Confession: I thought I had made up the term “semi-somniac”, meaning someone who doesn’t have actual insomnia but suffers from chronic over-tiredness caused by poor sleep habits.
Like, pretty much everyone these days.
However, it turns out that not only is the term in use, but sciencey people have been studying sleepcrastinators like us for years.
Personally, I’ve felt the corrosive effects eat away at my own life.
At night, I was too stubborn to go to bed without feeling some little form of satisfaction. Some peace of myself I could hold on to.
Whether I was escaping into some dark comedy or scrolling through “just one more” article about side-hustles, I dragged my bedtime out later and later…
…chasing a feeling of “wholeness” I never found.
Then, in the morning, I was too exhausted to do any of the things that might have made me feel accomplished in the first place. I raced off to go work all day for someone else, and the cycle repeated.
It took Life several claps in my face to wake me up from this zombie spell. Thank you, Life. Perhaps it has also brought you here to me.
You, too, feel like one of us… one of the living dead.
And as one of the living dead, you’re stuck in limbo.
Not quite an insomniac…
…and therefore not sleepless enough to seek treatment…
but also not quite awake to your potential.
You’re not alone.
Here are 7 signs that YOU are a Semi-Somniac:
1. You automatically hit snooze
Have you ever noticed how amazing you are at math in the wee hours of the morning?
With one eye open, you can calculate exactly how many more minutes of precious sleep you can get away with. (“If I skip the shower and settle for break room coffee, I can set my alarm for another…18 min…”)
Admit it. You’re not your best self when you’re stinky. And groggy. And beating yourself up for forgetting that one thing on the counter because you were running out the door. Snooze is not your friend.
“Never fear, Bettie!” You say. “A hot cup of joe is going to make it all better. Joe understands.”
2. You don’t fully wake up until coffee
Joe is a liar. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve enjoyed my daily cup of café con leche every morning since I was a teen. A cup of Jose, if you will.
Alas, using caffeine as a crutch to make yourself feel more awake than you are is a big red flag that you’re not getting the rest you need.
Maybe for you, it’s not coffee, but tea. Or the treadmill. Or your signature maca matcha energy smoothie. Maybe it’s crack. I don’t know your whole life.
The point is, if you’re relying on something other than your own brain chemicals to snap yourself out of Zombieland, it’s time to get really honest with yourself.
3. You feel like a zombie
Dragging your feet, sniffing your armpits, slurping liquified brains out of a protein shaker. Mhm, called it. Zombie.
You may rouse briefly from your waking dream after a few sips of java, look around, and identify all the other zombies in your midst.
Filling up again in the break room, you nearly run into one. Perhaps it’s in the redness of their eyes, or the blankness of their stare, but you recognize them as one of your own.
“Rrr,” you say. “Rrr,” they reply.
You share a moment of glazed eye contact that seems to say, “here we are.” How romantic.
4. You delay bedtime until the last minute
That’s about the only romantic thing happening in your world. Exhausted after a long day of humaning, with everyone else finally asleep, you cling to the last shred of personal time left in your day.
Sleep procrastination is a real thing.
Because we feel like we sell ourselves every day to other people and corporations and obligations, we put off sleep as long as possible in order to reclaim… something.
“Viva la resistance!” you whisper to no one in particular, as you scroll through your favorite mindless app.
Will there ever be a cat meme funny enough to satisfy your search? A Facebook video touching enough to lull you to sleep? A list article insightful enough to bring you back to yourself? Ehem.
5. You can’t find your “off button”
After busting out your sleep math skills again, you put the phone to charge next to your bed (you rebel, you) and close your eyes.
Finally free from its cage, your mind runs laps around the bedroom, peeing and leaving scratch marks on the carpet.
No matter how hard you try, you can’t settle your brain down long enough to slip gently into that good night. So you flip on the TV.
Let’s look at that again: the reason your mind races at night is because it is caged all day!
Most of us who live our lives for other people and others’ ideas, most of us who don’t practice mindfulness or meditation during the day, most of us who have to stay focused on the tasks at hand…
…find that we can’t control our thoughts at night as they have been champing at the bit all day. And once they are free to gallop around in the darkness, many of us find ourselves sedating them back into captivity.
6. You rely on stimulants and depressants
If you need uppers to wake up in the morning, you probably need downers to settle into sleep.
You’re not alone: more than 9 million Americans use prescription sleep aids, with many more self-medicating with alcohol etc.
(aha, snuck in one stat)
Of course, the problem with this goes beyond the vicious cycle of addiction to stimulants and depressants. The long term effects of both can be pretty nasty on your body and mind.
Even something as “minor” as dehydration (caused by both caffeine and alcohol) can wreak havoc mentally and physically.
7. You don’t have a night time routine
No, having a glass of wine while watching your favorite late-night comedy is not what we’re calling a “bedtime routine.” (I would know.)
Neither is: finishing up those emails in the dark, doing the dishes after the kids are in bed, or crawling home from a happy-hour gone too far.
Do you have habitual activities that trigger your mind and body to start getting ready to sleep?
The irony is that if you actually did have a real evening routine in place, you’d likely go to bed feeling much more fulfilled and accomplished, you’d wake up feeling refreshed and ready to tackle the day, and by tackling the day, go to bed feeling much more fulfilled and accomplished.
Good Sleep is Not Just a Dream…
The good news is, if you already have any habits in place (even “bad” ones), it won’t be all that difficult to make changes for the better.
You have the power to regain control of your life and it starts at sunset.
Or sunrise, if you prefer.
In other words, what you do before bed affects your quality of waking life, and vice versa.
Luckily for you, I’ve come up with a step-by-step guide that I truly feel will get you back in the driver’s seat.
The principles have worked for me and my, um, test subjects… and I will be providing them for free to those in my email list, one day at a time.
Try it for yourself and see what sleep may come. Sign up, but only if you’re ready to make real change.
Together, we’ll wield the riding-crop of your mind and tame your thoughts. “The day is over. It is time to come home.” If it helps you to envision me holding the whip at first, I’m happy to oblige.
What will you achieve when you wake up?