Mind games for the sleepless II

Am in the process of attempting a number of changes to my life-philosophy (make a grandiose statement like that & you’re tempting fate, but we’ll ignore that for the moment, and you will see very soon why am asking you to do just that). One of them is to try to be more positive. I realized from Swami‘s comment that perhaps tweaking my approach to the list I started yesterday was called for. Instead of feeling bad about methods that clearly don’t work, why not rebrand it (a la ‘global struggle against violent extremism’) to ‘What NOT to do if you’re trying to fall asleep’. So, here goes (the first two are Swami’s contributions):


1. Counting sheep (being unable to count above 400, this is a little challenging for me personally)
2. Matching letters of the English Alphabet with names of cities and/or countries (haven’t ever tried this, but see the possibilities)
3. Thinking about what you did that day / two days ago / 5 years ago / 25 years ago
4. Thinking about what you should have done yesterday, etc.
5. Thinking about what you want to do tomorrow / two days from now / 5 years from now / 25 years from now
6. Thinking about what you HAVE to do tomorrow, etc.
7. Making top 5 lists of any sort (‘all time favorite’ lists start off innocently enough – top 5 books or movies are the usual culprits. This can rapidly degenerate into top 5 books featuring English Butlers, or planes crashing in the desert, or the character (fictitious, but of course!) you wish the most was in bed with you at the moment (it’s all downhill from there))
8. Making bottom 5 lists of any kind (the worst 5 Tamil movies, Hindi copies of Hollywood movies, the worst 5 road trips you’ve ever been on, the 5 biggest regrets of your life till date (this one is particularly disheartening, as you’ll find you that you have more regrets competing for the top spots than Indians trying to get accepted into an IIT or IIM))
9. How much you hate your boss (anger never solved anything, & this holds for insomnia, too)
10. And the absolute WORST thing you can do when you’re trying to fall asleep – playing ‘Six Degrees of Separation’. If you don’t know this game, you still have a chance. Save your soul, and close this browser window, NOW! If you like living dangerously, here’s how the game is played: Pick an actor, any actor. Pick another actor, and try to connect them within 6 mov(i)es. Kevin Bacon is the worst. You can connect Mr. Bacon with practically EVERY actor on this planet (alive & dead) in 6 moves, including Tamil ones. Trust me, I’ve tried this. This is a game that looks like fun, and it is, at first. I got hooked to this after some one mentioned it in an episode of Seinfeld, I think. I was so happy in the early days – proud of my knowledge of Hollywood movies, intrigued by the twists and turns, challenging myself with more difficult connects at each try… After a week, I started to wander around in a haze, my hair in wild disarray, eyes red, mumbling movie names to myself, expressions varying within the limited range of i-know-this, gotcha!, and damn-damn-damn! It took me weeks of self-administered therapy to snap out of this. But even now, I dare not think of this, as I know that the monster will sieze me again. When I read my first Harry Potter, I felt an immediate kinship with the people from the wizarding world, all fearing “he who must not be named”. I knew how they felt like, having lived for years in the shadow of the “game that must not be named”. (Tonight am a goner.)

So, there you have it folks. My list of the worst cures for insomnia. I am positive that I’ve missed out vital, equally unpromising methods. I would love to hear from Manoj, a self-proclaimed insomniac. I am confident that there are experimental would-be-cures that are really anti-cures being attempted in all corners of the world even as I type . And that’s the most consoling thought I’ve been able to come up with on this rather painful subject. I may be awake, but there is definitely at least one other person in this world, who’s also twisting & turning. No, that would be the second most consoling thought. The winner – I may be re-examining my life at 4 AM. But at least, I’m in bed. The poor slobs in Europe are already at work, and poorer slobs in Tokyo or Australia are preparing for yet another sleepless night.


6 comments so far

  1. Karthik on

    Have you tried reading the Economist? My wife tells me it puts her to sleep all time. Me, I just think of work.

  2. DoZ on

    I subscribe to the Economist. No chance in hell of it working as a soporific. Perhaps I should try Elle, or Vogue – all pictures, no words…

  3. swami on

    Ah, the Economist and a soporific? No way. The Economist has been my bed-time reading for 4 years now. Never once has it lulled me to sleep. Even the highly complex articles about monetary policy fail – Au contraire they just make you feel like a dunce and drives sleep away.

  4. DoZ on

    Back in the days, ‘The World This Week’ used to work wonders for my mom. Agree with Swami about the Economist. One aunt used to read her text books even after exams – this time to go to sleep. Worked for her, apparently. Moi, they’ll probably remind me of everything I should have written in the exam, but didn’t… There’s no hope for some folks. A colleague recommended deep breathing today. Am going to try that tonight. Fingers crossed.

  5. swami on

    Deep breathing – I used to try that. It really helps in managing tachycardia and even arrhythmia but not for my insomnia.

    Good luck 🙂

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