Roy Schestowitz

Quick Sleep Advice

This page is isolated from any specific section of this site. I decided to write it because I found myself giving friends advice on sleep based on my experience. I once turned to the Web for answers and one page that I liked was Lucas Pereira's Sleep Page which is tactfully sarcastic.

My main difficulty in sleeping was not due to a noisy environment (and campus life tends to very lively at night). I solved that problem in my earlier years by getting earplugs and it has been years since I last lived near the University campus. My main problem, which did not bother just me, as it turns out, but also still bothers most people, is that of falling asleep within a couple of minutes.

Everybody knows the ridiculous 'counting sheep' advice and chooses to discard it completely by the age of 5. However, while the idea sounds preposterous, therein lies the key to fast sleep (by which I mean, sleep that starts quickly after getting into bed). Dull, senseless thoughts lead to sleepiness, just as conversely hard problems in life prevent one from a good night's sleep. The question is then: how can dull thought be found and maintained in the brain for a sufficiently long period of time? It sounds easy, but usually it is not.

By the end of the day, most people have carried some emotional baggage and they often need to plan within their minds what needs to be done tomorrow. Not only feelings of distress and worries hinder a quick sleep, but also good ones that get the ego started. All of these thoughts must be suppressed. Since some of these are important, they need to be written down beforehand. The solace that mental work can resume the following day, in accordance with the notes taken, is enough to assure good sleep, not just a quick one.

It is equally important that no exercise is performed before bed-time and that the heartbeat rate is low. To most this is obvious, but still worth mentioning. When finally lying down in bed, the mind needs to be driven by its own. The only thing to focus on is that the mind must not diverge from its natural, however strange, trail of thoughts. Visual thoughts (i.e. ones that have no verbal component and possibly no people) seem to work best for myself.

I think of the process of falling asleep as one that has phases. The first phase is that when I lie down feeling no sleepiness whatsoever. After a few minutes of meaningless thoughts, I begin to realise that I actually feel quite tired -- tired enough that I wouldn't care to get up and off bed. Only a short while later, it appears that sleep is nearly reached. I feel only conscious enough to know that I am still awake. The next phase is sleep, and it seems to get deeper and deeper very rapidly.

The feeling I have is that although we think how different we all are, we are still the same kind. No matter how individualistic we may be, the biological and physiological rules apply to us all, to some greater or lesser extent. That why I hope my advice can help others and rob them of these hours of lying awake in bed.

This page was last modified on September 8th, 2004 Maintained by Roy Schestowitz