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insomnia

I've been an insomniac all of my life. Working with computers made the problem a little worse.

I saw several doctors about this, and they couldn't solve the problem. I even went to a psychologist.

I think this happens because I don't like going to bed. Going to bed and staying there is not a pleasant experience for me. I get bored, etc. I also remember the times when I was a child and my parents forced me to go to bed, and I was getting bored, bored, bored.

So.. my question to you is: How can I make going to sleep and waiting in bed for sleep to happen a pleasant experience? I'd like to make this as pleasant as possible.

I thought long and hard about the problem, but found no answer, so I'm asking you.

Thank you!

A developer in Germany
Tuesday, May 18, 2004

run 42 kilometers.

Ignore my ignorance
Tuesday, May 18, 2004

Get a girlfriend so that going to bed becomes a pleasurable exprience.


Tuesday, May 18, 2004

Exercise, _lots_.

it actually works for me :)

FullNameRequired
Tuesday, May 18, 2004

Don't wait for sleep to happen: A watched kettle never boils!

Do you read in bed? I found that helps. Though, be sure to read something dozy, or you could be awake all night finnishing Harry Potter And The Philosophers Stone!

But seriously: Learn to meditate. Computers tend to put your mind in an infinite loop. Learn to clear your mind. Rest your mind. Bedtime meens: Nothing else is important now, it can wait until tomorrow. Breathe.

Try to keep your bedroom tidy and as empty as possible. Make sure, you don't have computers in your bedroom or at least switch them off!

I find praying can help too. Though I'm not really a believer, telling someone about the stuff thats going through my head helps prioritize it: Most of the stuff we start thinking about during the day really isn't as important as it seems (to you / to your boss / to your customer). Imagine somebody unplugging all electronic equipement: Whats left? What is important?

Don't bother trying to sleep. Just relax. Try to concentrate on one thing only. Concentrating on your breathing works best!

My wife suffers from insomnia too and she finds my advice frustrating, so take this with a grain of salt.

Daren Thomas
Tuesday, May 18, 2004

There are some free tips here - http://www.makingchanges.com.au/archive.asp?Start=80 (you have to register to see them, which I would recommend).

Ben R
Tuesday, May 18, 2004

I have always found the best two things to do before trying to sleep is either eating or having sex. Having said that eating before you goto bed aint that good for you and finding someone willing to have sex purely for the purposes of helping with insomnia might be tricky.

nakedCode
Tuesday, May 18, 2004

Maybe he could get a prescription for it from the doctor :-)


Tuesday, May 18, 2004

I am a bit of an insomniac too.

Unfortunately a lot of people sleep just fine because of work and pressure. You have to see clients bright and early, forcing you to sleep early to be ready for them in the morning.  Work? If you do enough of it you should be tired. A lot of time is spent however in sleep books (they are very good now days, buy one of the more famous ones) on how to spend your evenings. Channel surfing doesn't help. Save $400 a year by cancelling Having a gaming computer in your bedroom (or hell, for computer geeks, having a gaming computer in your house) doesn't help. Reading books and magazines will help you substitute the loss of high tech entertainment, however reading them in your bedroom defeat your purpose. Don't be in your bedroom or bed if you aren't going to sleep. Always try to sleep if you are in that room/bed.

Li-fan Chen
Tuesday, May 18, 2004

Also, if you drink stuff with caffeine in it, lay a ground rule: no more caffeine after a certain hour, so you can start winding down.

Kyralessa
Tuesday, May 18, 2004

I always found music helped, put on something soothing and melodic then actually LISTEN to it. Concentrate on the melody and the lyrics and it forces your mind off everything else that's keeping you awake. At least that's what I found.
You might have to experiment to find what works best for you - I found something with complex guitars and vocals, like Pink Floyd, worked best. Classical didn't work cos I needed the vocals and traditional "easy listening" was usually too simplistic to captivate me. Whereas most of my substantial heavy metal collection was just too loud :-)

Really, things didn't improve for me until I took active steps to de-stress my life - getting fit again and being stricter with myself about how much overtime I worked (although my boss is still unhappy about that one :-/ )

Steve

SteveM
Tuesday, May 18, 2004

Is the insomnia causing you problems of some sort? I've been an insomniac all of my life, but I prefer it that way.  While other people are sleeping, I get an extra four hours a day to do whatever I want.

Now for some advice that will probably be ignored. 

Do not read in bed. Do not watch TV in bed.  Sex in bed is okay if you can't find anything better. The bed is for sleeping and you need to get your subconcious used to this fact.  If you get used to laying awake in bed doing things, then when you lay in bed, you will tend to stay awake.

Try white noise.  You can buy one of those noise making devices, or you can use a fan.  You may need to play with the volume level some, to find a setting that is loud enough to drown out the small noises that will tend to pull you away from sleep, but quiet enough that it doesn't wake the neighbors ;-).

Something that I have noticed that makes me sleepy very quickly, it turning off all the lights and reading a book on the Ipaq.  I have no idea why this is so, but it works consistently.  Just don't do it in bed.

Lastly, wake up and go to bed at the same times every day.  Whether you need to be up that early or not.  It will help in getting your body into an established rhythm. 

When it comes time to go to bed, go to bed.  If you lay there for 20 minutes and are still not sleepy, get up.  Do not lay in bed stressing over falling asleep.  Get out of bed and do something relaxing and quiet, take a bath (not a shower), sit and just listen to some soothing music, try some light reading.  Do this for about 20 or 30 minutes and then go back to bed. 

Finally, do get some excercise and try improving you diet. It might help and it certainly will not hurt as long you don't excercise too close to bed time.

Steve Barbour
Tuesday, May 18, 2004

"Sex in bed is okay if you can't find anything better."

Did you actually mean to say this? Other than that decent advice.

A cynic writes
Tuesday, May 18, 2004

My advice: don't take anyone's else's advice unless they explicitly state they also deal with insomnia.  Otherwise they're just guessing or regurgitating common wisdom.

I have a friend who deals with this, and he's tried pretty much every single thing mentioned above.  And none of it has helped.  So don't get too frustrated when none of their advice works for you either.

pds
Tuesday, May 18, 2004

How about caffeine?

If you (like many other coders) drink a lot of caffeinated beverages (cola, coffee, etc.) this might be what keeps you awake.

Martin A. Bøgelund
Tuesday, May 18, 2004

Just a note that like all things human, "insomnia" is different things to different people.

There is a very real psychological disorder of "insomnia" which should be treated by a specialist and/or a sleep center. I doubt that's what we're talking about here.

More likely is what Steve alluded to, and his recommendations are spot-on. I think it plagues geeks more than many other professions because of our nature - we don't want to go to bed when there's still some bit of code bugging us. Unfortunately, there's *always* some bit of code bugging us.

The thing to keep thinking, and settle into your psyche, is that it doesn't matter if you sleep from 11-7 or 4-12 - either one is eight hours out of your schedule. What *does* matter is that if you exercise, eat right, and sleep regular hours (11-7) on a prescriptive schedule, the hours you're awake in the morning are far, far more productive and pleasant.

I've done the 4-10/5-11/6-noon thing on a regular basis, and I've done the 11-6 thing on a regular basis. I am much happier and more productive on the latter.

Philo

Philo
Tuesday, May 18, 2004

I would say about the same thing as pds. Keep looking for a doctor until the problem is solved.

Li-fan Chen
Tuesday, May 18, 2004

Cynic, yes I meant to write that.  Why have sex just in bed when there's an entire house waiting?

;-)

Steve Barbour
Tuesday, May 18, 2004

The important question is: are you getting enough sleep?  For example my wife needs 9 hours sleep a night or she's half dead the next day whereas I'm at my best on 6 hours, only actually need 5 and can survive on 4. 

The major problem I've found isn't so much getting the sleep as bringing my body clock into line with other people's expectations.  For some reason going to bed at 4 or 5 in the morning and sleeping through to 10 doesn't seem overly popular with most employers ;-) 

I would be careful on the caffeine - without a mug of expresso in the morning I get violent headaches as I do with decaf.  Not nice.

a cynic writes...
Tuesday, May 18, 2004

Steve

Because I've got three kids and don't want to answer the question "Mummy, Daddy what are you doing?" ;-)

a cynic writes...
Tuesday, May 18, 2004

Insomnia?  No problem...

Just read any discussion thread on the web, where 70% of advice doled out is:

"Don't do X.  What I do is (X stated in an exact or similar fashion)."

The other 30% is doled out by people with no expertise in the area in which they give advice, i.e. Programmers talkin' psychology, religion, politics or business.

Capn' Kirk
Tuesday, May 18, 2004

What, you don't get that question regardless?

I will admit that we aren't quite as 'ambulatory' as we used to be, and we've learned to lock the bed room door, and double check to make sure the door is locked, but there is more to the bed room than just the bed.

Makes you wonder how families living in one room log cabins 200 years ago managed to have such large families.

Steve Barbour
Tuesday, May 18, 2004

I should imagine they kicked the little buggers out into the snow for an hour or two.  Now there's a thought.

a cynic writes...
Tuesday, May 18, 2004

I suffered from insomnia for quite a while and the thing that finally worked was eating right and exercising several times per week.  This actually solved numerous problems.

Anonymous
Tuesday, May 18, 2004

I will second the suggestion of getting regular exercise, and also avoiding doing stuff that will agitate you right before going to bed.

The thing that helped the most for me, though, was accepting that sometimes I am just not going to sleep very well and it isn't a catastrophe.  I just try to relax, focus on breathing evenly, and not worry too much about whether or not I'm going to get to sleep.  Lying in bed with your eyes closed is restful and good for you even if you aren't actually sleeping, and quite a bit of the time I end up falling asleep after all anyway.

Matt Conrad
Tuesday, May 18, 2004

I only recently cut back drinking 3+ litres of caffinated drink a day. I'd drink a pint of strong iced coffee 2 mins before bed and never had a problem sleeping, but that's just me.

Being an IT dude my professional pschological opinion is that you need to train your mind to want to sleep. I LOVE sleep, no, really, love it, but having someone in there right next to you helps too :)

Jack of all
Tuesday, May 18, 2004

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