I've had problems sleeping for as long as I can remember and this has made it hard for me to keep my brain functioning properly and getting me addicted to solutions like Hot Chocolate with Caffeine and/or Coffee to keep me up for as long as needed for work.
While this was getting me through the day with enough productivity, there's always times where I wish I could just fall asleep but then I have a startup job that needs me to be there for a decent number of hours before I can give myself the permission to fall on the bed.
That said, the past few months during the lockdown made it worse. You see, when I had to go to the office there was a perfect schedule that I had to follow and I'd be tired by the travelling so I'd normally fall asleep somehow by 2 - 3 AM but since there's no such physical effort required and I literally just roll over my bed to reach my workstation it's hardly any tiring even after 8-10 hours of continuous work.
The solutions I see all over the place are the likes of
- Get away from your devices 30-40 mins before bed time
- Listen to white noise or rain sounds
- Drop the room's temperature to something that you find comfortable (generally about 18 C )
- Drink some kind of sleep inducing herb tea or something
- And the final recommendation Melatonin Drug (Please consult a doctor first!)
While they all do work in one way or the other because to sleep you gotta get comfortable, your body needs to feel like it needs rest but the devices , white noise aren't something that helped me. Might work for you, but didn't work for me. I ended up trying things I used to do as a kid when I couldn't sleep.
My Attempted Solutions
These are things I tried that worked sometimes but not every time.
- Arms Straight, head straight, look at the god damn fan till you fall asleep
- Work out a bit just before I went to sleep
I haven't recorded the events of the day so can't really confirm why and when they work.
Now this, probably the most simplest and obvious thing for most of you but with a head like mine where you are constantly bombarded with memories, issues, possible bug fixes and project ideas, regrets and theoretical analysis and their results. It's kinda hard (no i'm no smarty pants, I just think a lot).
I applied something I do for getting rid of or getting into a habit, conscious control.
Let me explain.
When trying to learn something or trying to get rid of a habit you have to consciously tell yourself that you are to avoid or do this thing. If i'm learning a new language, I'm to force myself to talk in that language. If learning a programming langugage, same applies, force myself to build something with it.
Though, you can't force yourself to sleep but the point of all the tips mentioned is to get yourself physically and mentally comfortable and calm. Yeah, I know, meditation is the best solution for that but, It doesn't always work for everyone.
For certain people getting rid of the thoughts needs you to go through them, for some people it's just focusing on their breath, for some it's forgetting the present and living in the white noise and while you can call it meditation cause I still follow the base principle of redirecting the focus to something else it's a little different than your conventional meditation.
The trick is to shift focus to a blank or shift your thoughts to plain nothingness, not my breath, not the story a meditation guru is narrating, nor trying to listen to white noise. Just blank out!
I don't know... I don't even think I can explain it properly but I'll give it a try.
Let's say I'm thinking about a project, the features I'd like, the issues it'll bring, the things that can go totally wrong, the amount of time it'd take for me to perfect it the amount of research I have to do, and you can see the fall towards the negative, normally at this point you go towards a, "Forget it" and try imagining a blank black view, there's nothing there, no project, no humans, no positive, no negative nothing and apparently this relaxes your body automatically.
There's no tension in the shoulder, the legs stop shaking, my fingers stops typing in the air (Yes, I do this) but not on the first go obviously.
My brain is notorious enough to take me back to something else, like how I fell off the stairs while trying to impress a girl or how I botched a deployment and almost broke the entire code flow, it's all there in my memory and it keeps coming back and I guess it happens to the most of us considering the amount of memes this topic has. All I have to do is repeat the process, go back to blank.
The amount of time you have to stay in the blank depends on how the day went, too much on your mind? Will take a little longer than 10-15 mins. Tiring day? You might just fall asleep on the first transition. It really differs, even for me but it's better than not sleeping at all, or sleeping at 6 and waking up at 9 to start working again.