Everyone has burdens. Everyone suffers from time to time! Some may suffer mountains more than others, and other people might have only a few troubles, but they experience them deeply. Maybe there is some sort of actual karmic balance in the universe that makes sure that over the span of a life time, we all suffer equally by the end. Me? I’ve got my problems, sure, but falling asleep easily and peacefully ain’t one of ’em!
I’m an old hand at not being able to sleep. Ever since my lean mean teen years, I have been compelled to stay up throughout the night, but also attend to my daylight obligations. Still to this day, even during stretches of my life when I have nothing actually going on, I stay up with this inexplicable need to be conscious. This, even though I also love dreams and dreaming. Is it anxiety? It probably is! But what can you do about it but stay up, drinking more coffee? Nothing I can think of!
Also, before you point this out to me, let me point this out to you first instead: yes, I am basically just ripping off Erica’s article from just a few months ago. Her article was thoughtfully written and means well, but I didn’t understand a word of it. Her gibberish about being able to sleep in a restful way sounds like cuckoo clock noises! I am here to speak to and for the rest of us chumps who are eternally tired, infinitely awake, except for a day or two per month where suddenly I go into a fourteen hour coma.
Does this crackling, shuddering lifestyle intrigue you? This feeling of wearing yourself so thin that you feel every day as if your body is going to just give out and crumple to the floor, not moving, but not sleeping either? Let me show you how.
Drink Plenty of Coffee
Before you even try to sleep, I recommend that you begin a coffee habit. Caffeine is the rickety armature over which you build your fragile little day. You will feel unwell physically, but mentally you will be sharp, even jagged. And sharp, jagged things do not sleep.
If you can never get used to the frequent heartburn, or if the flavor of coffee sickens you so much that even adding sinful amounts of sugar and cream to it won’t mask it, there are other stimulants that you can seek out and try for yourself. I’m not going to tell you what you should or shouldn’t do instead. All I know is coffee, and that’s the story I’m stickin’ to!
I suppose you could take the rest of my advice and still achieve success, but remember, you could also ONLY take this section right here by itself and probably still achieve success. Please consider efficiency.
It’s a new day and you have to get up because it’s too late to try to sleep any more. This day is different, however. You have an optimism that you, the master of your own destiny, will finally sleep at a reasonable hour tonight, for once in your life. After all, you gotta start sometime!
You do your night ritual, pray to your teeth as you wash them, put away your phone, and maybe even read some book, a whole hour in advance. You turn out the light. You don’t sleep immediately. Welcome back the old familiar feeling of personal failure.
This is the time where you should begin to recount your steps, see where you went wrong. Eventually, get up and try it all again, after accepting that you will get by on only seven hours of sleep. Then six. Eventually you will find that you need to get up in just three hours. Cry a little at this point. The next morning will begin without the optimism, and instead with the bitter taste of defeat already crusting around your mouth.
In an effort to become more comfortable and maybe fall asleep like a dumb human baby, you should do all of the comfort things Erica already mentioned. But you should do all of them at the same time as best you can: flip around in the nest you made on the couch, or a brand new Eva mattress, at the perfect temperature.
Like the ancient art of Feng Shui, you ordinarily are cautioned against doing several cures at once, but who has time for ancient arts? Keep rotating your body in your nest. Maybe your head would give in to slumber if you were pointing it to the Northeast. No? Better try North-Northeast! You feel pretty good with the AC set on 72F, but maybe you would feel even better with it set to 71F. Keep adjusting all of your blissful comforts until the dawn’s morning light seeps in through a tiny crack between your black out curtains, landing directly on your eyelids no matter how you turn.
Find the Best Sounds
Some of you may require absolute silence in order to sleep, and I salute you because you are all grizzled veterans of insomnia too! You probably have found the perfect little earplugs so go on and skip this section. I am among the crowd of people who want there to be noise or else I imagine a thousand out of place and creepy sounds and get scared, instead of just cranky and exhausted.
I’m a big fan of mynoise, ambient youtubes, and cartoons to sleep to. In order to make the most of these services, I recommend that you become fascinated by all of the options available to those of us with ready internet connections in these modern times. Fiddle with the mynoise levels, search among the thousands of ambient youtubes, and actually just be entertained by watching cartoons you have seen hundreds of times. Do these things for a full eight hours and get out of bed the next day feeling like you haven’t slept in years.
Time to Learn
If you are doing your insomnia right, at some point instead of sleeping, you will get out your phone because you are suddenly gripped by the need to learn and research. It is a natural result because your brain will be wandering and questions will arise, if you are not focused solely on your own self.
I have learned so many things about anything ranging from origins of words to origins of species. I have read about becoming more productive, about the lies of societies, about beekeeping, and various biographies of people I hadn’t previously even heard of! An important rule I keep, however, is to not read scary ghost stories or alien abduction tales. That would GUARANTEE that I would fall asleep just so that I would have dreams about it. No thank you!
May I suggest learning about sleep? Avoid articles warning you that not sleeping well somehow leads to obesity and heart decay; instead, focus on articles about alternative sleep habits — like those people who sleep three hours per night in 20 minute segments. They get so much done in a day! Resolve to do this on purpose.
One of the easiest insomnia tricks is to just lie awake and worry. Worry about every conceivable thing and even about things that make no sense because your sleep-deprived mind can’t think straight.
I feel like a skilled craftsman’s guide to worrying is an article to be written at a later date, so I will keep this section on the short side. It’s intuitive anyway. We are all living in the year 2019 so fears and panic are a natural state of being anyway. However my big pro-tip for you is to lie awake worrying about how you can’t sleep, and to worry about the physical effects of worrying too much.
Get Up and Do Stuff
Ultimately, you may tire of lying in bed. You might get tired of being tired so much that your body makes itself shamble out of bed and make 2 A.M. coffee. You champion. You titan. Then you will have the hollow energy to take on chores, or write a novel, or make a business plan. You will have conquered insomnia as a nuisance and embraced insomnia as a tool.
And if you are this level of insomniac, what are you even doing here? Why are you reading this? Reach out to me and teach me your ways.