Something strange happened in the wee dark hours a few days ago. I slept through the night. This might not be earthshaking news to you, but it was for me. You see, I don’t routinely sleep through the night. And to say that I have poor sleep hygiene is an understatement.
“Have you tried… [insert sleep remedy here].”
And yes, I have. I’ve tried reducing screen time two hours before bed. I turned down the brightness on my phone, did the Dark Mode. I’ve switched up my eating, adopting the royalty food plan: breakfast like a queen, lunch like a princess, dinner like a pauper. The idea there being that heavy eating at night makes for disturbed sleep. I’ve tried bushels and bushels of herbs: valerian, hops, passionflower. I’ve doused myself in essential oils: lavender, chamomile, clary sage. Melatonin. 5-HTP. CBD. Oh mani padme hum and ASMR. I've tried a whole alphabet of things.
I’ve tried visualizations, “Close your eyes and take a deep breath. We’re going to take a voyage…” Acupuncture and hypnosis. My dreamy boyfriend, you want to hear about him? Paul McKenna is a British hypnotist and behavioral scientist. His audiobook “I Can Make You Sleep” is something I've listened to for years. It makes me ultra relaxed, but sadly he can't, in fact, make me sleep. Sorry, Paul.
The relaxation app on my phone is something I can find, even when I’m only half-awake. It’s pre-set to the Rain category at “Very Wet!” Again, this makes me relaxed, but not necessarily sleepy. I’ve been through sober spells and three sheets to the wind spells with little difference in waking time. Tried "sleep awareness" with a FitBit and was horrified by the graphs showing my sleep/wake cycle. I’ve put my “counting sheep” to sleep in counting them, drank more warm milk than have most calves (eww… no more), and become one with my breath. Zippity-zip-zip.
When I lived on the mainland and had a thermostat, I tried setting it low to no effect. That and leaving the windows open during the winter, thinking the sage advice of low room temp would lull me to sleep. Nah. I’ve been on a strict schedule and “listened to my body.” No change. Always, somewhere between 2am and 3am… DING! Yoga, meditation, and mindfulness. Astral projection. Box breathing. You name it.
And guess what works? The only thing I’ve found that consistently works? Writing. That feeling of pressure release, having put words together. Telling my story. Writing stories. All of it. More of it.
I need to remember this, need to write it in my journal. Maybe tattoo it on my hand. Oh wait…