Tuesday, November 14, 2006

How Do You Sleep at Night?

I often have a hard time falling asleep in bed (I have mastered falling asleep on the couch in front of incredibly trashy TV programs about midgets and playboy bunnies.). Lying in bed leads to thinking and thinking leads to obsessing and obsessing leads to being up awake at 2am. So I often play mind games with myself in an effort to get to sleep more quickly.

The ABC game is the sleeping pill I employ most often. The game is a variation on a drinking game that I used to play as a child. (Yes, as a child, when, on camping trips, friends and I used to play drinking games using spicy V8 – a punishment much more evil than alcohol.) The game is quite simple: you pick a theme and work through the alphabet thinking of items within the theme. The key is to pick a theme that is easy enough that you can think of an item for each letter fairly quickly but difficult enough to require your mind’s complete attention. Since I’m my only judge for this game I have to enforce some pretty strict rules (ah yes, because where would my life be if I didn’t enforce a million rules upon myself everyday even when I’m lying in bed?). I only have about 3 seconds to think of an answer and the answer has to fit the category without any qualifiers – if the theme is color “light blue” cannot be counted for L. If I can’t think of an item I score one point – the idea is to get to Z with as few points as possible.

After years of playing this game every night before bed I’m fast running out of themes. I’ve done colors, types of liquor, types of flowers, capital cities, types of cars, clothing designers, fruits, etc… You would be wise to never challenge me to a game of Scattergories.

Rather that think about how this need to lull myself to sleep may be a reflection on my mental state I’d really like to find a good replacement for the ABC game. I occasionally play a different game where I try to make myself name all of the people on of my high school classes, ideally in the proper desk order. This is less fun, I only remember the order for a few classes and the names are ridiculously easy since I spent 12 year in school with most of the same people. Sometimes I try to make words out of the letter in a phrase but it’s too difficult to keep the letters straight without a piece of paper. I’ve also tried the game where you name a title (of a song, movie, book, etc) and then the second title must start with the last word in the first title and the third title with the last word in the second and so on. I find that thinking of titles requires me to think just hard enough that I cannot fall asleep. And so I have more and more nights where I quickly traverse the alphabet in vegetables/birds/mountain ranges and (having mastered the category) am still left lying awake with my thoughts.

I’d love to be the type of person who could meditate but clearing my mind of thoughts is like trying to scrape all of the gum from New York City sidewalks. Tricking myself into sleep has been pretty reliable even if it never results in a feeling of transcendence -- I’d probably take a good wet dream over transcendence anyway.


amy said...

brianna brianna brianna....
sometimes I forget how quirky you are. Thankfully I have this blog to remind me.

I have a feeling keeping score would make me "think too much." I often do meditative things like focusing on my body (position of muscles, tension held, weight of fabrics) and trying to visualized myself falling asleep, one "zone" of my body at a time. Which I suppose is quirky enough in itself.

I never have much success in the "clearing your mind" kind of mediation, but I'm not too shabby with the "acknowleging thoughts and letting them go" thing, though I have a lot to acknowledge.

Anonymous said...

am too embarassed to write it down, but i will giggle with you in person about it... whatcha doin' this friday? or sunday?

would invite you around before then, but i've got a cold and am unsure how long it will last or how muchenergy it will sap...