Tuesday, January 11, 2005


I've been afflicted lately, ever since I took the Nyquil last week. I don't take over-the-counter sleeping pills as a rule, but over the last year or so whenever I do take them it seems to have the opposite effect- I fall asleep rather quickly, but wake up 30 minutes later then toss & turn all night. I guess it's not really insomnia, it's just sleeping for shit. I know you can relate.

Usually when I can't sleep it's because my mind is racing a thousand miles an hour. Maybe I've got a paper/presentation coming up that I'm excited about or maybe I've just thought of something funny I want to blog. Especially when it's something I want to blog, I have to get up and write a sentence or two in my notebook to remind myself of the great idea. Although I come up with dozens of things everyday that I think would make a funny blog, if I don't write them down I'll completely forget them. Kinda weird the way my brain totally reboots at night. So, often I've scribbled down a sentence fragment then I climb back into bed and then lie there unable to sleep because I'm fleshing out the full idea (aside: and hundreds of asides) instead of relaxing into restful slumber. I eventually resort to playing games in my head to try to focus on one thing only so that my brain will eventually get bored and let me sleep. Kind of like counting sheep, here are a few of my brain games:

Counting sheep- I've never seen a real how-to on this ancient pastime. I have to visualize the numbers as well, exactly as if I were watching Sesame Street (and yes, Count von Count has appeared more than once to help). If I don't visualize the numbers half of my brain will continue to think of other things while the other half futilely counts away.

ad numero ovillus- Latin, meaning to count sheep. Instead of just counting normally, in this game I count in Roman numerals. I, II, III, IV, et cetera. In case it's been a few years since your 6th grade math class, L = 50, C = 100, D = 500. It gets interesting trying to remember what comes after 38 (ex ex ex vee aye aye aye) and 88 (elle ex ex ex vee aye aye aye).

Multiplication- I can multiply large numbers in my head, though not immediately. Whenever my ex-wife couldn't sleep she wanted me to play this game at a whisper...put her right to sleep. Here's one simple example of how I do it:
-The sum of the digits in her SSN is 33, the sum of the digits in my SSN is 47.
47 * 33
= (47 * 30) + (47 * 3)
= [(40 * 30) + (7 * 30)] + [(40 * 3) + (7 * 3)]
= 1200 + 210 + 120 + 21
= 1551.
The part of the game that keeps my brain occupied is keeping track of all the simplifications I've made. I've successfully multiplied our full SSNs (9 digits) in my head.


At 1:57 AM, Blogger Badaunt said...

There was a hilarious manga I once had (the name of which I've forgotten) in which counting sheep was a staple storyline - only from the point of view of the sheep. I remember one in which the same three sheep were running past the trying-to-sleep guy, being counted, then ducking around and running past again, and wondering if he'd notice. (The other sheep were busy.) Next they were getting really tired and cursing him because he wasn't asleep yet. Finally they snuck a goat in to help, hoping he wouldn't notice, but he sat up in bed going HUH? and they had to start all over again.

Have pity on the sheep. They get sick of all that running and jumping and carrying on.

At 2:40 AM, Blogger Zelda said...

Don't the sheep start cavorting around and grazing whenever you try to count them? I find that saying the Rosary works splendidly. And I always heard that if you fall asleep without finishing it, the Blessed Mother finishes it for you. Nice, huh?

At 10:35 AM, Blogger christ*el #3tx said...

i find that when i cant get my whole body to sleep, i put it to sleep bits at a time.

imagine tucking in your toes. literally... imagine your toes are in a bed and you have to tuck them in. and then they go to sleep. then the balls of your feet (i sleep on my stomach). then your heels, ankles, calves, knees, thighs, and on up...
if the "tucking in" doesnt work, try imagining them dissolving into the bed. that one works well too.

i dont think i have ever made it all the way up to my hiney. i am usually out by then.

At 10:36 AM, Blogger christ*el #3tx said...

p.s. around here we call nyQuil "the big fucking Q"

At 10:56 AM, Blogger Mike said...

That multiplication thing is impressive. Not the factoring, I do that too, but the ability to keep all the previous products in your head. Surely you can get a job doing that, no?

At 4:43 PM, Blogger tinyhands said...

Theic/Z- I don't actually envision the sheep. I may be sleeping alone, but not THAT alone.

coff33- I forgot about that one. My Dad taught me something similar. Instead of going right to tucking-in, you first tense-up the body part, then relax it. Chances are it was a little tense to begin with, so when you relax it you're more relaxed than when you started.

Mike- My first job out of college was working at NASA. Despite my talents, they insisted on using computers. That's why I quit.

At 1:30 AM, Blogger amy said...

welcome to my sleep apnea hell. be glad you don't have what i have.

At 2:36 AM, Blogger mellancollyeyes said...

I'm so glad to know that other people's brains can count away in the background while the other part of the brain runs around...

At 8:34 AM, Blogger se7en said...

i can't multitask lke that, count and try to sleep. besides trying to sleep just keeps me awake anyway lol


Post a Comment

<< Home