On Sleep: I’ve tried everything, and here’s what works

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A few years ago when I was still living in Kyiv, I woke up to a ringing phone and instantly realized that I was late for work. What I didn’t get at first was how late. There was worry in my friend Vira’s voice when she asked if I was okay, and when I assured her that I’d get there as soon as possible she stopped me and said I didn’t need to come: it was 7 in the evening, and the day was already over.

This was the beginning of a sleep disorder that I have now been dealing with for several years. The formal diagnosis is hypersomnia, but neither by doctor nor the specialists I’ve seen actually know what’s going on. Most people get tired during the day, especially overworked Americans, and usually need a few cups of coffee to perk themselves up. You could put me on an ungodly cocktail of stimulants, to the point that it’s a stroke risk, and I’d still need a few long naps throughout the day.

Today I’m doing much better. And while meds have definitely helped, a lot of the progress I’ve made has come through self-treatment; I’ve spend an absurd amount of time reading the literature on sleep and sleep treatments, and have tried just about every behavioral change, every product, and every app you can think of. In that time I’ve developed a pretty good sense about what works and what doesn’t; and since so many people struggle with sleep, I thought I’d walk through what I think works — and what I think doesn’t…

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