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April 20, 2017

Three Tips to Become an Insomniac

You can program yourself to have a difficult time sleeping every night. Here’s how:

  1. Make sure your mind associates your bed with all kinds of activities besides rest.
  2. Make sure your brain receives stimulants at bedtime.
  3. Make sure your body learns that lying down means it is time to get worked up and restless.

This past month, I have been listening to the audiobook of Scott Adams’ How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big. It’s not quite a humor book, a self-help book, or a business book, but it may be the most practically useful book I have read. I believe it could effectively replace one to two years of college for many people, but I digress.

Scott describes a kind of “user interface” for your brain when it comes to sleep. I have been incorporating his observations into my bedtime routine, and they have helped me sleep well.

LAP: Location, Activity, Position

The timing of your nightly routine is important and could be a fourth component of programming yourself, but my experiment is proving that I sleep best when I pay attention to my Location, Activity, and Position.

Location:
Decide the purpose of your bed, then stick to it. Guard that space strictly. For most people, this means a bed should only be used for sleep and sex. Reading a physical book as a preface to sleep may also be a good use of your bed, but keep in mind that paper pages have an effect drastically different from that of a phone screen.

Activity:
This follows Location closely, but it’s worth adding an extra warning against any activities that violate your bed’s purpose. Phones and TV are the biggest culprits here. Watching shows or movies is a more passive activity than browsing Facebook for those tiny hits of dopamine to your brain, but you can easily become dependent on television to sleep. It’s best to wean yourself as soon as possible.

Position:
This was the least familiar aspect of sleep programming to me. Our bodies remember their physical positions and adjust “mode” accordingly. For a long time, whenever I lay down, I was confusing my body by using my phone then trying to sleep in the same horizontal position.

Recently, I have been refusing to look at my phone while head touches pillow, and sleep has been overtaking me like the rhythm, which I am told is gonna get you.

By the way, even that orange “Night Shift” mode on your phone is crap. If you’re stimulating yourself before bed, you’re doing damage to your sleep pattern no matter the color of the input.

I have been thrown back to a time before I ever felt busy even at night, and I wish the same for you. Happy sleeping!

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