SparkNotes Blog

A Guide to Successful Sleeping

11ksande, we think you might have a bit of a sheep obsession. And we like that about you.— Sparkitors

I am an insomniac. So I decided to write about it. At 4:32 in the morning. At 4:32 a.m., no human being should be staring at the ceiling contemplating the meaning of life, her muscles slowly freezing up into hard uncomfortable blocks. And yet, here I am, and I’m willing to bet that a lot of you have been in the same sleepless boat. So I’ve composed a list of strategies that might help us unfortunate insomniacs catch some shut-eye; hopefully, you’ll be snoozing in no time!

Get up every morning at 5:00 a.m. and go jogging or swimming. Don’t exercise at night; it’s a stimulus and will just keep you up longer. Go in the morning; it’s recommended by doctors, and it’ll even boost your metabolism! Unfortunately, though, it has an unintended side effect: not only will you be exhausted at night, you’ll be drifting off during your history class, too. You’ll try to blink during the Potsdam Conference and you’ll wake up halfway through the Cold War era, a strange taste in your mouth because your “best friend” thought it would be funny to put eraser shavings on your tongue. Yes, hilarious.

Successful Sleep Rating: 4.99/5 sheep

Turn off all electronic screens one hour before bed. According to research, screens trick your brain into thinking it’s daytime, so shutting them off allows you to adjust to the idea of night. But this suggestion can be a hard one to follow if you have 5 hours of internet research to complete, or if you’re obsessed with Battlestar Galactica and just HAVE to re-watch season 3 with commentary, OR if your friend skypes you with oh-so-important news about his girlfriend’s hair and you’re required to sit through his spiel late into the night. So, depending on the situation, this tactic may not be that effective.

Successful Sleep Rating: 3.67/5 sheep

Follow a routine before you go to sleep. Brush your teeth, put on your pajama-jams, get into bed, and hum the Star Wars theme song—and do it EVERY NIGHT. Once you complete a routine enough times, you’ll begin to associate each step with whatever comes next. So, theoretically, the repetition will trick your brain into associating the Star Wars theme with sleep, and every time you hear it—BAM! You’ll pass out and start drooling on yourself in the blink of an eye. A potential problem: your eraser-toting best friend discovers your kryptonite-like weakness and starts to hum the Star Wars theme 24 hours a day.

Successful Sleep Rating: 3.88/5 sheep

If you find yourself awake at 4:32 in the morning after trying all of these suggestions…there’s not much you can do. Sorry. Don’t try to force yourself into sleeping, because you’ll only get more and more frustrated. Instead, get up, drink some water or milk, then attempt to relax. Whatever you do, DON’T LOOK AT THE CLOCK. Close your eyes, think of something soothing, and with any luck, you’ll eventually drift off into a peaceful slumber…or not.

Do you ever have trouble sleeping? What do you do?

Related post: Five Ways to Combat Insomnia