If You Can’t Sleep

There’s something strange about not being able to sleep. If it’s that you can’t get to sleep and you mess up the beginning of your sleep cycle, there’s a sense of frustration and annoyance and the knowledge that you are missing sleep almost becomes stressful. But if you miss sleep from the other end of your cycle due to waking up early, then you get to experience those nascent, early hours of the day along with the birds and the morning sun and everything feels magical. The two states are almost complete opposites: at one end missing sleep is a curse, and at the other end missing sleep is being let into a secret.

I nearly always wake up around 5am if I’ve been drinking alcohol: fully alert, bright-eyed and feeling miraculously sober. Over the years, this has accounted for a lot of early mornings.

Here’s some of the things I like to do:

Read the news. When’s the last time you just sat and read multiple news outlets reports? Rather than just picking through the headlines or clicking on a few links, spend the extra time reading through the news. Then do it again on a different channel and be critical about what got left out or reported in a different way.

Catch up on blogs. Pick a new blog or an old favourite and dive through an entire category of their archives.

Scroll through Facebook and Twitter and click every link that takes your time, or browse a hashtag on Instagram. These are things I never ever have time to do, and the magical thing about waking up early is your off the clock. My timetable for each day begins around 7:30, so that is almost two hours to do whatever I please, guilt free. You can even browse news archives with that time!

Listen for birdsong and try to identify the different voices. All my sorrow for you if you do not live somewhere with birds. And all my sorrow that I am unable to identify more birds by song alone.

Pick up the nearest book and read it. It doesn’t need to be the book you’re currently reading, or even your book. When I was 16 I woke up around 5:30am in a family friends hotel room in Turkey, where I spent four hours reading the Dad’s Andy McNab, never to finish the story.

Cuddle the person next to you. It doesn’t have to be a lover; everyone likes cuddles in bed and my housemates and I used to sneak in to snuggle each other if we woke up too early. But if it IS a lover then take time to unashamedly examine their face, and whisper all your grandest compliments to them.

Try to recall one thing from every year of your life, chronologically. Surprisingly hard, but one of my favourite games.

Write a blog post. Yep, it’s 6:03 now and counting. You don’t have to publish it but write something and stash it in your half finished posts for later. Those 238 blog posts (in my case 😞) aren’t going to start and abandon themselves! (Seriously :/)

What do you do when you can’t sleep?

12 thoughts on “If You Can’t Sleep

  1. lastyearsgirl says:

    Ahhhhh, this post <3

    I love waking up early because it means I get to drift back to sleep again, guilt-free. I don’t think it’s really in the spirit of what you’ve written here, but it’s one of the great joys in my life. I’m not a morning person. I wish I was – those rare mornings when I do make it out before the world has properly awoken are some of my favourites.



  2. Jane says:

    That first paragraph is SO true and beautifully put. I almost never wake up too early though – this morning I was wrenched out of deep sleep in the middle of a dream by my alarm and it felt like I was dying.


  3. Denise says:

    True, it is so annoying when we lose sleep… I must be honest and confess that if it happens, it’s around 4 times a year… no joke… I always sleep so well, and anytime and anywhere – it’s a bit embarrassing, but it’s true :) But during the few nights that it happens, I do what you said – read blogs, watch the news, or a movie, or write… cuddling is also a great idea :)


  4. Caitlin says:

    Ah yes, a topic with which I am intimately familiar. For me, I almost never wake up too early – it’s pretty much always the other sucky kind where I can’t fall to sleep. This actually just happened last night! For me, I’ll either get up and go read a book on the couch (since I don’t want to wake the hubby), or I’ll try practicing meditation and mindfulness – I’ve found an app called Calm that I particularly love. It has a “Deep Sleep” practice that encourages me to be patient with myself and not worry if I can’t fall asleep because as long as I’m being truly restful, it can still be healing. Great share!!


  5. Shalom 🎇 says:

    I’m almost exactly the same when it comes to waking up after a night of drinking. It annoys my friends to pieces, because they’re all trying to sleep, and I wake up either (a) very hungover and ready to cry because of the flips my stomach is doing (I never get headaches?) Or (b) hungry for toast. I’m never up later than 6 on a post alcohol morning. It annoys me too. I spend that time looking at my friends, really. I’m usually the only one who can remember the night, and I like to imagine how they’ll react to my retelling. I also tend to cry about how lucky I am to have friends, because I’m a nerd. Thank you for this post. I loved reading it. ✨


  6. winnie says:

    I’m totally not a morning person (I’d stay in bed until 10am everyday if I could!) but when I’m up, I’m up and sometimes instead of just laying in bed, maybe I should pen that blog post!


  7. Laura says:

    i love reading other people’s books as well. i once stayed with a friend, woke up early and almost finished a dan brown (the da vinci code, i think) book i found on the kitchen table before anyone else got up! and i’ll definitely try the second to last one here, sounds like so much fun! i don’t wake up too often anymore, though. or i do wake up at six to go to work now and don’t have time to do much in the mornings. i used to wake up early and never be able to go back to sleep and loved mornings. now if i wake up early on days off, i tend to go back to sleep which i still find strange as i never used to do that! xx


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