9 Things to Avoid when You Can't Sleep ...

When you're sitting there staring at the clock, you're not usually thinking of things to avoid when you can't sleep. Certain things you do actually make the problem worse. While avoiding them might not make you instantly fall back into a blissful slumber, they will reduce your stress and hopefully help you get back to sleep a little faster. If you're like me, you've probably done several of these things to avoid when you can't sleep.

1. Eat a Snack or Meal

Many of us instantly reach for a quick snack or a mini meal when we can't sleep. It's also one of the top things to avoid when you can't sleep. Why you might ask. Simple, we usually opt for something unhealthy or full of sugar. Then our digestive systems are busy handling our impromtu meal and it makes us stay awake even longer. Naturally, a rumbly tummy might be happier, but your body won't be getting the sleep it needs.

2. Watching the Clock

As you probably already know, watching the clock doesn't make you fall asleep any faster. In fact, it just keeps you awake. With each minute that goes by, you get more annoyed. You want to sleep, but just can't. Instead, get up and sit in a comfy chair and read a book. At least you'll be doing something productive and relaxing instead of staring at an LED display and counting the seconds until the next minute.

3. Staying in Bed

It might seem like a good idea, but staying in bed just makes you more restless. You toss and turn and usually get hot. Overall, you just cause yourself to stress out more. If possible, get out of bed and do something relaxing. Try some yoga or meditate. Read something or just watch some TV in the living room. Sometimes just giving yourself some time to wind down helps immensely.

4. Using Electronics

Many of us reach for our tablets or smartphones when we can't sleep. We read ebooks or play games. Have you ever noticed that you don't really get sleepier? The bright screens work against us. They cause your mind to think it's time to wake up instead of go to sleep. If you want to use your mobile device or watch TV, get out of bed. This helps your mind think of the bed as a place for sleep and not for electronics, leading to you falling asleep faster.

5. Having a Drink

Wine is supposed to help you relax, but alcoholic drinks right before bed or in the middle of the night actually keep you up. It takes a few hours for the alcohol to help you reach a relaxed state of mind. Reaching for that drink in the middle of the night simply helps keep you wide awake. If you're having trouble sleeping on a regular basis, try skipping the alcohol altogether for a few nights to see if it helps.

6. Thinking about Our Problems

It's amazing how many negative thoughts jump to mind when you're staring at the ceiling in the middle of the night. With each problem we think about, we get a little more stressed out. After all, there's nothing we can do about it at the time and it just makes us feel worse. Take a deep breath and think about positive things. If you can't, get up and do something else. Even if it's folding laundry, it's better than driving yourself crazy with negative thoughts.

7. Taking Extra Sleeping Pills

Popping an extra sleeping pill late a night might seem like a good idea, but it could be dangerous. Even natural sleeping pills could have an adverse affect if not taken as directed. If you rely on sleeping pills at night, but you still can't sleep. See your doctor for advice and perhaps a different type of pill. The last thing you want is to risk yourself just trying to get a few hours of sleep.

8. Exercising

When you think about it, exercising seems like a great solution. After all, you usually feel a little tired after a workout. However, exercise wakes your body up and gets your blood pumping. The last thing your body wants to do after a workout is sleep for the night. Try something relaxing, such as night time yoga poses or quiet meditation. You can burn calories in the morning.

9. Go Online

The Internet is like a giant black hole. When you get online without any real purpose, you end up spending hours jumping from one article, status update, funny meme or whatever you happen to stumble upon to another. Before you know it, it's morning and you still haven't slept. Our minds become so engaged, sleep becomes impossible. That's why many experts recommend turning off computers and mobile devices a few hours before bed.

If you can't sleep, don't try to force it. Instead, avoid some of the common speed bumps we create for ourselves and try a relaxing hobby. While you might not get a full night's sleep, you will fall asleep sooner. How do you handle a sleepless night?