I have decided to share a little technique (trick? mental strategy?) that I have been using for years to fall asleep at night. No, this is not medical advice, and if you have chronic sleep problems see a doctor. Especially if you gasp or snore heavily, see a doctor! It could be sleep apnea, which is dangerous.
This is simply a method for falling asleep that works better than that 19th century business of counting sheep. I always wondered how that one ever entered the public consciousness to the point of gaining some sort of acceptance. It always seemed to me to be like trying to gain sleep by means of sheer tedium. What I am offering is a little different, although it still involves relaxation and mental imagery.
I am proposing that you imagine yourself walking down a path or a trail. That’s all you have to do. Don’t worry about devising the right kind of path or trail, and definitely don’t plan ahead where it is going. When I do this I imagine the trail at a normal distance from my eyes, as if I am walking along, but maybe you would choose a higher elevation. Or you could start out low and elevate your perspective as you go. Nothing wrong with a little flying in dreams, and the dream state is where we are hoping to arrive.
It wouldn’t have to be a trail, either. I have imagined circuitous city streets, and even my bed on a raft drifting down a slow river. It could be suspended on a blimp and floating along through the evening sky. The important thing seems to be the movement. You are going somewhere, just not at high speed. You’re going wherever the trail takes you.
I try not to think of anything else while I’m doing this. I just slowly make my way along. By not forcing any other thoughts into your mind except for the journey on the trail, you allow the mind to effortlessly fill in the blanks of where you are going. It may be just the trail, for a long time. Then you may notice something off to the side that warrants exploring. You may arrive somewhere. Almost certainly you will soon be fast asleep.
I believe the slow, gentle, mental travel along the trail is an inducement to dreaming. You are leaving the world of reality and walking off into the dream world. Don’t try to rush it. Just get started and see if this isn’t effective for you. Being physically fit will help, too, and cutting back on caffeine.
Give it a try, and if it works be sure to tell everyone you know that in the writings of Bart Stewart you found the perfect cure for insomnia.