Are you one of the 40% of the world’s population who reports suffering from bouts of insomnia? I used to be, too.

But what if I told you that I permanently cured my insomnia 10 years ago, that I did it without drugs, and that I have a simple secret that you can use to cure insomnia forever? Want to know my secret?

Learn to love your inability to sleep. That might not make much sense, but it's the most effective tactic, barring drastic life changes or risky substances. Here’s why.

How to sleep better

Person with insomnia

When I say learn to love your insomnia, I don’t just mean sarcastically faking affection for your “disorder”.  I mean that you should literally, deeply love your sleeplessness.

Each night when you can’t sleep, learn to say to yourself “Thank you, brain, for giving me this much-needed quiet time to reflect. I’ve obviously got some more thinking I have to do today!”

Then seriously reflect on your day. Trace every minute from when you woke up to when you went to bed, reflecting on who you talked to, what you accomplished, and what you learned. Practice your Spanish or your guitar skills in your head. Practice a mental conversation with someone you’ll be talking to tomorrow. Be really happy that your brain has given you this time to be lying awake and improve yourself.

There's even a specific technique for learning that you can use during your bouts of insomnia called the Feynman Technique to really make knowledge stick. This technique involves explaining (out loud or in your head) what you've learned to someone with no background in that field, for example, a child. It's impossible to explain concepts to a child without fully understand it yourself.

Over time, as this feeling of happiness becomes more genuine, you’ll realize you’re falling asleep earlier as a by-product. But even if you don’t, your brain is still in better shape the next morning because of your peaceful reflection the previous night (rather than engaging in stressful frustration at your inability to sleep). This is a seriously effective way to deal with sleep problems.

Make peace with yourself

Note that this will not work if you are just half-ass pretending to be happy you can’t sleep before that big presentation tomorrow. You have to seriously learn to be happy about it.

Be 100% at peace with your sleeplessness. Genuinely accept that you will be just as happy whether you sleep for five hours, one hour, or zero hours tonight, because your extra quiet reflection time will compensate you for any potential physical tiredness you may feel tomorrow.

Remember even with a great attitude, you will still have the occasional night of sleeplessness, as the normal stresses of life can require some time for you to sort out your head at night. And that's ok!

Nobody ever died due to lack of sleep. And despite all the research constantly nagging you about how "critical" sleep is, sleepless nights only really hurt your performance by like 10-30% max.  That's not catastrophic. You'll be fine.

Changing your attitude is one of the easiest cures for insomnia

The point is, if you truly love this sleeplessness, then it is not “insomnia”. It’s just a few welcome nights of sleeplessness.

Some other natural tips that will help you sleep better, regardless of your attitude:

  • Write down your persistent thoughts or your to-do list for tomorrow.
  • If you’re stressed about studying, get up and make flashcards in Brainscape (to study later), so you’re done with the “hard part”.
  • Turn off or fade the lights 30 minutes before bed.
  • Don’t drink caffeine within 9 hours of bedtime.
  • Get some heavy exercise.
  • Do some micro-exercises throughout your day
  • Get up and do some yoga .
  • Have sex.

Harvard Health and the Mayo Clinic also have some useful natural cures for insomnia without drugs. Happy bedtimes!

[Remember that good sleep is just part of what's essential for performance. Be sure to check out our massive guide on optimizing your body and brain for studying]