Last night I went to sleep at 12 am and didn’t fall asleep till 2 am. What did I really do? Tons of overthinking, one trip to the washroom and six videos on YouTube about penguins. I am certain many of you will relate.
Insomnia usually has its roots in biological conditions, sleep disorders, mental illnesses or the consumption of specific substances. However, there are times when you just cannot fall asleep. Twisting and turning in bed, many thoughts go through your head. Here is a compilation of the most common things we do, or ask ourselves, when we can’t fall asleep:
1 Did I bolt the door?
“Did I lock the doors? Maybe not. Or maybe… definitely not. And the terrace door? Did I bolt that? There are so many robberies and murders in the newspapers nowadays. How could I be so careless? But I remember checking twice!”
There’s nothing quite like the night time to bring out your OCD tendencies. You think and rethink about your door locks, questioning yourself multiple times. But mostly, you prefer staying under the covers than going to check again.
2 I think I should go to the toilet.
“Am I restless because I need to use the washroom? Maybe not, I don’t feel a thing. But I should, maybe?”
It is okay to suspect that your biology has a hand in this, sometimes, it probably does. You never know what may work. If you are lucky, a trip to the washroom can be the answer to your woes. In all probability, though, you’re just restless and all that walking and groping about in the dark while kill your sleep more. (rephrase)
3 Is that a tree or an arm?
We have all been there. We fear looking out of our windows at night just in case we confront a demonic face. This is the time when our imagination knows no bounds. You see ropes dangling from trees and take them for ghosts, flying in the wind.
For some of us, we don’t even need to peek out of our windows. Our own rooms are sufficient for a nightly dose of horror. How many times have you heard your chair creak? Or seen a spooky shadow behind your door? Nothing triggers our imagination better than being awake in the dark.
4 Am I a big failure?
You analyze yourself and your life decisions to the point of ridicule and criticism, especially at night when you can’t sleep. “Am I failing in life? Should I be doing more? Is it possible for me to become like he/she?” It might turn depressing if you continue to ask yourself that every night.
However,it’s not a bad idea to have a few good realizations before you end your day and generally the void of night is filled by doing some introspection.
5 What do I do about that problem at work?
The nagging Boss, the disobedient secretary, that horrible client, stinking toilet, small cubicle or any work related issue, big or small, will crop up in your head if you cannot fall asleep.
It goes the same for relationships too. “Is he ignoring me nowadays? Should I ask him to split the finances? I don’t know how to ask Dad for the trip.” The list is endless. Anything that is constantly on your mind during the day is bound to pop up when your brain is idle.
6 One leg inside the blanket and one leg outside is a comfortable position.
A major reason for staying awake is discomfort while sleeping. There is no perfect position or temperature to sleep in. “The blanket is too hot, no it is too cold, one leg inside the blanket and the other outside is by far the most comfortable position.”
Apart from the sleeping position, the room temperature may cause unease too. We spend all our time awake in finding the perfect combination of everything for a sound sleep.
7 Will one alarm be enough?
Aah! The sadness that plagues us all, the alarm. There is nothing that humans dread more than the sound of their alarms in the morning. All of us hate the alarm’s music more than any tune. Calling it a nuisance is an understatement.
For the brave, one alarm is enough. For most of us, we love the snooze button. There are 10 alarms from 7 am to 7:30 am and you will still wake up at 7:45. When you can’t sleep, your chances of waking up early also reduce. So you do the obvious; add another 5 new alarms to your already huge collection. (focus on how one THINKS about setting the alarm or getting up on the right time)
8 I hope I get enough hours of sleep.
Now that you’ve set your alarm or alarms, are you sure you’ll get enough sleep? The favorite habit of many is counting the number of hours of sleep they’ll get.
A study by researchers from Colorado College affirmed that as long as your brain believes that you slept well, it will perform better, regardless of the actual quality of sleep. So, rather than counting precious hours of slumber, convince your brain that you’ll sleep well, if not enough.
9 Is my insomnia a sign of an underlying mental issue?
Insomnia is a common symptom for multiple mental disorders and illnesses. Do you remember that time when you read about that disease on the Internet and all the symptoms matched and you were sure you had it? Insomnia might convince you similarly that you need medical attention for a disorder.
But not only is that insensitive regarding the people who do actually suffer from an illness, it is also a a diagnosis with zero factual backing. Seek medical help if your condition persists, rather than just spending time thinking about it every night. (focus more on how one THINKS about it. See the subheading and then form the content)
10 I cannot afford to look groggy tomorrow.
Nobody likes dark circles and red eyes when they show up for work. Or worse, when they have to meet a loved one. Grogginess gives an appearance of being sick and subsequently you start feeling the same.
When you’re trying to forcefully close your eye lids, this thought will cross your mind at least once. The worst part about sleeping late or not sleeping enough is that the effects last the whole next day and affect the behavior, appearance and performance. (rephrase)
11 Checking my phone is a good idea.
Phones are undeniably an addiction. Even a few seconds of free time are enough to switch the screen on and scroll through the texts and notifications.
Can’t sleep? Go through your Facebook feed, watch a few YouTube videos, stalk a few people on Instagram. It may not seem like a bad idea at that time, but it only worsens and delays the sleeping process. People who use their phones before bed have disrupted and unhealthy sleeping patterns.
More than anything, this habit wastes a lot of time. It starts with five minutes of social media activity and lasts till the sun rises. (the same thing again. See your topic and the content, they don’t match)
12 What is my biggest regret or embarrassment?
Why is it that our worst regrets and biggest embarrassments smash against our faces when our eyes are just about to shut? We are jolted back to life with a horrible feeling of chagrin or anger. The experience doesn’t end at that. Our minds replay the incidents and situations multiple times, in high definition.
At the end of it, we spend a whole hour debating inside our heads and justifying everything. An idle brain is truly the devil’s workshop. Why else would it make you revisit all your past horrors right before you fall asleep?
13 Let me just fantasize
Fantasizing about careers, relationships, finances and situations is common. But that sweet little spot before we fall asleep is our favorite time to dream, consciously. For a lot of us, our minds are more creative and colorful at night. So what do we do when we can’t fall asleep? We imagine some of our happiest moments and ideas come to life.
I feel that this is a good and happy habit. As long as the fantasies aren’t harmful or absolutely impossible, it might act as a motivation.
14 Is life even worth it?
“Why am I here? Am I meant to live a simple life or fulfil some bigger purpose?” Our sleepy brains somehow always end up down in this rabbit hole. If questioning our personal decisions wasn’t enough, we introspect about life and existence. This is our time to be philosophical and question the Universe.
We spend the whole day going about in an endless loop, not worrying about things other than our immediate problems. Maybe it is not such a bad idea to peacefully think about life as you lie in bed, when you are unable to sleep.
15 I may not wake up tomorrow.
The most morbid of them all, and a rare one too. Do you know that half hazy feeling of sleep but not sleeping at all? This thought usually hits exactly at that moment, right in between the transition of consciousness and deep sleep. Fading consciousness, according to me, forces the brain to question survival. While this may be a terrifying thought, some people find peace in it too.
The brutal truth is, you will wake up tomorrow. You will hit the snooze button a dozen of times and curse the day you were born. Your insomnia will dissolve into a puddle of sleepiness and grogginess during the day, only to bounce back again at night!