A recent article in the New York Times stated that roughly 60 percent of people said they struggled with insomnia, many wrestling with dozing off again after that middle-of-the-night wakeup. Following are some heretofore unpublished creative tips for inducing the sandman’s return.
Preparation (essential): Get out of bed, go to the bathroom and pee. If you don’t think you have to pee, then get out of bed, go to the bathroom and pee. (You have to pee, whether you think so or not.)
Tip 1: Instead of counting sheep, count something more boring, like the current crop of TV sitcoms, or presidential candidates.
Tip 2: If, as some suggest, you choose to get out of bed to read a book, we highly recommend James Joyce’s Finnegans Wake. A book that begins “a way a lone a last a loved a long the / riverrun, past Eve and Adam’s, from swerve of shore to bend of bay, brings us by a commodious vicus of recirculation back to Howth Castle and Environs” is the mind-numbing opposite of a page-turner. Word has it that even Joyce fell asleep reading it.
Tip 3: In the event that you prefer to watch TV rather than read, and if “On Demand” is part of your cable package, load the Saturday Night Live episode with Paris Hilton as the guest host. It’s guaranteed to put you to sleep just as fast (some think even faster) than Finnegans Wake.
Tip 4: Don’t think of anything unpleasant and stressful like, say, if you’re a Democrat, gerrymandering, the filibuster, the Supreme Court…rather, think of something calming and pleasant like, if you’re a Republican, gerrymandering, the filibuster, the Supreme Court.
Tip 5: Meditation, the art of relaxation by focussing one’s mind with the aid of chanting a mantra (to one’s self, obviously, at 3:00 a.m.) is said to help induce sleepiness…but most effectively with the proper mantra. Popular general mantras – e.g., “I am strong,” “My mind is brilliant,” “My potential is limitless” – have been shown to be not nearly as effective as more personal ones, like “I hate that motherfucker next door,” “I’m going to quit my shitty job next week,” “I’m not fucking cooking on Mothers’ Day,” “I’d love to screw Cynthia.” Though the last one has the potential of having the opposite effect.
Tip 6: Drinking warm milk to help you sleep has been recommended for years, not just because it contains sleep-inducing tryptophan but also because of the psychological benefit of reminding you of home when your mother tucked you in at night. Recently it was learned that an added benefit seems to arise when, while you’re drinking that milk, you look at a Mickey Mouse (or Donald Duck) comic book. Just look at the pictures, though, don’t read the words – remember, at that age you couldn’t read.
Tip 7: Soothing sounds – e.g., ocean waves, birds chirping, wind rustling through trees – have long been used to induce sleep. But recent studies show that results seem to improve when the sound is specifically tailored to the individual. For example, a suburbanite who used to live in Manhattan may fall asleep faster listening to the sounds of street traffic, the crashing of garbage cans, people shouting curse words at one another. And, if the opposite were the case and, say, a suburbanite moved to Manhattan, they might require listening to crickets chirping, loud enough to drown out the sounds of street traffic, the crashing of garbage cans, people shouting curse words at one another.