I haven’t really posted anything in the last week because I’ve been pretty busy being super anxious and not sleeping. The thing about insomnia is, it makes regular day-to-day life so much harder. It’s like, do I want to do literally anything at all, or do I want to lie on this couch for six hours and stare at the TV. It’s fine though, I’ve been terrible at sleeping my whole life, so I’m pretty used to it by now. Over the years, I’ve tried a lot of solutions, and none of them actually work for me. Admittedly, I’ve never used prescription medication, but I’m worried about side effects like sleep eating or sleep driving or sleep shopping or death, so I’m planning to keep avoiding them if I can help it. Still, I’m basically an insomnia expert, so here are some of the things I’ve tried, and the many ways in which they have not worked at all for the most part.
Melatonin and valerian. These are like, natural things or something (valerian is a plant I think, I don’t really know wtf melatonin is) and they’re both supposed to help with insomnia, but I’m pretty sure they are actually just placebos. I’ve tried taking one or the other, both at the same time…nothing. I’ve never even experienced a more relaxed state, never mind a more sleepy one.
Sleep aid apps. Admittedly, I only tried this for the first time last week in a fit of desperation, but it turns out there are a whole bunch of sleep aid apps out there. I went for Sleep Pillow because it has a free version and it’s like, do I want to pay money to listen to supposedly relaxing noises? Eh, not really. The sound options are OK…I tried one that sounds like rain for a couple of nights, because the one that sounds like a rainforest is totally annoying. How can anyone sleep in a rainforest with all those goddamn frogs? It didn’t seem to do much for me, but maybe I need to branch out and try some of the other white noise/relaxation apps that are available.
Going to bed early. People say that if you go to bed early and don’t look at screens right before you’re likely to sleep better; I have not found this to be the case. Instead, I just have to toss and turn and think about all the things I have to do the next day from 11 p.m.- 3 a.m., instead of from 1-3 a.m., so I may as well just stay up and watch Seinfeld while writing blog entries and tweeting instead.
Reading. I think the problem with this is that I try to avoid reading super boring things, and therefore I actually want to stay up later to keep reading. What I should probably do is reread all the boring junk I had to read that time when I got my arts degree. I cannot even count how many times I fell asleep while reading Plato or John Locke or Thomas Hardy or whatever. Seriously, do people LIKE Tess of the d’Ubervilles??
Breathing exercises. I don’t know what’s wrong with my stupid brain, but taking deep, focused breaths doesn’t tend to help me much with either insomnia or anxiety. Actually, when I’m feeling anxious and I try to think about my breathing, I start to think about my respiratory system and I worry that thinking about it too much will cause it to fail somehow (because that’s normal) and then I start thinking things like, what if there isn’t enough oxygen going to my lungs, am I dying I’m definitely going to die, oh my god, I’ve forgotten how to breathe, what is happening. It’s just best if I try to always avoid thinking about breathing and just let my body do it on its own.
Unisom. OK, technically this over the counter sleep aid does work, but it’s so not worth it. It takes almost two hours for it to properly kick in for me, which means I have to decide whether or not I’m going to take it pretty early. Once it kicks in, it basically knocks me out into a dreamless sleep, and I inevitably wake up feeling groggy and sort of like I’ve been run over by a bus for the next few hours. I may as well just not sleep.
Focusing on something mindless. Actually, this one works too…sometimes. The idea is to focus on something mindless to avoid thinking about all the more serious and anxiety-inducing things your (my) brain wants to think about. It’s the basic concept behind counting sheep (I have tried this, does not work). Usually I play a version of Scattergories, except I pick a category and then go through the alphabet. The good thing about this is, if anyone’s ever like, “Hey Alex, what’s a fruit that starts with the letter E?” I’ll be all like, “Elderberry, bitch.”
Alcohol. THIS IS THE BEST ONE! I realized this on Thursday when I went out for martinis and fell asleep within 30 minutes of getting into bed. I mean, I also woke up with dry mouth and felt slightly nauseous, but I slept through the whole night! I think the moral of the story is, it’s time for me to develop a drinking problem. Don’t judge me, it’s for the sake of my health!