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Question #53706 posted on 10/01/2009 3:01 a.m.

Dear 100 Hour Board,

Hey, kids. What do you do when you've been laying in bed for 2 hours and can't fall asleep? What kinds of things keep you from falling asleep? For example, last week I felt like earwax was building up in my ears (it wasn't) and I couldn't fall asleep until after I had cleaned my already clean ears. Tonight, I don't know what it is, but it is not awesome.

- Azriel

A: Azriel-

I generally get up and read a book until I collapse from exhaustion. If I'm not going to sleep, I'd rather be doing something productive than staring at the ceiling.

- Cuddlefish
A: Dear Azriel,

Usually if I can't fall asleep it is because I'm way overanalyzing some aspect of my life. To overcome that I try to fill my head with mundane, repetitive things. Lately, I count down from one hundred to zero in a foreign language. If I am still awake at zero, I begin counting upwards until I lose count or fall asleep. When that is ineffective, I listen to music that I know all the words to, and sing along in my head. The familiarity puts me to sleep pretty quickly. My most recent CD with which I do this is Plans</I>, by Death Cab For Cutie. It is strangely nice to fall asleep to.

A: Dear Azriel,

I am blessed with the ability to fall asleep almost instantly. I am also, however, incredibly impatient, so when I can't fall asleep, it is bad news. I usually only last about fifteen minutes without being able to fall asleep before I give up. Then, I get up, read, clean, watch a movie, or do homework until I feel tired enough to fall asleep. Luckily, this only happens to me once in a great while, so I don't lose too much sleep over it.

Good luck!

A: Dear Azriel,

When I can't sleep I become a real chatterbox. When my husband falls asleep but I still can't, I play video games. I'm kept awake by thinking such things as, "Geez, I think I know where that missing heart piece is now."

With the recent addition to our family, however, when it finally comes time to hit the hay, falling asleep has never before come so quickly. So, maybe having a baby would answer all of your problems. Just a suggestion.

-Sky Bones
A: Dear Azriel,

Usually when I can't sleep it's because my mind's already going on some other track. I'm a nerd, so it's usually (and I do mean often) something about programming. Figuring out how to call Objective-C code from Javascript so that I can write an awesome OS X dashboard widget was last night's distraction. Of course, since I got my iPod Touch I have access to the internet in bed (much to the chagrin of my wife, I suspect), so I end up doing a bunch of programming research on a rather small screen. It keeps me up for a bit, but if I don't look it up it's often worse.

When I was in high school and couldn't sleep, I tried the "counting sheep" method. I found it far too boring to hold my attention for even two minutes, though, so I migrated to something more interesting: powers of two. 1, 2, 4, 8, 16, 32, 64, 128, 256, 512, 1024, 2048, 4096, 8192, 16384, 32072, 65536... yeah, I got up to 67,108,864 (226) consistently. It didn't work to put me to sleep, but at least it kept me distracted.

A: Yellow,

I do that too! And 2 to the 15th is 32,768, homeslice. I used to have that much KB of RAM! Pentium II FTW.