See, if I can't sleep, I have things to do, no problem. Sleep experts tell you that you shouldn't just lie there, that after 20 minutes or so, if you can't sleep, get up and play Aces Up or something. My father the doctor used to say that you should go ahead and lie there, that you're getting more sleep than you think you are and that at least your body is getting bed rest. I believe both of them. I usually do fall asleep again unless I have too much on my mind. So then I get up and...empty the dishwasher, make tea, get back into bed with my beloved wheel-up bed table (normally at the foot of the bed, but it glides up over my knees to be a Queen-wide desk, one of the best designs IKEA ever came up with). Right now that's what I'm doing.
As you know by now, I visit people. A single woman is usually a welcome guest, not much trouble and she helps out where she can. I do. I also listen, and learn a lot: other people's eating habits, reading preferences (if any), sleeping problems. Sleep is not mentioned unless there's a problem, and it's fascinating. I guess we all know about apnea now, don't we? It's a bad signal if you stop breathing while you sleep, as lots of people do if they're fat, lie on their back, snore or have breathing problems, and so on - supposed to be a warning of a heart attack in the future. Yes, well, my late husband had apnea before I knew its name. If the noise of his snoring stopped, I would wake to the silence and hit him to make him start breathing again.
Experts are more scientific now. I have known a number of people who go out at night to be wired up for sleep so their breathing patterns can be tracked. How can they sleep when they're wired? I never ask. Insomniacs take pills of varying strengths and promises. Tonight/this morning I have camomile tea with a little honey; sometimes I have warm milk with a little rum. I don't take pills.
Recently I talked/listened to a friend who got tired of taking pills and found an expert who prescribed a change in his sleeping times, starting from a couple of hours after he normally (?) went to sleep, about 1 in the morning, to 3 or 4 a.m., requiring him to stay in bed until 7 hours later. (He's retired, of course.) Gradually he has worked it back to a bedtime of 11 p.m. and a rise-and-glimmer (not shine) time of 4 or 5 a.m. Yeah, that's about right. My personal best is 5 hours without a pee. Then, maybe back to sleep if I have nothing pressing to think about. I take daytime naps, which are delicious. I'm not retired but I'm a writer, so it doesn't matter. I am not an insomniac. I just have a lot to think about. I have always said my mind to me a playground is; some times the playground is more active than other times, that's all.
I think that this obsession with 8 hours of sleep began with the Industrial Revolution and the 9-to-5 work schedule. Before that people went by their circadian rhythm, like other animals. Not to worry. Gore Vidal once said that people get as much sex as they need. I disagree with that because sex to me requires a partner. I never liked DIY sex much. But sleep? I do believe that you get as much sleep as you need, one way or another. Without pills.
I've finished my tea. I've been awake for about 2 hours. I'm going back to sleep now, not much time left before I swim.