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Philip H. Mandel - NLP Coach and Hypnotherapist

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Count Yourself to Sleep

Did you know that you can count yourself to sleep? No, not by counting sheep (although if that works for you, stay with it!). Here's the plan:

If you're in bed and haven't been able to fall asleep for a while, start counting backwards from 100. Do it slowly, about once a second, 100 . . . 99 . . . 98 . . . and so on. Take your time.

The trick is this: If you get lost or forget what number you're on, you need to start over again from 100. Every time you get lost, gently start over. Don't allow yourself to become frustrated, just be gentle with yourself and start back over from 100. Yes, even if you're all the way down to 6 . . . 5 . . . 4 . . . and your mind wanders, start again from 100.

Why does this work? For one, it takes a reasonable amount of concentration to count backwards and do it slowly, much more than counting forwards. This will help keep your mind from thinking other thoughts, and isn't it those other thoughts . . . the "radio station" in your mind . . . that's keeping you awake? Doing something that takes a little mental concentration (the word "little" is important here) should help calm your mind.

For another, it's monotonous and therefore mildly hypnotic. Since your goal is to become unconscious (otherwise known as "asleep"), this little bit of self-hypnosis can help. Note that it's not hypnosis in the usual sense, such as "you are getting sleepy". Rather, you're just doing something monotonous with your mind that will have the effect of making you sleepy.

When I have trouble falling asleep and use this simple exercise, I am almost always asleep before successfully counting down to zero the first time. If I happen to make it all the way to zero without losing my place, I start over at 100 again. I will almost always be asleep before I make it to zero the second time. If not, I just start over and do it again.

Want to make this process even deeper? Do this: Visualize each number while you do the backwards-counting in your mind. Imagine the number "100" somehow appears in your mind's eye while you hear "one hundred" in your mind's ear. Then, imagine the number "99" somehow appears in your mind's eye while you hear "ninety-nine" in your mind's ear. Keep doing this for each number until you either fall asleep, get lost and start over at 100, or get all the way to zero and start over at 100. This will engage both your visual system in addition to your auditory system, making the process that much more self-hypnotic.

I hope this helps! Let me know how it works for you. I'm grateful to Mike Dennis, president and founder of Oregon Aero, Inc, for this little trick. Oregon Aero makes wonderful comfort products for aircraft, other motor vehicles and home use. Check them out at www.oregonaero.com.

Sweet dreams!

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