It's 0341hrs on Wednesday and I have been awake almost an hour. I went to bed at 2300hrs on Tuesday which means I have only slept for 3 and half hours.
Here's the surprising part: a good number of you aren't surprised. Some of you probably sleep less hours. I know my insomnia is stress or work related and on good days (which are becoming more frequent) I sleep all the 8 hours. To some of you however, sleep never comes easy. That's a sure sign that something is wrong.
I used to endure weeks of sleepless nights and I would burn the candle (when ZESA isn't there) during the night reading anything I could find (from 19th century romance novels to nanotechnology). It did help to keep the brain busy and away from unending contemplations that yielded nothing.
However, reading or TV watching at 0300hrs is no solution to insomnia. Instead, it gives the brain an incentive for not resting. It's like rewarding your dog for digging holes in your yard. By finding those niceties you give the mind a reason to want to sleep less. So when I finally figured out that I was perpetuating my sleeplessness, I decided to punish the brain.
Here's how I did it. Instead of relaxing during the day, I worked both brain and body to the limit. At the same time, I created a routine time table that shuts down both brain and the ever distracting gadgets at no later than 2200hrs. By enforcing a routine, you enforce a habit. In the early days, the mind acted stubborn; choosing to remain alert for hours. I guess it was because no incentive came its way that the mind finally began to conform.
It's almost a year now and the routine is working (except for today and few other busy days). I have become more productive during the day since I now work knowing I only have the daytime to reach my targets and due to adequate sleep, my brain is fresh and more creative during the day. Also, I managed to discipline my mind.
Why is this important? Insomnia is related to depression and related mental health problems. As people sleep less, their mind refreshes less meaning there is a build up of stress. For a while things seems right before the limit is reached and the mind snaps. Stress build up leads to depression (the never ending feeling of sadness) and depression when not dealt with, eventually gives way to manic disorders.
So be a champion. Avoid stress build up. Get adequate sleep and be the master of your mind.