What do you do when you can't sleep?

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#1 Posted by xanadu (2052 posts) -

Welp, it's 4am...on a Saturday...and I'm wide awake. This has been an unfortunate trend for me in my adult life. As a teen, I could probably sleep all day if I wanted to. Now, getting 7 hours is a miracle.

It's not completely terrible though. When I was playing through witcher 1, something just felt right about waking up extremely early, diving into the game world, and waiting for the sun rise. I'll also use it as an excuse to get the freshest munchkins from dunkin donuts.

But what do you guys do? Any particular game you like to play in the early, early morning? Tips on how you go back to sleep would be cool too. Although, it really seems like when I'm up, I'm up.

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#2 Posted by BladeOfCreation (1436 posts) -

Disclaimer: I AM NOT A DOCTOR.

That said, have you ever tried melatonin? It's a natural sleep aid you can get at places like CVS or Walgreens. Your body produces it naturally, and from what I've read on it, it appears to be quite safe (can't overdose on it, not addictive). It helps me get good, restful sleep when I use it.

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#3 Posted by vdortizo (288 posts) -

This has worked for me greatly since I moved to my own place: get rid of anything technology related, the room where your bed is, is for sleep and nothing else (except for, in the words of Dan "wiener stuff")

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#4 Posted by DrFlapjack (373 posts) -

Magnesium is good to take before bed. I'll usually play Binding of Isaac on the Switch or jump on my computer if my brain is too active I feel productive.

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#5 Posted by bybeach (6391 posts) -

@bladeofcreation: I'm not a doctor either, and yes, I have heard good things about melatonin. For me though, and I am not trying to detract at all, I have a bad reaction to it. It puts me in a uncomfortable weird space where the dreams are fitful, not real sleep. But hey, I hear other people do well. Also Valerian could be considered. I've seen it in a combo with Melatonin. When I was in the hospital they used melatonin by default till I told them.

I finally took it to my doctor, who proscribed me Trazadone, small dose of. It's not addicting (not fun....) and does the job. I do not feel it in the morning. Not like what I heard about those hard-core sleep aids.

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#8 Posted by BladeOfCreation (1436 posts) -

@bybeach: Oh yeah, it doesn't work for everyone. Different people will have different reactions to identical doses of medication. I find that I'll have weird dreams with it, but at the same time I manage to wake up feeling rested, which is really the biggest issue for me.

For non-medication sleep aids, try listening to podcasts or audiobooks. You can find recordings of white noise, or nature sounds, or city sounds. I usually need some type of background noise to help fall asleep.

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#9 Posted by mikewhy (347 posts) -

There's a few different things I do:

- Grab a shower

- Throw on some white noise

- Melatonin

- No screens

- Breathing exercises

And if nothing's working, get out of bed and try laying down somewhere else.

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#10 Posted by nutter (2394 posts) -

@bladeofcreation: I took it in high school as I had to be up for sports practice before school, which lead to having to be a night owl AND up at 4am.

Maybe it’s fine for most, but I took it pretty regularly and grew to depend on it to sleep. It wasn’t great. Granted, I was the kind of kid to regularly pull all-nighters and be totally fine, so maybe something was off with me anyhow... up until the last few years, I’d sleep 4 hour a night regularly and be fine, sharp, and rested.

These days, and maybe age has caught up with me and I’m more inclined to just fall asleep, but putting on some GB content that I don’t really care about is enough to turn off my brain and knock me out in 10 mins.

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#11 Posted by lead_dispencer (542 posts) -

I used to work a weird shift where I work 9-5 Monday and Tuesday but had to work 7-3 Wednesday’s. I used one pill of melatonin to make sure I get drowsy earlier in the evening. I was afraid of being dependent on it but it never became an issue. If you are dependent on it I would measure the pills in specific weight and slowly reduce your intake over time.

Trick your body. Show it whose boss!!

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#12 Edited by cmblasko (2951 posts) -

Read Twitter, get angry, fall asleep imagining all of the things I would say to the people I disagree with.

Reading books in general usually makes me sleepy. Ideally reading on actual paper or a Kindle.

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#13 Posted by TheFlamingo352 (387 posts) -

I try not to look at any screens--phone, tv, etc--before bed. Also, find a podcast that you like but don't care too much about, put it on a timer, and use it like white noise. I like NPR for that, as a suggestion.

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#14 Posted by TravisRex (819 posts) -

Physical activity makes me sleep well. I kind of cheat since im a mailman and my job is basically...that. ever since i started carrying mail i sleep like a brick. I had a lot of trouble in my younger years sleeping.

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#15 Edited by mekon (514 posts) -

@nutter said:

These days, and maybe age has caught up with me and I’m more inclined to just fall asleep, but putting on some GB content that I don’t really care about is enough to turn off my brain and knock me out in 10 mins.

This works for me if I need to sleep (at low volume), although it could be any GB podcast recent or otherwise, it doesn't take long. I just let my mind wander after a while and lose track of their conversation, it doesn't matter what they're talking about. The only thing I watch out for and exclude would be those where the conversation gets a bit too upbeat or someone shouts something because that can wake me up again (e.g. GOTY stuff). Other than that, I've listened to thunder storms, beach/ocean wave tracks. I avoid any of those with music since it's either cheesy or predictable, and gets on my nerves which defeats the purpose. There's some good ones on youtube and Audacity is a free useful tool to turn it into something you can turn into an mp3 or whatever.

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#16 Posted by innacces14 (812 posts) -

ZzzQuil. I'm dumb. I should be finding healthier means.

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#17 Edited by Tom_omb (1087 posts) -

I worked night shift for 2 years and I was terrible at sleeping during the day. Operated on 3 to 4 hours of sleep a day, if I was lucky.

Sometimes I have trouble sleeping at night, but I'm thankful I'm no longer working till 8am. I'd like to echo no screens, deep breaths in and out, and trying to sleep somewhere else. Our brains should associate our beds with sleep, and only sleep, but most of us are guilty of screens and reading in bed.

One of the things I tried was to keep my sleep schedule as regular as possible. Hard to stay up late on my days off when I worked the night shift, but a realistic goal for a day walker suffering from insomnia.

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#18 Posted by nutter (2394 posts) -

@mekon: As a kid, sleeping at a beach was always great. As a child, it felt safe with family around. Getting into my teens and being out with other kids, you felt a little more exposed. The sounds were always fantastic, though.

When backpacking these days, I usually try to camp near a source of flowing water. Utility is the main reason, but the sound at night is fantastic.

One time, backpacking in April, we were on a snowcovered mountain. Sound amplified at night as is does in the snow. We were camped near a ledge overlooking a waterfall, that we had pretty good access to. It was below freezing that night, but one of the best night’s sleep I’ve ever had.

Sleeping with windows open is good too. I love doing this in cities. The nighttime bustle is great background noise.

I live in a quiet area though, inland these days. So the best I can do is Giant Bomb on Roku or maybe the white noise of a fan. Giant Bomb works better as my mind stays more awake than my body. Dulling my thoughts is key these days.

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#19 Edited by avantegardener (2385 posts) -

Black Tar heroin... you'll go out like a light. Insomnia is a absolute curse, I'm thankful I only suffered from it sporadically throughout the years. Speaking as total non medical person, worry and anxiety can be an aspect, maybe talk to a professional, perhaps something in the unconscious mind is keeping you up. In the mean time don't fight it, play a chill game, read a book...sigh..watch a Mario Party and catch sleep when you can. As others have said, get in a routine around bed time, wind down and make your bedroom a sleepy palace.

PS. This is a pretty humorous podcast that may help.


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#20 Posted by berfunkle (196 posts) -

I read somewhere that you can fall asleep doing math in your head. An example would be counting up all prime numbers.

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#21 Edited by Sahalarious (802 posts) -

I always have some sort of white noise. There is something very special about the times when you're the only one awake and have an immersive game to play, but i always regret it a few hours later when the kids need a more well rested dad haha. Honestly if its something you're comfortable with a small amount of marijuana helps me sleep through the night like nothing else, and i dont wake up feeling like a truck hit me like i do with nyquil or other medical sleep aids.

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#23 Posted by Ravelle (3337 posts) -

Usually drink a glass of warm milk and try again, sometimes a sleeping pill if it's really bad.

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#26 Posted by Max_Cherry (1659 posts) -

Pills! Pills! And more Pills!

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#27 Posted by j-mack (89 posts) -

Exercise but not in the late evening. Avoiding screens helps me, I find about an hour before bed is sufficient. Avoiding screens is kinda nice because I'm reading more and listening to more music.

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#28 Posted by Mattson (11 posts) -

I just lay there and tell myself that my body rested for 8 hours so while I never technically experienced sleep to someone outside looking in it would at least appear like I slept... which counts for something, I think.

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#29 Posted by fledeye (264 posts) -

When I was a kid and couldn’t sleep my mum used to tell me to think about something really nice and then get comfortable.

But not just comfortable. COMFORTABLE. I’d have to move my head, then neck, then torso, then the left arm, then each individual finger in the left hand. Then I’d start of the right arm and work down my legs and each toe. By the time I’d done that, I was usually asleep.

Now I suggest it to kids that can’t sleep because it’s their first time away from parents or they’re not used to camping or whatever. Seems to work.

(Probably should point out I’m a Girl Guide/Scout Leader, not a child abductor)

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#30 Edited by isomeri (3127 posts) -

I've always had trouble falling asleep every now and then. I can sometimes lay in bed for 2-4 hours without falling asleep.

Lately I've learned to combat the insomnia with a rather simple things. On most weekdays I go on a 30-60 minute walk followed by a shower a couple of hours going to bed. Getting that fresh air and a small bit of exercise usually gets me relaxed. I try to not eat too much before going to bed, but I will drink plenty of fluids (water or green tea). I don't mind waking up to take a pee early on in the night if it means I don't go to bed all dry. I try not to play video games or watch anything super intense in the last hour or two before going to bed, letting my mind slowly wind down. Also, I ventilate the hell out of my apartment. Even in winter I open the window and let the temperature inside drop below 10 Celsius degrees.

And if I do find myself rolling around in bed not being able to fall asleep, I never ever turn the lights back on or open up any sort of electronics. I do some deep breathing exercises, tense my muscles and relax them and try to keep my eyes closed. If it gets bad, I may drink a cold glass of water while standing next to an open window. Something about the cold gets my body to relax and ultimately fall asleep.

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#31 Posted by Christoffer (2378 posts) -

I do different things depending on why I can't sleep. If there are too many thoughts spinning around in the head (e.g. during stressful periods) I like to put on a podcast on low volume. I don't now if that's the same as "white noise" but having something to focus on is better than complete silence when my mind is flailing around.

If I can't fall asleep, or if I wake up in the middle of the night, because I don't feel tired enough I usually get out of bed and do something else for a while. Read a book, watch TV, taking a walk, prepare breakfast/lunch for the next day.

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#32 Posted by someoneproud (668 posts) -

I do the same stuff I usually do (games, films, anime, occasional book) never really been good at forcing myself asleep, just do stuff until I start sleeping. Occasionally have to go to work after 2-3 hours sleep but it balances out when I'm asleep at midnight the next night, works for me.

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#33 Posted by BrunoTheThird (854 posts) -

Doing crosswords or playing Sudoku makes me extremely tired in the early hours. I'm gone within the hour, usually.

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#34 Posted by FacelessVixen (2706 posts) -

Watch videos. Or just say "Fuck my sleep schedule" and play games.

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#35 Posted by cyberbloke (178 posts) -

I suffered from insomnia for about thirty years.

In the end I went to the doctor's and was given amitriptyline, as well as a a course of therapy to talk through what may be bothering me.

I've been taking the pills ever since, about eight years, and they help enormously.

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#36 Posted by Vortextk (944 posts) -

Girlfriend does melatonin as well and it seems to work for her when she really needs to sleep earlier or needs the extra help. I don't have the problem anymore. In highschool I had problems sleeping but now I can sleep pretty much when I want to at nights, so I'm not personally of much help. Also, you can always learn from a professional.

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#37 Posted by Naoiko (1677 posts) -

I'd say ask a doctor as everyone else has stated, but I take liquid melatonin and play animal crossing. With out fail it knocks me out.

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#38 Posted by Forrester90 (1010 posts) -

Watch youtube on my phone with the sound low; then as i get more tired i roll over so the screen isn't in my face but I can still hear the quiet sound. MST3k and Giantbomb are my main sources.

Weird but it works for me.

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#39 Posted by GenericBrotagonist (461 posts) -

I listen to youtube videos while falling asleep, it's much harder for me to without them. Originally I always listened to the classic Ricky Gervais XFM radio shows, but that eventually stopped working once I listened to them all enough times. After drifting from thing to thing since then, I've finally settled on BosnianBill's lockpicking challenges. I enjoy them but they're just dull enough to lull me to sleep.

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#40 Posted by Onemanarmyy (4583 posts) -

i like to listen to a stream or a video while falling asleep. I make sure to never peek at the screen or anything. Just focus on the sound.

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#42 Posted by ripelivejam (13242 posts) -
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#43 Posted by isomeri (3127 posts) -

A word of warning about melatonin though, it can result to an addicting habit. Someone I know had suffered from intermittent insomnia, as in not being able to fall asleep that well maybe once a week or so. He started to take melatonin to fix the issue, which it did for a little while. Now though the insomnia is pretty much back as usual, but he still won't go to bed without having his melatonin ever and has panic attacks if he's afraid that he might have to try to sleep without it.

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#44 Posted by TheRealSeaman (133 posts) -

Usually I give up and then stay awake a few hours and then think going to sleep for only 3 hours is pointless.

About 2 hours later extreme regret kicks in and I'll feel like ass all day.

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#45 Posted by jaycrockett (861 posts) -

All these things are good. But just in case you need another thing, I listened to an ASMR video for the first time last night and damned if it didn't knock me right out.

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#46 Posted by FlashFlood_29 (4456 posts) -

Melatonin was a godsend to me for a long period. Also, meditating was great. Lately, I've gotten back to a regular sleep schedule and was immediately able to stop using melatonin (only use it on occasion now). So no worries about it becoming a dependence. Just try not to forget that even when you don't exactly feel tired, after a long day, you can still get to sleep by just laying down in bed. I say this because after not needing melatonin anymore, there were days where I didn't feel tired when I felt I should be, but just laying down in bed actually made me fall asleep, and I would legit be surprised the next morning that I fell asleep as easily as I did.

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#47 Edited by MonkeyKing1969 (7687 posts) -

A Melatonin capsule is good unless you have underlying anxiety that is really keeping you up. The best way to get my mind off something or to fall asleep fast was a book on tape. A few years ago when I was having many sleepless night I would download an audiobook (something pulp sciences fiction) and turn it on very low so that I could just about hear it....then I would just allow the story to flow. I would be asleep in under 10 minutes. With long books I would wake up 8 hrs later with the story still spilling out.

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#48 Posted by alwaysbebombing (2717 posts) -

I love me some white noise

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#49 Posted by Nick (1043 posts) -

ok i have some recommendations that i won't mention here so i'll give you my game-related strategy instead: i play picross on the switch, it usually puts me to sleep within 10 minutes.