June 25, 2020


Hey Nikki,

HELP! I’m eleven years old and I can’t sleep by myself! I think I’m stressed out by the pandemic and all the other problems in the world right now. I can fall asleep BUT I always wake up at like three or four in the morning. It’s SO frustrating! Whenever I wake up, I get kind of scared so I go to my sister’s room and sleep there. I feel like such a baby, but I can’t help it! The good news is that my mom said if I can fix this problem, she’ll get me a puppy. So, I HAVE to figure this out! Please help!!

Stressed Out Mess

Hi Stressed Out Mess,

Aaaawww! your mom said she’d get you a PUPPY?! Okay, we have GOT to solve this problem for you ☺!!

And I mean, even if you weren’t trying to earn that puppy, not being able to sleep due to stress and waking up scared is NOT fun. So let’s see what we can do!

It’s great that you can fall asleep. That’s the first step! But for other readers who have trouble with that, here are some tips:

  1. Avoid screens an hour before bedtime, and don’t keep your phone (if you have one) by your bed. The temptation to reach over and scroll when you can’t get to sleep is REAL, and it just keeps you from falling asleep even more.
  2. Try to get outside and play during the day. Especially now when a lot of us are stuck at home without much to do, it’s easy to turn into permanent couch potatoes! But get out and walk the dog or play Frisbee with a sibling or something to get your body moving. It will help you sleep later.
  3. Listen to a guided meditation. There are lots of these online and even special apps for them on your phone. (I know I said no screens, but you only have to listen to it, not look at it.) The voices are always really soothing and they help your mind stop racing.

Now for when you wake up in the middle of the night: I know it feels babyish to be scared, but honestly I get it. When the house is all silent, everyone else is sleeping, I’m stressed out about the world’s problems and it’s dark…I get creeped out too! Here are some ideas:

  1. Turn off the bad news! This might be hard to do since your parents might have it on to find out what’s been happening in the world lately. But you could always go to a different room or pop in some earbuds and rock your fav tunes until it’s over. Give your nerves a break!
  2. Get a nightlight. This might seem babyish, but really, who cares? And who’s going to know, aside from your family, who already know that you’re having trouble staying asleep at night?! What really freaks me out at night is how dark it is. And the dark is a really easy problem to solve!
  3. Use your imagination! I mean, your imagination is probably already active, making you think about scary things. So, change what you’re thinking about. Try thinking about pleasant stuff or things that you enjoy! For instance, I’ll just imagine, like, the next sleepover I’ll have with Chloe and Zoey, the things we’ll do, the things we’ll talk about, what color pajamas we’re wearing and suddenly…zzzzzzzz.
  4. You can also use guided meditations to get back to sleep.

I hope all of this helps! And I REALLY hope you get that puppy ☺!!

Do you have any tips for how to fall asleep and not stress out? Tell us in the comments!