How to Stop Tossing and Turning at Night

Stop Tossing and Turning at Night

Tossing and turning at night can make it extremely difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep. This restless sleep can leave you feeling exhausted the next day.

If you regularly struggle with tossing and turning in bed, there are several effective techniques you can try to help your body and mind relax into a deep, restful sleep.

In this article, we’ll explore the top causes of restless sleep and provide proven solutions to stop tossing and turning at night.

What Causes Tossing and Turning?

There are several potential reasons why you may struggle to get comfortable in bed and stay still throughout the night:

1- Stress and Anxiety – Worries, racing thoughts, and feeling overwhelmed can make it challenging to unwind at night. Tossing and turning can be a response to mental hyperactivity.

2- Uncomfortable Sleep Environment – An unsuitable mattress, uncomfortable pillows, noisy surroundings, improper room temperature, and light can all disturb sleep.

3- Underlying Health Issues – Conditions like sleep apnea, acid reflux, restless leg syndrome, arthritis, and chronic pain can lead to discomfort and restlessness.

4- Poor Sleep Habits – Inconsistent sleep schedules, using electronics before bedtime, consuming caffeine late in the day, and other behaviors can interfere with quality sleep.

5- Medication Side Effects – Some prescription drugs and supplements may cause insomnia symptoms like restlessness as a side effect.

Identifying the root cause behind your tossing and turning can help you find the right solution. Let’s look at some of the most effective ways to stop restless nights.

woman can't sleeping

Tips on how to stop tossing and turning at night:

1. Set a Relaxing Pre-Bedtime Routine

Having a consistent bedtime routine is crucial for transitioning into sleep mode. This involves adhering to a regular sleep schedule and incorporating relaxing activities in the hour before bed.

Try taking a warm bath, reading a book, listening to soothing music, meditating, or sipping chamomile tea. Dim the lights in your bedroom and maintain a cool, quiet environment. Avoid stimulating activities like watching TV or using your phone before bed.

2. Invest in Comfortable Bedding

One of the most straightforward ways to prevent tossing and turning is to ensure your bed is comfortable. Look for a high-quality mattress that provides the right blend of softness and support for your sleep position and body type.

Replace pillows regularly to maintain proper spinal alignment. Consider using a body pillow for additional comfort. Choose breathable sheets and lightweight blankets that help regulate your body temperature throughout the night.

3. Optimize Your Sleep Environment

Your bedroom environment can have a major impact on sleep quality. Make sure your room is cool, quiet, and dark enough to facilitate sleep. Use blackout curtains or a sleep mask to block outside light.

Consider using a white noise machine or earplugs if noise is disrupting your rest. Keep digital devices like TVs and computers out of the bedroom. Ensure your mattress and pillows are clean and allergen-free.

4. Manage Stress Through Relaxation Techniques

Built-up mental stress often manifests physically through a restless, racing mind and tense muscles, making it harder to unwind at night. If anxiety is fueling your tossing and turning, try relaxation techniques before bed.

Meditation, deep breathing exercises, progressive muscle relaxation, and visualization can activate the body’s relaxation response to ease a tense mind. Consider keeping a pen and pad by your bedside to jot down any worrying thoughts before trying to sleep.

5. Avoid Sleep Disturbances Like Pets or Snoring

It’s hard to get comfortable if your sleep is regularly disrupted. Ensure your bedroom is reserved just for sleep by keeping out pets and avoiding sharing your bed with restless partners or kids.

Use earplugs or sound machines to drown out snoring. Ask your doctor about anti-snoring devices or treatments if snoring is a chronic issue. Avoid restless leg syndrome symptoms by stretching before bed.

6. Adjust Your Diet and Lifestyle Habits

Your daily lifestyle choices and consumption habits can positively or negatively impact your ability to unwind at night. Avoid stimulants like caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol close to bedtime.

Stay hydrated and get regular exercise during the day to promote healthy sleep. Be careful with naps and limit daytime sleep to 20-30 minutes max to avoid disrupting your sleep drive.

7. Consider Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia

If poor sleep habits or racing thoughts are causing restless nights, speak to your doctor about cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBT-I). This approach helps replace sleep-disruptive thoughts and behaviors with healthy ones.

CBT-I may incorporate sleep restriction therapy, stimulus control, and addressing anxious thoughts that interfere with sleep. Research shows CBT-I improves sleep quality in over 70% of people with chronic insomnia.

8. Avoid caffeine and alcohol before bed

Caffeine is a stimulant that can stay in your system for 6-8 hours. Consuming caffeinated drinks like coffee, tea, soda, or energy drinks too close to bedtime can disrupt your ability to fall asleep and stay asleep through the night.

The same goes for alcohol – while it may help induce sleep initially, as the alcohol wears off later in the night it can cause frequent awakenings that leave you tossing and turning. Avoid consuming any caffeine at least 6 hours before your bedtime. Limit alcohol intake, and avoid it completely in the last 2-3 hours before going to bed.

girl sleeping comfortably

9. Get regular exercise, but avoid exercising too close to bedtime

Regular exercise during the day helps promote better sleep quality at night. However, vigorous activity too close to bedtime can have the opposite effect by raising your body temperature and adrenaline levels when you want to be winding down.

Aim to complete your workout at least 2-3 hours before going to bed so you have time to cool down, shower and relax. Gentler exercises like yoga, light aerobics or walking are less stimulating and can be done closer to bedtime if needed.

10. Wind down before bed

Your brain needs time to transition out of “active mode” and into “rest mode” for sleep. Build a relaxing pre-bed routine to help prepare your mind and body for rest. Activities like taking a warm bath, reading a book, listening to soothing music, meditating, or doing light stretches are ideal.

Dim the lights, maintain a quiet environment, and avoid emotionally-stimulating activities. Consistently carving out 30-60 minutes before bed for unwinding can make a big difference in avoiding restless nights.

11. Avoid napping during the day

While the occasional power nap can give you a boost of energy, regular daytime napping can interfere with your circadian rhythm and ability to sleep soundly at night. If you struggle with tossing and turning, it’s best to avoid napping altogether.

If you must nap, limit it to 20-30 minutes in the early afternoon. Any longer or too close to your bedtime can negatively impact your sleep drive at night.

12. Get out of bed if you can’t sleep

If you find yourself tossing and turning in bed unable to fall asleep for more than 20 minutes, get up temporarily. Staying in bed frustrated that you’re not sleeping can condition your mind to associate the bed with feeling anxious.

Instead, get up and do a relaxing activity with dim lighting until you start feeling drowsy again, then return to bed. This helps reinforce that bed is for sleep and breaks the cycle of restlessness. Repeat as needed.

13. Consult Your Doctor About Any Underlying Issues

If you’ve tried improving your sleep hygiene but are still tossing and turning, there may be an underlying medical issue at play. Sleep disorders like restless leg syndrome, sleep apnea, nighttime acid reflux, fibromyalgia, and chronic pain can all disrupt sleep.

Certain medications can also cause insomnia symptoms as a side effect. Discuss your sleep struggles with your doctor to identify and properly treat any condition contributing to restless nights.

14. Use Supplements to Promote Relaxation

Some natural supplements can help create a sense of calm before bed when taken properly. Magnesium promotes muscle and nerve relaxation while amino acids like L-theanine may have anti-anxiety effects.

Chamomile, passionflower, and valerian root have traditionally been used for their mild sedative properties. Melatonin helps regulate the sleep-wake cycle. Consult your doctor before trying any supplement, especially with other medications.


While tossing and turning can be frustrating, there are many effective ways to get comfortable in bed and sleep soundly through the night. Focus on relaxing your mind and body before bed, optimizing your sleep environment, and practicing good sleep hygiene consistently.

If restless nights persist, be sure to check with your doctor. With some diligence, peaceful slumber is within your reach. Learn here more about better sleeping tips and guides.