Sleep Expert Shares Simple Trick To Help You Fall Asleep Quickly

Fall asleep quickly, without having to take a risky train nap. Image: eldar nurkovic/shutterstock.com

Given that we spend around one-third of our lives asleep, you'd think we'd have nailed it by now. But for a lot of us (and presumably you, who clicked on an article explaining how to speed up sleep), going down for a snooze isn't a quick ordeal.

One trick from Dr Luc P. Beaudoin, creator of the mySleepButton App, claims to be able to speed up the process so you get more shut-eye. The method is pretty simple and is largely just a way to stop you from thinking of all those things that are keeping you awake in the first place. 

"Sleep researchers have found that as people fall asleep, they often experience visual images and 'micro-dreams'," Beaudoin explains on the mySleepButton website. "The diverse images people imagine may help them fall asleep. In contrast, continuing to think in a verbal, analytic, problem-solving mode can delay sleep onset."

The method, which he terms the "Cognitive Shuffle" involves imagining random objects, to keep your mind off analytical and verbal thinking. Though he recommends his app, which will talk you through random objects, he also offers ways of doing it without it, including getting a close friend to sit by your bed creepily whispering words into your ear.

First, of course, get yourself into bed. Then you should think of a random and emotionally neutral word to start with, that has at least five letters. The example he gives is "bedtime", which is good because it avoids repetition of letters.

Next, you simply spell your way through the word, and imagine objects that begin with that letter. E.g:

Biscuit
Eggs
Dad
Tea
Ink
Meals
Eagle

Of course, make sure you don't select words that are associated with anything stressful, such as:

Burglary
Epilepsy
Death
Terrorist tarantulas on the loose
Inspecting a wasp colony without any training
Methamphetamine abuse
Escalation of your debt troubles to the point that the baliffs are now involved

If you make it to the end of your word without falling asleep, merely move on to another word and start over, and repeat until you are asleep. Likewise, should you not be able to think of a word beginning with a certain letter, skip it and move onto the next letter. It helps, according to Beaudoin, to think of the context around the word. For instance if you are picturing eggs, picture them being cracked into a bowl in preparation for a cake, etc.

It's important to note that this method has not been put to peer review, but should you be desperate for sleep it's certainly worth a try.


 This Week in IFLScience

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