If you have a sense of humor and working eyes, you will agree that all of Sgt. Olivia Betchson’s articles are hilarious. However, I didn’t laugh very much at one of them (even though the jokes were spot-on) because I could relate to it a little too hard. I once had the exact same problem she is currently experiencing—insomnia—and, as all Fight Club fans know, insomnia is no f*cking joke. In fact, it’s horrible, and I
don’t wish it on my worst enemies. Luckily, my bout of no sleep happened during my college years when I only had to use my brain for a few hours a day, and could spend the rest of my time drinking and editing Instagrams of me pretending that everything is going great! Spoiler alert: everything was not going great.
Insomnia affects everyone slightly differently, and it affected me the way dementia affects your grandma. For those of you who are about to tell me that was an insensitive joke, it wasn’t a joke! I participated in a sleep study, which officially ruled that my brain had been in a dementia-like state since the insomnia started, just six months before. And unfortunately for everyone who knew me at the time, I was in that terrifying state for another eight months. Ugh, so nostalgic for my fun and carefree college days! Because my Sergeant already went into detail re: how awful insomnia is, I’m just going to say “seconded on all counts” and talk about happier things, like natural ways to fall asleep that don’t involve counting sheep, aight? Full disclosure: these methods work for me now, four years after I countered the problem with both medication prescribed by my doctor and a tightly packed joint. I don’t still have insomnia (bless up), but I get really nervous that it’s coming back on nights when I can’t sleep, and on those days, I practice the below natural ways to fall asleep. You’re welcome, fam.
Read A Boring Book
I was an English major and legit enjoy reading. You aren’t allowed to be an English major if you don’t. So I got in the habit of turning off my laptop and putting my phone face down (after setting my alarm, of course) once I decided it was time for my bedtime story. FYI, I still do this every night and I will never not refer to it as my bedtime story. Cute or creepy, LMK in the comments! Anyway, when I first started doing this, I was reading Lolita, which is like the absolute worst book to read if you don’t want to be up all night thinking about a full-grown adult man who’s planning a cute little scheme to kidnap his wife’s adolescent daughter so he could bang her whenever he so pleases. Don’t get me wrong, Lolita is an incredible book and everyone should read it, but if you’re using it as a sleep aid, you may as well just sip an espresso or pop an Addy while you read because this book will not let you doze for one second. It will haunt you until the day you die.
If you’re going the book route, read something slightly less “active,” as my 10th grade English Literature teacher referred to it. My weapon of choice? Little Women. It is long af, which just inherently makes it incredibly boring, and the plot moves slower than your IBS on a bad day. Another boring af option? Pamela, an epistolary novel written in 1740 about a 15-year-old maidservant named Pamela Andrews, whose employer, Mr. B, makes unwanted and inappropriate advances towards her. Wow, I guess times really haven’t changed at all!
Get An Aromatherapy Diffuser
Guys, this is the best purchase I have ever made and I got it from my favorite place in the world: Bed, Bath and f*cking Beyond. Coincidence? Nope! So every aromatherapy machine is different, but they all kind of do the same thing, which is release a cute little puff of steam that’s infused with essential oils. Mine is by a brand called Ellia and it’s really pretty, which doesn’t really matter, but it sits on my window sill where everyone can see it, so it actually matters a lot. They are so simple and easy to use, and pretty affordable. There’s a little vessel where you pour a certain amount of water and a few drops of your fave essential oil, which lasts literally forever. I’ve been on the same vial of lavender oil for two years now and still have a f*ck ton left. You can use whichever oil you prefer, but if you’re using the aromatherapy diffuser to help you sleep, I’d stay away from citrus scents and opt for more of a lavender or chamomile situation, since those are proven relaxers. Turning on the diffuser a good hour or so before bed will def do the trick when you get sleepless night vibes. Some of them (mine, at least) even have music settings built in so you can either connect it with your Spotify or choose one of the diffuser’s playlists, which are all soothing water sounds. I just convinced myself to buy another one.
Try Breathing Techniques
Before you roll your eyes, hear me out. I learned the importance of paying attention to your breath in hot yoga, where breathing is like, actually kind of difficult. Breathing techniques work for two reasons. One, focusing on your breath helps you both control and slow it down, which, in turn, slows your heart rate down, which, in turn, will help ease you into sleep. Secondly, focusing on nothing but air going in and out of your lungs is boring af and should put you to sleep, like, ASAP. I don’t f*ck around with that stupid, in through your nose, hold it for ten seconds, then out through one of your nostrils then inhale for two seconds, hold for five then release again through, like, your eyes sh*t. Those kind of techniques are too complicated and stress me out. I keep it simple with breathing in through my nose slowly and releasing it through my mouth slowly. Easy. I learned this technique when I was on the track team in high school (MVP, obv) so that I could get through the 800 without having a stroke. And it worked! Your breath is obviously connected to a lot of systems in your body (and mind), so making sure it’s in a good place is integral to a good night’s sleep. That’s all!
Don’t Eat Right Before Bed
Look, I live in New York, home of eating dinner at 9pm, but having a full meal right before bed is not the move. I’ve been told that it’s more about what you eat than when, but since I have a very strict diet of pizza and cheeseburgers, I’ve been instructed to just not eat if I’m going to bed shortly after. If you are a functioning adult, having a light and nutrient-packed snack before bed is actually good. For you weirdos who eat salads and sh*t for lunch, low-energy food before bed can help keep your blood sugar levels in check, which, for some unfortunate souls out there, drop at night, and that is why these people wake up wanting to go on a homicide spree out of hanger come the morning! A lot of foods are low-key energy-boosting, but not in like a “Let’s go for a run” kind of way. All they do is make you feel tired, but they won’t let you sleep, kind of like my friends at parties.
Ok, so this next part is tricky, so pay attention. Having a small carb-y snack like warm milk, fruit, or crackers can actually help you fall asleep, because the sugars make nice with the serotonin in your brain, but having actual sugar like candy or cookies will have the opposite affect and you will be up all night, and not in a good way. The most important thing to remember is to not eat mindlessly before bed. Like, until I knew this, I physically couldn’t watch Netflix without a bag of pretzels in my hand, but that kind of habit may have kick-started my bad sleeping habits to begin with! F*ck you, pretzels!
Light A Candle
Try this at your own risk, but I’ve found that making my tiny closet of a bedroom feel like a spa in any way that I can has proven really helpful for my sleepiness. If it were up to me, I’d hire an interior designer to turn my apartment into Anthropologie, but sadly, my bank account is not down for that. Sad. I am not a regular at five-star spas, but I’ve been to a few, and I’ve noticed that they all have candles on every surface for ~relaxation~ purposes. And they nailed, it because I’ve fallen asleep in every spa I’ve ever visited. I have no shame in admitting that I have not one, not two, but eight candles in my room (all in cute containers, obv) and I love them all dearly. They are all really light and clean, which means I can light them all at the same time and the scents won’t be gross when mingling in the air! If my mom is reading this, my apartment is still standing, so relax. Lighting them all at once sans artificial light in the room serves some serious spa vibes and I am here for it. I usually fall asleep with all of them lit (#lit) and then wake up a few hours later to blow them out and then subsequently pass the f*ck back out. Candles are a must, people, and they are such an easy investment. All I ask is that you buy all-natural beeswax candles so you aren’t falling asleep to the heavenly scent of toxic fumes.
Obviously, everyone falls asleep differently, so I can’t guarantee that these sleep techniques will work for you. But I can guarantee that doing these things will help you feel more relaxed, and relaxed people usually sleep better. It’s like, science. Hopefully you’ll figure out what works for you so you can kick insomnia’s ass. Let me know in the comments if you have other methods that have worked for you!
Images: Unsplash; Giphy (5)
Well, fam. We made it: The weekend has finally arrived. What does the weekend have in store? Will you sip on Coke and rum and be like “so what I’m drunk?” Hopefully whatever you’re getting into nothing to do with March Madness. Or peeing on underage girls. Too soon? Sry, blame it on our horoscope. Check out what the stars and The Betches have cooked up for the next few days.
After a week or two (or six) of non-stop hard work, it’s time to take a break. I promise that the world will keep turning without your valiant efforts, so spend the next few days indulging in some good old TLC (either the euphemism or the network, neither would be wrong). While it may be hard to ignore the siren calls of your friends asking for help with just one thing, or emails piling onto your already overlfowing work load, you truly deserve some time to yourself. Turn that phone off, that TV up, and relish in 48 hours of pure relaxation bliss. As Tom Haverford would say:
It’s party time, Taurus. After nearly a month of playing the responsible friend, it’s time to let loose. Literally anything goes. This weekend is Vegas, meaning that nothing that happens will actually stay a secret but people will at least pretend to not know the horrific things you did after consuming an entire fifth of tequila. Come Sunday you consider resting in order to prep for Monday, but we say nay. Keep the party going as long as your body will tolerate. There’s always time to sleep when you’re dead (or during that Monday morning meeting).
Tread with caution this weekend, Gemini. Not saying that the universe has it out for you or anything, but uh, don’t test it. If there comes a time to make a risky decision, opt for the safer choice. If you’re asked to take on something with high stakes, kindly decline. If you are ever in a situation that could feasibly end in police involvement, bail. Sorry to sound bleak, but sometimes it’s better to play it safe rather than sorry.
I know things seem rough right now, Cancer, but I’m going to need you to chill. Unless you are in a plane plummeting to the surface of the Earth with no hopes of survival, nothing is every truly as bad as it seems. Sometimes all it takes is removing yourself from a situation in order to gain that much-needed perspective. This weekend, try it out. See if you can get enough distance from your problems to see them for what they are. If you come back and are still miserable, it’s probably time to address them. Otherwise, let things slide and see how much less stressed you’ll be in general.
Lucky in love, Leo? Whether or not you’ve had any success up to this point, the next two days have some serious matchmaking vibes coming your way. Make sure to looking banging at all times, because the odds of you meeting Mr. Right are very high. This means breaking out of your shell and being open to new people, otherwise you may just scare your true love away. I find that the best way to make yourself open and appealing is to get stupid drunk. No one is nervous after six shots of something regrettable. Go out with an open heart, an open mind, and an open bar tab. You’ll be surprised what may come of it.
After months of flying under the radar as the unsung hero, this weekend is your time to SHINE, Virgo. Honestly, you’ve been killing it for a while now and haven’t received nearly as much attention as you’ve deserved. Make the most of your time in the sun, because these moments don’t come around too often. No matter what move you make, it’s going to be the right one. That kind of power could go to someone’s head, but in your stable hands it’s only going to be used for good. But if you do end up using it for bad, we promise not to tell.
Rarely are we the type to dole out financial advice, but when the stars send a message we must abide. This is a time for saving, Libra. We know you’re really popular and it’s hard to not go out with your friends and drop $50 on vodka sodas every Friday, but think to the future. All those amazing trips you have planned? They slip farther and farther away with every Postmates order. This weekend, do yourself a favor and live a little bit of the frugal life. You’ll be thanking us when you’re chilling on a beach in Turks and Caicos a year from now.
It seems like all anyone ever says about Scorpios is how crazy they are. “Don’t cross a Scorpio, they’ll kill you in your sleep”—a sentence literally just said to me 10 minutes ago by a coworker who saw me writing horoscopes. But you know what this weekend has in store for you, Scorpio? A whole lot of feelings. Even the toughest of us need some time to break down and collect ourselves. Let the next two days be a time of healing, Scorpio. Watch some rom coms. Eat some shitty food. Cry for no reason. You’ve earned it! Don’t let astrology culture run your life any longer; it’s time to take yourself back.
You know what you need to do this weekend, Sagittarius? Take some bitches down. There’s been rolling tension in your life for a few weeks now, and its time to shut it down. Make a list, check it twice, and then head out on your one-woman missing of reckoning. Will it be kind of awkward? Probably. But the sweet, sweet sleep you’ll experience? Priceless. Plus, people will know that crossing you in the future is something to avoid. A win/win.
After a few weeks (maybe months) of living large, it’s time to get down to business, Capricorn. Remember that old thing called school? It’s time to get back at it. We’re all for celebrating—more than most, probably—but even we know that you can’t play hard unless you work hard. Your next adventure will be all the sweeter knowing you really earned it.
You have one job this weekend, Aquarius: to go MIA. You have been stretching yourself far too thing for anyone’s liking, and it’s time to take a break. Turn off your phone, turn off your mind, and turn off the world around you. You may be tempted to tend to a friend in need, but sometimes it’s more important to put yourself first. You can’t other until you help yourself. Zen, right?
This is a weekend for going back to basics. Let’s be real, nothing is more basic than you your family, in every sense of the word. It’s time to head home and let mom take care of you for a few days. This means pj’s, comfort food, and wine that you would never actually buy for yourself. Literally, none of that sounds bad. When you’ve had your fill of questions about non-existent grandchildren, it’s time to head home.
It’s a sad fact that wine and gym memberships cost money, so unless you’re part of the Kardashian/Jenner clan, you have to show up to work every weekday after a protracted battle with your alarm clock. According to a recent study, though, your relationship with the snooze button doesn’t mean you’re lazy; instead, it might reaffirm your status as a gift to man- and womankind.
In a British paper, researchers Satoshi Kanazawa and Kaja Perina point out that for most of human history, people have been letting the sun set their sleep schedule, because trying to get shit done in the dark is impossible. Electric lights and alarms are pretty recent inventions, so Kanazawa and Perina claim that evolution hasn’t prepared us for the modern way of living, aka staying up past sundown and using alarm clocks to wake up. This led them to believe that people who sleep in are more adaptable, and therefore more intelligent, than tryhards who leap out of bed in the morning like our ancestors did.
To test their idea, researchers used data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, which followed more than 15,000 people from when they were kids into adulthood. As you can guess from the name, the survey asked participants a bunch of health-related questions over the years (from 1995 to 2008, to be exact), but researchers focused on comparing sleep patterns and IQ tests to see if they were related.
What they found should excuse all those times you’ve rolled into the office three hours late. According to their analysis, kids with higher IQs were more likely to report nocturnal sleep patterns as adults. In other words, more intelligent kids grew up to be the kind of adult who’s always late to brunch because they were awake until 3am scrolling through Instagram/replaying embarrassing moments from childhood/writing the next great American novel.
Honestly, I’m not at all surprised because anyone who voluntarily wakes up before 9am on a Saturday must be brain damaged.
But wait! There’s more! Tbh, the study authors are making some pretty broad claims here. Their idea is that nocturnal people are more adaptable and therefore more intelligent, but you may have noticed that their study didn’t actually test the adaptability part. It just found some correlations between sleep patterns and IQ, which is the kind of research that takes, like, the bare minimum of effort. Psychologists—they’re just like us! Because clearly these guys phoned it in.
On the other hand, other studies have shown that night owls stay mentally alert longer than morning people, and they tend to be less stressed. So morning people can keep doing their thing at an ungodly hour, but I’ll be hitting the snooze button for as long as I damn well please because I thought watching 14 episodes of Workaholics in a row was a good idea last night. (Spoiler alert: It was.)