Insomnia is a common struggle for many adults. Lying awake at night, tossing and turning, watching the minutes tick by on the clock can be incredibly frustrating. When sleep just won’t come, it’s tempting to turn to medication. But prescription sleep aids come with side effects and can be habit-forming. Before going the pharmaceutical route, it’s wise to explore some non-drug options. One simple but surprisingly effective solution? Fidget toys.
How can fidgeting help you sleep? It may seem counterintuitive, but research shows that occupying your hands with small, repetitive motions can quiet your mind and relax your body. The key is finding fidget toys that are engaging enough to distract you from distracting thoughts, but not so stimulating that they rev you up. Simple, silent fidgets allow you to channel nervous energy into physical action, lowering stress levels and preparing both mind and body for sleep.
Best Fidget Toys for Insomnia Relief
Looking for the perfect bedtime fidget? Here are some top options to consider:
This popular toy offers a variety of satisfying clicking, sliding and flipping functions to keep hands busy. Options like gears, toggle sticks and buttons operate nearly silently so as not to disturb your partner. Fidget cubes provide a diversity of tactile inputs to keep the mind engaged. Pack it in your pajama pocket and fidget discreetly while lying in bed.
These band rings have a spinning inner band that rotates smoothly and silently around the outer band. The repetitive motion is calming and hands-free, unlike cubes which require constant manipulation. Spinner rings come in a range of styles and materials from inexpensive steel and plastic versions to higher-end metals with decorative etchings. Wear on your thumb or index finger while you’re unwinding before bed.
These smooth polished stones fit subtly in the palm of your hand. Run your thumb back and forth over the surface of the stone, feeling its cool, low-friction texture. The soothing sensation helps relax the mind. Keep a worry stone on your nightstand and practice calming mindfulness while you rub it. Popular stones like obsidian, rose quartz or amethyst have properties believed to ease stress and promote tranquility too.
Used for centuries in China, these miniature metal balls are meant to be rotated in the palm of one hand. The repetitive motion is centered around the meridian pressure points of the hand – the perfect distraction for a racing mind. The gentle clicking together of the balls creates subtle white noise to drown out mental chatter. Baoding balls help improve dexterity and finger strength too.
This common office item can also be a discreet bedtime fidget. Click the pen open and closed or rub your fingers over the ridged grip area. Having something small and familiar in hand can be comforting when trying to unwind in bed. If pen-clicking sounds might annoy your partner, try a silent spinner ring instead.
Weighted Lap Pad
Not all helpful fidgets need to involve hands. Placing a weighted blanket or other weighted accessory in your lap provides soothing pressure that can relax the entire body. The gentle heft engages the senses to distract from stressful thoughts. Using a lap pad leaves arms and hands free if you want to read before bed or chat with your partner. The soft weight is comforting rather than constricting.
Tangle toys are made of plastic strips connected in the middle that you can bend, twist and fidget with endlessly. Manipulating the movable joints provides a satisfying tactile outlet for restless hands and mind. Tangles pack flat so are easy to stash on your nightstand. And they maintain their shape, so you can set them down in any position and pick up where you left off.
Tracing the single twisting path of a labyrinth meditatively engages the mind and hands. Labyrinth boards provide a centering activity to distract from circular thoughts that keep you awake. Place a small lap-sized board on your nightstand or finger labyrinth in bed to help direct focus away from stressors. The repetitive motion signals your body it’s time for rest.
Getting Started with Fidgets
Looking to introduce fidgeting into your bedtime routine? Start by observing when insomnia most strikes. For some people an overactive mind keeps them up, while others struggle to unwind physically. Pinpointing where your sleep struggles originate can help select the fidgets most likely to help.
It’s ideal to start using your fidgets as part of a relaxing pre-bedtime ritual – whether reading, meditating or just in quiet reflection. Experiment to see which toys best engage your senses and calm your racing thoughts. Having them within reach on your nightstand makes it convenient to grab as needed in the moment. Figure out the fidgeting techniques that work best to divert your mind and settle your body.
Be patient in the process. It may take some trial and error to find the right fidgets for you. Using them consistently can help establish a nightly ritual that tells your mind and body it’s time for rest. Over time, you may find you need less active fidgeting as you grow accustomed to powering down at bedtime.
For those struggling with restless nights, fidget toys provide a simple but powerful way to help naturally calm the nerves and promote sleep without side effects. Give one (or a few!) of these handy helpers a try the next time insomnia comes calling. Don’t underestimate the power of engaging your hands in small, repetitive motions to quiet your thoughts and help you finally get some rest.