To Sleep, Perchance to Dream

Like many people in today's hectic world, I've been blessed with recurring insomnia. For most, this condition would be a liability; as a writer, it's actually quite useful. I pen more gibberish after three am than most people do... well, ever, to be fair.

But eventually, all good sleepless nights must come to an end. So I've tried a few ways to bring on the snoozes, when counting sheep just won't do. Feel free to use any or all of the techniques below -- just make sure you're really ready to hit the sack. This is powerful medicine; proceed with caution.

Drink a glass of warm milk: Generally, this doesn't work, of course. It seems to be some sort of old wives' tale. What old wives have against the rest of us enjoying a night's rest, I don't know, but drinking a full glass of lukewarm moo juice will leave you bleary-eyed and milkstached, but not particularly drowsy. Still, you've got to start somewhere. And you can always graduate to a nice, warm glass of milk and coconut rum -- hold the milk. That'll put you to sleep, but you'd better be sure to cancel those morning meetings the next day.

Read a book: This is great, if you happen to have 'The Bridges of Madison County' lying around, or you keep 'Principles of Organic Chemistry' on your nightstand. It's somewhat less effective if the closest book handy is 'The Amityville Horror', or an audiobook from the Steven King 'Rabid Machete Zombies' collection. Instead of sleeping, you might spend the night hiding under the covers, hoping that the creaking outside your window is just the wind. Of course, those of us who are truly proficient with insomnia don't have to worry so much -- we're not going to bed until after dawn, anyway, so there's no 'dark' for bogeymen to go 'bump' in. Still, it's not such a good idea to seed your dreams with the horrific imagery that today's writers can dream up. There's sleeping, and then there's 'unconscious night sweating'. Stick to the textbooks and tearjerkers, if you go this route.

Listen to soothing music: Again, this is a great idea in theory -- but one person's 'soothing' is another person's... well, Hootie and the Blowfish, for instance. Sure, their music is soft and lilting, but 'easy listening', my sleep-deprived ass. My ears would find steel-wool Q-tips more 'soothing' than that audiodrivel. Luckily, any music can soothe the insomnial beast, so long as it's played softly enough. Sometimes, Rage Against the Machine at three-and-a-half decibels -- or Nine Inch Nails, at a volume only dogs can hear -- is just what the sleep doctor ordered.

Exercise: Frankly, I've only tried this method once. I get the idea -- the physical activity, late at night, should sap whatever energy your body has remaining, and let you slip sweetly off to dreamland. Fine. But remember, your hand-eye coordination and reflexes won't be up to par, after staying awake for hours past your bedtime. And it can be rather embarrassing to explain to the ambulance crew how you backhanded yourself down a flight of stairs, doing jumping jacks at four in the morning. EMTs can be so cruel sometimes.

Watch LifeTime: No, really. Anything on LifeTime. The Oxygen network works, too. Or the Golf Channel. Or any shopping network -- unless you're one of those people with a shopping problem, of course. You're not doing anyone any good, lying there on the couch for three hours ordering commemorative Jackson trial dinner plates. But short of that, this is clearly the way to go. There are hundreds of channels out there; surely, you can find one that'll put you to sleep. You call them 'DirecTV', but I'm calling them 'Sandman'. Don't let the bed bugs bite!

Charlie Hatton is an overzealous blogger and aspiring standup comedian offering smart, sophisticated humor about life, language, and the size of his naughty bits. He writes semi-daily and mostly randomly at Where the Hell Was I?