Ask Sam letter


To Sam


im finding it rly diffcult to sleep atm as everytime i sleep i feel trapped n i see a image of a room just filled with words its as id my brain is just scrabbled with thoughts and feelings n its horrible n also the trapped sensation brings me back memories of when i got locked in cuboreds as a child

Ask Sam


Hi there,

Many people experience problems sleeping when going through a tough time. When you're alone and trying to sleep there's a lot of space to think or worry. Sometimes these thoughts can be very powerful and keep you awake or affect how you feel. You could be affected by memories from the past, particularly if they were distressing or caused you harm. Everyone is different and so finding a way of coping with night time that works for you might mean trying a few things.

If thoughts or worries are stopping you from getting to sleep then it can help to distract yourself for a while. Having music, an audiobook, podcast or video playing in the background while you sleep can be a good way of stopping yourself overthinking. It's important to choose something that isn't going to make you feel more awake. For example, if there's an audiobook or podcast that you really love it might mean you try and stay awake to hear all of it - so choose something that's just there for background noise.

If this isn't possible or doesn't work for you, try establishing a routine. Bedtime routines are useful because if you do the same thing every night, it can help prepare your body and mind for rest. It might be that you take a hot shower or bath before bed, then read a book for 20 minutes every night. After doing this for a while, as soon as you pick up your book you will start to feel like it's bedtime.

Getting your sleep environment right can help too. Some people like the room to be very dark - others find that having some light can help them get to sleep. You may find that having a different coloured light can help you sleep - especially colours like red. Getting the temperature right is important and figuring out what's most comfortable for you to wear - some people prefer pyjamas whilst others prefer wearing nothing to bed. There's no right or wrong answer, just get yourself comfortable.

Finally if these don't work or you're not able to try them, one thing you can always try is focusing your mind on something else. Try making up a story in your head or imagine yourself in a far away, calm place. Again, what works for you is going to take some trial and error but with some practice you can get it to work eventually.

If there are some particularly difficult memories that keep coming back to you, then it might be a sign you need some extra help to cope with those thoughts. Remember you can always talk to a Childline counsellor and they can help you through this.

Thanks for the letter, sleep well.


Need help straight away?

You can talk privately to a counsellor online or call 0800 1111 for free.

Ask me a question

You can ask me about anything you want, there's nothing too big or small. I read every single letter but I can only answer a few each week. My replies are published here on my page.

Write me a letter