How To Help Someone Who Can’t Sleep?

Many people struggle with getting a good night’s sleep, but there are several effective ways to help someone who can’t sleep. The key involves creating a relaxing environment, developing healthy sleep habits, and addressing any underlying issues that may be affecting their ability to rest peacefully.

Understanding the Basics of Good Sleep Hygiene

Good sleep hygiene is critical for anyone trying to improve their sleep. It involves making changes to day-to-day routines and surroundings to foster better sleep. This process consists of several key elements, such as maintaining a consistent sleep schedule, creating an optimal sleep environment, and incorporating healthy habits throughout the day.

Maintain a Consistent Sleep Schedule

One of the fundamental aspects of decent sleep hygiene is sticking to a consistent sleep schedule. Ensure that the person goes to bed and wakes up at the same time every day, even on weekends. By doing so, their body’s internal clock, known as the circadian rhythm, stabilizes, making it easier to fall asleep and wake up naturally.

Creating an Optimal Sleep Environment

The environment in which someone sleeps plays an essential role in the quality of their rest. A bedroom should be a sanctuary for sleep, free of distractions and conducive to relaxation.

Control Light and Noise

Light and noise can significantly impact the ability to fall asleep and stay asleep. Ensure that the sleep environment is dark and quiet. Consider using blackout curtains to block out external light sources and using earplugs or a white noise machine to minimize disruptive noises. Alternatively, soft background music or nature sounds can help soothe and mask disturbing sounds.

Temperature and Comfort

The bedroom’s temperature should be cool but comfortable, usually between 60-67 degrees Fahrenheit (15-20 degrees Celsius). Additionally, a comfortable mattress and bedding are vital components. Encourage the person to invest in a high-quality mattress and pillows appropriate for their sleep style and preference.

Developing Healthy Pre-Sleep Routines

What someone does in the hours leading up to bedtime can significantly affect their ability to fall asleep. Encourage the implementation of calming pre-sleep routines that signal to the brain that it is time to wind down.

Establish a Relaxing Routine

Engage in activities that promote relaxation before bedtime, such as reading a book, taking a warm bath, or practicing mindfulness or meditation. These activities help transition the mind and body into a state of restfulness, making it easier to fall asleep once in bed.

Avoid Stimulants

Steer clear of caffeine, nicotine, and heavy meals close to bedtime. These stimulants can increase alertness and make it difficult to fall asleep. Instead, consider consuming calming herbal teas or light snacks that won’t interfere with sleep.

Addressing Stress and Anxiety

Stress and anxiety are significant factors that can contribute to sleep disturbances. Helping someone manage their stress levels can lead to improvements in their sleep quality.

Practice Stress-Relief Techniques

Encourage practices such as deep breathing exercises, progressive muscle relaxation, or meditation. These techniques can help decrease anxiety and promote a state of relaxation, making it easier for the person to drift off to sleep.


Writing in a journal before bed can be an effective way to manage stress. It offers an outlet for expressing worries and concerns, which can help unload the mind before trying to sleep. Suggest that the person writes down their thoughts or keeps a gratitude journal to focus on positive aspects of their day.

Understanding the Role of Exercise

Regular physical activity is beneficial for overall health and can improve sleep patterns. However, the timing and intensity of exercise matter greatly.

Exercise Timing

Moderate exercise, such as walking or yoga, can promote better sleep, especially when done during the daytime. However, exercising too close to bedtime can have the opposite effect due to the stimulating nature of physical activity. Advise exercising at least three hours before going to bed.

Regulating Technology Use

Modern technology plays a significant role in disrupting sleep patterns, primarily due to the blue light emitted by screens, which can interfere with the production of the sleep hormone melatonin.

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Limit Screen Time

Encourage limiting exposure to screens at least an hour before bedtime. This includes televisions, smartphones, computers, and tablets. Instead, suggest engaging in non-screen activities such as reading a book or practicing relaxation exercises.

Blue Light Filters

If avoiding screens entirely isn’t possible, consider using blue light filters or special glasses that block blue light. Many devices offer night modes that reduce blue light emissions, making them less likely to interfere with melatonin production.

Diet and Nutrition

What someone eats and drinks throughout the day can significantly impact their sleep. Certain foods and beverages can either help or hinder the ability to fall asleep.

Consume Sleep-Promoting Foods

Foods rich in tryptophan, magnesium, and melatonin can promote better sleep. Consider incorporating items such as turkey, nuts, seeds, bananas, and dairy products into the diet, as these can help support the body’s ability to fall asleep naturally.

Avoid Heavy Meals

Encourage consuming lighter meals in the evening and avoiding heavy, rich foods close to bedtime. Heavy meals can cause discomfort and make it harder to fall asleep.

Seek Professional Help if Necessary

If implementing these strategies doesn’t seem to help, it may be necessary to seek the advice of a healthcare professional or a sleep specialist. Persistent sleep issues could be a sign of underlying health conditions that require medical attention.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia (CBT-I)

CBT-I is a highly effective treatment for chronic insomnia that focuses on changing the thoughts and behaviors that contribute to sleep difficulties. A trained therapist can work with the individual to develop personalized strategies to improve their sleep.

Medical Evaluation

A thorough medical evaluation can help identify any underlying health issues contributing to sleep problems, such as sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome, or other medical conditions. Addressing these issues can lead to significant improvements in sleep quality.

Finishing Thoughts

Helping someone who can’t sleep involves a multifaceted approach that includes improving sleep hygiene, creating a conducive sleep environment, and addressing any external factors that might be impacting their ability to rest. Patience and consistency are key, as it can take time for new habits to have a noticeable effect. Additionally, it is important to be supportive and understanding, as struggling with sleep can be a frustrating and challenging experience. By taking these steps, you can help someone achieve better sleep and improve their overall well-being.


  • Ollie Lane

    My name is Ollie Lane, the zestful spirit and sleep enthusiast editor at GoodSleepHub. Blending my expertise in Sleep Technology with a dash of whimsy, I'm all about transforming your nights from blah to ta-da! I believe great sleep is a blend of science, art, and a bit of fairy dust. When I'm not knee-deep in the latest sleep gadgetry or jotting down notes for my next blog post, you can find me strumming on my ukulele or chasing after my mischievous beagle, Benny. My approach to sleep is like my music: playful, innovative, and always in tune with your needs.

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