THE ORIGINAL OLD FARMER'S ALMANAC was founded in 1792. The founder and editor, Robert B. Thomas, used a top-secret algorithm involving a combination of astrology and weather patterns in order to make year-long weather predictions intended to guide farmers’ crop planting schedules, among other things.
Offering practical advice, folksy wisdom, and a dash of humor, the Almanac has changed through the years to reflect technology and societal trends without ever losing its original charm and value. Though the accuracy of its weather predictions has been disputed, there’s no doubt that it has offered valuable guidance to countless readers in the last two centuries.
The Almanac: Past versus Present
In the 19th century, the economy of the US was heavily dependent on agriculture. Today, less than two percent of Americans are farmers. In addition, some of the nuggets of wisdom offered by the Almanac in the past have been downright bizarre. For example, an 1878 tip for keeping babies entertained suggested smearing molasses on the kid’s hands and then giving them a handful of feathers. Questionable parenting tips aside, more than 200 years after its inception, the Old Farmer’s Almanac stays relevant by focusing heavily on gardening and cooking, activities that are still widely practiced by its rural target demographic.
In 1996, the Almanac went high-tech, launching Almanac.com. The website offers an enhanced version of the same type of information disseminated by the original Almanac, covering topics like weather and astronomy. It also features an “Advice” section, offering up a combination of folk wisdom and modern sensibilities applicable to universal issues like parenting, cleaning, and sleep remedies.
What It Says About Sleep
The 2001 Almanac addressed common sleep myths. For example, it was once an old wives’ tale that sleeping with your head pointing north would ensure longevity. However, today we know that the best sleep position is (usually) the one in which you’re most comfortable.
The Almanac also refuted the classic “counting sheep” sleep cure, stating that concentration--even on something as innocuous as imaginary livestock--could make it harder to fall asleep. Almanac.com offers some practical advice for sleep problems, including well-known sleep remedies like having a small amount of turkey or a glass of milk before bed. Other tips from the Old Farmer’s Almanac:
- Establish a regular bedtime and wake time
- Create a sleep environment that is dark, quiet, and cool
- Avoid napping after 3PM
- Don’t partake of caffeine, nicotine, or alcohol four to six hours before bed
- Move your clock to a spot where you can’t see it from your bed
Learn More About Treatment for Insomnia
If you suffer from chronic insomnia or other sleep disorders, down-home advice may not be much help. Talk to your doctor about possible causes, such as a new medication, an underlying illness or condition, or a source of anxiety. You may need a referral to a sleep specialist to get to the root of your sleep disorder and start the correct treatment for insomnia.
There are non-medicinal options, such as meditation and cognitive behavioral therapy, which might be a good starting point for people who are hesitant to turn to medicine right away.
There are also over-the-counter, alternative, and prescription medications available for people who don’t respond to non-medical treatment. Left alone, sleep deprivation can take a terrible toll on your physical and mental wellness, but it’s not something you have to live with.