Falling asleep is sometimes difficult. I’m always looking for solutions to the problem.
When I was younger I’d have trouble sleeping if something important was supposed to happen the next day. Now that I’m older about the only thing that’s every “important the next day” is an early morning doctor’s appointment. Otherwise, any problem falling asleep seems to go in cycles for me. I’ll have many days, a week sometimes where I’ll be asleep minutes after my head hits the pillow. Then I’ll have a series of day where I’ll fall asleep but wake in the middle of the night and not be able to fall back asleep. There are also the times when for a few days, maybe a week, falling asleep will be difficult. I’ll toss and turn. The bed will feel uncomfortable. Any position I lie in will feel wrong. But the worst will be having a moment when I’m about to fall asleep, doze for a moment, but suddenly wake up. When that happens I know I’m not going to be sleeping for awhile.
Usually, when I can’t sleep I’ll lie there trying for about 20 minutes. Then I’ll get up. Sometimes I’ll exercise jumping jacks, sit-ups, and so on. Sometimes that does the trick. Sometimes it doesn’t. Often I’ll read until I feel drowsy. Sometimes that works, but more often I’ll be awake reading again about 20 minutes later. What works best is giving up. Almost always, after I’ve been awake, tossing turning, exercising, reading and the clock says something like, 3:30, I’ll say to myself something like, “Guess that’s it, I’m not sleeping tonight so I might as well give up trying.” Sometimes I start planning my now revised day that will start at 4 a.m., other times I’ll decide to plan to turn the computer on but lie there thinking about what I’m going to look at such as a TV show, a short story, or the sports news.
The funny thing is if I try that first at 2:30 a.m. after I woke up and couldn’t sleep or at 10 p.m. on the nights when I can’t sleep at all – it doesn’t work, probably because I haven’t really given up. When I try using it early, it becomes just another trying to sleep technique.
Today I found this list of “sure-fire” sleep aids from early modern Europe (the 15th and 16th centuries. Here are three you’ll want to try:
- Put some blood-sucking leeches behind your ears. When they bore holes in the skin, pull them out and place a grain of opium in each hole. (From 16th-century French physician André du Laurens.)
- Kill a sheep, and then press its steaming lungs on either side of the head. Keep the lungs in place as long as they remain warm. (From 16th-century French surgeon Ambroise Paré.)
- After the evening meal, eat lettuce, drink wine, and rub an ointment made of the oil of violets or camphor on the temples. Dissolve a mixture of poppy seeds, lettuce seeds, balsam, saffron, and sugar and cook it in poppy juice. Then listen to pleasant music and lie down on a bed covered with the leaves of fresh, cool plants. (From 15th-century philosopher Marsilio Ficino.)” — Benjamin Reiss, author of Wild Nights: How Taming Sleep Created Our Restless World
This is where I found those as well as a list of more serious, more likely, contemporary solutions: Busy Brain Not Letting You Sleep? 8 Experts Offer tips