I am an expert on not sleeping … not because I can’t—just because I don’t really. Well, okay, I do a little bit, but not a lot. I feel that sleep is like an added extra to life, and I hold the opinion that people who sleep eight hours or more are wasting more than a third of their day. We’ll have plenty of time to sleep when we’re dead, and then we won’t need to, so I figure I’ll throw in a couple of hours here and there just so I don’t totally zombialize.
But then I guess there are those who can’t sleep and actually would like to. And so why waste time tossing and turning in your bed when there is a host of exciting things you can do to wile away those early morning hours? Here are some suggestions.
Count sheep. Everyone knows this as the traditional way to combat insomnia, but I’m talking about taking it to further extremes, such as along the lines of reality TV and programs like Survivor and Fear Factor. Actually drive out to the nearest farm, locate some real sheep and count them. Chasing them around the field and tying little numbered tags around their ankles will ensure that you don’t count the same sheep twice. (If you live in the city or suburbs and are nowhere near any live sheep, then construct your own sheep using an assortment of items you will find around the house, such as an empty toilet paper roll and cotton balls.) Alternately, you can gather a number of your friends, dress yourselves up as sheep and hire yourselves out to other insomniacs to count while you jump past their bedroom window.
Wash your neighbor’s car. Everyone knows what an irritation it is to have a car that sits in front of the house or in the garage with the week’s dirt and grime all over it. With the effort it takes to actually clean it, who wouldn’t appreciate a visit from the nighttime car-wash fairies doing a random act of kindness? However, we also know that washing a car will not use up enough time to take care of a whole night of insomnia, and also there is the issue of the hose never quite reaching around to the other side of the car. The solution? Take your tool kit to your neighbor’s house and wash every single piece of the car separately by first unscrewing/detaching it from the car and giving it a real clean. Your neighbor will be so impressed to wake up on the morning of that all-important board meeting at work to discover that his car has been separated into all its various parts and that they have been thoroughly cleaned and are lying (in alphabetical order if you have time) in neat lines across the lawn.
Knit your wife/husband/kids a new scarf. But to save yourself the quandary of having to guess what color and type of wool they would go for if given the choice (and the hazard of putting all that effort into something they will never wear because they don’t like the color/type of wool) use the wool from their favorite woolen jersey and unravel it slowly and carefully so that you can knit the scarf. That way, you can be guaranteed that they will enjoy the color and texture of your creation.
Play a game of live “Join-The-Dots.” Somebody in your neighborhood is bound to own a Dalmatian, and there are hours of fun to be had that simply require a black marker and a lot of energy for the chase. You may be surprised to see how many hidden pictures emerge from the markings of one single Dalmatian. (Helpful tip: Do not confuse “Dalmatian” and “rottweiler.”)
Call up random people in the phone book and ask them a really difficult trivial pursuit question, telling them you are in line to win thousands of dollars if they get it right. When they are unable to help you, start crying and tell them you’re not sure you want to be their friend anymore and that the weekend barbecue is off.
Wearing black, scout the neighborhood for oppressed and held-in-captivity garden gnomes and free them options: a) Free them to an obvious place in the front lawn of a neighbor you particularly don’t like, or b) Play “mix-and-match,” where you take a gnome from someone’s front garden and switch it with a gnome from a different garden so they each still have a gnome, but a different, new one.
Pull out all your old board games and play multiple games against yourself. After playing for 20 minutes, start an argument with yourself, calling yourself a blatant cheat and then refusing to speak to yourself again until you apologize and make up. Later, go drive out to a 24 hour store and buy yourself some flowers and chocolate to ask for your forgiveness. Forgive yourself, but refuse to share any of the chocolate.
Conduct an Insomnia Survey by phoning random people in the phone book and letting them know that you are gathering statistics for Insomnia Research and that they obviously suffer from it because they’re not sleeping. If they start to object, comfort them by reminding them that insomnia is nothing to be ashamed of and that treatment is close at hand.
Rent and watch any Kevin Costner movie—guaranteed to provide instant relief (of insomnia, that is).
See how easy it is when you put your mind to it? If you are struggling with insomnia, struggle no more, as there are countless ways in which you can beneficially use the time handed to you creatively and energetically.
[Brett Anderson lives in South Africa where he runs the youth ministry at Kenilworth Vineyard church and plays TheatreSports, whatever that is.]
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