It’s a problem that plagues the best of us: you’re exhausted, but when you finally settle down to sleep, you’re up until dawn dealing with the thoughts racing through your mind. Who am I? What’s my purpose on Earth? Am I living my best life? What did my boss mean when he said, ‘I’d love to see more great work like this from you?’ Does he mean I don’t usually give him great work?
Pretty self explanatory title. I’m in my mid-20s and doing relatively well in life, but 3-5 times a week I try to go to bed and end up going through a midlife crisis that keeps me from falling asleep until 2-3am. I’ve tried sleeping aids and all that, but my brain races the moment I lay my head on my pillow. I try listening to music, and the effectiveness varies. I’d rather not resort to medication for anxiety, etc. if anyone has practical tips that might have a positive effect.
Edit: I know I’m technically not having “midlife” crises. Figure of speech.
Edit2: Existential crisis.
The LPT request quickly blew up, with over 1,700 comments offering this_joke_sucks all sorts of advice for calming the thoughts and getting to sleep. User azurefishie, for example, brought up the issue of unaddressed anxiety:
Maybe there’s some general anxiety or some stressors that could be addressed. Counseling could help but there are things outside that. Possibly list some things that are leading to anxious thoughts and divide it up into two groups – things you can’t change and things you can. Focus on creating goals for the things you can change. Even some small thing can make a difference and help remind you that you are still in control of those parts of your life. For the other part, work on some healthy outlet for stress (e.g. working out, social interaction, art, journalling) and possibly allow for time to process that isn’t right before sleep.
User Jerkwadsoup had a much shorter response:
As did The_Flint_Metal_Man:
Yoga then let Bob Ross lull you to sleep.
In a different approach, user somuchforskydiving gave tried and true tips for getting to sleep:
Not necessarily about the crisis part but about falling asleep, what I’ve read in the past that has helped me the most is the following:
- Keep the bed limited to sleep and intimacy and no other activities meaning no watching TV in the bedroom, no smartphone use in bed, etc.
- Get up and leave the room after 20 minutes if you can’t fall sleep.
- Do something physically inactive (meaning not walking up and down the hallway, you can do something that involves a little movement like filing) and mentally tedious and boring that doesn’t involve a screen.
- When you’re bored practically to tears and are feeling sleepy, try going back to bed again.
And then user ICUDOC, a user who alleges to be a sleep doctor with actual experience helping people get to sleep (and they sure sound like it), stepped in and gave some professional advice for coping with existential crises keeping you up at night. You can read the full quote here (and we suggest you do), but here’s the most important part:
The problem with the modern lifestyle is you probably go from morning radio to podcast in car to Facebook, to work and Reddit during breaks and then back home to the TV. There are few opportunities for quiet reflection so is there any surprise that the first moment there are no distractions (once your head hits the pillow on your bed) you would start having your inner dialogue?
Your coping mechanism should not be more distraction and sleeping pills, but rather forced routine that involves that internal voice. Here are powerful coping mechanisms successful people use on a daily basis:
1) meditation 2) writing a diary 3) working out with minimal distractions 4) prayer 5) light house work with minimal distractions 6) sitting down and planning your daily agenda 7) opening your thoughts to a close friend or psychotherapist over regularly scheduled periods.
These routine activities force you to confront your inner thoughts and you will have these necessary internal dialogues during appropriate times rather than moments you are trying to sleep.
Did you hear that? That’s the sound of a mic being officially dropped. Even if ICUDOC isn’t for real (and there’s no reason someone would go on the internet and lie, right?) their response resonated with people far and wide, with over 5,000 people upvoting the advice. Hopefully some of those people will try it, too!
Now get off the internet, go meditate your way through your problems, and go to bed.