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I struggle with not getting enough sleep sometimes. Here's why that's bad and how to maybe fix it.

If you're not getting enough sleep ... well, things happen. To your brain.

We all need our Zzzzzs.

I've had bouts of insomnia. After trying some stuff prescribed by my doctor that made me freaking loopy, I found better ways to self-medicate that are helping a lot.

I find that my optimal sleep is around 8 hours, maybe 8 and a half. When I get that regularly, I can just tell. My wit is sharper, my senses are more acute, my problem-solving skills are top notch. And my temper is ... well, tempered.


Image from FunnyJunk.com.

The science on this stuff is in. And for those of us who don't get enough sleep at night (6 to 8 hours), the news is not good. Not good at all.

Here's an infographic from Visual.ly about it to get you thinking. (Click on the graphic to enlarge it.)

Image by Visually. Used with permission.


In short ... sleep deprivation makes you like this.

Or maybe this.

So ... because I know a lot of folks will ask about self-medicating for sleep, here are some ideas:

1. Exercise. Look, I'm not so good at getting it regularly myself, but it helps a lot in tiring you out both physically and mentally.

2. Use a noise generator app (my favorite is Simply Noise). I have several on my phone, and they are magical at drowning out ambient noises like kids, dogs, traffic, hotel doors, and more. Some will generate what sounds like waves of the ocean, rain in the woods, or the sound of a radio station that isn't tuned correctly, a.k.a. "white noise." It's gotten to the point that just the sound itself tells my brain to shut the heck up and head for La La Land.

3. If you can pull it off, a short nap during the day is magical. We have two adopted kids who went through a lot before they came to live with us, and their brains are totally evolving on a day-to-day basis, so naps are mandatory for them (or the world suffers). On weekends, we take advantage of the down time to nap, too, and it's heavenly! Adults and children both awake with a new outlook on life.

4. If you're in a state that has either medical or recreational marijuana as an option, and you want to try something else, look for a strain that is high in CBDs, which are usually the Cannabis Indica strains. Names like Northern Lights, LA Confidential, G-13, Death Star, Bulletproof, and almost anything with the word "Kush" in it. But if you're going to medicate at night, stay away from Cannabis Sativa and hybrid strains. Those will wake you up and give you energy — the exact opposite of what you want at bed time. If all you can get are Sativa strains, then use them during the day, because then your brain becomes tired when it wears off. (This is not medical advice, but I'm not going to suggest that you ask your doctor for such because parts of the medical establishment are opposed to self-medicating.)

In case you're still not convinced about that whole "needing sleep" thing, this clip from AsapScience might just wake you right up.

All illustrations are provided by Soosh and used with permission.

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