Fall Asleep Faster With Cognitive Mixing

Who among us has not experienced a restless night (after night after night) of sleep? When you cannot sleep, all you can think about is how you cannot sleep. You might even be constantly counting how much sleep you will get if only you could fall asleep right now . Or now. While we know that this kind of thinking prevents us from making our dream dreams a reality, how can we prevent it? According to one cognitive scientist, the answer may be a trick he calls “cognitive shuffling.”

Luc Beaudoin of Simon Fraser University has developed a method ( and app ) to help adults simulate children falling asleep. Here’s what Beaudoin writes on his website:

Adults live in a very “left-brain” world, dominated by language and thinking. Small children, on the other hand, spend a lot of time imagining and playing. Of course, adults watch a lot of images – videos, TV shows, movies, photos, and logos. But they tend to do it passively and usually with a lot of chatter (voice or not).

Sleep researchers have found that people often experience visual imagery and microsleep while falling asleep. The various images that people imagine can help them fall asleep.

In contrast, continuing verbal, analytical thinking in a problem-solving mode can delay the onset of sleep.

In other words, we need to think less and imagine more . Don’t imagine, however, a bunch of jumping sheep – this shit is boring and will make your mind go back to why, in the first place, you have so many trouble falling asleep. Instead, you need to allow your brain to wander through many random images – in fact, you need to create several “micromines” for yourself, and this is where the Baudouin method comes to the rescue .

How to use cognitive shuffle to fall asleep quickly

1. Go to bed and be ready for bed.

2. Think of an arbitrary emotionally neutral word of at least five letters. Baudouin offers “bedtime” as an example. Others can be “laptop”, “peach”, “movie” or “light bulb”. (Try choosing a word that doesn’t have too many repeating letters, such as banana.)

3. Slowly say the main word in your mind, and then, starting with the first letter, come up with another word that also begins with that letter. Imagine the subject represented by that word – if your main word is peach, you will start with words that begin with the letter p, such as puzzle, pig, or pizza. Imagine each item in turn, lingering on it long enough to create a clear picture in your mind, before letting go and moving on to the next “p.”

4. Repeat this as many times as you can for each letter. As soon as you run out of the words “p” (or you get bored with the “p”), move on to the next letter, which – in our example – will be “e”. Now you will imagine an Easter egg, an eagle, and an eggplant.

If you find it difficult to come up with the words “e”, skip them and move on to the next letter. Likewise, if you choose a word that you cannot easily imagine, drop it and move on to another. You can also imagine different versions of the same word. For example, if you imagine “bread,” you can imagine a loaf of soft white sandwich bread, then some crispy French bread, and then your favorite homemade sourdough. If you get to the end of the main word without falling asleep, start over with a new main word.

While this tactic is worth trying, Beaudoin says it has its limitations . It will not work under the following conditions:

  • You are too tired to come up with words, but not sleepy enough to fall asleep. (For example, when you wake up in the middle of the night.)
  • You don’t like to consciously think when you are trying to sleep.
  • You find it difficult to find words that begin with a given letter, despite practice.
  • You find spelling tiresome.

But if the conditions are right and you just find it difficult to follow the practice, you can also download the free MySleepButton app from Beaudoin for iOS or Android . Think of this as guided meditation in your sleep rather than meditation in silence – it can be helpful to start with the guided version until you learn how to practice on your own. Hope you have sweet dreams.


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