Thrown Off My Sleep Schedule: How I Handled My Insomnia

I go on vacation for one week, and I come back, and I’m stuck with insomnia. Blech. Okay–first off, I know I shouldn’t complain. I had insomnia for something like 2 years when TRC was born and I was in Utah. I’d just stare at the ceiling every night, unable to sleep. I know how frustrating it can be, and this is nothing like that. I know also that just not being able to fall asleep for an hour or two isn’t insomnia.
Still, whenever I have a night or two (or three, or four . . .) when I can’t get to sleep, I have flashbacks to those nights in Utah, and I wonder if they’re back. However, I don’t wonder too hard, because the things I did to get over that insomnia typically work wonders for me. What did I do?
First up, I started getting up at the same time every day. This makes a huge difference, although it’s also one of the hardest things to force myself to do. If I didn’t sleep well the night before, getting up at the same early time I’m supposed to just feels wrong. I had to drag myself out of bed this morning. And yet, if I don’t do that, then the insomnia continues. I know this from experience, and so out of bed I get.
Second, I don’t take naps. Well, I don’t if I want to be able to fall asleep easily. If I’m not stuck in an insomnia rut, then a nap here or there doesn’t hurt. Yesterday I was just so groggy I was falling asleep at work, so I finally went home and took a nap. Couldn’t get to sleep until past 1. I’m not going to be taking a nap today.

Third, I read before going to bed, and I don’t stop reading until I’m sleepy. Usually this only takes about ten minutes these days. If I turn off the light when I get sleepy, I’m usually asleep in five minutes or less. If I don’t, it can be a long time coming.

Finally. I don’t just lie in bed anymore. If I’ve tried to get to sleep for an hour, I give up. Get up, go do something else, and then give it a fresh shot an hour or so later. Because who wants to waste time just lying in bed?

Really, these days it’s all just keeping the schedule running and falling back to it when I fall out of it. In Utah, lots of things conspired to throw me off that routine. I didn’t have a full time job, I was a stay at home dad, a new dad, and a night owl. I’d take naps. I’d wake up all over the place, time-wise. I’d watch TV and try to go to bed right after. I’d stay up until the wee hours playing World of Warcraft.

All sorts of things that ended up being bad choices. Thank goodness for being older and wiser. Now I just need to follow my own advice.

How about you? Have insomnia? How do you fight it?

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