Attention Training

How to think fast, find your focus, and sharpen your concentration.

Self-Help For Insomnia Can Be as Near as Your Cellphone

Plan ahead for a natural, feel-good prescription.

Sometimes your anxieties can gnaw at you like a pebble in your shoe. Then the next thing you know they are keeping you awake at night. Some people try to turn their mind off with a little wine. Others will watch television or read a book until they tire and hopefully fall asleep. This can sometimes work for many individuals.

Others, however, have a more difficult time and can sometimes experience bouts of sleepless nights. Then there are those for whom getting to sleep isn’t necessarily the issue. Their problem is staying asleep the whole night. These individuals wake up unfailingly almost the same time every night. Sometimes it’s to go to the bathroom or to get a drink of water and then—they can’t get back to sleep.

Someone I know goes through periods of waking up around the same time every night. Then instead of falling back to sleep, she starts ruminating about work or relationships or other issues. Most of the time, she says she just gives up trying to go back to sleep and winds up checking her email or twitter account or surfing the Internet. After a couple of hours of that, she finally gets to sleep for only an hour or two before her alarm starts screaming at her. She says that after a night like that she winds up dragging herself to work exhausted.

One possible (natural) solution to insomnia is to put together a musical playlist that will work on your mind and body like your own personal lullaby. Either instrumental and/or vocal music will work. If you use songs with lyrics just make sure that they are sending you the right message to soothe your anxieties. There are lots of songs that have this effect on people everywhere. The idea is to find one that works for you.

Consider the Following

Another individual I know, struggled with insomnia for several years. Not so long ago, he tried using music to relieve his nighttime anxieties. He loaded up his cellphone with several songs he thought might calm him down because he already knew they relaxed him in other situations. Yet, not all the songs worked. The one that finally hit the mark best for him was a song titled, Reflection Eternal, by Nujabes. As he reported it, he would lay back in bed, close his eyes, and play his calming song for about 12 minutes each night (or a little more if necessary), before turning off the lights and going to sleep. As the days went by, he started feeling better and better and getting much more satisfying sleep. After about three months, he started using the song randomly, “I don’t need it all the time,” he said. “It’s like my mind starts playing it all on its own. Next thing you know I’m out.”

You can use the mind’s attachment to musical frequencies of comfort, safety, and love. In this way music can work wonders for children too. Slow musical compositions experienced during their infancy work very well. Sometimes it is fun to play your child a myriad of songs from this time-frame and let her pick out a playlist. The mind-body influences of a certain piece can bring calm and fast sleep that usually lasts all night. If your child does wake up, the tune can usher her back into dreamland just as quickly and lovingly. Often times, a “shared” musical experience – when positive – can be used by all who experienced it. So your child’s lullaby can also work for you.

Make Your Own Personal Lullabies Now

Why wait for insomnia to come. Discover your own personal lullabies and load them on your cellphone or iPod today. It’s fun, easy, and effective. Don’t forget about natural sounds. You can find everything from moving water sounds to campfire sounds on iTunes or other venues. Or you can try recording your own. Remember what works for someone else may not work for you. What’s important is that you like the song – and the more you like it, the better it works. Train your brain like you do your muscles with a lot of reps and regularly.

Enjoy and sleep well.

PLAYLIST TIP: Songs of fewer than 100 BPM (beats per minute) can work well. The lower the song’s BPM the better. So for example, Nora Jones’ You Turn Me On has 59 beats per minute (BPM). But remember the song has to be one “you” like – and the more you like it, the greater its effect.

Strive for:

1. Songs that you already know have a calming effect on you.

2. Songs you like a lot.

3. Songs with BPM under 100.

4. Instrumentals are good.

5. Vocal songs are good too. Be sure the lyrics send the right message.

6. Songs from childhood can be great, songs you sang with your mom or your mom sang to you, ones that carry memories of safety and warm coziness.

7. Songs that calmed mom down before you were born.

Use other parts of the mind when listening.

1. Try visualizations. Create a comforting interpersonal image or environmental image in your mind as you listen or make a mental movie as you listen.

2. Use color. Visualize the color green as you listen or image a natural environmental setting with luscious greens. Then, view it as though you are looking through a green lens. Relax, slow and deepen your breathing, breathe the entire image in. Feel its calming energy throughout your mind and body.

Sometimes playing white noise (you can actually purchase this online) for a while before your playlist will help shut your mind off. You can also shift out of a detrimental mindset by using a slideshow of a time and place where your mind felt perfectly free, happy, and relaxed. Then, put on your insomnia soothing playlist.

Remember using recordings of nature’s relaxing sounds will work too: wind or rain, sounds of a campfire, waterfall, or ocean waves are all favorites. In fact, you can do a search for ocean wave sounds and find YouTube plays that are perfect.

If you plan ahead you can have a natural, feel-good prescription ready made for yourself whenever you need it. Just push play and repeat.

 

Sample Insomnia Soothing Playlist

Reflection Eternal, Nujabes

Pachelbel’s Cannon in D, Pachelbel

You turn Me On, Nora Jones

In My Life,The Beatles

Eine Kleine Nachtmusik, Mozart

Every Breath You Take, The Police

Ocean Waves

Can Be Good For Any Age: Almost anything by Mia Jang (Sweet Dreams Collection)

Note: For an exploration of the theme of seasonal insomnia as well as other seasonal mind-body-spirit concerns and concepts, you may wish to check out my newest book, The Five Seasons:  Tap Into Nature’s Secrets For Health, Happiness, and Harmony.

 

Joseph Cardillo, Ph.D., is the author of Can I Have Your Attention? How to Think Fast, Find Your Focus, and Sharpen Your Concentration.

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