How can I shut off my brain and get some *$&%$%#&#$ sleep?

A couple of really wacky and unusual things happened today (both good, never fear; I may explain the details of one of them later, because it’s really cool). And lately, my job is insane. What this adds up to is that at the end of the day, my brain is often still running like crazy and I can’t shut it off long enough to fall asleep. I’m constantly creating several simultaneous To-Do lists and prioritize them, when I should really be counting sheep. (I realize writing this OP probably isn’t helping, but cut me some slack here; I’m trying!)

So what are your brain-extinguishing techniques? How do you unwind enough to go to sleep? I’m not one for chemically altering my body, so pharmaceutical solutions are probably out (although I have tried melatonin on occasions of desperation, and it usually helps somewhat). I’ve tried most of the usual stuff; herbal tea, a warm bath, avoiding caffeine in the afternoon, etc., and unfortunately nobody is handy to swap backrubs with (I’m working on that, too). Your brainstorming efforts (no pun intended) are welcome.

Having the room be completely dark, and at a comfortable temperature are important as far as the atmosphere goes. Long term, you’re supposed to only use your bed for sleeping and sex…not for watching TV or doing the bills, etc. Using the bed for these other activities make you are supposed to make you assossiate the bed with wakefullness and make sleep even more difficult.

I know it’s recommended that, if after 30 minutes or so of lying in bed, unable to fall asleep, you’re supposed to get up and do something else, then try to fall asleep again, even if that sounds like it would make you more awake. Making sure you get enough physical exercize is important too. While you might be mentally tired from everything at work, etc., your body might be wide awake.

Read something really boring in your newspaper - like the financial section. There are some over-the-counter sleep-inducing aids that are not addictive, as well.

Sweet dreams!

I second Orange Skinner’s idea. Just get up and do something mindless (as long as it’s not too new, exciting or engrosing) until you feel sleepy. I’ve got one book I know inside and out, and just read it out of habit before going to sleep.

Oh, and don’t go bed until you’re sleepy. You might end up with a few sleepless nights, but your body will soon develop it’s own cycle.

Lots of exerise… My guess here (I don’t know you) Is you have an office job that keeps you busy. Got to make room for exerise. Get a tread mill… or what I like, a Nordic Track. I recommend something like a nordic track more because it works upper and lower body and everything is exhausted. If you can’t get good sleep after putting yourself on one of those things 30min every night after a month… see a doc.

The SDMB actually helps me to go to sleep. Maybe it is mindless, at least for me. Here is what appears to be a yawn smilie to me:
:o Good night!

Focus on relaxing the muscles around your jaw, then those around your neck and shoulders.

I realise “focus on relaxing” sounds wrong, but it puts your mind in a different place and relieves some of the physical tension.

Mmmm. Falling asleep in a book.

I do it all the time. I sleep badly these days. When I wake up in the middle of the night I read again.

I think the important part is not to worry too much about it.

Your body will tell you if it’s getting extreme…

For me, having the radio or TV on helps tremendously with stopping my mental wheels from spinning.

Nothing too interesting or too annoying–the history international channel usually does the trick.

This always works on my mother and younger brother. I swear, the Travel Channel is their perscription sleep aide. Good suggestion.

You could try a book-on-tape spoken by someone whose voice you find relaxing.

Me, I find male, somewhat deep voices to be very relaxing, as long as they’re not talking about something too stimulating or thought provoking. Perhaps why the travel channel works for Orange Skinner’s family? History channel works for me except for the commercial interruptions and then later the infomercials.

Late night radio works too if you can find someone boring enough & not too irritating.

I used to make the BF read his sports pages out loud to me. I was out like a light. Bless his heart.

Essential oils buring in the room help. I find that either lavender or bois de rose (rosewood) work wonders. I personally prefer the rosewood, it works wonders for me whenever I’m in a similar state.

Take your mind off everything else by making up a stupid game.

Disclaimer: This technique is experimental and untested.

I empty my mind by reciting the alphabet, slowly and repeatedly. Ok as mantras go it ain’t much, but it does the business. I synch it with my breathing, which also then slows. So like Aaaaay(in), Beeeeeee(out), Ceeeeeee(in) for the lenght of the breath.

I also do counting, not counting anything, just counting. Start at one and see how far you get, when you loose track of where you are start from the last number you absolutly remember. Don’t count backwards as it gives you a goal (0). When I started doing that I would make it up to the thousands, nowadays I rarely make it to 200.

Keep your feet warm, loose socks that can easily be kicked off, or an extra blanket across the foot of the bed. Strange but true.

If you do the getting up after 40 minutes of awake, then make sure you do something boring and unpleasant while awake. Do not surf, or listen to nice music or something, you will be rewarding yourself for not having gone to sleep. Do the dishes, balance your checkbook, pay your bills. Then go back to bed.

Damn, caught the submit button with my space bar :smack:

Some other tips are a little like self-hypnosis. Do the whole “imagine yourself lying on an inflatable matress in a sunlit swimming pool” thang. Imagine a nice environment, put yourself in it, and add to the details, can you smell the grass, is there a breeze, etc. Work on it till you find the most relaxing image. That took me a long while because I kept worrying myself (are there bugs in the grass, is the tide coming in, etc). One that did work (once I stopped worrying that I hadn’t shaved my legs :smack: ) was to iimagine hands stroking my body. It was a bit like an imaginary massage, and quite relaxing.

Hope some of these help!

  1. Hot bath.

  2. Fantasize about your (a) dream house; (b) dream boy/girl; © Halloween costume.

  3. Mentally list all aspects of original Star Trek that disobey the laws of physics as we know them.


I’ve had problems sleeping for years, so maybe I can offer a little help. First of all, Orange Skinner’s right–keep the bedroom as the bedroom, and try to take care of all other business in another part of the house. If you can subconsciously associate the bedroom with sleep and nothing but, that helps.

If I’ve been lying in bed, staring at the ceiling for half an hour or more, I usually get up and do the dishes. It’s mindless, it’s practical, and I usually find I’m eager to be done with it and get back into bed.

I can’t count sheep, because my mind goes into overtime, and suddenly the sheep are revolting against the evil totalitarian farmer rules and the poor farmer and his wife are strung up in the hay barn … and so forth. I have a television in my room, and although I’m sure I shouldn’t, I usually put on something that will lull me to sleep, something comforting and something I don’t actually have to look at. Strangely enough, Star Wars seems to work best.

When all else fails, I get out of bed and sit down on the couch to read, watch television, balance my checkbook, anything. There are few things in this world as torturous as trying to sleep and not getting there. If I lie in bed for more than forty minutes, I begin to stress about how I’m not sleeping, and therefore am even less likely to sleep. There have definitely been nights when, still awake at four in the morning, I’ve decided that sleep isn’t worth it, I might as well get up and do something useful and not even try. Sure, I may be a little zombiefied the next day, but let me tell you, I sleep WONDERFULLY that night!

Stream of consciousness writing.

It does not matter that your body is relaxed. All your thoughts are bouncing around in your head, unexpressed. They feed other thoughts, like a coversation you can’t get out of.

Write them down, no matter how mundane or non-sensical. Putting them on paper is like turning a valve and letting them drain out.

You fill up a page or 2, you’ll be ready to sleep.

This may sound crazy but…

Get one of those small index card boxes and a large pack of index cards. Write down your to-do list on the cards, on item per card. Then, put the cards in order of priority.

This works in a couple of ways. First, if you write it down then you know that you won’t forget about it so your brain quits worrying. You can shuffle index cards around so there is no need to re-write the whole list if there is a change in priority. Finally, index cards are big enough that you can make a few notes or jot down some extra details with out running out of space.

When I use to do my to-do list on paper I spent a lot of time rewriting the list because I liked it to be neat and in the correct order. Now I never have to rewrite the whole list because it is on separate pages.

Tearing the cards up and throwing them away when you have complete the task is somehow very rewarding too. The other option is to put the completion date on it and keep it in your records if you need to remember when something was done.

Doing this really does help me with the whole “mental to-do list” thing. I don’t have to write lists in my head when I already have it on cards. I even keep a few blank cards by the bed so I can write down new things if I think of them after I am already in bed.

Half-brick in a sock, applied firmly to the head. :stuck_out_tongue: