10 Things To Do While You’re Up All Night: Quiet Ways to Beat Back Insomnia

Like many people I find insomnia is visiting me a little more frequently these days.  Without the use of Wikipedia (because it may not be back online–Editor’s note: this post was written during the Wikipedia blackout in Jan of 2012 which protested two proposed laws that Congress was considering), let me tell you my definition of Insomnia: a Greek world stemming from the goddess Somila, meaning frustration, futility, isolation and having the characteristics of a hang-over.

So here’s my quiet effort to help you overcome that plague of nighttime peacefulness.  The first choice you have to make while you are lying there wide awake is: Do you want to stay up or try to get back to sleep?

Things to Do if You Want to Go Back to Sleep

  • Read a good book, not a thriller or something super-involved. But a positive book with happy endings and life lessons, not something that will give you nightmares if you finally do get to sleep.  I find the “Chicken Soup for the Soul” books perfect for this.
  • Write Thank You notes.  This will help you feel a little productive and spread some joy to others while you are frustrated by lack of sleep.  Change your frame of mind and you might be able to sleep again.
  • Wash and fold a load or two of clothes.  I find the rhythmic sound of a washing machine very soothing and clothes fresh from the dryer are sooo lovely.  In fact you may find yourself falling asleep in a pile of clean laundry.
  • Have a snack. My mother swears by warm milk, I find toast and jam to be helpful, you may discover peanut butter and jelly to be the magic potion. Our bodies are programmed to wake us up when our blood sugar is too low, so a little snack may be just the thing!
  • Make lists! Often the reason you aren’t sleeping is because your mind is crammed to the breaking point with various chores, obligations and work-related minutia.  Dump those items out of your head and on to paper and you may be surprised how fast you can get back to snoozing.  If you want to be super-efficient, keep a tablet and pen on your bedside table to get those items outta your head without getting outta your bed.

Things to Do to Make the Most of Staying Up

  • Learn something new.  You’ve been granted several extra hours that you don’t normally have, so take advantage of them!  Even if you just watch QVC for an hour, I guarantee you’ll learn something you didn’t know before.
  • Clean house. Nothing will make you feel better about missing sleep when dawn breaks and your house is sparklingly clean. Although you may want to wait to vacuum until everyone else is up.
  • Read that thriller.  What the heck, if you are going to be up anyway, go ahead and read that nightmare-inducing book. At least you won’t have to worry about the bad dreams tonight!
  • Knock out that back-burner work project, find your tax paperwork or fill out insurance forms. Do something that you normally avoid like the plague so you can feel that smug sense of accomplishment as the sun comes up.
  • Go online.  You will discover an entire world of people (perhaps some of your friends) who are not sleeping either. While they may be third shift workers, or living six time zones away, there is something comforting about not being the only one in the whole world who is awake.

If all else fails, follow my wise Aunt Mary Francis’ advice, “Your body has decided you don’t need any more sleep, so just focus on the fact you have extra time to do things.” And you know what?  She’s right.  I’ve found if I tell myself that I got as much sleep as I needed, I function much better all day.  After all, even if you can’t change your circumstances, you can change your perspective!

If you like YourPRChick’s Life Hack posts, check out  The Art of Procrastination and Getting Things Done.

 

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