What To Do When You Can’t Fall Asleep


*Written last night while severely sleep-deprived.*

According to the little clock at the top of my notes app on my iPhone it is 1:19 a.m., a perfectly appropriate time to write a blog post. 

So what are my suggestions for falling asleep? Well I’m here to tell you that the jig is up with the whole “count backwards from 965 by 7’s” thing. It doesn’t work. I’ve tried it, and usually I get frustrated by how bad I am at math and plummet down a depressing spiral where I wonder whether my four years of tax-payer funded high school math education were worth it. And inevitably that leads to a long inner debate over the tax system in our country which is of course interrupted by my dad’s voice in my head saying, “the only sure things in life are death and taxes.” And then it gets existential, fast. 

So what are my solutions to sleep deprivation? 

I am an expert in not getting enough sleep, and a novice at solving the problem. But to the best of my knowledge there are a few sure bets to solve the problem. I’ll list them in order of their effectiveness. 

1. 2 glasses of white wine. Now I should tell you, doctors definitely consider this self-medicating. Some of you are probably judging me for this one, and perhaps rightfully so. But 2 glasses over the course of a 2-hour The Bachelorette special or a finale to Dancing with the Stars is the perfect amount to help you sleep without causing a hangover. And someone please tell me how that is worse than NyQuil. Please. 

2. A book assigned to you by some educational authority. Whether it was my U.S. History text-book in high school or the time that I had to read “The Sun Also Rises,” there is nothing quite like assigned reading to put me to sleep. Just picking up the book will cause you to yawn. Trust me. If you’re out of school I suggest joining a book club. And if you don’t want to do that, seek out the terms and agreements of your iPhone. If you manage to make it all the way through that one, it would be a miracle. And at least you could feel good about finally reading the contract you signed and agreed to. Sometimes it scares me how little I know about the terms and agreements to my technology products. I just assume that some lawyer out there has my back and has read it and taken out the part where I agree to give Apple my first-born child. 

3. A Stevie Wonder Greatest Hits CD. I can’t explain this one, but it has always worked for me. By the time you get to My Cherie Amour, you will be fast asleep. If you have strong objections to Stevie Wonder, you can substitute Al Green. But if you have strong objections to Stevie Wonder you should really stop reading this and reevaluate your life choices. He is amazing, and what do you have against blind people? 

Things that definitely won’t help you fall asleep include the following:

1. Listening to The Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets book-on-tape. Just trust me on this one. There is an incredible amount of hissing by the mysterious antagonist, the basilisk, and it’s enough to keep you up at night. The first book, where they win the house cup and defeat the crazy professor, is upbeat enough that it won’t have this effect. But beyond that, listen at your own risk. 

2. Writing a blog post. I’m only 3/4 of the way done with this, and I can already tell you that I’ll be awake for the next two hours. 

3. Reading the Twilight series. Even if you don’t like the books, it will keep you awake. The problem with poorly-written novels is that they don’t challenge our minds very much, which makes them incredibly easy to commit to. You’ll be halfway through Eclipse before you realize that it isn’t the same night anymore, that it is actually two nights later. It happened to a friend, I swear. (To clarify, I don’t have enough friends for all of my stories to have “happened to a friend.” But this one totally happened to a friend and not to me spring break senior year of high school.) 

I hope this helps in the future when you are up at 1:19 a.m. writing in the notes section of your iPhone. Or when you are counting back by 7’s from 965. And if it doesn’t help at all, see a sleep therapist. Life is way too short for you not to be well-rested. At least that is what well-adjusted, healthy people tell me. I’ll have to take their word for it. 


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