The older I get, the more I tend to divide people into two groups–those who can sleep easily and those who cannot. I’m in group two. Over the years, I have wondered at the cause (or causes) of my insomnia, but have only recently gotten serious enough about the treatments to actually make a serious effort at fixing in and getting some sleep relief.
When I wrote my first post about reasons for insomnia, I identified a couple of things that I would work on. The first was eliminating caffeine from my diet after 12 noon every day. I personally do not know how long caffeine affects me, but I have heard people say that it bothers them from anywhere from two to twelve hours after consumption.
So the first variable I eliminated from my insomnia program was caffeine after 12. The result? I’m sleepier at night, there is no doubt about it. But I am still not sleeping well. My next step will be to get my sleep schedule nailed down. The last week has been impossible with a vacation thrown into the mix. Life on the road is not conducive to a reliable sleep routine for me.
But I am beginning to suspect that, even when I have all of the other variables knocked out, I am still going to be lying in bed at night thinking about everything. In my case, overthinking is easily the number one reason for insomnia.
What is the alternative?
I think it is just as hard to “underthink” things at night as it is to “overthink” things on purpose. I am so busy. I’m not sorry about this. I like to be busy. But much of my day seems to consist of task after task. I am usually pinned down in the moment, thinking about whatever it is I am obliged to do at that time.
When I turn out the lights, pull up the blankets, and close my eyes, it feels like it is the first chance I have had to think all day. Thinking is of course an invitation to free associate, so no matter what I start thinking about, the only guarantee is that it will lead to another thought. And another. And soon I am so far away from where I started and the only thing that has really changed is the clock.
I know that underthinking is not exactly the right word. But thinking with less urgency or acuity is not coming easily to me. But I’ll keep at it. If things are no better a week from now, I will begin experimenting with mediation as a bedtime ritual.
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