Insomnia, you are an evil bastard. I’m working on some alternative techniques to deal with you and finding some success, but alas, not yet enough. I’m still mostly thoroughly exhausted.
Some tricks: Put an extra earplug or two under your pillow so when one of the two you wear nightly invariably falls out, it is not necessary to wake enough to reach over and open the drawer to the bedside table and find another, thus waking further and making sleep impossible. One other thing to note about earplugs, find the kind that work best for you and buy 1000 of the damn things. Manufacturers seem hell bent on reinventing wheels that work just fine every few years and you may discover that your best earplug choice disappears from the drugstore shelf, never to be found again. Buying the entire supply ensures you’ll have enough of your favorite for years.
Keep your eye pillow within arm’s reach for the same reason listed with earplugs. Anything that can be done before really waking will increase the likelihood of falling back to sleep.
The light-blocking shades available at hardware stores are the best thing since sliced bread. Nothing beats them for keeping out the dark. They’re worth every penny.
All the usual insomnia advice about not drinking caffeine later in the day, not drinking later in the day, keeping your room temperature at a point that doesn’t cause too much warmth or too much cold, and eating before bed so you don’t wake up hungry are all useful too. Considering I have the smallest bladder on the planet, I really have to follow the advice about not drinking anything. Actually having to rise out of bed is a sure sleep killer for me.
I’m trying this Buddhist meditation thing. I have to become really mindful of my body, then focus on my breath, then move through my body and find tension and note that it is there, and move my mind back to this if it slips away. I find that focusing on my body and my breath forces my mind away from the usual suspects that cause it to spin, work and money. I’m getting better, but my brain seems hardwired to know if I’m going to have to get up in an hour or less anyway and will not go back to sleep, no matter how exhausted I am.
Insomnia is a bitch. Over twenty years of this. The only thing that really makes it better is feeling completely secure, and that hasn’t happened for years now. I can’t imagine that this will be a part of my life until I die, but I’m beginning to think that it will. Maybe it will even cause my death since sleeplessness is blamed for so many causes of death.