What does this insomniac do at night?
Work. The answer is work. It always has been.
As a kid, I'd write endlessly in notebooks when I couldn't sleep. Now that I'm an adult you can absolutely find me online at 4 AM rambling about some madness like trans Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles or that one time my neighbor bare-hand picked up a piece of dog poop and put it in her pocket.
Yes, I live in Florida.
For me, insomnia is a place of creation. But what is it for others?
For that, we turn to Reddit. Because humans stay nosy about what everybody else is doing.
Reddit user Acid_In_My_Eyes asked:
"People who can't sleep, what do you do all night?"
Yeah ... turns out, it's certainly not a space of creation for everyone. Unless the thing you're creating is anxiety.
Over and Over
"Toss and turn. Overthink. Replay conversations on my mind."
"Yeah man... anxiety takes it toll on sleep. The more stressful the day, the worse the sleep."
"100%!!!! And how I could have acted differently or what else could’ve happened."
"Be increasingly pissed off about not being able to sleep."
"It's the most vicious cycle ever."
"Can't sleep, pissed off that you can't sleep, now it's even harder to get to sleep. Now you are stressing out because it's getting closer to the next day, adds to the fact you cant sleep."
"Calculate how many hours of sleep I could at least still have if I was able to fall asleep at that moment."
"It’s literally the worst because I end up priming myself for a day where I believe I’ll perform suboptimally; thereby ensuring I perform suboptimally."
"It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy."
"Being tired and having a sh*t day at work because you laid awake all night thinking about how you were going to be tired and have a sh*t day at work is the worst."
Not No Regrets
" 'Dream’ random scenarios in my head where I either could have done better or changed things, or I’m dreaming of scenarios I want to happen, either because they might or just because I want it in the future"
"So its not 'no regrets' it's 'some regrets?' "
"Every single day. They can be as small as ‘I wish I had just given x person x compliment’ to ‘I never should have told x person about x secret’ etc"
"I have found success in just accepting that I cant sleep, OK I GUESS IM NOT GONNA SLEEP RIGHT NOW...and then getting in to a comfy position."
"EYES WIDE OPEN, NOT TRYING to sleep. Just lay there and let my mind wander."
"I build what I call, happy places."
"What kind of life do I WISH I had? What kind of world do I wish this was?"
"I build the whole world, I usually have powers but no one knows."
"I'm rich. I'm single. The world is safe enough to leave your front door unlocked and no one goes in to your house."
"I just build and build and build the most kickass scenarios, and eventually I'll wake up and be like 'OH I FELL ASLEEP!' and after that I usually keep sleeping."
Bed Time Stories
"I am really bad at falling asleep. Unless really tired and/or using alcohol."
"Since that's not an everyday solution I listen to an audiobook, in my case the Harry Potter series."
"I know the books so well that my brain, while focusing on the story, grows numb an I fall asleep."
"The audiobook, unless the device is shaken, will turn off after 30 minutes. I mostly fall asleep within the hour now and I have something fun to listen to."
"Haven't tried it using a story I don't know, but that will probably keep me awake."
"I do this with Forensic Files."
"It’s crazy, but I’ve seen all 20 thousand of them and the familiarity and voice puts me in a calm trance."
"It takes what it takes lol"
Crash When You Crash
"Read, browse reddit, music, get some work done, daydream/think whatever u wanna call it."
"I don't adhere to a schedule, I just crash when I crash, get up when I get up."
"It's healthy trust me."
"Do u work or go to school right now?"
"School, and online. All it complicates is the occasional obligation. May not align for everyone, but it's what works for me and if it works for you it could be all cool."
Relish The Rare
"Turn off blue light on all devices an hour before sleep."
"Use a white noise app or something similar so your mind blocks out and focuses on only 1 sound."
"Reading or listening to podcasts."
"Turn a lot."
"Most importantly for me is to get comfortable and relish in that rare comfort."
"The times I'm not worried about my lack of sleep, the better sleep I get. I normally remember that being comfy and switched off from the world (even if it doesn't work) is much more preferable to being uncomfy, looking at a screen and working for 7 hours straight."
"If nothing else, Masturbate."
"I’m going through chemo treatments right now and on Tuesday nights through Thursday, into Friday, I can’t sleep."
"I will get up, go to the living room, pour a cup of coffee and read."
"I’ve finished a few books since January and I’m running out. I’m taking in the peace and quiet and transporting myself to a different world for a few hours."
"Then, I’ll take a nap for a bit. Rinse and repeat every other week."
"I remember a few weeks back, I was quite nervous about my girlfriend's wellbeing as she was super stressed about things."
"That made me super stressed about things to the point I couldn't sleep."
"I ended up trying to assemble basic sentences in Japanese for a few hours to take my mind off things."
That Scrubbing Sound
"I really don’t know if this will help anyone, but I watch reconstruction videos of old vintage items and welding of items."
"Such as cleaning a old and broken PS1 and forging weapons from video games, hearing the sounds and the scrubbing at a low sound does help me sleep"
There you go, fellow insomniacs.
Now you've got a project list for the next time sleep decides it's not your friend.
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Sleep is hard. Even folks who don't consistently deal with insomnia have the occasional sleepless night. Whether it's from excitement, anxiety, or your brain just refusing to shut off, sleepless nights usually suck.
Reddit user tropicalzhu asked:
“What keeps you up at night?"
"The dread of tomorrow"
Not A Thing
"Nothing I sleep like a rock"
"That's awesome. I'm happy for you!"
"The secret is to only think about sleeping and breathing if you go off track think about sleeping and breathing again and you will fall asleep which is basically meditation I had several people tell me it don't work every single person I may do it was out within 15 minutes"
Can't Catch A Break
"Anxiety, depression, and school. Because can't never catch a break"
My Brain Is A Jerk
"My stupid brain. Can't stop overthinking."
"That's about all I have, too. I don't have any big worries in my life but my mind won't slow down. It makes no sense."
Won't Somebody Think Of The Avocados?
"It's hard to fall asleep knowing that, at some time during the night, the avocados in my kitchen will instantly turn from bright green to moldy mush and I'll have missed the opportunity to eat them."
So Many Mistakes
"Past mistakes....present mistakes...future mistakes...."
There's Just So Much Cringe
"Jokes aside, I think every single night my brain forces me to relive every single embarrassing, cringey, traumatizing, or upsetting moment in my life over again."
"Sometimes I'll literally be thinking about something that happened to me 5 years ago. Why do I do this?"
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A Little Bit Of Everything
"Migraines, loneliness, dysphoria and the anxiety keeping me from saying how much I love my friends to them."
Brain Won't Turn Off
"My mind races and I can't relax. It starts to think about work, personal TODO list, problems I can do nothing about, sh*t I should've handled already…"
"Most of the time it's my phone. But when no one is asleep or in bed it's just my pc that keeps me awake."
There's a pretty strong theme of anxiety here, but that's not the only thing that can keep people up. Sleepless nights aren't always a bad thing, but sleep is important.
If you're consistently not sleeping well, it might be time to talk to a doctor about it.
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Ok, so I may be good at some things (namely reciting Toni Collette's monologue from Hereditary at any chance I get), but one thing I'm definitely terrible at is sleeping. Not only do I have trouble falling asleep, causing me to not sleep until 4am, but I also have hypersomnia. So when I am asleep, I'm deceased for ten hours. It sucks.
So today I'm delving into the jungle that is Reddit to learn all about how to sleep better. Come along for the ride, it'll be eye-opening (or closing, if you wanna be literal). U/monkeyswingin asked:
People who fall asleep within few minutes, how do you it?
Here we go, Sleep 101. Take notes, there will be a test at the end of this article that is 90% of your final grade.
That last tip sounds the most effective, tbh.
“Day dream like I would as a kid, get so immersed I fall asleep."
“The trick for me is meditation. Practice it all day every day. Don't think unless you need to, to accomplish something. Once it becomes your innate state of being, falling asleep happens in about 30 seconds. Just listen to your breath without thinking, and if you're in bed and it's dark, you'll fall asleep almost immediately.
Another way is to drink 3-4 9% IPAs starting at 5 pm."
I’m gonna try this tonight.At Home Reaction GIF by IKEA USAGiphy
“I never used to be able to sleep through the night. I was up at 2 or 3 am for 3 hours. I read this can be due to anxiety. So I moved my sleep time from 9:30-10 to 11:30-12. So I am utterly exhausted by that time.
If I'm struggling to fall asleep, I try to re-image a dream I had another night or go through flexing each muscle and then imagining it off once flexed (starts my with each toe).”
Sometimes it comes from adaptation.
“I was homeless for about a year. One thing about being homeless: sleep conditions suck. I became conditioned to sleep through anything.
Now that I have a more stable life, falling asleep is a breeze.
So the trick? Homeless sleep therapy.”
Interesting way of putting it.
“I lay down, I sleep.
Having a fantasy (not sexual...although, of course, that does help you relax/get to sleep) to focus on definitely helps at times - but there can be times I overuse a fantasy so can't really get into it anymore, then I'm stuck without anything to focus on and my mind runs away with itself so I can't sleep."
God, I’m getting tired just reading these. Maybe I’ll have a normal sleep schedule again. Probably not, but a girl can dream.
Melatonin is the best.Homer Simpson Coffee GIF by swerkGiphy
“No caffeine after noon, don't lay in bed unless you're going to sleep, and routine bed/wake up times
I also have medication just in case (melatonin and a real sleep aid).”
“I used to think caffeine didn't really do anything for me (I don't "need" a cuppa in the morning to get me going, nor do I feel any kind of rush after a drink), but I noticed that if I have coffee in the evening, I find it harder to sleep at night. It's really noticeable since I'm one of those who usually falls asleep within minutes of going to bed. So just to be safe I think it's okay to drink it earlier in the day, but not past tea time or something.”
Heads have a hard time shutting up at night.
“It literally takes me on average 30-45min to fall asleep if not longer at times. This is mostly due to my head just never shutting up. I constantly daydream, fantasize, or re-live moments of the day/ week and I can't turn it off. It sucks.
I only recently started taking sleep gummies, but they only help me stay asleep not fall asleep.”
Certain tricks work for certain people.
“Sadly there's no trick to it. I don't do any of the stuff you're supposed to - no cutting back on electronics, or only using your bed to sleep. I drink caffeinated sodas near bedtime, I'm not as active as I should be, I have anxiety, etc.
When I feel sleepiness stirring behind my eyes - I go lay in bed, put down my phone, and I'm gone in fifteen. I have random nights of fitful sleep but generally it comes easy. I also dream every night, sometimes several different ones.
I am very grateful as several close friends struggle with insomnia.”
My weird sleep thing is that I fall asleep in about two seconds if I sleep on the couch, rather than the bed. Weird.
Sleep hygiene is important.Tired Kim Kardashian GIFGiphy
“I've posted something like this before, but sleep hygiene.
I used to be a full on insomniac, laying awake in bed for hours, getting maybe a few hours of fitful sleep a night, always tired. I'm an anxious person and stuff would just run through my head all night and I couldn't stop it.
These days, I fall asleep within minutes and get restful sleep about 80% of the time.
Sleep hygiene changed my life, but fair warning, you're probably not going to like what it entails.
Start using your bed only for sleeping and sex. Don't read your phone, watch TV, play video games, etc. And start a regular bed time. It doesn't matter if for a few weeks you can't fall asleep, just get into bed at 10pm, read a book (paper or sidelit e-ink, no backlights) for 30-45 minutes, then close your eyes and lay there. Focus on your breathing, slow and deep breaths, direct your attention back to the breathing as it invariably wanders.
In general, try to avoid eating or using backlit screens (tv, computer, phone, tablet) for at least an hour before bed. Don't drink caffeinated beverages after 2pm, even if "caffeine doesn't affect you." Try to get a bit of exercise every day, even if it's light exercise like walking or doing a 7 minute HIIT workout.
If you commit to this for a month or two, doing it even when "it's not working" I bet you you'll eventually begin to sleep better.
After you're in a habit, you can break these rules for special occasions once in a while and the impact won't be as big since you're in the habit already. But at least for a month or so, be rigorous and inflexible.
If all this seems too difficult, the half-@ss version is just no backlit screens an hour before bed. Doesn't matter if you have flux or a blue light filter on or whatever. Just don't do it.
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Meditation always helps.
It definitely did the trick for me. I used to struggle falling to sleep even someone else's light breathing would set me into a sleepless rage.
Once I got the hang of meditating I applied it to my sleep. I had a few techniques. One of them was each time I had a thought or train of thought, and came to the realisation I was having a thought I would let it go. Essentially stop thinking about it and focus on emptying my mind. Maybe I would focus on breathing or how exciting it will be to fall asleep and wake up feeling rested."
"I felt this basically broke the habit of me overthinking before sleep. Or getting too emotional from lights or sounds around me. It took quite a few weeks to get the hang of it and make it a habit but eventually I got there and started seeing results.
I also think investing in a good pillow and bed or mattress topper. I got my bed 2nd hand for $300 NZD and spent $80 NZD on a latex pillow and it totally changed the game.
Also a good stretching practice or yoga so your aches and pains don't wake you in the night."
CPAPs are a life-saver.
“I managed to train myself with my new CPAP machine. It is so much quieter and comfortable than my previous machine. Mask goes on and I am usually out within 15 minutes. If I reach more than 30 minutes I get up for a little while.”
"I don't know if it will help you but I choose a creative subject like a recent game where I'm trying to build a house or how I want to build my garden, etc. Then I just work through steps on what it would take, where they would go, etc. just avoid doing it with any actual work."
"Part of the reason people can't stop thinking about a work task while falling asleep is because they're anxious they'll forget by morning. Sleep therapists or whatever instead suggest you write that down as a short note in a journal on night stand instead and don't focus on it until the next day."
Through the Calves...
"I have been using this trick for a few years that has not failed yet (that I'd use if i really had to sleep right then and there), which is to slowly relax all your body muscles/parts. Starting with your feet, relax your feet muscles and pretend that you no longer have feet, don't move it at all, then once you feel that your feet aren't there anymore, u move on to your calves and thighs, then hands, arms, etc. usually id fall asleep by the time i reach the calves."
The Game Inside
"I play a game inside my head where i imagine cleaning my room. It doesn't matter if my irl room is actually dirty or if the dream room even resembles mine, I just pick a few tasks and get to work. focusing on this keeps me from getting anxious about stuff that happened during the day, which i find is what keeps me up most often. plus it's relaxing, and i always fall asleep before i actually finish tidying."
Bring Tissues...Monsters Inc Reaction GIF by filmeditorGiphy
"Cry right before going to bed."
"Sheer exhaustion. Or illness. Otherwise, I'm wide awake for too long."
"It's the exhaustion to me also. When I just sit at home doing nothing, I find it difficult to go to bed in the first place and when I do it's difficult to fall asleep too. When I work out during the day or have otherwise busy day, I usually fall asleep faster and the quality of sleep is much better for me as in I'm actually not tired the next day even when I've slept similar hours."
That's A Rap
"I wake up at 5am which helps me get tired earlier. Sexual release helps a lot whether it be real or masturbation. I turn on my side, and that's a rap. I don't have any tv on in my room either. It's dark. Probably not the answers you are looking for, but that is what happens. I tend to sleep through the night (go to bed around 10 or 10:30 and wake up at 5am)."
"To make my brain shut up at night I put in earplug headphones and put a song on repeat. Having the music playing forces my brain to shut up and just repeat the song lyrics instead. I only do this with slow sad lofi songs that really only have a few lyrics. Trying to sleep to AC/DC wouldn't work. The only bad thing is that I wake up tangled in my earplugs."
9 to 5 Process
"I work hard so that by the end of the day I'm tired enough to pass out."
"This. If you haven't done much work that day and spend your last hours in front of a bright screen it's certain you aren't gonna get sleep. If you are exhausted the first thing you wanna so is sleep, late night internet browsing be dammed."
"I just lie down and close my eyes. I'll often put a podcast on, but I rarely get past the first couple minutes without falling asleep."
"I fall asleep much faster with a podcast or audiobook on! Not sure why. But if I'm having a hard time sleeping I'll just play something and I'm usually asleep in minutes. Maybe it mimics being told a story to sleep when we were kids."
"For me it helps prevent my mind from wandering into anxiety territory which happens to me at times. If I get started worrying about one thing it will lead to more things to obsess about and sleep gets far away. A podcast or audiobook focuses me on that story and I have a much better chance of nodding off in a more timely fashion."
Gone...At Home Reaction GIF by IKEA USAGiphy
"I just lay my head on the pillow and.... I'm gone."
My husband can confirm that last one. Once he has his CPAP on, he’s out. I’m lowkey jealous, I say as I sit awake at nearly 1am writing this article.
Thanks for reading, now go to sleep. You gotta be up early.
Falling asleep and insomnia have been hot topics in the media for more than a decade. Is the reason you can't sleep because of your bad sleep habits—inconsistent bedtime, hitting snooze every morning, drinking alcohol before bed, etc.—or is it that evil blue light we've all been warned emanates from our beloved electronic devices?
Different tricks work for different people, so if you're struggling to get a few good hours of shuteyw, take a look at some of these ways that fellow insomniacs relax and drift off to see if any of them work for you.
Reddit user u/20shepherd01 asked:
Like a lot of folks mentioned, melatonin and white noise (though I prefer "brown" noise better tonally, it's more like a fan whirring that tv static) helps for me.
I have adhd so winding down is important and staying off my phone. So lately I have been working on building better sleep hygiene and using an app called "Sleep Town" that has a scheduled "sleep" time that basically keeps me off my phone and focusing on going to bed.
It will navigate you away from any app that you try to open while its switched on to sleep mode and doesnt interfere with Spotify, which is nice since I use that for white noise.
app is on android, idk about iPhone
Easiest question ever. I read a chapter of my AP Biology textbook. I guarantee you that book will knock you out any day of the week.
Progressive Muscle Relaxation. Start by trying to relax your toes until you can barely feel them, then the soles of your feet, calves, etc.. trick I learned from a military friend. Usually out by the time I get to my waist.
My younger brother is an insomniac from child hood trauma while sleeping. Nothing my parents did but my neighbours. They had this motor bike they'd rev outside his window when he was a baby and it terrified him.
He couldn't sleep unless he was with my dad. And obviously this became a problem when he got older. He was around 7 and my dad would have to sit with him every night till he fell asleep. We tried therapy, teddies, whale noises. All of it. I recommended headphones rather than playing the noises aloud in the room as it was outside noises that upset him.
So he started going to bed listening to whale noises in headphones and it worked. Now he sleeps with AirPods / any wireless headphones he's got charged, playing night time playlists on Spotify and he can't sleep without them. He's better now but it's made him a complete daddies boy.
I don't ascribe to 'tingles' but a lot of ASMR videos deal with white noise like tapping or whispering, gentle rain sounds and the like that help me dose off at night. I don't know if there is a correlation but a lot of "t*tty" ASMRists actually have very pleasant voices as well, usually I just pull their videos, put my phone face down or minimize the video on my computer, then pick up a book and a cup of sleepy tea and just let it put me to sleep. Anything that's massage or just 'conversationalist' will knock me out.
Sleep with Me podcast works every time!
Overworking myself during the day seems to do the trick, although I cannot guarantee the healthiness of this approach
Same double shift life helps me get 8 hour of sleep.
I have major insomnia because of my schizophrenia. My mind just can't turn off at night. I have not had a sleep schedule since I went crazy 10 years ago. For Christmas this year I got a huge weighted blanket and holy shit it works!!! I can actually lay down at a decent hour go to sleep in 15 minutes. I can actively feel my mind fighting against the weight of the blanket but it just starts sputtering out and then there is actual silence and I go to sleep. Because of my disease I also wake up about 8 times a night and sometimes I can't go back to sleep but the weighted blanket makes me stay asleep. I can't believe it. I haven't slept this well this consistently in almost a decade. I absolutely love it. I can't reccomend it enough.
Music, but don't fall asleep to it just let it relax you, then stop the music and sleep. Also for me, never think 'this position is comfortable' because for me when I do that it immediately stops being comfortable
Do you have Alexa? Alexa, Make it Rain!
White noise bliss on a loop.
"Put My Phone Under A Faucet To Fill Up My Water"—Embarrassed People Share The Weirdest Thing They've Done On Autopilot
You're in that state somewhere between being asleep and actually being awake and aware, and yet you still have to try to function, when you grab a bowl of cereal.
You pour your cereal into the bowl and somehow magically follow it with milk, but it all falls apart when you go to put stuff away. The cereal goes in the fridge and the milk goes into the cupboard.
Hopefully you discover your error quickly, or you're going to be trying to get the smell of spoiled milk out of your cupboards for days.
Mental autopilot is useful sometimes, but every once in a while there's a little hiccup and things go (hilariously) wrong.
Reddit user ItsaHelen asked: