When I can’t sleep

by phoxis

I do not fall in the group of those people who fall asleep almost as soon as they get into their bed. I require some time to fall asleep, most of the time. There are some night when I require a lot of time, hours, to fall asleep. I try to sleep by using different tricks and techniques both well known and self-developed. Here are some of them.


There are various counting tricks which can be used. Here are some of the most common ones I use.

Counting Sheep

This is a well known technique, which I came to know about from my mother (possibly).

Counting Numbers

A good idea, and works a lot of time, but its difficult. Count from 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, ….., 87, 88, ….. uh! Where was I? Possibly I missed upto 93, okay 95, 96, 97, …, 173, 174, … , …. . Damn!! Lost track again. Restart 1, 2, 3, …. . The maximum I have counted was over 16000 (16k), difficult!

Counting Heartbeat or Pulse

I keep my hand on my chest where the heart is, and count,or press against the artery in my hand and count pulses. I did not find it much useful, most annoying is at the point when the heartbeat rates change, which makes me more conscious.

Count the Clock Tick

I have a clock on the table. Sometimes counting the clock ticks along with tapping a finger extremely lightly helps. Another variant of this method is simply follow the clock ticks and not count the number of ticks, just tap a finger or simple follow the ticks. Not counting the ticks will avoid the the problem of loosing track of the count. This is a good method till now, the clock tick works like a base line. But, there is a negative side. If I fail to fall asleep, sometimes the ticking sound gets on my nerves and sounds like hammers, and spoil everything.

Synchronize Breathing with the Clock Ticks

This one is a similar but a bit different, as it requires kind of micro-workout: breathing. May be inhale in 2 ticks, and exhale in 2 ticks, or inhale in 2 ticks, and exhale in 4 ticks. This is dynamic. This method also works well for me.

Listen to Music

It is difficult to tell if listening to music work or not, some time it does work, and sometimes the song lyrics, or the music tune goes inside the mind on and on and on and on, and I can’t get it out of my mind, and Argghhhh!! There was a time when if fell asleep after listening to music it almost always resulted in sleep paralysis, a horrifying experience. Whatever taking a dose of a short playlist depending on mood, relaxes the mind and does help falling asleep.

Try to Hold Breath as Long as Possible

Kind of exercise, and fun, but it worked for a lot of time. After doing this 3, 4 times, it becomes easier to fall asleep. I don’t know if it is unhealthy to do this at the time of sleep (may be increase the level of carbon-di-oxide in the blood). Sometimes I even time it (with a stopwatch in the phone, max 128 secs), although it’s just for fun. So far this is a good method, but I don’t feel to apply this method every time, needs hard-work.

Keep Eyes Open as Long as Possible

I stare to the window in front of me and keep staring, slowly the view angle starts to narrow down, and everything except what is straight ahead starts to become dark, and at a point of time I can only see what is exactly in front and nothing else. Sometimes, it does work.

Thinking of Sitting in a Park or a Coffee Shop or Elsewhere

I am sitting in a park, the weather is sunny, a road runs down within around 50 meters in front of me, cars driving past, buildings on the opposite of the road, birds flying, hopping around, people walking, chatting, sitting down, dogs, cats playing, etc.  I sit down and enjoy the park and everything. Sometimes I also visit a road side coffee shop, not too many people are around, violin playing (muted), and I am drinking coffee. Sometimes I even go for a space travel. There is a special place which I visit. A white surface which has grids drawn on it, and everything around is also white which some regular markings for reference. The surface expands infinitely all around, where I run or walk around. It’s funny, but interesting.

Trying to Fall Asleep or Not to Fall Asleep

Kind of “I HAVE to sleep right now” or “I won’t sleep tonight” type of forcing, doesn’t work, never did work. The mind keeps so much focused, that it is impossible to fall asleep.

Imagine a Candle Flame

A dark background, a white candle, and a flame. The flame changes it pattern, and I follow it. Here also, too much focus does not work.

Drinking Water and/or Washing Arms and Legs

Get up, drink water and get back to sleep, or apply some water on arms and legs, dry them up and get back.

Try Different Sleeping Positions

Sleeping like an Egyptian mummy, a piece of plank, coiled up like a dog, spread up all around the bed, different configurations of the pillows. Sometime it works, sometime you keep on changing positions.

Play Snake (and others) and Try to Beat the Last Highscore

This is a real good one. After trying for 3 ~ 5 games I die too close to the highscore or with low score and sleep out of disappointment, or if I am able to cross the last highscore, then noting better than it, I have a very happy sleep. Although not always, but works fine for me. I should tell I play the classic Nokia 1100 phone snake, and the current highscore is 2019 in max level (9). This summer one night I broke the last record of a score around 1800. The feeling was heavenly. I have some other games installed in my iPod. Apple does not give any games (1 or 2). I have installed some other operating system in the iPod which has a lot of small applications and games, including bubbles, bricks, and helicopter within the most addictive ones, which I played before going to sleep. The focus that is required for these games to achieve high scores drain out a energy.


Do you have any better idea to try out?