Thursday, November 29, 2007

Getting to Sleep

Up until about a year ago I always had a hard time getting to sleep.  I'd sometimes lay in bed for hours with my mind running on things I need to do.  A couple of things recently have changed which finally fixed this, and I wanted to share.

First, I started getting up at 5 a.m. last December and going to bed when I was tired.  It was hard for the first month, but then I got into the groove, and it was great having an extra 2 hours of free time each morning.  Then I had surgery and haven't gotten back into the swing after recovery.  I wake up at 5:30 or 6, so I have some free time, but nothing like I did.  A benefit though was that I'd head up to bed around 10 or 11, close my eyes, and be out immediately.  It was great, and if you're interested in more details check out Steve Pavlina's How to Become an Early Riser blog entry (also good is How to Wake Up Feeling Totally Alert), this is the process I followed and it was great.

If only other people would be up and available for meetings at 5:30.  Lazy bums.

Second, I began using Getting Things Done.  I can't explain just how useful this has been for my life.  I've set-up a couple to-do lists in RememberTheMilk, and my entire life is on those to-do lists.  My inbox is empty 90% of the time, and everything that comes along gets written on my 1/2 size note card, and then filed in my to-do list.  I feel completely in control of projects (school, church, work and family).  The only step I'm missing there is the weekly review.  But, getting everything in there gets it out of my head.  No more thinking about tomorrow for hours on end each night.

Third, I had a son.  Now that we have two kids my selfish wife wants me to get up with Colin sometimes at night (like the times she's in Rachel's room helping her sleep).  So I'm a bit more tired come 9 p.m., and by 10 it's easy to to just head right off to dreamland.

I came across Scott Adams' way of getting to sleep, and I'm intrigued enough to try it myself.  Here's a snippet of what he does:

I always start by creating a simple story in my head where something good, and highly unlikely, happens to me. The trick is to focus on something that is more fascinating than your real life. . . . The images should be more attractive than whatever bothersome thoughts would float into your head if you weren’t so busy fantasizing.


After a minute or two of that, I release all controlled thoughts and simply watch what floats by. When my eyes are closed, the part of my brain that interprets vision is apparently still active, because I can see all sorts of random objects drifting by, as if a mall exploded in space. I try to identify and name them as I see them.


Toaster…car…pencil…couch…snow blower, mitten, etc.


The next thing I know, I wake up.

Anyway, I wanted to share.  I can't imagine I'm the only one who's fought their brain in going to sleep for their entire lives.

In short, it's about emptying my brain, being tired when I go to bed, and (for Scott) imagination.


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