Saturday, September 29, 2018

Matt's Insomnia Tips

I do struggle with insomnia from time to time.  And since I keep seeing posts from someone I know about how much they hate their insomnia, I thought I'd talk about the tricks that have helped me.  Take it with a grain of salt, of course, since I'm writing this at 5am, being unable to sleep any more tonight.

There Is No Try - Don't try to go to sleep.  If you're lying in bed thinking about how you're not sleeping, you're just getting wound up or frustrated.  Instead, commit yourself to thinking about something else.  For me, it's writing.  I'll lie there thinking through story ideas or coming up with a blog post.  The thing is to do it sincerely.  If you're doing it while keeping one metaphorical eye open, looking for sleep to appear, it's not going to work.  Just know that you may or may not go to sleep, but in the meantime, perhaps you'll end up being productive.  For example, I had this blog all written in my head before I got up.  That said ...

No Math - People can't do math in their sleep.  If you're ever wondering if someone is sleepwalking or talking in their sleep, ask them what's 5 +12.  The reverse is also somewhat true.  There's a part of your brain that won't want to go to sleep while you're focusing on logical stuff.  So find other things to think about.

Get Up - Some of the best advice I ever read for insomnia was that if you're not falling asleep within a reasonable amount of time, get up, do something else for a while, then try again later.  Do something that doesn't wake up your brain too much.  Me?  I piddle around on the internet or watch TV.  But ...

No Clocks - This is pretty simple.  If you see that it's 2am one night, the next night your brain will think it's OK to be up at 2am.  So don't look.

Chocolate Milk - There's nothing scientific here.  Obviously, you don't want to drink coffee or tea or anything overly caffeinated.  I'll sometimes have chocolate milk or hot chocolate.  Sure, there's sugar in it.  But I think the taste reminds me of childhood, when it was easier to go to sleep.  Speaking of ...

The Void - When I was younger, I had a foolproof method of falling asleep.  I would imagine an endless void behind me, and I would fall back into it.  Sometimes I would tumble backwards, heel over head, and sometimes I would just float.  And the void wasn't scary to me - it was just the unknown, sort of an adventure.  Sadly, I can't always use this now as it kinda makes me feel dizzy.

Naps - I've read that you shouldn't nap during the day, because it will make it harder to sleep at night.  But I don't know that that's true in my case.  And if you're tired and you can get a little sleep to help you keep going, I say go for it.  But set an alarm.  I like to do 15 minute power naps.  Sometimes I'll do double naps - the alarm will go off and I'll say, "Siri, timer 15 minutes", and nap a little more.  But it's possible that when you feel like napping, what you should do is ...

Exercise - I hate exercise, but the reality is that exercise helps your body get back on track with its natural rhythms, and expending that energy will make your body more prone to go to sleep in a timely fashion.

So there you go.  My tried and true, guaranteed to kinda maybe work sometimes tips for dealing with insomnia.  Yeah, nothing is foolproof, but each of these has helped at times, and maybe they will work for you.

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