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Researchers say: Don't work your brain when you're trying to go to sleep

Clinical Cases and Images links today to a New York Times column you may have missed during the long President's Day weekend. It discusses a 2002 study showing that, contrary to popular belief, counting sleep is not actually an effective way to get to sleep:

What [the researchers] found was that subjects took slightly longer to fall asleep on nights they were instructed to distract themselves by counting sheep or were given no instructions at all. But when they were told to imagine a relaxing scene - a beach, for example - they fell asleep an average of 20 minutes sooner than they did on other nights.

I wasn't terribly surprised to hear this, especially after a recent conversation with Stanford sleep researcher Allison Siebern, PhD, who told me it's not a good idea to give your brain tasks (counting, math problems, etc.) when trying to sleep. She said the focus should be on relaxing and quiet things - an assertion that is backed up by these study findings.

For more on insomnia, this podcast interview with Siebern may be of interest.

Photo by Pedrosimoes7

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