I’ve had a terrible sleep schedule since middle school and insomnia has plagued me on and off throughout my life. But I’ve figured out something that works for me and thought it might be nice to write it down. This method assumes normal sleep hygiene (don’t look at too much blue light an hour before bed, don’t exercise excessively a couple of hours before bed).

So the first step is to either have watched or to do the “work” of watching through a multi-season sitcom / lighthearted, episodic comedy. More than once is really helpful, because you need to be a little bored but entertained enough to stop thinking about what normally occupies your mind before bed. For me the big three are It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Rick and Morty, and The Office. It’s important that the show is one that makes you laugh, is fun to listen to without looking at the screen (good writing!), and isn’t something that makes you want to look at the screen. There was a while where I’d rotate through John Mulaney’s three standup routines.

OK now that you have the show you want to use, before bed:

  1. Go for a walk outside. Getting a dog helps, since I have to do this every evening anyway :) It’s also my favorite time of night because my partner and I get to catch up and breath fresh air. 5-10 minute walk is all you need.
  2. Put your show on your phone, and wear wireless headphones. Turn the volume up enough that you can hear the dialogue but no louder than that. I used to use these cheap $35 headphones where the buds are attached by a cord, because I keep losing one of a pair when I use separated ones. If I’m sleeping with one ear on a pillow, I take the bud out and listen in the other ear. I put my phone facedown on the night table so that there’s no light. If you sleep on your back, you can get special mask/headphones like this which have thin speakers for both ears and are quite comfortable.
  3. Put a heavy pillow on your head. I use this one. It blocks out most stray light but is more comfortable than an eye mask, at least in my opinion. I think more importantly having a little squish on your face / forehead feels really good and soothing. Maybe I’m weird.
  4. Fall asleep! You can set a sleep timer for your video or just do what I do and let it run. I find that I naturally hit pause (a button on my buds) or take out the buds at some point, subconciously. I’ve lost some earbuds to my sheets though. Thankfully I never buy expensive earbuds, since they’re just for sleep (I use over-ear headphones most of the day).

I generally fall asleep after 10 minutes / a half episode now, but on a bad night I might go through 2 or 3 episodes. I think the method works for me by:

  • Defeating the frustration of not doing anything and “wasting time.” I’m enjoying myself laying there, listening to funny lines. When you’re insomniac the frustration gets in the way of being able to fall asleep.
  • Making time pass quickly. Entertainment does that.
  • Boring your brain. Reruns do that.
  • Preventing spiraling thoughts. Like, thinking about career direction before bed is the worst.

I’ve also noticed that I use a lot of the same episodes to fall asleep. In case anyone’s interested

  • Sunny S04E02 The Gang Solves the Gas Crisis
  • Sunny S05E08 Paddy's Pub: Home of the Original Kitten Mittens
  • Rick and Morty S04E03 One Crew over the Crewcoo's Morty

Sunny is my go-to in part because it’s the longest running daytime comedy and has 14 seasons. Some nights you want something slightly more entertaining and some nights you want a rerun you know almost every line to.