Day

This will help you wind down. Take a cool shower in the morning and get outside when you can.

  1. Cut Off All Caffeine after 2 p.m.

This includes soda, and limit yourself to two to three cups per day at the most. Do not use energy drinks, ever!

  1. Create a Bedtime Routine

Bedtime routines help the body know when you want to sleep. Over time, your routine alone will induce a big yawn. Make a ritual of having decaf tea, practice some gentle stretches, and do some journaling in bed before trying to sleep.

  1. Journal

Get those thoughts on paper so they have a chance to be expressed before you close your eyes. This can help you process through the events of your day and any situations causing you stress. Not only can it help you sleep better, but it just might help you find a solution to a problem you're facing.

  1. Watch Your Lunch

When You're Not Sleeping Well Life Feels Draining. Sleep Is Essential!

Keep lunch light, tasty, and crispy to avoid post-lunch fatigue and brain drain. Smaller meals with protein, less sugar and carbs will help the post-lunch crash. A salad is a good go-to in summer, while soup with crackers and some fruit hits the spot in colder months.

  1. Keep Your Naps Short

Afternoon naps should be kept to less than one hour if you're lucky enough to get one. If you must doze in the day, set an alarm.

  1. Keep Yourself Awake During the Day

You may be tired during the day, but sometimes it's those midday naps that are keeping you awake. Instead of giving in and going to sleep, try to drink something cold, suck on ice, eat something crunchy, chew gum, splash your face with cool water, sit outside, stretch, or just move. If you sit at work, get up every 15 minutes.

  1. Watch What You Consume in the Evening

Try to eat dinner before 7 p.m. Limit alcohol to one serving or none at all. Alcohol interferes with your sleep/wake cycle.

  1. Darkening Shades or Blinds Are a Must in Your Sleeping Area

If you can't afford them, use heavy blankets or towels. The less light, the better. Make sure there are no sounds or flashing lights from phones, computers, printers, air conditioners, etc. Blue light from a TV is particularly problematic. This is why TV watching should end about 60 minutes before you try to sleep. Set your phone display to night shift if you must use it in bed. Use your technology only to play relaxation music or a guided sleep meditation at night but not to look at distressing emails or texts. You can save the world in the morning. YouTube has lots of free guided meditations and relaxation music. And there are hundreds of apps and sleep trackers out there on the market.

  1. Try a Weighted Blanket

Some people need a heavy blanket to sleep. It's a sensory thing. Look for them online (but not just before bed).

  1. Take a Supplement

There are various supplements that may improve sleep quality, including melatonin, chamomile, valerian root, and magnesium. These are available in teas, powders, capsules, liquids, and tablets. Talk to your doctor, a pharmacist, or natural food consultant before adding any supplements to your schedule. If you use an over-the-counter sleep aid, try to take it before 9 p.m. You may have to work hard to get awake in the morning due to the 'hangover' effect. It may be worth the side effects for a while to get your brain back into the habit of sleeping.

  1. Choose the Right Sleep Temperature

Room temperature should be somewhere between 60-68 degrees when possible. If you're overheated, you won't sleep well.

  1. Give Reading a Try

Keep a stack of books by your bed. Read until you're ready to sleep. If focusing on a book is difficult, try magazines or an audiobook.

  1. Do a Sleep Study

Consider getting a sleep study if your sleep problems are chronic. Insomnia is a major contributor to mental health issues such as anxiety and depression and also affects your physical health. If you have sleep apnea, your mental health issues won't improve until you can sleep.

Prioritize your sleep. Without sleep, it will be so much harder to make other lifestyle changes.

  1. See a Therapist

There are many causes of tossing and turning in your sleep, and stress is a major contributor. While the strategies above can help you sleep better, if stress or anxiety is keeping you awake, you could benefit from therapy. There are treatment options such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) among others that can help you learn to manage stress. Find an in-person or online therapist who can teach techniques that will calm your mind and improve your sleep hygiene while offering emotional support and understanding. A good therapist can go a long way in helping you achieve better sleep.

Get More Rest with BetterHelp

BetterHelp provides online counseling that can help you learn how to manage your stress, change your behavior, and get the rest you need. Our licensed professionals can meet with you at a time that’s most convenient for you and wherever you feel comfortable, even in the comfort of your own home. You can read reviews of BetterHelp counselors below from people experiencing similar issues.

Counselor Reviews

"Dr. Marote is great! She has helped me a lot. I have noticed a huge improvement in just two weeks. I feel comfortable during our weekly sessions and she is a great listener. She has also provided me with many helpful tips to overcome my anxiety and insomnia. I am truly happy I found her here on BetterHelp."

"Dr. Broz had made a significant impact on my life. After just one session with her I was able to get more sleep and handle issues with my husband and young kids better. She's empathic and very easy to talk to. I would recommend her to anyone looking for help with stress, sleep issues, anger or relationship advice. Thanks Sandra for everything you do for me and all your patients ??"


By following the tips in this article and reaching out to a therapist at BetterHelp, you'll be fast on your way to reestablishing healthy sleep patterns and feeling your very best. Take the first step today.

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