Things to help you sleep…

 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…  

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  1. Thanks for the information. I think what we can all take away from this is the fact that different things work for different people. As for the sock on the face – I wonder if it’s the smell or the darkness that is helping that person pass out at night. I hope it’s the latter!

  2. I’m very gadget oriented, and since kicking a 20 year benzo habit a year and a half ago, I’ve been using a SleepEraser along with CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy). The SleepEraser will get met back to sleep after a 15 minute session on average about 50-60% of the time. I wish it worked more consistently, but it’s the best non-drug alternative I’ve found.

    I saw a new sleep gadget that became available a few days ago: It’s some kind of projector that puts a moving light dot on your ceiling. It sounds like it’s trying to be an aid to practicing EMDR (Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing), although they don’t mention that on the website. They also don’t mention any research support or clinical studies, and they don’t show you any images or video of exactly what’s being projected, but if EMDR does in fact work, this could be a clever if expensive way of giving you something to focus on.

  3. Hello,

    I wanted to add what helps me sleep. I have been studying a new science called BioAcoustics that I have used on myself that has helped me sleep better. Basically the process is to take a vocal print, look at the energy equivalents that are out of balance and provide low brain wave level tones using a small computer that can fit into your pocket to listen to a couple of times a day. One of our practioners describes it much better on a little video at this link:, under the caption: What is BioAcoustic Voice energy analysis. I have not practiced this long myself but when I was talking to another practioner who has done this for many people the last 2 years, she said everyone she worked on was able to sleep better when they listened to their tones faithfully. We can provide frequency eqivalents for things like progesterone and the precursers to make whatever progesterone you may be taking may be better utilized.

    The way I use a mp3 player is I got a speaker/recharger that goes with my Sony walkman, and can turn on one album. When the ablum is done, the sound stops. So I can fall asleep in the middle of it and it will play on.

    There are still meditation audio cassettes available on Ebay that sell for cheap. I understand from what some people say who have studied sound is thatanalog sound, ie audio cassette tapes, help the body heal better than digital music.

  4. If there is active interest on this blog in using audio books, i will add details of my ongoing experiment to improve techniques. I stumbled on this by accident as a way to turn my mind off its racig thoughts. Used to be awake 1-2 hours in middle of night even with ambien or cloazapan. Now awake 1-5 minutes without medication
    Experimenting with different headsets, different players, different book formats for finding my place when i want to resume listening. For those who suffer from a racing mind, this might be incredible.

  5. Am reading the book and find it the best source of info on insomnia I’ve read. For the past two years I used a dream machine by Sony for books on CD to help me sleep. Can be set for 10,20,30,60 or 90 minutes and then gets softer and softer voice level till you hear nothing and it shuts off. It helps me go to sleep and to go back to sleep. Lucky for me it doesn’t bother my husband at all.

    It makes me feel better just to realize I am not alone with sleep issues. I have never been a good sleeper!

  6. I have just read and reread the book Insomniac, and find it incredibly helpful and yes, we’ve been waiting for it!
    I came onto the website hoping for a current discussion on the topics in the book, and see a few on this thread, but it would help greatly if people were more specific. For example, Gayle, you mention that someone had great success with your recipe on p.290, but that recipe is not really given, just the ingredients, either by you or by the someone who had the success. Would love to hear more on this – with a recipe that will work. Also, someone mentions SleepEraser but when I googled that, I got an espresso shop. Links, company names, specifics are what make this helpful for us all.
    Another thought, after using ambien for 7 years (started during chemotherapy), I have decided to go off it and have had great success with melatonin, which years ago didn’t work for me at all. (I have mostly difficulty getting to sleep, rather than staying asleep – though I have been taking a second m. when I wake at 5.30 in the morning – rather than waiting to see if I’ll need it.

  7. btw, that was 3 mg melatonin (remembering to be specific) One other thought, I do find that meditation helps sometimes. that is, actually trying to keep the concentration on the breath or on relaxing body parts can be one of those contraries (I forget the term for them) where you’re trying NOT to sleep, and so do fall asleep.

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