A novel app that uses “cognitive shuffle,” a method which essentially “scrambles” one’s thoughts and keeps the mind off issues, can help you sleep easily, scientists say.
“A racing mind, worries and uncontrollable thoughts are common bedtime complaints among poor sleepers,” said Luc Beaudoin, an adjunct professor at Simon Fraser University in Canada, who created the mySleepButton app two years ago.
A new version of the app with the world’s first configurable “body scan” will be released shortly, he said.
The researchers tested the method among 154 university students who complained of excessive cognitive pre-sleep arousal.
The study employed Serial Diverse Imagining (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.
They 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. It is actually very difficult for people to conjure up random images unaided,” said Beaudoin.
“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,” he said.
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 customised to individuals.
“My hope is that popular culture will absorb the notion that counting sheep is not effective, whereas SDI is,” said Beaudoin.