Shuffle Rebellion

Sometimes I don't sleep well. I've been blaming hormones; it might be age. Regardless, sometimes I just don't sleep well.

Yes, even when one of my feet is out from under the covers. (I read somewhere that receptors on the soles of your feet, when cold, signal the brain that it's time to sleep.)

Yes, even when I wear earplugs. (My husband is an excellent snorer.)

Yes, even when I exercise, do gentle stretching, limit light from screens, yadda yadda.

So--although I missed the article in O, the Oprah Magazine--I was interested to read articles about the "cognitive shuffle" trick. Like this article, from the CBC.

Basically, you think of a word--a short one, without repeating letters, like COMB. (That was my word last night.) And then you mentally list other words that start with those letters. The idea is that the task is repetitive enough to be calming but engaging enough to keep you doing it.

But I can't follow directions. I mean, I could. I love to, in fact. I'm a champion rule-follower. I've been following rules ever since I can remember. I have to WORK to NOT follow the rules.

Yet last night, for some reason, I decided this exercise would be an area in which I transcended my upbringing.

Just listing words that start with C until I ran out of words--dull and tedious. Plus, I'd never get to another letter. I'm a writer! I know lots of words that start with C!

Then I recognized I wasn't all that sure how to do it right--whether you exhaust all your C words before moving to COMB or if you do a C word, an O word, an M word, a B word, a C that.

Then I decided it didn't matter. That I wanted to do a word for each letter, C, O, M, B, C, O, M, B. AND I'd use categories. States. First names. Cities. Last night's category was Food.

Which is why I was lying in bed last night WIDE AWAKE, debating whether "orangutan" counted as a food, given that I wouldn't eat one but had used up "orange" and "oatmeal" and was stuck.

Which is when I realized that the POINT of the cognitive shuffle isn't to "do it right" in the way I had defined it, in an effort to transcend my upbringing--to create word lists in categories, say--but to FALL ASLEEP.

Ergo, "improvements" to this sleep method had been part of what worked against me. (Plus a too-late coffee and hit of chocolate, but never mind that.)

I eventually slept last night, but neither long enough nor well enough. Tonight, though--tonight, I'm going to sleep like the champion rule-follower I am.