Do you look at those of us with insomnia and think to yourself, “They must have so much time on their hands!” or “Think of all the things I could get done!”? Do you wish that you too could have insomnia? There are tons of diet, self-help, parenting and leadership guides out there, but what about those who wish to be good at insomnia? Well, look no further. I’m here to share with you my years of hard work and study in the field through diligent, direct hands-on experience. You’re welcome.
Some people are just born with this skill and, honestly, they make it look so easy by staying up for days on end with little to no sleep as their eyes glaze over and they get more and more cranky with the world. But for those who struggle to stay awake and bask in the glory of unproductive hours of tossing and turning or long days of exhaustion, follow my simple rules and you too will be living the sleepless dream.
Do identify a good time to get started. Ideally you will want to pick a time when you are under a lot of pressure or stress. Or, really, preferably, both. This really helps you get a head start as well as set the mood and tone for the long nights to come.
Don’t pick a time where you can sleep as late as you want the next day because then it’s no long called “insomnia” but actually is just “going to bed late.” Instead, pick a time where you have to be up bright and early without any flexibility to sleep in.
[pullquote]Do identify a good time to get started. Ideally you will want to pick a time when you are under a lot of pressure or stress. Or, really, preferably, both.[/pullquote]
Do pick a time when you’re so busy that sleep is already hard to fit in to your schedule. This adds a sense of urgency to your need for sleep, which will actually make it harder to sleep. Further, increase the amount of pressure you are feeling by calculating how few hours of sleep you’ll get if you fall asleep RIGHT NOW!
Example: Okay, I have to be up at six, so if I fall asleep right this moment I’ll get six hours of sleep! I can deal with six hours of sleep. …If I sleep RIGHT NOW… Then you can continue to watch the clock and reassess your (lack of) sleep status with every passing hour. This is a highly effective insomnia tool.
Don’t do anything that could aid in sleep such as meditation, mindfulness, use of lavender scented lotions or sleep in a bed that is too comfortable. Instead, try leaving something stinky in your room, such as an old orange that you can’t find or your spouse’s stinky socks.
Do turn on an annoying light to blink in your dark room or focus on a sound such as water dripping or the buzz of your phone every time you receive an email or notification. These are great ways to get in the right frame of mind (frustration and annoyance) to help pass the hours more slowly.
Don’t drink a calming tea or warm milk before bed. Instead, try to add caffeine throughout the later part of your day. This is a non-sleep aid that you can really use in your favor!
As you watch the clock tick closer to the “four hours of sleep” mark, and then three, you’ll start to think that maybe, JUST maybe it’ll be less exhausting to just stay up all night. This is a really good sign!
How do you feel so far? Tired but restless and anxious? Good! You’re doing great!
Okay, you’re going to find you have a lot of time on you’re hands when you aren’t wasting away hours with things like sleep. So to help you pass the time and keep your sleepless status active, here are a few exercises to try:
1. Think of money! Specifically how you don’t have enough of it, how much you are wasting, how you’ll never be able to retire or perhaps how you just aren’t paying it to the right people on time. This is a great way to pass the hours while also increasing your sleepless anxiety. Expert insomnia level: Worry about money you did pay on time, but then think that maybe you didn’t or maybe it wasn’t received and now it will affect your credit score and you’ll never get a loan again and therefore will never be able to buy a house and will end up homeless and living in a tent. Don’t think about the fact that you either a) already own or rent a house, b) have family and friends who would take you in or help out, c) have an income to support yourself and your current living situation or d) CLEARLY REMEMBER PAYING YOUR BILL ON TIME!
2. Think of that thing you said that one time that may have offended that one person even though it wasn’t what you meant at all. Replay that moment over and over. Consider the things you should have said or wish you had said. Consider texting the person just to make sure they weren’t offended, but then worry that asking them might make them think you are crazy. Expert insomnia level: Remember a perceived offensive comment from a conversation you had 2+ years ago with a friend or family member you are still very much in touch with and has never shown any sign of being offended by any comment made in any way.
3. Get in a Fight. This next exercise involves your partner/bestie/parents (basically a key person in your life). You’ll want to get in a fight with them right before bedtime. Maybe it’s something you’ve been bottling up for a while and can unleash on your unsuspecting spouse or maybe you are inspired by something in the moment to overreact to as the exhaustion and anxiety of a looming bedtime grows near. The tension from this fight will really help you push through the earlier hours of the night. Expert insomnia level: This one takes the support of your spouse. Right after the fight (before it’s fully resolved, preferably), your spouse should go straight to sleep like they don’t have a care in the world. This will allow you to obsess about what both of you said during the fight and the meanings behind the words. You can also stare at them in fury while they sleep soundly. Fury is great for insomnia.
It’s very common that after a few days of living the insomnia cycle that even anxiety and all the tips above will not be enough to keep you awake any longer, and that’s okay. At this point, you should allow yourself to succumb to the sweet surrender of sleep. Enjoy…you’ve earned it.