Can’t Sleep? Things to Do – and NOT Do! – at 3 am

We’ve all been there – the clock strikes 3 am, and sleep seems elusive. Instead of tossing and turning in frustration, consider this time as an opportunity for some intentional activities. Here’s a guide on things to do, and perhaps more importantly, what NOT to do, when you can’t sleep in the wee hours of the morning.

Things to Do:

Mindful Breathing:

Engage in calming breathing exercises. Inhale deeply, hold for a few seconds, and exhale slowly. This simple technique can help relax your mind and body.

Read a Relaxing Book:

Opt for something light and enjoyable. Steer clear of intense thrillers or work-related material that might stimulate your mind too much.

Listen to Soothing Music:

Create a calming playlist. Soft melodies or nature sounds can provide a comforting backdrop and ease your mind into a more restful state.

Write or Journal:

Put pen to paper. Jot down your thoughts, dreams, or even a to-do list for the next day. This can help declutter your mind.

Gentle Stretching or Yoga:

Perform gentle stretches or engage in some restorative yoga. This can alleviate physical tension and contribute to a more relaxed state.

Look Up:

If it’s a clear sky, open the window covering and look up. Ponder the vastness of the sky, breathe, and smile with wonder and gratitude of the gift and majesty of life.

What NOT to Do:

Ingest Stimulants:

Steer clear of caffeine, nicotine, or any other stimulants. These can further disrupt your sleep patterns and make it harder to drift off later.

Turn on the Screen:

Resist the temptation to scroll through your phone or watch TV. The blue light emitted from screens can interfere with your body’s natural sleep-wake cycle.

safe jobs that sound dangerous

Midnight Snacking:

While a small, sleep-friendly snack may be okay, avoid heavy meals. Digesting food can be challenging when your body should be winding down.


Constantly checking the time can create anxiety and make it even more challenging to fall asleep. Consider turning your clock away or placing it out of immediate sight.

Intense Work or Problem-Solving:

Now is not the time to tackle complex problems or engage in high-stakes decision-making. Save those activities for the daylight hours.

Call or Text Your Ex:

Everyone knows it’s a bad idea to text your ex when you’ve been drinking. It’s an equally bad idea to do it in the middle of the night. Save your thoughts and longings, foolish or wise as they may be, for clear thinking in the light of day.

Remember, the goal is to create a calm and conducive environment for sleep to eventually find you. Embrace the quiet moments, and you might discover that the early morning hours offer a unique opportunity for self-reflection and relaxation. Sweet dreams await!

Ms. Career Girl

Ms. Career Girl was started in 2008 to help ambitious young professional women figure out who they are, what they want and how to get it.