Musings of the Mind at 3AM
Raise your hand if you’ve been here: it’s 3AM, you’re wide awake, and you can’t seem to settle on any single topic to think about. Your mind has ricocheted from work to Easter dinner, to that poem you wrote over a year ago which had a cool line, to building a cabinet for extra paint cans. At this point, I’ve basically solved world hunger, yet I can’t solve the pesky issue of getting to sleep. We’ve written articles related to sleep before (here and here), but why not another one from the point of view of the wise night owl?
The rationalization game
“Well if I’m not tired, lying here isn’t going to help. Maybe I’ll read a book.” So I go downstairs, flip on the light, open whatever book I’m reading at the time, and get to it. Now I’ve rationalized with myself that I’m going to be up for a least a little longer. I grab a cup of water and sit back. Now by this point, my mind has reaffirmed itself that it should be awake. “Why didn’t I just lay there in bed. Maybe I would have eventually fallen asleep.” Well if it were really that easy, I wouldn’t be writing this article, now would I?
Back to the rationalization game. So I have now rationalized that it is more effective to be awake and read than to try and sleep. The right choice? We’ll never know. But it’s worth a shot. When I was younger, reading put me right to bed. As an adult, I find myself engaged in stories. Crap. On a positive note, I now have the opportunity to read those books we were supposed to in high school, but never did!
Television is the devil
We’ve been told time and time again that TV before bedtime is a big no-no. I’ll tell you again in case you forgot: “It’s a big no-no.” Avoid electronics before bedtime completely. That means TV, computer, tablet, phone, Game Boy, all of them. In fact, avoid using them in your bed, period. Your bed is for sleeping.
Electronics trick your brain with their artificial light. Your brain thinks that it isn’t really bedtime because of at all the light that it processes via those electronics. So now your brain has no clue what to do. It hasn’t had a fair chance to properly shut down from the stimulation so it keeps on motoring along.
Shoot, now I’m hungry. Snack time.
Sleep, where are you?
Now that I have successfully walked downstairs, grabbed a glass of water, opened my book and started reading, my tummy decides to join the conversation. Nothing like a late night bowl of cereal to help you go to sleep (that was sarcastic). Always try to avoid food right before bedtime. Your body doesn’t process food as well at night, compared to during the day, so try to stay away from it. In any case, with my Cinnamon Toast Crunch dominated, I look to see when the chapter ends. Another 15 pages? No problem. We all know you can’t just end in the middle of a chapter.
So tack on another 30 minutes (yes, I read slow) and I’m still not any closer to getting to sleep. I fold up my book, brush my teeth again (thanks to that bowl of cereal) and hop back into bed, more optimistic than before. I felt my eyelids get a little droopy while reading. That’s a good sign.
Back in bed, my mind is still racing. Crap. With the successful construction of the paint cabinet completed in my mind, I should be good to call it a day. But can I? Nope. Not yet. Now my paint cabinet will have adjustable shelves! Why? Why the heck not?! I redesign, write it all down, yawn and put the same dedication towards going to sleep as I did in designing the cabinet.
Curl up, it’s bed time
This has got to be it. The time is now. My cat is literally snoring, curled up against my side. Sleep shall be upon us! Or will it?
3AM has now turned to 4AM. With sunrise at 6:18AM, maybe you’ll be awake to catch it.