Like many New Zealanders I have trouble sleeping. Which would be bearable if not for the late night paranoias.

Little issues we don't care about during the day become terrifying at 2.30am.

Taxes, mortality, nuclear war, the deterioration of Western democracy, the rapid automation of the workforce, whether or not Star Wars: The Last Jedi will be as good as The Force Awakens and Rogue One. Our brains turn on us in the quiet.

That's why non-sleepers are always looking for answers. Something that doesn't involve pills and their unsatisfying metallic zombie-like sleep.


I've put forward a number of insomnia solutions in this column over the years. Theories that were rightly labelled half-baked and scientifically baseless. Someone called my last idea idiotic. Well, today I have another one.

But first a recap. Most recently I proposed the "sitting down and weeing like a girl in the dark" theory.

This was based around a belief that if you blast yourself with the bright lights of phones, laptops and bathrooms at night, you will fully wake up. The light takes you further from sleep. So do whatever you can to stay in the dark. Even if that means feeling your way to the bathroom and plonking yourself down to do your ablutions. I've talked to literally dozens of good honest Kiwis who weren't helped by this theory.

In another column I argued insomniacs should lie to themselves. No matter how few winks you get tell yourself that you had a great sleep. Yell at your partner 10 times each morning "God that was a good sleep!"

Even if you've only managed 5 minutes try to convince yourself you are refreshed.

This method also received horrible reviews from readers who tried it.

I think the problem with both theories is, they don't work. Also they are stupid. Your brain gets wise to your plans.

Edgar Allan Poe describes sleep as "those little slices of death". Your brain doesn't want to be dead. It wants to be alive all night so it can look out for wolves. When it comes to sleep your brain is your enemy.

That's why my new anti-insomnia plan is a direct attack on the intellect. I propose you deal with not sleeping - by not sleeping. Staying awake. Putting all your efforts into keeping your eyes open.

Recently, the night before a Pixies concert, I tried my best to get some sleep but couldn't. Yet at the show I was on the nod while doing my best to stay awake. This is your brain messing with you.

Try tricking it into thinking you want to be awake and it will probably shut you down. Just to be a dick. Better still, staying up to get some sleep cures your insomnia with logic.

If you are trying to stay awake you are not having trouble sleeping because you aren't trying to.

Here's how you do it. When it's time for bed, don't go. Instead yell "I'm staying up!" 20 times at your kids.

Then put on Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey or any show that involves thinking. As the info rolls over you, concentrate on staying awake. If you nod, slap yourself. Keep telling your eyes to stay open.

Eventually you'll lose the battle and go to sleep. This is because your brain is an asshole who will never give you what you want. You must outsmart it.

Win-win. Either you succeed in staying awake which is your stated goal or you fail and get a good night's sleep which is even better. But no cheating. Stay off caffeine, pseudoephedrine and methamphetamine if you can.

Recently I was out after rugby with a friend who normally suffers from insomnia. But not that night. He fell asleep face down on the bar. His sleeplessness was cured but he didn't wake refreshed. He woke in the rain after being thrown out. Lost his keys, credit cards and phone.

Fighting sleeplessness with booze will only get you so far. He's been waking up all week. Lying in bed worrying about his behaviour.

Insomnia is a real problem and it needs a real solution. So wake yourself to a better sleep. Tell your brain what the band Deja Voodoo told us in 2005 "Nah nah nah na na nah, Nah nah nah na na nah I'm allowed to stay up all night." Do that and you might just get the sleep you are looking for.

One final tip. Never use a bathroom in a dream.