Who among us has not endured a restless night (after night after night) of sleep? When you can’t fall asleep all you can think of is how you can’t fall asleep. You might even be constantly recalculate how long you will sleep if only you could fall asleep at present. Or now. While we know all this kind of thought is hamper our ability to achieve our dreams of sleep a reality, How can we prevent it from arriving? The answer, according to a cognitive science researcher, could be a trick he calls “cognitive mixing.”
Luc Beaudoin, from Simon Fraser University, has developed a method (and an application) to help imitate for adults how children fall asleep. Here is what Beaudoin writes on his website:
Adults live in a very “left-brained” world dominated by language and thought. Young children, on the other hand, spend a lot of time imagining and playing. Of course, adults see to many images — videos, TV, movies, photos and logos. But they tend to do it passively, and usually with a lot of chatter (whether vocal or not).
Sleep researchers have found that when people fall asleep, they often experience visual images and “micro-dreams.” The various pictures people imagine can help them fall asleep.
In contrast, continuing to think verbally, analytically, and in problem-solving ways can delay falling asleep.
In other words, we need less thought and more imagine. Don’t imagine a bunch of sheep jumping, though, this shit is boring and will bring you back to exactly why you have such a hard time falling asleep in the first place.. Instead, you need to allow your brain to roam in a variety of random images-indeed, you have to create “micro-dreams” and that’s where the Beaudoin method comes in.
Here is how to do it.
How to use cognitive brewing to fall asleep quickly
1. Get into bed and get ready to sleep.
2. Think of a random, emotionally neutral word that has at least five letters. Beaudoin suggests “Bedtime” for example. Others can be “laptop”, “fishing”, “movie” or “light bulb”. (Try to choose a word that doesn’t have too many repeated letters, such as “banana”.)
3. Slowly spell the base word in your mind, then, starting with the first letter, think of another word that also begins with that letter. Imagine the element represented by the word. If your base word is “peach”, you will start with words that begin with the letter “p”, such as “puzzle”, “pig” or “pizza”. One at a time imagine each article, linger long enough to create a clear picture of it in your mind before letting go and moving on to the next “p” word.
4. Repeat this as many times as you can for each letter. Once you run out of “p” words (or are bored with “p”), move on to the next letter which in our example would be “e”. Now imagine an Easter egg, an eagle and an eggplant.
If you have trouble finding “e” words, skip it and go to the next letter. Likewise, if you choose a word that you cannot easily imagine, drop it and move on to another. a. You can also imagine different versions of the same word. For example, if you imagine “bread,” you might think of a loaf of fluffy white sandwich bread, then crisp French bread, followed by your favorite homemade sour.Dough. If you get to the end of your base word without falling asleep, start over with a new base word.
While this is a tactic worth trying, Beaudoin says he has his limits. It will not work under these conditions:
- You are too tired to conjure words, but not sleepy enough to fall asleep. (For example, when you wake up in the middle of the night.)
- You don’t like to think deliberately when trying to fall asleep.
- You have a hard time finding words that start with a given letter despite practice.
- You find the spelling tedious.
But if the conditions are right and you are simply have difficult to guide you in practice, you can also download the free mySleepButton app for iOS or Android. Think of it as a guided sleep meditation, as opposed to a silent meditation. It may be helpful to start with the guided version until you are comfortable leading the practice on your own. Sweet dreams, I hope.