February 21, 2010

How I Deal With Insomnia/My Sunday Schedule

I'm a part-time insomniac. Every couple months or so I go through a period where I don't get very much sleep. Usually these periods are triggered by stress, change, excitement or restlessness. It is logistically difficult to operate as a functioning member of society when you're tired all the time. Over the years I've found certain ways to fight back against my insomnia. I know how to beat it now. It doesn't always work but I at least learned to push back. The principle way I do this is by digging in and making a stand on Sunday.

How do I do this you ask? By forcing myself to fight sleep all day long. You must be thinking I'm insane. Fighting insomnia by making yourself stay awake? That doesn't make any logical sense. Remember when you were a kid? You would fight and fight to keep yourself from falling asleep and what happened? The harder you tried to stay awake the sooner you fell asleep. This is the crazy logic an insomniac will use after being awake for the nearly 24 hours that I have.

It is now nearly 8:00 AM and I need to find a way to stay up until at least 8:00 PM. If I fail I'll end up crashing probably around noon and then I'll wake up at 8 or 9 and I'll once again be up all night. Not so bad when it it's the weekend but extremely harmful when you need to be at work Monday morning. It's time to create a plan and figure out how to stay up another eight hours. This is my plan for the day.

8-9 AM: Continue laying in bed with the laptop and read a few blogs. I find the eerie glow of a computer is good at keeping you awake. Also, this allows my body to get a bit of rest without going to sleep.

9-10: I think I'll cook a nice big breakfast while listening to Meet the Press (Republicans always make me angry so I get worked up). I think I'll make an omelet, with a hot pepper or two. Spicy food gives a good kick.

10-11: Fresh off of my omelet kick I'll probably start reading for a bit. Warning! Reading is dangerous and only should be attempted by a savvy veteran. Make sure your book is interesting and if you start getting sleepy stand up and walk around or else you're done for.

11-1 PM: Watch the last two episodes of the second season of Dexter. I'm completely addicted to this show and can't wait to find out what happens before the season ends! I'll be too riveted by Michael C. Hall's sociopathic charms to fall asleep.

1-2: Mexican take-out, extra green sauce. The walk will wake you up a bit without draining you too much and heaping on the hot sauce will also help. Warning! Only do this if you have a Mexican restaurant in walking distance. You don't want to be driving at this point.

2-3:30:  Watch the second half of the Cavs/Magic game. I'm a huge sports fan so this is a no-brainer. Dwight Howard and LeBron James going at it? Doesn't get much more exciting than that.

3:30-7: At this point you're in serious need of help and can't do it all alone. Time to enlist friends. I'm going to try to get a couple buddies together to go watch the second game/olympics/whatever else gets turned on at the local pub. Social activity, loud noises and a bit of excitement make staying awake much easier. Plus, if you've got a bit of a buzz going it makes crash time that much easier when you finally make it there.

7-8: Stumble out of the bar and go grab some take-out to devour when you get home. Eat it in a celebratory, half-drunk manner because you have almost made it. Make sure everything is ready for work tomorrow and crash into your bed.

You made it, and with any luck you'll be able to fall into your normal sleeping pattern again until insomnia rears its ugly head once again.
Image taken from: http://breakfastwithspanky.files.wordpress.com/2008/10/insomnia-eye1.jpg


  1. Oh that's a cool strategy...trick the brain! I remember once I used to drink cough syrup! It'd knock me out until the following morning. I was living in a haunted hostel...so I was led to believe and I couldn't sleep at all so cough syrup it was...lol

  2. Genius!!! I also find that hot tea or decaf coffee with warm milk helps you GET to sleep when you want.

  3. A simper way to cure insomnia:

    Why don't you just have sex ... because three minutes later you will be asleep?

    (Joke ... Christopher, you read my blog you know my humour.)

  4. I suffer this in a bad way. I think creative people are just prone to it, don't you? All that action going on in our heads and it's hard to turn it off.

    I finally (after YEARS of fighting it) take one Ambien a night. I sleep well, and there are NO groggy feelings the next morning.

  5. Nabokov had insomnia, It was when he would work on chess problems....

  6. i'd say come out with me for a bike ride if you were here...it always does the trick for waking me up! i heart endorphins.

    no joke on computer monitors keeping one awake - that's why they say never have a tv in your room as it messes with the sleep.

  7. I also get very little sleep, but it's usually on purpose. It's not that I LIKE sleeplessness. It's that the middle of the night seems to be the only time for me to get much writing done. But this does mean that I must often struggle to stay awake during the day (once, I fell asleep in the driver's seat in my garage...with the car running...AHHH!) I found caffeine helps, of course. But I can't do alcohol or a big meal--that will knock me out faster than anything. But Mexican food seems rather appealing to me. Hmmm...

  8. i'm seriously interested to see if you made it. i've tried doing things like this before and usually failed, not always, but usually. you'll have to let me know how you did. insomnia's a bitch.

    "no, insomnia can't kill you."

  9. P.T: NyQuil, I find does a great job. Haunted hostel? That sounds like a trip.

    Pseudonym: I'm not really a warm beverage person so while that's good advice probably wouldn't work for me. Maybe a bowl of soup?

    Sharon: Ha! While yes that does work for a while after an hour or two I usually wake back up wanting another go. That leads to very long (although very enjoyable) nights.

    Christine: That might just be it. Particularly when I'm excited about something I can't stop thinking about it and just turn off. My insomnia comes and goes so I haven't gotten to the point where I'd consider Ambien. Glad to hear it works well though in case I do ever get a bad stretch.

    The Me: Working on my chess game probably would put me to sleep.

    Eco: Yea I look forward to all this damned snow going away so I can go cycling again. It really does make you feel great.

    Carol: Mexican food is always appealing to me. I try to stay away from caffeine because that makes me crash so hard after an hour or so. It's one of the few vices I've yet to succumb to.

    Ashlie: I did make it! It takes practice to do this and a lot of will power. I've been dealing with this for years so I've learned a few tricks.

  10. Cures for insomnia that work: 1. Ambien. 2. Sexy times. Ambien gives you wacky dreams so go with #2.

  11. Hahahaha... I love it!
    The logic is there --don't underestimate your genius ;)
    I think I may take this same set out plan as advice for my own lack-of-sleeping habits.
    Viva la insomniacs!

  12. Have you seen the movie Gamer? It takes your love for Michael HALL to a whole new level. It is really good and REALLY disturbing

  13. Sarah: Being a warm-blooded male I always choose to go with sexy times.

    Celestial: Well glad there is at least some logic there.

    Laurel: Yea he was awesome in that. Seriously developing a man-crush.


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