1. The exercise involving letters of the alphabet is somewhat similar to an insomnia treatment I invented myself a few years ago. But instead of thinking of an animal, my technique involves tracing the shape of each letter with your eyes (beneath your closed eyelids). Doing this straight from ‘a’ to ‘z’ is phase one, after which you should stop, give yourself a chance to fall sleep, then move on to phase two if you need it.

    In phase two you do the same thing, but draw the letters tilted 45 degrees from vertical (to make it more cognitively demanding). In phase three, if you’re still awake, draw them sideways; in phase four, between sideways and upside down; in phase five, entirely upside down, etc. You will probably be asleep before you get to phase eight. (I’ve always proceeded anti-clockwise, but I don’t suppose it matters.)

    The technique also involves breath regulation: in all phases, take two deep breaths between tracing one letter and the next. Very meditative.

    Does it work? Depends. If your goal is to get more sleep, then it probably doesn’t. But if your goal is to distract yourself from the fact of your insomnia, then I would say it does.

  2. I’ve discovered that, after trying everything for years, the best way to get to sleep without getting stressed is simply not to try. The best thing I’ve found is to settle down in the dark and just listen to music you love (in my case heavy metal) on a walkman or ipod, until you doze off, however long it takes, and don’t worry how long it will be. Always works for me even if I’ve gone through 3 or more albums, but often it takes less than one . I fall asleep with it still in my ear. And at least while you’re still awake you’re relaxed and enjoying your music, not thinking about your insomnia. I can’t get to sleep at night now without doing that, but I enjoy ending the day with my favourite music anyway. Doing that has taken away all my agitation about not sleeping and made me look forward to going to bed instead of dreading it.

    1. I agree with music or even a podcast being a good way to help me fall asleep! its a great alternative to staring at my phone screen before bed! I also installed f.lux on all my devices which dims it to a warmer color, much easier on the eyes at night if you do have to be on a screen. I also printed this info graph to remind me of ways to help me get a better night sleep. bit.ly/QGdIaR print it, post it somewhere you can easy see as a reminder to get some sleep!

  3. Could you please post a link to Dave Elliot’s study you mention at the link to that music? It’s something I’d really like to read about more, having trouble falling asleep myself, but I haven’t been able to find the study itself while searching online.

  4. I liked your YouTube video with ten hints for sleeping but there was no link to the music you mentioned. Could you please let me know the link. Love your work.

    Deidre Anderson

    Sent from my iPhone


  5. I listen to audio-books. I put a 30 minute sleep timer on and very rarely will I hear the 30 minutes.

  6. Is it blue light, or the way that light is delivered? The night sky is blue, if there is any moon at all. I know that reading on screens is not like reading paper or clay tablets because of the light source. When I read about “blue light,” the paper usually specifies screens and electronics, but never says that’s part of it. Wondering if my habit of sleeping outside is going to get me one day….

  7. I personally use f.lux (http://justgetflux.com/) on my computer to get rid of the blue light issue: it changes the color of the screen as it gets darker outside so it isn’t as hard on the eyes (and it doesn’t look as silly as the glasses ;))

  8. Richard. We were wondering if you took account of the type of screen used for your smartphones & tablets causing sleeplessness research. I believe that AMOLED screens would give different results than LCD ones. Can the effect of the mental stimulation be separated from the effect of the blue light? Have any hardware manufacturers shown interest in your research?

  9. I think by simply listening to music cannot solve a severe insomnia problem. I have done it in the past and it never works out for me. Have anyone here heard of brainwave entrainment? It is said to be effective in reducing brainwave patterns, by listening some special sounds to induce slower brain frequencies, thus helping people to relax.

  10. Here’s another great resource.

    The freeware computer app called “Flux” (for mac/windows) will automatically adjust your monitor brightness/color to sync in time with natural lighting (helping eliminate the blue).


    You can read the science behind it on that page. Pretty amazing, actually.

    I have been using Flux for the past year and a half. It works quite well. I usually can’t resist jumping on the computer for a little bit before bed, and I believe this really helps.

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