Fatigued but can't sleep? 5 tips to help

It's quite the contradiction: you're exhausted, yet when you lay your head on the pillow, sleep seems to evade you. You're not alone. Many people struggle with this very issue, finding that feeling tired or fatigued doesn't necessarily guarantee a good night's sleep. Getting a good night’s sleep consistently is important for overall health and wellbeing, and not being able to sleep properly can be incredibly frustrating and even debilitating. But don't despair! There are ways to combat this issue, and we'll explore some ideas that might help right here.

Progressive Muscle Relaxation

Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR) is a method that involves tensing and then releasing various muscle groups to promote physical relaxation. By focusing on the contrast between tension and relaxation, you can better tune in to your body's relaxation response. This may distract your mind from racing thoughts and help prepare your body for sleep.

Here’s a link to a 15-minute guided PMR exercise to help you implement the technique.

Mindfulness Meditation

Mindfulness is about being fully present in the moment and accepting it without judgment. By practicing mindfulness meditation, you can reduce anxiety and promote relaxation. This method encourages you to observe wandering thoughts as they drift through your mind. Rather than getting involved with the thoughts or becoming overwhelmed by them, you simply acknowledge them and then let them go.

You can find many guided meditation videos online. Here’s a link to a short, relaxing mindfulness meditation.


Aromatherapy uses scented essential oils to improve physical and emotional health. Certain scents, like lavender, rose, and chamomile, have been described as being beneficial for promoting sleep. You can diffuse these oils in your bedroom, add a few drops to a warm bath, or even put a dab on your pillow. The calming scents can help you relax and prepare your mind for sleep. Please keep informed about safe ways to use essential oils, which you can find more information about here.

White noise

White noise is a sound that is actually a combination of all of the frequencies of sound that a human ear can hear, which blur together to create a sort of static sound. Because it is a combination of many frequencies, white noise may be able to mask the sounds of other things around you. Some people find that playing white noise helps them get to sleep, because its consistency helps them avoid hearing or awakening to sudden, disruptive noises like cars passing or trees moving.

Here’s a link to a 10-hour audio file of white noise to help you catch some sleep without distractions.

Practice good sleep hygiene

Sleep hygiene refers to habits that can help you to form a good sleep routine and achieve a restful sleep. Some sleep hygiene habits you can easily implement include:

  • Studying or working outside the bedroom – sleeping in the same room as where you do tasks that require a lot of thinking and focus may affect your ability to disconnect from this mindset when it’s time to sleep
  • Adjusting the lighting – making sure your bedroom is dark, since exposure to light sources can affect our ability to get to and stay asleep
  • Keeping the room at a comfortable temperature – it might be harder to get to sleep if you’re too hot or too cold
  • Making sure the room is tidy – clutter and mess may make you feel stressed or anxious when trying to get to sleep
  • Have a consistent routine – try to go to bed and get out of bed at roughly the same time each day, so your body learns when it’s time to relax and when it’s time to be alert

A good night’s sleep is vital to maintaining health and wellbeing. If you're struggling to sleep despite feeling fatigued, these relaxation techniques could help. Try consistently incorporating these practices into your nightly routine, and with time, you may find falling asleep becomes a less daunting task.

If you are struggling to feel rested and unable to achieve a consistent sleep pattern for a considerable amount of time, and it’s starting to significantly impact your daily functioning, please contact your healthcare professional.

Sweet dreams!

Olivia Holland
Medical Writer