Biohacking has been an interest of mine for a long time. I have been experimenting with lucid dreaming, cold showers, intermittent fasting, various exercise regimes, no-carb diets and many more. Hacking sleep has been a subject of curiosity for a long time.
Falling asleep has been very difficult. The biggest problem for me was to get thoughts of work out of my head. I'd find myself literally at any time of the night wide awake trying to mind-muscle through problems. As you can imagine, that's not conducive to good sleep.
I tried counting sheep; I tried visualizing a digital clock counting down from 100; I tried taking 10mg of melatonin… Now that works very well, by the way, but the problem is that you become addicted, and I even started noticing that it affected my mood. I tried everything until one day I stumbled on something truly awesome while reading my favourite website QZ.com.
What I discovered was an app called MySleepButton. You can download it for iOS here. It centers on an idea called Cognitive Shuffling. Instead of going straight from your daily routine where your poor brain is required to make rational decisions to keep you alive into an attempt at sleep, Cognitive Shuffling eases your brain into a comfort zone where it can relax.
The app reads random phrases that you need to visualize. "A conductor in front of an orchestra... Feeling happy about a past accomplishment... Pealing an apple... Riding a bus", says the app. The challenge here is to switch to the next visual when you are told to and not attempt to connect the images together. Try to make your visualizations as immersive as possible. Really try to feel like you are on a bus. Keep visualizing images or scenes for 10-15 seconds, then move on. You will find yourself in micro dreams within minutes.
When you embrace the concept, you don't have to use the app every day. If you want to break outside the app's boundaries and think of some really weird stuff, just let your brain loose! For some reason, I always visualize a wizard that's giving me a lift in a car. Then I move onto thinking about dolphins... and then I am asleep.
It's a crazy effective technique that helped me hack my way into a deep sleep from the moment my head touches the pillow.
Try it tonight (with the app or without) and let me know if it works for you too!
I have no affiliation with any products mentioned in this post.
Image by Mike Mitchell.