The Simplest Cure for Insomnia

By Leo Babauta

For years I had a mild-to-medium case of insomnia, often staying up late watching crappy television and eating junk food because I couldn’t fall asleep, no matter how tired I was.

It is miserable. You walk through the day like a zombie, unable to function properly. You desperately try to sleep but nothing works. Sleeping pills leave you feeling drugged out.

My first simple cure was running. I’d try to get up 15 minutes earlier each day to run, and the running would leave me very tired but I still had a day ahead of me. I’d be so exhausted by bedtime that I slept instantly. Hard exercise is a great fix for insomnia.

Recently I’ve had another slight bout of insomnia, and so I rediscovered a trick I learned several years ago. It’s so simple it seems like it can’t possibly work, but it unfailingly does.

The simplest cure for insomnia: get comfortable and close your eyes, and then replay your day in your head, in every detail possible, from the moment you woke up. Start from the moment your eyes opened, and replay every movement — getting out of bed, starting the coffeemaker, going to the bathroom, washing your hands, or whatever. Don’t summarize — leave nothing out.

It works. I’ve never made it to mid-morning in my mind movies. I inevitably fall asleep. It’s much better than counting sheep (I’ve tried) and even better than meditation (I’ve done that too). Try it, and when it works, praise me in your dreams.