You’ll probably see a lot of posts on the Internet claiming to know the secret to overcoming the mentally and emotionally crippling condition that is insomnia. As an occasional sufferer, I have come to learn that the harder you try, the harder it is to sleep, and in fact, there is no real cure – but you can learn to deal with it.

I had spent many a night tossing and turning whilst my significant other snored on blissfully beside me – a source of great irritation when you’re finding it hard enough to sleep as it is – and in the end I was getting so fed up with it, I decided to try out a different tactic. I’d already tried drinking milk before bed, leaving the window slightly open, wearing socks, not wearing socks, going to bed earlier, going to bed later, and so far none of these things had worked.

So, one night, when I couldn’t’ sleep, I decided I was going to get OUT of bed and do all the things I was worrying about IN bed. I made myself a cup of peppermint tea (very good for the cleansing of the soul), sent a few emails that needed to be sent, and caught up on any outstanding work. I didn’t get to bed until 3 am, BUT, when I did, I slept like a baby.

The key is, as any medical related article worth it’s salt will tell you, to avoid sleeping in the next day, no matter how little sleep you may have had the night before. But as far as bedtime goes, I say go to bed only when you’re absolutely ready for it.

One of the great perks to doing something productive with your time when you can’t sleep is that you can go to bed with the knowledge that you have a great deal less to worry about the next day. There’s nothing worse than watching the seconds tick by, knowing that you have to get A B and C done in the morning. It makes far more sense to do the things you have to do whilst you’re wide- awake (and believe me, you’ll never be more awake than when you know you should be asleep).

In my student years, alongside more or less every other student in the world, I would pull all-nighters in order to get an essay in on time. Ironically, I got some of my best marks for essays completed in the wee hours of the morning, whilst high on adrenaline and pure fear. I should mention as a side note that I do not recommend leaving things to the last minute, by any means. Preparation is the key to success and all that. I also do not recommend (for those who struggle to stay AWAKE during an all-nighter) consuming a ridiculously obscene amount of coffee with enough caffeine in to keep the entire population of Russia awake for a year. That was a bad move. I swear I went blind in one eye.

Essay or no essay, if you’re finding it hard to sleep, don’t waste time – get up and do something productive. At the very least, it certainly won’t make your insomnia any worse. At best, you might just produce something worthwhile.