Do you know about sleep debt?
The National Institute of Health says if you routinely lose sleep, or choose to sleep less than needed, the sleep loss adds up. Afternoon naps don’t help to recoup it — you need to fall back on good sleep habits at night. For an adult that means 7–8 hours of sleep every night. The institute estimates that 40 million Americans have sleep disorders. Most are over the age of 40. Maybe you’re one of them.
The basic app is free with in-app purchases. The app reads you words or phrases, one at a time, and asks you to visualize them in your mind for 5–10 seconds each. For instance, the first word may be “automobile,” followed by “loaf of bread.” Set the timer according to how long you want the app to recite the words, then hit the Put Me to Sleep button.
The sequence of words may seem nonsensical but there is a science behind the randomness. The words and the images you associate with them are meant to short-circuit your racing mind and lull you into a stupor. By preventing you from dwelling on everyday stressors, this app shuts off the problem-solving mode of your brain and helps you sleep.
Dr. Luc P. Beaudoin (who developed the app) explains how cognitive shuffle uses abstract words and phrases takes your mind off current issues and tricks your brain into sleep. The app is just a prompt machine that selects appropriate words for you.
I tried out the app for a few nights and can say that it really does work. Of course, your caffeine-soaked or tension-filled mind may be too resistant to a cognitive-only solution, so your mileage may vary. For best results, practice good lifestyle habits for proper sleep.
Do you still have to pay back your own “sleep debt”? What other bedtime rituals work for you?