New research aimed at helping people get to sleep will be highlighted at an upcoming international sleep conference this week.
Dr. Luc Beaudoin, an adjunct professor in cognitive science and education at Simon Fraser University in Canada created the mySleepButton® app two years ago. It uses what he calls a “cognitive shuffle,” or Serial Diverse Imagining (SDI), a method that essentially “scrambles” one’s thoughts and keeps the mind off issues that may prevent sleep.
“A racing mind, worries, and uncontrollable thoughts are common bedtime complaints among poor sleepers,” Beaudoin notes.
Beaudoin will present his research at a joint meeting of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and the Sleep Research Society.
Beaudoin and colleagues tested the method among 154 university students who complained of excessive cognitive pre-sleep arousal. The study employed SDI tasks, which occur at bedtime, and also used a standard treatment of structured problem solving (SP), which is done prior to bedtime and takes about 15 minutes.
The researchers found SDI to be as effective in reducing pre-sleep arousal, sleep effort, and poor sleep quality, with the added advantage of being done while in bed.
However SDI is not without its challenges. “The human brain is a ‘meaning maker’ or a sense-making machine,” said Beaudoin.
“It is actually very difficult for people to conjure up random images unaided. However according to my theory, while it may be difficult to engage in SDI, it is not only a consequence of sleep onset; SDI facilitates it.”
While one solution is Beaudoin’s app, he has also invented a “do-it-yourself” version of SDI. The technique provides a sequence of letters that cue a series of relatively unrelated words, which could potentially be customized to individuals.
“My hope is that popular culture will absorb the notion that counting sheep is not effective, whereas SDI is,” said Beaudoin.
Source: Simon Fraser University