How I Regulated My Sleeping Schedule: An Insomniac’s Tale

I’ve been an insomniac since childhood. I remember nights of sitting up in bed and staring at the moon from as far back as three years old. I would wander around the house, play with toys, read a book and then fall asleep sometime around 3AM only to have Mom wake me early in the morning.

Over the years, it’s only gotten worse. I go through blissful spells where I forget I even have trouble sleeping. And then, I go through periods like now, where I can’t remember the last time blissful sleep came easily. Almost all of this year, I’ve had to manipulate my sleep schedule in one way or another to get some shut-eye.

This article covers the six main things I tried. Note that even the steps that didn’t work for me might work for you. However, I’m not a health professional. I’m just sharing my experiences as a night owl insomniac so someone else can benefit.

1. Work Schedule Adjustments

One of the strange things about me and my sleep schedule is that I sleep better during the day time and have a hard time going to bed at night. My Mom is the same. We’re the only two people in the family who are like this. Everyone else are morning people. When we’re rolling into bed, they’re getting up for work.

In 2018, I put in my resignation for my part-time job. However, the boss still asked me to come in once per week, which was fine by me. The problem is that it required getting up early every Sunday morning, which made a mess of my sleep schedule. I eventually quit and took another one-shift-per-week overnight position with another company. All the rest of the week, I work nights from home for my business.

If you realise that you’re naturally more productive at night than during the day or vice versa, make the switch. If your boss won’t cooperate or the field you work in doesn’t allow shifts, it might be time to embark on a new career that’s more compatible with your health.

2. Non-Prescription Sleep Aids

Over the years, doctors have recommended sleep medication to cure my insomnia. As you may already know, most of these come with a high risk of addiction. From as early as my teenage years, I’ve been terrified of addiction. I saw what it did to people and wanted nothing to do with it.

So, I decided to suffer instead. Then, this summer I got sick in the middle of one of my busiest workweeks of the year. I had to complete an 80-hour workweek while battling the flu. I didn’t miss a single client deadline. Cold and flu medication helped me make it through. They also helped me sleep.

When I first bought the cold and flu medication, I noticed NyQuil sleep aids right next to it. I left it in the store. After a week or two of sleeping like a baby, I decided to try this wonderful formula. It worked like a charm and has an alleged zero addiction risk. However, after about three months, I decided I needed to find a more natural solution.

3. Melatonin

After talking to a few friends who were also long-time insomnia sufferers, they recommended melatonin. I had heard the word a few times in high school biology classes but remembered precious little about it beyond that. After a few quick Google sessions, I found that it was the hormone used to regulate sleep-wake cycles.

Most people who used it claimed that it cured their insomnia, so I checked a few reviews on Amazon. Thousands of people made the same claim there as well. I bought one of the brands with the most reviews and highest rating. Without a doubt, it helped me sleep, but I always woke up groggy the next morning and even a little disoriented.

After a few days, I stopped taking it and went back to my sleep aids. However, once again, I much preferred a more natural solution. I thought, “Maybe, the side effects were just coincidence.” After trying it one more time, it had the same effect on me again. That said, it could be the brand and not melatonin itself, but I haven’t tried it since.

4. Biphasic Sleep Schedule

Most people with insomnia struggle to go to sleep. This happens to me on occasion — such as when I try to go to bed before 3AM in the morning — but the real problem is staying asleep. I lived by myself for 10 years before moving to America. For that and other reasons, I am a very light sleeper. Once I’m awake, that’s pretty much it for the night.

To remedy this in college, and at several other times in my life, I split my sleep schedule into two. All year, I had already been sleeping two hours in the evening and then six in the morning to the afternoon. As my insomnia worsened, however, I found that I could sleep through the two hours but not the six.

So, I decided to split my sleeping schedule in half. That meant sleeping on four-hour shifts. Because I have such a flexible schedule, this was easy to do. It worked for about a week before I suddenly couldn’t sleep through my four-hour shifts anymore either. I ended up right back on my 6-hour-2-hour schedule.

5. Magnesium

Throughout my battles with sleep, one friend kept insisting that I try magnesium. She had originally recommended this at the same time as melatonin. Since melatonin didn’t work, I wasn’t keen on trying magnesium. However, nothing else was working beside the NyQuil sleep meds, so I decided to try that.

It started working from the very first night and has continued to work since. It’s been a few weeks now and I sleep like a baby. You’re supposed to take magnesium with a meal, so I usually try to eat something light about an hour or so before bed. If you’re on a diet, this may not work for you.

I fall asleep naturally and I stay asleep. If I do wake up, I don’t feel the struggle to go back to sleep. I also don’t feel groggy when I get up. This is true even if I have to be up in about two hours or so.

6. Vitamin B12

When my friend insisted on the magnesium for the millionth time, she also made an offhand comment about taking vitamin B12 for energy. I had heard a few people talk about that in the past but didn’t pay much attention. I take vitamin B12 supplements because of my diet. As far as animal protein, I only eat seafood and will skip on even that for weeks on end sometimes.

Now, I take my vitamin B12 supplements with my first meal of the day instead of with dinner. I’ve been doing this for a few weeks now. A few days ago, I realised that I haven’t taken an evening nap in a long time, even when I set a six-hour alarm to get a headstart on client work.

I don’t know how long this current routine will remain effective. Still, I can’t tell you how wonderful it is to finally sleep through the night and get my full workday with no need for an evening nap.

Do you also struggle with falling asleep or staying asleep? How bad has it gotten for you over the years? Have you tried anything that worked? Share your thoughts with me in the comments, below!

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26 thoughts on “How I Regulated My Sleeping Schedule: An Insomniac’s Tale

  1. I’m gonna magnesium , hopefully it works for me. What strength have you used, 250, 400, or 500

      1. Roman chamomile, vetiver, lavender and ylang ylang are wonderful. I diffuse or rub on my feet. Everyone’s body chemistry is different, so everyone will like different oil smells and be affected differently by them.

      2. I screenshot this! Will definitely give them a try. I buy essential oils for my hair anyway, so it’s not like I’ll be going out of my way. Thanks!

  2. I am fortunate in that I have the ability to sleep anywhere, at any time, and can set an internal alarm to wake me when I need to get up. I’ve been that way since I joined the army at the age of 16!

    1. I envy you! I wish I slept better. I have a heart condition, so I do have to make sure it doesn’t get out of hand. This magnesium thing is really working though!

    1. That sounds like me before the magnesium. The brand I’m using is called Sundown. I bought it off Amazon. That’s the only one I can personally say works for me. 😅

  3. I’m glad you found a solution. Thankfully I only have trouble getting to sleep infrequently, but then have the luxury of sleeping in (retirement works like that for me! 😃)

    1. Haha, I usually get to sleep in as well but I try not to make a habit of it. I’m looking forward to early retirement myself! 50 is the aim. 🙂

  4. I have no trouble sleeping when I’m awake, then I can sleep anywhere anytime I’m supposed to be awake. Maybe I could trick myself into a routine.

    1. Hahahahahaha! This sounds really problematic, Jim! How often do you get in trouble for falling asleep when you shouldn’t?? 😂

      1. It’s not too bad lately, but there was an medical I slept though. There were also some I didn’t remember being on. But hey, you have to know paramedicine in your sleep anyway.

  5. I’ve suffered with Insomnia for as long as I remember too. The problem I have is, when I go through those weeks of no sleep, I get stuck in a routine of too much coffee as I haven’t had enough sleep, and not enough sleep because I’ve had way too much coffee. It’s absolutely awful. I’ve tried a whole manner of drugs too, but what tends to happen is that they just ruin my day because I’m so groggy and unproductive! Hate it!

    1. I’m so sorry to hear that Jakey. I try to cut down on my caffeine intake. Cappuccino is what tends to grab me, more so than the actual coffee. I also love Pepsi. Hard to give up! I don’t drink them to stay up though, so that helps.

      Have you tried any of the methods I had on the list? One of them might work for you.

  6. Some interesting findings. I’ve heard about the melatonin helping with sleep but didn’t know about the magnesium one. Nyquil and other similar cold medicines do help with sleep in the short term, but I would find other alternatives if I could. The active ingredients in those are called antihistamines. They have a lot of medical uses but when taken regularly for sleep they lose their effectiveness, plus potentially a whole bunch of side effects.

    1. Thank you! I highly recommend the magnesium. The brand I’m using is Sundown, so those are the only ones I can swear by personally. The melatonin I used is “NOW Supplements”. You might have different results, but I would really recommend trying another brand. Sundown also has melatonin. I might try theirs in a few weeks or so. We’ll see !

      The NyQuil I used is actually not cold medicine, although I think it uses similar ingredients. It’s specifically a sleep aid. When you go to Kroger, you’ll find them sitting right next to the cold medicine bottles. Not sure how that’s organized in other stores. And yes, DPH is the active ingredient. As you mentioned, there are side effects. The one that scared me was potential for memory loss and higher risk of Alzheimer’s. I will say, however, that they were right about it not being addictive. Zero withdrawal symptoms since not taking it.

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