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Does counting sheep work?

23-07-2012

It seems so clichéd that it surely cannot work, and in fact Oxford researchers have proved that it doesn’t. Counting sheep has been shown to have no positive effect on falling asleep.

In some senses this seems unusual. When you think about it, sleep is quite a contrary beast, often the harder we try to get to sleep the harder it is to fall asleep. Generally speaking it is easier to fall asleep when you are not even thinking about sleep at all. Counting sheep would seem to be an ideal way of distracting you from sleep, of taking your mind of the process of falling asleep. However, the researchers found that it is actually so boring that most people get distracted and end up thinking of other things.

What is the best way of getting to sleep then? There are two different strategies. The first is to engage your brain. Read a book, get up and watch TV or do something that you enjoy. Often you will end up feeling tired quicker than if you had just lain in bed. The other way is to go through a process of muscle flexing, moving through your body and flexing and relaxing each muscle in turn.


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