Tested by someone who, for the most part of their lives, has been an insomniac (that would be me).
There’s something rebellious about not going to sleep — probably because our parents instilled in us when we were young that you had to go to sleep by a particular time so you were well-rested and blah blah blah.
Unfortunately for me my parents didn’t really care to enforce a bed time, so by the time I was nine I was starting to show signs of difficulty sleeping. Stupidly we never went to see a doctor for it, and from the ages of 11 to about 21 I slept between two to four hours a night. Once in a while, I’d get six hours of sleep on a weekend, but that would all be thrown out the window when I started working my first job at the age of 14.
After ten years of not really doing anything about it, I decided I probably should look into what was wrong with me. I was embarrassed to say anything to my GP about it, so I decided to go to a walk-in clinic. They sent me off to do a whole bunch of tests, but they couldn’t find anything wrong with me that would directly or indirectly lead to an inhibition in my sleep. So, I followed up with the walk-in clinic doctor, who suggested trying to set patterns for myself that would signal my body to say, “it’s time for bed.” About five years later, I seem to have it down (for the most part) — I generally get six hours of sleep, with a couple of naps interspersed throughout the day.
Here’s what I like to do to try and lull myself to sleep, in no particular order.
My time being active is usually spread out throughout the day (right now I’m mostly walking for 75-80 minutes a day, but I will also do arm and ab circuits at home) but I find that if I do some kind of exercise program for about 30 minutes about an hour or so after dinner, my body is all of a sudden ready for bed once I’m done. I don’t really have anything I’m committed to in terms of a work out; I usually find one a work out suggestion on Pinterest and repeat it two to four times.
There have also been nights where I’ll go for a walk and feel ready for bed. As long as it’s something that makes you comfortable, why not, right?
Have hot water or tea
If this doesn’t signal sleepy time, I don’t know what does. I usually end up going for a tea, like chamomile, but if I get sick of our local chamomile tea (which is rare) I’ll do either hot water, or hot water with lemon. Apparently this has health benefits for your body but I just do it to get settled in and feel comfortable.
Read a book
The cooler the weather, the more likely I am to do this. I find that I’m incredibly fidgety reading books during hot summer evenings — but the rest of the year, I’m totally cool with curling up along the corner of my couch and taking in whatever (mostly) fiction novel I’m interested in. This is the trick that is most likely to get me sleepy — in fact most days I’ll actually fall asleep while reading a book.
Minimize phone use
I struggle with this a lot. In fact I try and stay away from my phone after 8 P.M. and if I want to tweet or post to Instagram I use scheduling applications to share things during those times (yep, cat’s out of the bag). I am getting better at it, though! There’s just too much stimuli on the phone, when really I want my brain to be able to tire itself out on its own. If I’m left thinking about the day then I can usually start to close my eyes and get some shut eye without distraction.
Journaling — especially when I’m drawing or making collages can actually be very tiring. I often do it with minimal noise in the background; it’s actually a great way to relieve stress/tension/anger when I’ve had “one of those days.” If I need to expel a lot of energy, I write. I come up with a theme page that oozes positivity (I recently did one on why I love fall so much, for instance) and by the time I’ve put the last word to paper, I’m usually ready to turn in.
What do you do to ensure you catch your zzz’s? Let me know in the comments section below!