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WHY RUMINATING DELAYS SLEEP, AND HOW TO SOLVE IT

Written by

Jacob Wibom Westerberg

Jacob Wibom Westerberg

Jacob is a co-founder of JUNIPER. He is strategy consultant with a Nordic consultancy firm where he works with strategy development and transactions, primarily within consumer products and consumer internet. He is also weirdly passionate about washing bed linens.

Ruminating is something everyone does at times, it is basically hashing out a concern in your own head over and over, past the point where it makes sense and especially past the point where you make any progress. This is not helpful and can easily rob you of an hour sleep at night. We’ve all been there at some point, about to fall asleep and you start thinking about a comment you made, something you forgot to do or something you need to do the next day.

There has actually even been a bunch of academic research on this topic and rumination is considered an insomnolent i.e. it prevents one from falling asleep, even in scientific terms.

So what can you do to prevent rumination?

  • Avoid processing unfinished business at bedtime. Sit down before you go to bed and write a list of whatever is on your mind.
  • Use the cognitive refocusing technique, basically, this means you try to find something pleasant to think about. Preferably something concrete that you can think about to compete for your brain’s attention.
  • Use imagery distraction, this basically means that you try to visualize different images in your head with very high detail. This can get boring but has still proven to make people fall asleep easier and get out of ruminating.

And here there is actually a pretty good technique called Serial Diverse imagining (SDI). The technique has been developed by Dr. Luc P. Beaudoin and it helps scramble your thoughts to keep your mind off what is distracting you from sleeping.

  1. Think of a random, emotionally neutral word consisting of at least 5 letters. “JUNIPER” is a good word.
  2. Gradually spell out the seed word, so JUNIPER in this case. For each letter of the word, think of a word that starts with that letter and imagine that object in front of you. Do this as many times for the first letter as you can and once you get bored or can’t come up with more words, move on to the next.

So you would go:

JACKET. Imagine a jacket on a hanger.
JAZZ. Imagine looking out over a Jazz-club.
JEWEL. Imagine a jewel.
JEEP. Imagine a jeep driving on the street outside your building.

And so on… if you can’t come up words, don’t try too hard just jump to the next letter.

Good luck and hope that you will sleep well! 

Written by

Jacob Wibom Westerberg

Jacob Wibom Westerberg

Jacob is a co-founder of JUNIPER. He is strategy consultant with a Nordic consultancy firm where he works with strategy development and transactions, primarily within consumer products and consumer internet. He is also weirdly passionate about washing bed linens.

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