Learn about the groundbreaking new method that has helped ONE PERSON overcome sleep-onset insomnia!
Sleep is a fascinating topic for geeks like me. It turns out that scientists don’t have a satisfactory answer to the first question about sleep: why do we need to do it? It is very clear that we do need to sleep, as all sorts of bad things happen when sleep is disrupted, but its ultimate physiologic purpose remains a mystery.
During my residency I developed an effective way to shut off my mind and go to sleep when I was on overnight call assignments in the hospital. Those were sometimes incredibly stressful nights, and opportunities to sleep were precious and fleeting. There was no time to waste with insomnia. You never knew when that pager was going to go off, so you had to get your sleep while the getting was good.
Please note that this method has not been studied in clinical trials, and that I cannot guarantee its success in your particular situation (and that this post does not constitute medical advice, etc.). But it worked well in the crucible of my residency call nights, and I still apply it with good results today. Consider this post as a personal testimonial.
In order to use this method you will first need to commit to memory the 13 Articles of Faith. If that sounds like a hard thing to do, just think of how likely you are to fall asleep while trying to memorize them! They have been set to music, which makes them easier to memorize. Once you know them word for word you are ready to begin.
Here is the method: empty your bladder, turn out the lights, pull the shades, and get into a comfortable position in bed. Then recite the 13 Articles of Faith in order from memory. Nine times out of ten I am asleep before I get to 13. If not, then I work through variations such as these:
- Forward order
- Reverse order
- Recite even numbers, then odd
- Recite all of the prime numbered Articles, then go back and pick up the others.
- Change from the first person plural form (“We believe”) to the first person singular form (“I believe”)
- Recite all of the Articles which pertain to our belief in modern revelation
It’s easy to make up your own variations, and you can get as geeky as you want with the math games (try reciting the Fibonacci numbered Articles, for instance). Also notice that this method will work just as well with the Ten Commandments, the Bill of Rights, or any other sequential list of creedal statements you happen to have memorized. The key is to recite something which is meaningful to you, because the routine is otherwise insufferable.
The Articles of Faith mean a lot to me. I memorized them when I was about ten years old and have been able to recite them ever since. They are not comprehensive of everything Latter-day Saints believe, but they cover a lot of important doctrine with impressively concise and clear language. Reciting them fills me with gratitude and faith.
How does the method work? It is really just counting sheep on steroids. (One muscly sheep, two muscly sheep, …) The idea is to focus your mind on a task to keep it from wandering from subject to subject like Brownian motion. This is related to the “relaxation response” technique, where patients are taught to allow relaxation to spread through their body while focusing thoughts away from everyday concerns to a mental focusing device, usually a peaceful image or word. The Articles of Faith method is really just an elaborate mental focusing device for those of us who get bored after a minute of thinking about some peaceful image or word. I don’t even bother to intentionally or consciously relax anything. Peaceful music also helps me (my favorite album on call nights was Yo-Yo Ma Plays Bach), but your mileage may vary. My wife reads Isaiah when she can’t sleep.
There are many approaches to the management of insomnia, ranging from behavioral interventions to pharmacologic therapies. Readers who have chronic insomnia are encouraged to work on their sleep hygiene and consult with a sleep specialist.
Sleep well, and be believing!