1. Don’t drink coffee in the afternoon. I used to be a general and a warrior, and I needed to drink coffee to unseam my opponents from the nave to the chops, something I became startlingly good at with practice. Killing someone in the field of battle is a satisfying pastime that releases a lot of endorphins. These not only enhance your self-esteem but boost your immune system, protecting you against illnesses such as the common cold, typhoid, diphtheria, tuberculosis, and the flu. They can also help you sleep well at night.
2. If she’s in the mood, ask your lady to make love to you several times before going to bed. Repeatedly disgorging the contents of your prostate and testicles is a wonderful way to exhaust yourself and prepare you to meet the sandman as you drown in an hourglass of dreams.
3. Go running as soon as you get up in the morning, while the air is still fresh and you can hear the birds twittering in the trees of Birnam Forest on its way to Dunsinane. Don’t forget to stretch first.
4. Don’t read the papers or watch the news late at night. It’s bound to depress you. Even if you are able to get to sleep, you’re apt to be besieged by nightmares stirred by fears of ecological devastation, rampant crime waves, terrorist attacks, earthquakes, war, and famine. Instead, put on some Vivaldi or Mozart, but nothing too perky or you won’t be able to get to sleep. Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony might get you too worked up for slumber too, so stick to a piano concierto or else listen to some Gregorian chants.
5. If you’re lactose-intolerant, don’t drink milk–warm or cold–before going to bed. You’re liable to suffer from gastric distress or even the runs, which will bring you much sorrow.
6. For God’s sake, don’t murder anyone (except, of course, in the field of battle, when it’s both appropriate and graceful), especially house guests. Bloody bedsheets are hell to wash; if nothing else, you’ll be plagued by ominous dry cleaning bills. You might also find yourself haunted by the ghosts of former friends you’ve had dispatched by hit men, spend a lot of time hallucinating, and go out of your way to visit bearded women who specialize in inedible concoctions made from “eye of newt, toe of frog, wool of bat, and eye of dog”. If you think lactose intolerance is bad, wait till you’ve tried a mug of that stuff. Whew! I spent the whole night prostrating myself to the porcelain god.
7. If your wife walks and talks in her sleep, don’t wake her up. After all, someone ought to have a conscience, as long as it’s not you. Once you acquire an appetite for murder, you might find it hard to stop. And the first casualty, you’ll discover, is sleep.
8. If all else fails, try a nice glass of red wine and a couple of sleeping pills. Feel free to double the dose prescribed by the apothecary, but don’t triple it unless you want to end up like Romeo or Juliet. And by all means stay away from that stuff that Laertes and Claudius dipped the foils in to do in Hamlet. You’ll have plenty of time for that kind of marathon napping when the play is over and the curtain drops on the stage for good.
9. In the event that none of these methods work and you still can’t sleep, please don’t call me as I wouldn’t want you to interrupt me while I’m streaming Twelfth Night or The Taming of the Shrew. I far prefer watching comedies to tragedies; they help take me away from my own life, at least for awhile.
10. And now, in the words of Keith Obermann andEdward R. Murrow, “Good night, and good luck.”