How to Fall Asleep on Dark Sleepless Nights

When you can’t sleep, the night is lonely and dark. Sleepless nights seem to last forever, don’t they? Every minute gets worse. If you have chronic insomnia, you know exactly what I’m talking about! I feel your pain — not sleeping is terrible.

I was inspired to write this article when I couldn’t fall asleep a couple nights ago. It wasn’t my first sleepless night, and I suspect it won’t be my last. 

If you struggle with sleepless nights or chronic insomnia, you are not alone. When you wake up up in the middle of the night and can’t fall asleep again, know that others are in the same boat. You can’t see, hear, smell or touch us — your fellow non-sleepers — but we’re awake with you! I asked my She Blossoms family for tips on how to fall asleep on sleepless nights; you’ll find them (and more) below. 

The older I get, the more often I wake up in the middle of the night…and the harder it is to fall asleep again. 

I’m currently staying in a Minneapolis hotel, on my own for six nights. It’s always difficult to sleep in a new place, and this hotel hasn’t made it easy. I’m not suffering from sleepless nights because the hotel is haunted, dirty, or loud. On the contrary, it’s new, clean and quiet.

It’s the staff who are keeping me up at night. They’re quiet, hard working, and sincere. My heart goes out to the cleaning, service, janitorial and behind-the-scenes workers who don’t speak English. Can you imagine how hard it would be to go to work every day and not understand a word you hear? To move to a new country and work so hard for minimum wage? Talk about homesickness, loneliness, and insecurity. Talk about sleepless nights! I’ve been feeling sad on their behalf. Hopefully needlessly.

Anyway, even if we have different reasons for waking up and not falling asleep again, we’re in the same boat: we want to know how to get back to sleep! Quickly and easily.

How to Fall Asleep on Sleepless Nights

Sleepless nights are worse when you’re sad, grieving, or adjusting to life after a breakup or the death of someone you love. Perhaps you’re lonely and feel like nobody cares about you. Maybe you’re prone to ruminating or obsessing when you can’t sleep.

I asked my She Blossoms Facebook Group what they do when they can’t sleep. Here’s what they said:

  • Talk to God, ask Him questions and get in touch with my inner thoughts that are keeping me awake.
  • Listen to podcasts – sends me straight back to sleep and stops me overthinking.
  • I should read to help distract me and make me sleepy again. But instead I just toss and turn.
  • I like to clean when I can’t sleep. That and listen to music.
  • Read.
  • Sketch.
  • Fret.
  • Pray.
  • Phone 100 Huntley Street Prayer line.
  • Mark something, I’m a teacher.
  • Cuddle and talk to my dogs. Don’t know what I would do without them.

And you – how do you fall asleep on sleepless nights? Feel free to share below; I’d love to hear from you. 

It just occurred to me that I must write a “How to Get Through the Night When You Can’t Sleep” article…because sometimes sleep refuses to show up.

My Top Two Tips for Falling Asleep

I’m embarrassed to share this first tip, but it works like a charm every time…

1. Listen to the Bible

When I wake up in the middle of the night – or can’t sleep when I go to bed – I listen to my free audio Bible app. It’s dramatized with music, sound effects, and different voices. It can be a little melodramatic but I’m asleep after 10 minutes, so how can I complain? And the best part is you can set it to automatically turn off after however many minutes you specify. I always set it to 20 minutes, but have never made it to the end.

How to Fall Asleep on Sleepless NightsI feel guilty that listening to the Bible is my number one tip on how to fall asleep on sleepless nights because I love God. I’m excited at how my relationship with Jesus is flourishing and growing – and I’m learning how to hear Ruach (the Holy Spirit) better all the time. So why does His word put me to sleep? 

Try it. Listen to an audio Bible when you can’t sleep. Play it softly, so you have to really settle in to hear it. Start with the book of Jonah — it’s my favorite to listen to! And Revelation is cool. The Psalms are wonderful, especially if you feel overwhelmed by the grieving process.

2. Refuse to let my mind wander

Like my She Blossoms readers said, fretting is typical when we can’t sleep – and it is NOT a tip for falling asleep on sleepless nights. In fact, fretting is the worst thing you can do. Fretting on a dark, lonely night when you can’t sleep will make you feel hopeless and depressed. Life is always worse in the middle of the night. Problems are bigger, burdens are heavier, and worries are darker.

When I let my mind wander of its own accord, I stay up later and longer. And I feel worse. So I found different ways to keep my thoughts occupied on things I want to think about, mostly by listening to my audio Bible. But I also talk to Jesus. More importantly, I listen for His still small voice. Every time my mind wanders, I refocus on Jesus. It works. It’s my second-best tip on how to fall asleep because I have less control over my mind than I like. The audio Bible requires less effort on my part.

How do you stop your mind from wandering? You need to experiment with different tips and techniques, until you find what works for you. Maybe your sleepless nights will end if you clean or do work, like a couple of my She Blossoms readers said. Or maybe you need to take more serious measures, like see a sleep doctor or grief counselor.

What do you think? Your thoughts – big and little – on how to fall asleep on sleepless nights are welcome below! Writing is one of the best ways to discover what you really think and feel.

I read every comment, but don’t worry: I won’t give advice or tell you what to do. It’s your turn to talk.


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3 thoughts on “How to Fall Asleep on Dark Sleepless Nights”

  1. Sometimes sleep refuses to show up even when I am not fretting or stressing over anything. I hate to use a sleeping aid but if sleeplessness goes on for several nights, I resort to taking Zopiclone (Immovane). Usually a half tablet is all I need to get me to sleep almost immediately. It gives me a restful, peaceful sleep and there is no groggy side effects in the morning. Some people use Zopiclone nightly but it is only supposed to be used short term. I Use it when I feel absolutely desperate and to get me back on track with my sleep cycle. By the way I don’t work for a pharmaceutical company so this is not a plug for this prescription medication.

  2. Lost my wife four months ago she was run over while she was going for her morning walk by a police car devestated us I’m 74 and alone now finding it very hard she did everything for me from the time I got up till the time I went to bed

    1. Joe, I’m so sorry for your loss. It must be so hard to live without your dear wife, after all your years together.

      I’m glad you joined my newsletter; I received the email you sent me and I emailed you back. Our She Blossoms group has many widows and widowers who are struggling to adjust to life without their spouses. It’s sad, and I wish we didn’t have to experience death. With great love comes great pain.

      May you find peace and healing, strength and courage. Even better – may you find fresh breezes and bursts of sunshine in surprising places today! May your load be light, your thoughts hopeful, and your spirit filled with joy.

      Take good care of yourself, for you are worth taking good care of. Be kind and gentle with yourself.