Kafka, Napoléon, Churchill, Van Gogh… All existed on 4 hours sleep a night. Gordon Gekko said: “sleep is for wimps. Wake up and smell the future.” Insomnia isn’t a curse; it’s a blessing which will propel me to FAME and FORTUNE. That’s what I told myself a few years ago. I was tired of trying to get rid of my mild insomnia. So I decided that if I did not sleep so much, maybe I did not need to. I started going out more and staying up until 2 or 3 am reading every night… Until I turned crazy.
This stupid experiment made me realise how much one needs to sleep.
After a sleep less night, you may start feeling dumber and losing your friends. According to an article from BBC news,
lack of sleep has serious effects on our brain’s ability to function. If you’ve ever pulled an all-nighter, you’ll be familiar with the following after-effects: grumpiness, grogginess, irritability and forgetfulness. After just one night without sleep, concentration becomes more difficult and attention span shortens considerably.
If you know me, that may explain a lot. Sleep deprived people also become less attractive! Sleeping is an essential part in cell regeneration. In short, it means that you get dark circles under your eyes, your skin wrinkles faster and you start gaining weight. Still in the BBC article, I read that:
Research has also suggested that sleep loss may increase the risk of obesity because chemicals and hormones that play a key role in controlling appetite and weight gain are released during sleep.
During the time when I took anti-depressants, I had a dreamy sleep-life. As soon as my head touched a pillow, I would fall asleep. My nights were complete and I could even nap during the day. Two years of sleeping bliss. Unfortunately, when I quit taking the ADs a few month ago, my mild insomnia came back. I have a few bad nights, which make me very tired, and then I sleep well again for who knows how long. So after a few dark nights last week, I decided to fight insomnia seriously. I found some tips on the internet. I tried them for a week and decided to share the best ones here.
The main advice is to create a favorable environment and to chill out before going to bed.
- Turn your bedroom into a sacred sleeping temple. Ban thinking, working, watching TV or checking your email from your bed. You’re still allowed sex. Nothing too crazy though. Shift hot sex to the bathroom, the kitchen table or wherever your imagination takes you. Keep the bed for cozy, relaxing love-making. Who knows, you might spice up your sex-life in the process! (I wouldn’t know because I don’t have a kitchen table.)
- I’ve noticed that drinking one glass of wine or a beer helps me fall asleep. No more than one glass though. Otherwise, you won’t enjoy quality sleep and you may have nightmares.
- Avoid smoking late at night. Nicotine is a strong stimulant, like caffeine.
- Because I’m a bit of a hippy, I love to use herbal remedies and essential oils. They’re not magic, but they do help. Rubbing a few drops of lavender and orange blossom essential oils on your chest in the evening is relaxing. I also went to a local herbalist and asked for a mixture to make me sleep. They gave me Passiflora and St John’s Wort drops.
- I read somewhere that staring at a computer-screen makes your brain alert. So I turn-off my computer at 9.30 pm or 10 at the latest.
- I sleep better when I exercise regularly- probably because it makes my body as tired as my brain. I bike everyday and I go jogging at least twice a week. It is recommended to exercise in the morning or afternoon but not in the evening.
- Have you noticed how you usually sleep better during a holiday or after a relaxing day? The key is to reduce unnecessary stress. For me, avoiding to run all the time to be in time for my lessons could make a difference for example. I just try to leave earlier and to avoid creating stressful situation where I can.
- The worst thing for me is to lie in bed for ages, waiting to fall asleep. If you have been in bed for more than 30 minutes and still can’t fall asleep, get up and do something boring until you start feeling sleepy. Example: watch an old French movie.
Beware though, if sleeping becomes an obsession, you’re doomed. It can easily become a vicious circle where lack of sleep stresses you more than anything else. It’s okay to sleep a bit less for a few nights. It might even lead you to creativity. As Jon Stewart said, “Insomnia is my greatest inspiration”.
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