A very nice man, The Grunt, has insomnia. I’m sure he is cringing right now because I called him nice, you know how men are. I happen to think nice people are cool. Not fake nice people. You know the ones I’m talking about. The ones that smile and say excuse me as they run you over with their shopping carts. Or the ones that ask you how you are but never wait for an answer. I digress, as usual. Moving on.
The Grunt is also funny, edgy and odd. I think he has insomnia because funny people have a keen sense of the absurd and are really good at spotting the idiocies of the human condition. Plus, edgy and nice often clash with each other. I bet he has a red devil on one shoulder and a white angel on the other and he gets cauliflower ears from them duking it out around his head.
I’m here to offer my hard earned kernels of wisdom. I can’t get to sleep many times, too and I also wake up a lot at two in the morning. I usually have insomnia because I forgot to put away the dishes or take out the recycling or I’m still annoyed at the person who walked in the street instead of using the perfectly good side walk the township provided: never anything as exciting as wondering about the motivations of the idiot who doused five kittens in cooking oil and placed them, live, in a fry pan.
I have developed a long list of techniques and strategies since the age of ten, when I first presented with my sleep disorders (that’s medical terminology.) This list does not include sleeping pills because I can’t take them. Whether over the counter or prescribed, I am afraid of sleeping pills. They make me nuts, but that’s just me (that’s not medical terminology.)
All of the following have worked for me in the past and they continue to work sporadically. I have found my sleep problems to be like disciplining children; what works this time may not work again or during the same circumstances. Also, remember that these are suggestions only and they are not meant to diagnose or cure. Please see your family doctor if symptoms persist as they may be signs of serious mental illness.
Stop the excessive use of caffeine (like ten cups of coffee a day is too much) and never have any form of caffeine after twelve noon. While I find it interesting that in Austria they give caffeine to psychotics to help them sleep, it doesn’t work for me. Look for caffeine in pain medicines and watch the consumption of chocolate, and non-cola beverages. I understand some personal lubricants may contain caffeine, too.
Alcohol is an evil bane on our world. You don’t need more than five beers and/or two shots to get to sleep. More than this will only cause you to wake during the night to pee.
Counting is a very useful tool. Not counting sheep, just counting. Start at one and continue to count until you find your mind wandering then start over again. It is an excellent way to whip that unruly beast into shape. I count all of the time to distract myself from the things I know I should be doing. If your conscience can’t intrude, then you’ll have nothing to worry about.
Often, insomnia is due to a chemical imbalance. The key chemicals that cause insomnia are a lack of calcium, potassium and tryptophan. These naturally occurring chemicals affect the pleasure center of the brain, the same area affected by anti-depressants. They increase your serotonin and melatonin levels. Big Brother took tyrptophan off of the market some years ago because a measly few people died from it, but tyrptophan was the best thing to help you get to sleep. All of these chemicals are contained in carbohydrates, the sedatives of the gods. About an hour before bed have a bowl of whole grain cereal with milk and banana slices or warm apple pie and vanilla ice cream. You’ll be snoozing in no time. Don’t eat meat in any form; you’ll get a tummy ache.
Turn the TV on, put on a movie you’ve seen a million times and like, but dim the brightness so there is no light in the room. Light keeps your brain awake, so turn your alarm clock’s brightness down, too. The sound from the TV is necessary as the movie will occupy your brain and keep it away from other thoughts. Since you know the movie by heart, your mind can get bored and drift off. Listening to ocean waves and thunderstorm tapes can do the same thing, but don’t play Bjork, she’s just weird.
Tell yourself a story. Think of your favorite fantasy and start telling it to yourself in great detail. I often tell myself the story about when the reporters come to my work in droves to do a surprise interview with me for my multi-bazillion copy best seller and my boss stands by with his jaw hanging open. After the interview, I take all of my co-workers to the local pub and we drink the day away in celebration and then I quit in a hail of applause because I have a ten book publishing deal signed and paid. But that’s just my fantasy.
So, these are the some of the sleep strategies I use. Other times, I just like wallowing in my misery and feeling all pathetic, so I just stay up all night watching bad infomercials.
Disclaimer: As with all things I say, don’t believe me, as I am full of shit and rarely know what I’m talking about.