Count Yourself to Sleep
Did you know that you can count yourself to sleep? No, not by
counting sheep (although if that works for you, stay with it!).
Here's the plan:
If you're in bed and haven't been able to fall asleep for a
while, start counting backwards from 100. Do it slowly, about
once a second, 100 . . . 99 . . . 98 . . . and so on. Take your
The trick is this: If you get lost or forget what number you're
on, you need to start over again from 100. Every time you get
lost, gently start over. Don't allow yourself to become
frustrated, just be gentle with yourself and start back over from
100. Yes, even if you're all the way down to 6 . . . 5 . . . 4
. . . and your mind wanders, start again from 100.
Why does this work? For one, it takes a reasonable amount of
concentration to count backwards and do it slowly, much more than
counting forwards. This will help keep your mind from thinking
other thoughts, and isn't it those other thoughts . . . the
"radio station" in your mind . . . that's keeping you awake?
Doing something that takes a little mental concentration (the
word "little" is important here) should help calm your mind.
For another, it's monotonous and therefore mildly hypnotic. Since
your goal is to become unconscious (otherwise known as "asleep"),
this little bit of self-hypnosis can help. Note that it's not
hypnosis in the usual sense, such as "you are getting sleepy".
Rather, you're just doing something monotonous with your mind
that will have the effect of making you sleepy.
When I have trouble falling asleep and use this simple
exercise, I am almost always asleep before successfully counting
down to zero the first time. If I happen to make it all the way to zero
without losing my place, I start over at 100 again. I will almost always be asleep before I make it to zero the second time. If not, I just start over and do it again.
Want to make this process even deeper? Do this: Visualize each number while you do the backwards-counting in your mind. Imagine the number "100" somehow appears in your mind's eye while you hear "one hundred" in your mind's ear. Then, imagine the number "99" somehow appears in your mind's eye while you hear "ninety-nine" in your mind's ear. Keep doing this for each number until you either fall asleep, get lost and start over at 100, or get all the way to zero and start over at 100. This will engage both your visual system in addition to your auditory system, making the process that much more self-hypnotic.
I hope this helps! Let me know how it works for you. I'm grateful
to Mike Dennis, president and founder of Oregon Aero, Inc, for
this little trick. Oregon Aero makes wonderful comfort products
for aircraft, other motor vehicles and home use. Check them out