How I Beat Insomnia

Posted on June 8th, 2011 in Commentary by EngineerBoy

Don't watch this to go to sleep...

First, let me say that I am not a doctor and I make no claims that what worked for me will work for anyone else, or that anyone else should try the things described here.  However, I did want to relate what worked for me so that others who may have had it work for them could see they are not alone, or those thinking about trying it will see that there is at least one case where it worked.  The ‘cure’ described here goes against every piece of conventional wisdom and medical advice that I have ever seen about insomnia, which made me doubly motivated to share it, since I know that it works for me.

When I was in my early teens I had an episode of sleep paralysis, described here. It was very disturbing, and from that time up until my 40’s, I struggled with insomnia.  I tried many things:

Sleeping pills: knocked me out, but I did not feel rested, and I did not want to take pills regularly even if they worked.

Sleep hygiene: trying to sleep in a dark, quiet place simply does not work for me, to this day, and all the wind-down, no-TV, no-computer stuff did nothing more than make me even more unable to sleep.

No caffeine: I would go caffeine free for months, with no effect.

No food after 6pm:  Made no difference.

Diet/exercise: No difference.


I tried anything and everything, but I would just lay wide awake, mind racing, then typically fall asleep at 5-6am, then have to wake up at 7am and start all over again.  This went on, to varying degrees, for *decades*.

However, as the years passed I found that there were certain combinations of factors that usually resulted in me falling asleep.  I’m a fairly old fart, and when I was growing up there weren’t VCRs, DVDs, or TiVos, there was just the TV, and what was on, was on, and that was it.  However, once the age of VCRs started, I began collecting movies, usually my old favorites.  And I began to notice that when I couldn’t sleep, and I would go out to my recliner and pop in an old, favorite, well-known movie, I would usually go to sleep in my chair, and usually stay asleep.

And, if I happened to wake up, I could rewind the movie to where I had fallen asleep, start watching again, and fall back to sleep.  And this worked pretty much like clockwork.  Not perfect, but it worked 80%-90% of the time.  In fact, it worked so well that it started to relieve the tension that I felt at bed time, and sometimes allowed me to fall asleep in bed and get a good night’s sleep, because I knew that if I found I couldn’t sleep, I could go out to the living room, pop in an old movie, recline, and go to sleep.

I realized