I threw out a lot of suggestions, in Insomniac, for things to quiet a racing mind. I wrote about “mind machines,” with earphones that pump electronic music at you and goggles that flash pink and green –you can barely sustain a thought with these, let alone a racing mind. I wrote about “brain music” that’s made from your EEG, and “bedtime beats,” music set to a slower beat, that claims to lull listeners to sleep. I wrote about a visualization technique I made up that combines visuals with counting; on bad nights it doesn’t do a thing, but on some nights, it slows my heart and breathing and eases me to sleep.
It’s funny, the things people write me that have worked.
A reader wrote me that wearing a dark sock over the eyes helps her get to sleep. That’s so simple a technique that I almost didn’t put it in the book!
Another reader wrote me that the vitamin cocktail I describe on p. 290 had transformed his life. It’s an elaborate recipe, not something you can throw together from ingredients you have around the house, and I confess, I’ve never tried it. But it worked for him.
I’m going to respond to a few posts people have left.
Post left by “nodnoble,” June 4, 2008, about transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS).
This seems like a noninvasive way to induce deep sleep. Magnetic fields can pass easily and harmlessly through the skull, and with a TMS instrument, pulses can be directed to specific areas of the brain to make them more or less active. The method has worked to dispel the “inner voices” of schizophrenics and has had success with clinical depression; researchers hope that it may even someday replace electroconvulsive therapy. It has been used to produce what looks like slow wave sleep, the deepest kind, by Giulio Tononi and others at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. I too would like to know why it isn’t on the market for use by insomniacs.
Thanks, Matt K, for posting about writing as a way to get to sleep. Writing a worry list is one of the techniques recommended by the sleep doctors. I’ve had several people tell me that writing in a journal helps them leave their worries at the door. It doesn’t work for me: writing is too much like what I do for work; and when I write, I conjure, which is not something I want to do with a worry. We’re all very different.
Readers have written me that they’ve found books on tape helpful. Thanks, Gary, for that list of books, and for pointing out how important the sounds of the voice is.
Somebody asked, why tapes and not MP3? I need something I can work in the dark, with my fingers. With an old-fashioned walkman, I can turn the tape over, run it back or forward, without turning on a light or looking at a lighted dial. Anything that isn’t absolutely simple wakes me up. Maybe there’s a way of using an Ipod or MP3 in the dark that I haven’t found. I hope so, because I’m running out of tapes and they aren’t making any more.
Somebody wrote that the click at the end of the tape wakes her up. If you use earplugs and white noise that muffles the click.
Check in next week for more things to help you sleep. I’m compiling a list…