Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Falling Asleep Games

As a child, I suffered a bit from insomnia. I wasn't very good at sleeping. My little mind was always active, I was scared of the dark, I had a good imagination...whatever. For some reason or other, I just wasn't good at falling asleep.

These days, being an exhausted (and possibly exhausting) adult, I usually don't have any trouble sleeping anymore. But once in a while, there's a time when I just can't sleep. And being the clever and resourceful fellow I am, I began to think of ways I could put myself to sleep when sleep didn't arrive in a timely manner on its own. I began to think of these as my "Falling Asleep Games". In other words, games you can play by yourself to help make yourself fall asleep. Counting Sheep is probably the best known Falling Asleep Game, but as you'll see in the next few examples, I've taken the concept to the next level...

The Story Game
In his memoir, "On Writing" Stephen King (who suffers from insomnia - big surprise there) described what is probably one of the best and simplest Falling Asleep Games: the story game. This one is pretty obvious: you think of an idea for a story in your head, and then you start writing it, in your head. Flesh out as much of the plot as you can, lay it down, word for word, until you fall asleep. The next night, pick it up again where you left off the night before. I suppose the best thing about this game is, the worse you are at sleeping, the more "writing" you can get done. No wonder King is so prolific...

The Mental Arithmetic Game
In order for Falling Asleep Games to work, at least for me, they have to be mentally taxing, but not overly interesting. I think the best games are those that take quite a bit of mental energy, but aren't so stimulating as to keep your mind energized, and therefore, awake. The Mental Arithmetic Game is probably the best example of this. Again, the idea is pretty simple: You think of a math problem, and then try to solve it in your head. To add to the tedium, I use a sequential series of problems (i.e. a multiplication table). The highest multiplication table I have memorized (keep in mind, I'm not so great at math) is 12. So, I might start with a problem like 13x12 and try to solve it in my head. Then I'll try to do 13x13, and 13x14, and so on. I hate trying to do math in my head, so I find the process exhausting. And the mental exhaustion puts me to sleep.

The Disappearing Game
This is one of the more fun and more interesting Falling Asleep Games that I've thought of. For that reason, it might not be the best way of putting yourself to sleep, depending on how you play it. But the idea is this: You try to imagine what would happen if you suddenly disappeared one day. And you try to imagine it in as much detail as possible. Who would be the first person to notice? What things in your life would start to deteriorate after your disappearance? What would happen to all of your possessions, pets, home, etc? What would people say about your mysterious absence? Would they try to figure out where you went? How long would they keep looking? Remember, the idea is not to think about what happened to you (remember, you just vanished completely one day), but rather to think about the consequences of your disappearance in as much exhaustive detail as possible. Therein lies the mental exercise...and the part that will eventually put you to sleep. It's particularly tiring if you think about all of the mundane details associated with the vanishing (e.g. were you holding a pen when you vanished? Did it roll under the table? Will anyone find it and check it for fingerprints? And so on).

That's all for now, hopefully this post didn't put you to sleep. Wait, actually I hope it did.


Feez B. said...

hey its 6 am where i am and i haven't been able to sleep for the past week. i googled "games to fall asleep" and i got a bunch of rubbish about video games causing epilepsy or something, and your page. AWESOME. i am going to try these out right now. thanks so much :)
also, post more!

TheBrightGreySpot said...

That's great! Thanks for the comment. :)

ToToman said...

Same thing for me. I found your post on google because i can't get asleep. I'm gonna try these games right now. The Stephen King seems pretty fun. I'll start with this one.