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  • Writer's pictureKim

You are Getting Sleepy...If only

You turn off the lights and snuggle in bed, looking forward to restful sleep. If it would only come.

You know the feeling. Your body is tired, but your mind is bouncing all over, thinking about all you did today, all you’ll do tomorrow, your favorite song, your 5th grade science project, why you’re thinking about your 5th grade science project. Grrr!

How do you get your mind to quiet?

Here are 5 mind games to focus your thoughts on something tedious until it willingly shuts off and allows you to sleep.

1. COUNTING SHEEP. You’ve probably heard of this one or have seen the advertisement of the sheep with numbers on their wool. The idea is to picture sheep jumping over a fence one at a time and count them as they go over.

You don’t have to limit your counting to sheep. Count chairs in an imaginary classroom, flowers in an imaginary garden, anything you can imagine. If visualizing is hard for you, count your fingers and toes, but don’t stop at 20 (or 18 or 24 or 3 or whatever number of digits you have). Keep counting on to 40, 60, and so on, sensing each digit as you count it (harder with toes).

2. COUNT BACKWARDS. Instead of counting objects, count backwards, starting at 3,742. I give a silent cheer when I forget what number comes next because it means I’m getting sleepy.

You might try counting your sheep backwards if you like the imagery aspect. Or you can picture the numbers in your mind as if you’re writing them on a whiteboard.

3. ABC LISTS. Choose a category. Some of my favorite categories are people or place names, foods, flowers, cars, and animals. Begin with A and list all the items in your category that you can think of. Then move on to B. It would sound like this in your head for the category of cars: A: Alpha Romeo, Austin Healey, Aston Martin. B: BMW, Bentley, Buick.

If you’re on a letter and suddenly think of something that goes with a letter before it (for example, you’re on C and remember Acura is a car), you can just mentally toss it to the right letter. Or, to play on hard mode, make yourself start over, listing all the items you’ve already said and include the new one where it belongs.

Variation: Rainbow Lists. Instead of letters, use colors to organize the items in your category. You would list all the red things in a classroom, in a jungle, in your cupboards, etc. Then move on to orange and the other colors in the rainbow.

4. RETELL A STORY. Retell the plot of a familiar movie or book.

5. SERIAL 7s. Start with 100 and subtract 7. From that number, subtract 7. Keep going, subtracting 7 from each difference (answer). You can also do this with addition. Begin with 7 and add 7. Then add 7 and keep going. If 7 isn’t your favorite number, choose a different one. Two, 5, and 10 might not require enough mind power to keep your focus; so, choose a number that’s a little more challenging.

6. Bonus game! Teach yourself to say the alphabet backwards.

Note: If a game is too engaging and keeps you awake, save it for a long car ride instead of a sleep strategy.

Do you have a mind game that puts you to sleep?

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