I have a bedtime.
It’s not like I fall asleep around nine o’clock sharp (after finishing a cup of decaf Earl Grey, flossing my teeth, and finishing a couple poems from Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein). I’m talking more like eleven (after ringing out my wet hair, chugging a bottle of water, and rapidly rereading the latest chapter of my paranormal comedy in-progress).
Sometimes, however, I do find myself still lying wide awake at two in the morning, kicking these hot sheets as far the heck away from me as I can get them. Reading doesn’t help; it only forces me to turn on the light, which is fine until I have to turn it back off and freak myself out until my eyes adjust. Music, or any noise, is a solid no. My phone will wake me up even more, and TV will wake my entire family up. All I can do is think. All I want to do is fall asleep.
So, I created a survey about sleeping, or lack thereof. People subsequently took it. I’ve compiled my findings (which were more extensive than I thought they’d be, so that’s cool), and now I’m sharing them. Right now.
First, some facts: Through my survey, I found that of the 28 participants, 58 percent get five to six hours of sleep, 36 percent get seven or more, and 7 percent get only two to four. Of those that get anything less than seven hours of sleep, 52 percent get caught up on their phone, reading, or some other leisure activity (which, I suppose, is relatable).The remaining participants reserve the time they should be sleeping for doing homework, or something else entirely. One even admitted to being diagnosed with insomnia.
So, here’s the real question: what do these people do when they want to sleep? Creativity, for many, plays a huge part. Many noted that they simply read, while another said they liked to paint. Music also plays a key part for many; some like calming string music, others go for a trusty piano playlist, and still others turn to podcasts (“Sleep With Me” seemed to be a popular one). Others choose TV; turning Netflix on and flicking its brightness down to one notch helps one, while re-watching favorite Friends episodes (specifically “The One Where No One is Ready,” “The One With the Prom Video,” and “The One Where Everybody Finds Out”) fits others who know they don’t have a Central Perk coffee shop for an early-morning buzz. Another finds that looking through old photos helps out, while three more push for YouTube meditation, ASMR videos, sleep hypnosis videos, and Netflix documentaries.
Some participants are more productive; they may choose to take a warm bath or go through their extensive self-care routine. Some braid their hair or paint their nails. Some need to talk it out- hanging out with family or falling asleep talking to their boyfriend sometimes does the trick. Others seek straight-up yoga. One person even stated they enjoyed cleaning their room when they couldn’t fall asleep after burning a strong candle.
For some, turning to consumption/scents is a must. Melatonin and Benadryl (used as last resorts) usually do the trick for a few, while a warm mug of tea suits others. One person swears by their essential oil diffuser. For a final shot, another goes for Valerian Root, a natural sleeping aid that you can get at the drugstore (it tastes pretty rough, but it’ll get the job done).
Perhaps the group I fall mostly under is those that turn to laying and thinking. Of course, I already said I don’t want any thinking, but that’s not what I’m talking about. This is mindless, really. One person, for example, lies in bed and thinks about each part of their body, focusing on what it does for them, starting from their toes and working their way up to their head (i.e. “I’m grateful for my knees because they allow me to walk, run, jump, bend, etc.”). Another girl finds it helpful to lay in bed and think about doing something physical, like a hundred jumping jacks (genius, really). Doing something repeatedly, like mentally counting or singing the alphabet, seems like a popular option. Perhaps my favorite idea anyone mentioned (which sometimes works for me but also sort of freaks me out even more) is closing your eyes, and making your own movie, where you’re the star. The presenter of this idea says that their movies usually start themselves, acting out current and future life events. One simply says only to lie down, close your eyes, and focus on breathing.
Of the 28 people that were surveyed, most said their tactics worked only sometimes, but not always. A bit less said their efforts usually worked pretty well. Most of those surveyed were between the ages of 15 and 23, if I were to estimate based on the audience I asked from. I’m pretty dang excited to try a lot of this stuff out; I’m surprised I haven’t already!
Thanks too all who participated (it was anonymous, who are you), and I truly hope this helps at least someone escape the frustrating hell that is lying on a hot mattress in a still room at four in the morning. Sleep is not for the weak; seeking out a way to fall asleep isn’t either!
Now go to bed!