300…297…294… A New Spin on Counting Sheep

Posted by Maria on January 11, 2010 under Homespunspa, Pop-Psychology, Sleep, Stress Management and Relaxation, TV Shows & Movies, Uncategorized, Yoga | Read the First Comment

by Maria Koropecky, Homespunspa owner

Last week, I caught a few minutes of the Dr. Oz show and he was talking about insomnia, one of my favourite topics. As you may already know, Homespunspa is all about sharing information on how to relax, take care of yourself and get a good night’s sleep and I thought I’d tuck in a tip I learned from the Doc into my blog today.

The segment on the show covered many aspects of insomnia including the definition, possible causes and consequences of sleep deprivation. If you are interested, go to Dr. Oz’s website and get the rundown on the discussion here: http://www.doctoroz.com/videos/secrets-behind-your-insomnia.

One tip I learned and have tried in the last couple of nights myself with some success (which isn’t specifically mentioned in the above article) involves counting backwards from 300. The guest Doctor, whose name I didn’t record unfortunately, who said he uses this technique himself, put a new spin on the old counting sheep advice. He said to count backwards from 300 in three’s. Picture three sheep walking away from the herd at a time.

He said a lot of people who have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep often say they just can’t turn their mind off. They feverishly and anxiously replay the problems and events of the day, and can’t seem to turn off the switch. Counting backwards in three’s acts as a distraction and takes your focus off of your unsettling thoughts but keeps your mind busy.

These are the numbers you should hit along your countdown but if you make a mistake, who cares. I ended up at negative one the first time I tried.

Countdown from 300 to Zero in three's.

Countdown from 300 to zero in three's.

Counting down is relaxing. (Counting up, on the other hand, is energizing). Have your ever wondered why anesthesiologists ask you to count backwards from 100 when you are about to go under for surgery? It’s common practice because it lets them know if the anesthetics are starting to work and because it helps you relax and get into deeper, more restful brain waves.

On occasion in my yoga class, the instructor had us count each full breath backwards from 25 (for example, 25, breathe in and out, 24, breathe in and out etc., etc.,) and if we lost our place, we were supposed to start from 25 again till we got all the way to zero. You’d be astonished to hear how often that happens. He also joked that if we fell asleep during this meditative breathing exercise, that was a good thing because we probably really needed the rest. I’ve heard snoring more than once!

So next time you find yourself tossing and turning in bed with no relief in sight and the clock is ticking toward sunrise, try counting backwards and let me know the next day how it goes. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

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