Tuesday, April 24, 2012

helping you help you

No sleep is no fun.
I have been an insomniac for over 25 years.
Laying in bed. All comfy. Eyes closed and brain is just yammering on and on and just wont. Shut. up.
Over the past 30 years I have dealt with this I have learned a thing or 2.
I will share some insights with you.
  1. First and foremost resign yourself to the fate that no matter what you do some days you will just not sleep. By accepting this early it will help you in developing counter-attacks for dealing with the sleepiness the next day. So far my record is 4 days without even a head nod but by knowing what I needed to keep going I was able to function. Not function at my best obviously but function.
  2. Learn when your second wind kicks in. As you probably know our bodies all run on their own circadian rhythm. If you try to go to sleep after your body has revved itself up on a new cycle it is like trying to fight a house fire with a Dixie cup. For instance: I learned in my teens that my second wind kicks in a bit around 11pm so if I want to sleep I either have to be in bed and asleep before then or wait 3 to 4 hours afterwards. This is not always 100% accurate and does not hold 100% for every single night. It is , however, a good place to start.

Ok there are little tricks of the trade that will help you in your fight, you just have to find the right one that helps you. I do not recommend anything in a pill form (allergy medicine, sleeping pills, etc) they hurt more then they help. Soaking your feet in hot water works as it draws the blood away from your brain. Melatonin is a vitamin supplement that can help as well.
Your body will sleep when it’s tired the trick is to shut the brain up long enough for it to realize it is tired.

It might sound over simplistic but the phrase to remember is “train your brain”
Your brain is going to do what it wants when it wants, like an unruly dog.
Your job is to train it to understand that when it gets certain cues it is to start the shutdown process.

  • One thing you can do is to get comfortable and read an exceptionally boring book. This works however there are drawbacks. One sometimes you get interested in the book and, well, that’s not the point. The worst though is if it works for to long then it will inhibit the ability to read a book without getting drowsy. This I know from experience and it sucks.

  • One step I have developed for myself works rather well. I create certain scenarios in my mind’s eye each night and allow them to play out. Mini movies starring me basically. Daydreaming with the eyes closed as it were. You could use items like “what if I had superpowers” or “what if there was a zombie apocalypse” or time travel, whatever. It really doesn’t matter.
The idea is it creates a distraction for your mind to concentrate on. So instead of bouncing all over the place keeping you up it will focus on 1 thing, the scenario.
The idea here is you do this every night but don’t really change up your scenarios. Stay with the same ones. Eventually once the movie starts playing in your head your brain will take it as a visual cue to start the power down sequence.
One note to remember though is anything you go in deep on can affect your body physically. For instance try not to imagine fight sequences as this can increase the body tension, blood flow and even start spitting out adrenaline. As you can imagine trying to sleep with an adrenal rush is pointless.

If you have not fallen asleep in about an hour go ahead and get up. I call this a reset. There is nothing worse then lying there for hours and hours waiting for sleep. Go get a drink or something and then go in and try again. Don’t watch TV as this engages the brain, just veg out for a few minutes. Also try to go to bed at the same time each night as it too can create a cue for the brain to start shutting down.
The main thing to note is to learn what your own certain tricks are and to adapt yourself to using them. Study yourself and learn what you can do to help you out.


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Thrill me...dripsome brain droppings here.