Shuffle your Thoughts to Fall Asleep

It’s been a long day, you’re exhausted and can’t wait to flop into bed and drift off. But sleep evades you as your mind keeps rehashing your day, your problems and obligations.

You try deep breathing or music and it may help a bit, but your mind just won’t let you relax.

Truth is, you’re not alone. Studies have found almost 30% of the population report having trouble falling asleep or staying asleep. Thinking in analytical, problem-solving mode is what delays sleep, say researchers.

If you’re one of these people you might want to try cognitive shuffling. Even though it sounds like a new dance, it’s actually a method to calm your brain and get you that elusive shut-eye.

Developed by Canadian cognitive scientist Luc Beaudoin, cognitive shuffling is a way to scramble your thoughts as you focus on a sequence of random objects.

Basically, it gives your brain just enough to work with, but not enough to stir executive functioning.

Cognitive shuffling scrambles your thoughts so your brain can’t try to make sense of things and interrupts the processes of memory, evaluation, planning and problem solving.

It might sound complicated, but it’s quite the opposite. Give it a try tonight as you try to drift off.

1. Pick a random word of at least five letters. For example, carpet.

2. Begin with the first letter of that word and think of a word that starts with that letter. For example, crown. Now, imagine and visualize a crown.

3. Next think of another word that begins with that letter and visualize the word. Keep going until you run out of words for that letter.

4. Move on to the next letter, which would be A in our example (carpet), and think of words that begin with it and visualize them.

5. Continue at your own pace until you fall asleep. If you find yourself thinking stressful thoughts, just recognize them and return to your shuffling.