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Wide Awake At 3 A.M.? Try This!

Suggested Song: All Day and All of the Night, The Kinks Suggested Drink: Insomniac cocktail, espresso, Frangelico liqeur, Tia Maria liquer, cream, milk

I hear voices. I hear music as well for that matter, rich and full spectrum, from the deepest thumpy bass to the tinniest of high hats, all swirling around my skull like a crazy sonic carousel. This frustration begins in the middle of the night, usually around 3 a.m. when all is still and I’ve been listening to music before bed. Last night it was Ray Davies singing the Kinks classic “All the Day and All of the Night.” Damn that Ray Davies.

Do you have the same maddening problem from time to time? I have a remedy to suggest that is unorthodox and counter to standard thinking on insomnia relief, but effective for me. It’s a mix of my mother’s old technique – a notorious 3 a.m. riser herself – and the time-honored approach of sheep counting. The latter one you know. As to my mother, she would write letters for an hour at the kitchen table (which was exasperating in the extreme for a teen trying to sneak back into the house after some Friday night party).

For the deep-sleep deprived, Bill’s 3-step approach:

  1. Get your mind off whatever music or stress is taking up all that space in your overactive brain. I keep an iPad by the bed and turn on a small light. Every expert in the insomnia field will tell you ABSOLUTELY NO SCREENS, NO ONLINE ACTIVITY, but I find that nothing gets my mind off music or work-related concerns better than answering a few emails or reading some articles from the web. A book in my hands isn’t quite as effective, but might work for you. Try it.

  2. Find your crossover point: that point when you’ve stopped hearing the music or stressing out and are thinking more about what you’re reading or writing. Don’t stay up too much longer or it may be impossible to get drowsy again. Finding that point but not going beyond is tricky. It’s usually about 30 minutes for me.

  3. Turn off the light and count your sheep, … well the sheep are optional. Actually I use a meditation technique that I learned from my Interprize partner Jaki Weller: count slowly from 5 down to 1 and back to 5; repeat. Each number should fall on a breath and concentrate on your breathing. This will keep your mind from wandering back to the music or whatever has you awake. Within 5 minutes I’m sawing logs. God forbid you hear that; you’ll be applying the 3 step approach yourself.

Let me know if this works for you as well as it does me. Have other effective solutions for this maddening condition? Please let us know!

Bill Magill Aix-en-Provence

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