Monday, January 9, 2012

How to Beat Insomnia, Part 1

The picture above is me for the first twenty five years of my life.  As a child and a young man, I was a terrible sleeper.  Long after everyone else in my family had fallen asleep, I would be still awake, staring at my digital alarm clock, and saying to myself: “Holy crap, it’s 3am.”  In the morning, I’d trudge out of bed, shower, and walk down to where the bus would take me away for a bleary day at school.

Over the years, I realized several problems that made it hard for me to sleep.

Problem 1: Coke.
No, not that kind.
Please.  I could kick a cocaine habit in an afternoon.  I was addicted to something far more sinister.
Curse you, you caramel-colored temptress.
I was limited to one glass of soda a day. Since I ate lunch at school, I usually had it at dinnertime.  Eventually I realized that, all night long, I was wired on caffeine.
Solution: No soft drinks after lunch.

Problem 2: Mobility.
One day in college, I spent the night on a tiny section of a couch in a lounge at my coed fraternity (long story).  Unexpectedly, I slept like a rock.  Forcing myself to sleep in one position seemed to force me to go to sleep.
Solution: Pick a comfortable position and keep still.
Even so, I wasn’t horribly successful.
Problem 3: Clothes.
In graduate school, I rented a studio in Pittsburgh, which had no thermostat.  It got really hot in winter and I took to sleeping naked.  I soon realized that I felt more comfortable without loose-fitting pajamas that twisted around me when I moved.
Yes, the graphic is to scale.
Problem 4: Ladies.
When I married, sleeping got easier for me (since I didn’t have room to toss and turn on the bed).  However, my wife found it harder to get to sleep.  I was an incredibly light sleeper, so she’d have to lie rigidly still.
There was also another problem.
Solution: Read her to sleep at night.

More on this tomorrow.

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