Saturday, April 6, 2013

Better than Counting Sheep

I recently told Matt a trick that I've been using for quite a while now when I am having a hard time "turning off" my brain at night.   I was quite surprised to learn I hadn't told him about it long ago, but Matt doesn't really have trouble sleeping...aside from dealing with all the tossing and turning that I do.

But, I do not always sleep well.  A lot of it is my arthritis which stiffens up my back as I lay prone.  But the other side of it is that I suppose I am a bit of a worrier/planner type.  So, on occasion I find myself laying in bed thinking about things I want/need to do, making lists/plans, replaying what I should have done/said in a certain situation, and in general having a hard time convincing my brain that all of it can wait until tomorrow so that I can fall asleep.

Counting sheep has never made much sense to me.  And then I read about this other counting trick...I don't even remember where now--and it did make sense to me.  And it works--at least for me. 

All you have to do is count backwards from 100 by twos.  100, 98, 96, 94, 92, 90, 88.....

This activity is just active enough that your mind cannot wander away to planning (or if it does wander away you have something to direct it back to).  But it is also not so complex or exciting of an activity as that it keeps you too alert to fall asleep.  Its boring, but slightly engaging.  

I try to match the counting with the rhythm of my breath.  For me its like magic.  I don't think I've ever made it to the 50s.  I almost always start to loose count and drift off somewhere in the 70s.  Just a couple of times do I remember making it down to the 60s.

Sometimes my planning brain tries to push its way back to the forefront and when that happens I just start over at 100 again.

So next time your brain won't quiet down and go to bed give it a try.  Sure beats sleeping pills or laying awake at night.  And I'd be curious to hear if it works as well for others as it does for me.

2 comments:

  1. This is something I will try as I suffer from this problem! Thanks, will let you know the outcome!

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  2. I hope it works as well for you as it does for me. Not being able to sleep is just the worst....or it makes everything else worse at least.

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