My Weird New Sleep Trick

Words words and more words

Shannon Page


Photo by Quin Stevenson on Unsplash

I have always been a bad sleeper. Even as a child, I had a terrible time falling asleep; I fought bedtime as vigorously as any little kid ever did, dreading that long, dull spell of lying awake, waiting for slumber to take me.

Once I got a little older, I discovered the efficacy of reading in bed. Nowadays, I settle myself down to dreamland via the pages of a novel. It usually works.

The trouble then became the dark-of-the-night awakenings. If I could scurry to the bathroom and back quickly enough, only half-opening my eyes and keeping my latest dream in my thoughts, I might be able to trick myself into falling back asleep…but far too often, my mind would wake up, the anxiety narratives would begin, and that would be that.

Over the years, I’ve tried pretty much everything: drugs, mantras, counting forwards or backwards, tensing and relaxing every muscle (relaxing my tongue worked, briefly); sex, warm milk, sleeping alone, getting up and writing the anxieties down, getting up and reading…

I noticed long ago that, in that brief moment just before dropping off, my mind starts telling nonsense stories to itself. Probably the precursor to a dream: random words. I of course tried telling myself random words, but I couldn’t hold onto the nonsense for long, and it would quickly become an actual narrative. Usually about whatever was making me anxious.

But then, a few months ago, I hit on a new trick. At first I didn’t want to speak of it, even to my husband, for fear of jinxing it; but I eventually did, and it kept working. I even told a few other people. It has worked nearly 100% of the time since I started doing it — the only times it’s failed me have been when I’ve had some other issue going on, like achy muscles after a ten-mile hike, or when I drank a cup of “herbal” tea before bed that clearly was loaded with caffeine.

Will this trick work for you? I don’t know! But I offer it up to you, my fellow poor sleeper, in case you want to try.

What have you got to lose?



Shannon Page

Writer, editor, thinker of things, living on Orcas Island, Washington state.