I've never been the kind of person who can pull an all nighter, then power through the day with just a cup of coffee and a good pair of sunglasses. If I don't sleep, I don't function — it's as simple as that.
In some ways, I find waking up in the middle of the night worse than not being able to fall asleep at all. The second I become conscious again, I go straight into panic mode. The only way I can think to explain it is this: I know what to expect from insomnia, but disrupted sleep feels like a curveball.
I woke up in the wee hours night after night. One time I was awake from 2 a.m. to 5 a.m., then back up with my alarm at 7 a.m.
Just last month this problem hit me hard. My boyfriend was out of the country for a few weeks and, because of the change in routine, I had issues not falling asleep, but staying asleep. I woke up in the wee hours night after night. One time I was awake from 2 a.m. to 5 a.m., then back up with my alarm at 7 a.m., when I was expected to enter society as a fully functioning human being.
By the fourth night, I was not only exhausted, but emotional and desperate to find a solution. The techniques I use to combat occasional insomnia weren't working for this particular issue. After trying a few different things (meditation, a white noise machine, and even supplements), I finally discovered a simple, somewhat funny trick that actually worked — I call it the "no thinking" hack, and it's exactly as straightforward as it sounds.
I simply close my eyes, get under the covers, and for the next few minutes, I try to wipe my thoughts clean. No focusing on my breath, no counting down, no meditation tracks on Apple Music — and definitely no worrying about how much sleep I've already lost. If a thought enters my mind, I gently acknowledge it before going back to blank. To my surprise, whenever I do this, it feels like no time at all has passed when suddenly it's morning.
I realize that this isn't revolutionary, but maybe that's why it works. Sometimes we try so hard to do something that should come naturally, and then when those methods fail, it only fuels our stress. This trick solved that, and I'm sleeping better for it.