Can you use your imagination to fall asleep?

I tried counting sheep but it seemed more distracting than helpful.


That’s a very good question, and I’d be very interested to hear if anyone has an answer to it since I sometimes have a very hard time trying to fall asleep :smiley:


Yes you can, I’ve done it before using self-hypnosis. Usually when I do this, I imagine myself falling asleep in a hotub or falling asleep in the comfiest bed possible. No matter how energized I am, I usually fall asleep within 10 minutes.


Using self-suggestion to modulate your mood into falling asleep faster

Remarkable. If you think of it, who can ever get relaxed by watching sheep? All the sheep-counting methods appear to me to be more like a cultural stereotype rather than any actual sound method. There are plenty of better approaches to this task than merely counting nasty (inefficient) wool producers.

I know some pink-haired ghost from Gensokyo that may be a good start…

If so, I have been recently interested in the topic of self-hypnosis in particular; how would you describe the method which you learned and that works for you? What can you remark about it? Do you start by telling some mantra to yourself while visualizing or you only visualize, for example?

If you would like to illustrate to us a bit, please! I’m just curious.

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I don’t think counting sheep worked for me either. :slight_smile:

I sometimes have success with “focusing” on a point about a foot in front of my eyes along with slow breathing. I put the word “focusing” in quotes, because it is relaxed – maybe more like “holding your attention on that spot”. I think I got the idea from an article about achieving flow, but I don’t remember the details. For some reason it often puts me to sleep quickly.


Yes, I figured out a way to use my imagination. It was pretty useful when I tried the Uberman sleep schedule as it helped me to fall asleep at every single nap time.

Counting sheep also keeps me awake. Instead try to pay attention to the random pictures that come into your mind. Watch them like a movie. Do not interfere at all, just let them happen. Many if not most of them won’t make sense. This helps to detach from the real world. For me this is the only method to fall asleep that works almost for sure.


Current theory seems to be that you must think of anything except sleep.

The more you try to force yourself to sleep, the less successful you will be. That’s known as “the principle of opposite reaction”.

I count backwards from 99.

Breathe in on the first numeral, and out on the second. My rythm is 2 beats for inhale, and 3 beats for exhale - a total of 5 beats per cycle.

Therefore 99 is pronounced: Nine-tay, ni-i-ine

43 would be for-tay, three-ee-ee

I put a zero in front of single digits. So 4 would be: zeer-oh, foh-oh-ohr

On rare occasions when I reach 00 (zee-roh, zee-ro-oh), I restart at 99.

AFAIK, this is the only method that gives you FEEDBACK that you are just about to drop off.

I get four types of feedback. I get one or more of any of the following:

  • I have difficulty trying to remember what number comes next. For example, after 37, my mind might simply go blank, and I’m struggling to remember. I simply start again at 99.

  • While I’m actually counting, a single nonsense word might flash across my brain. For example, “blug”, or “grom”, or “lub”. Maybe these are words that I knew in a previous incarnation.

  • A single, perfectly sensible sentence might flash across my brain. The sentence is logical, but totally out of context. For example: “That’s a good idea”, but with nothing before or after to give it any context.

  • I see an image of a Windows 10 desktop full of icons. (I use “Classic Start Menu” to give me a Win 7 desktop.)

The image is always perfectly square - rather than rectangular. All the icons are identical, and completely fill the screen in precise rows and columns. The icons have text at the foot. I carefully “move forward” to read the text. (I don’t know if I’m actually moving my head, or whether I’m imagining it.) The text is always identical on each item, and complete nonsense. For example “pofgkt dlogh”. Everything is perfectly sharp with normal-looking colours.

I pretend to have absolutely no interest in the image, because otherwise it disappears immediately. It’s like looking at birds - if you avoid looking directly at them, they might walk between your legs, but if you look at them they vamoose.

When I first started the 99 method, my first reaction after one or more of the above feedbacks was to think that I would now allow myself to drop off to sleep. Yeah, right. I became fully awake immediately.

The correct reaction in my case (other people might be different) is is to absolutely refuse to be tricked into falling asleep by some idiot subconscious. Don’t even think about sleep. Instead, I resolutely carry on counting down with total determination - like any real man (woman? person?). The next step after that is to switch off my alarm in the morning.

BTW: One of my daughters counts down from 99, but in steps of 3. She’s brighter than I am, so maybe she needs more mental effort to avoid trying to sleep.



I count backwards very often as well, but I will typically pick a 3 digit number somewhat randomly. Maybe I will start from 739 or 924, for example. For some reason, I just like to use different starting points. Something about using the same starting points all the time feels like I am not making progress. This technique is especially helpful if I feel stressed or anxious. However, I can often count a long time before I fall completely asleep. That is one reason why I count down using 3 digit numbers. I may blending it with breathing similar to the way you do it. I have had good results in the past using breathing techniques where the out breath is a bit longer than the in breath, so I think your method might help. I appreciate the suggestion.

By the way, I also use insomnia time to practice retrieving things I have memorized. I also find this very helpful to reduce anxiety or as an antidote to intrusive and repetitive thoughts. At one time I would often have severe anxiety attacks at night. Rarely get full blown ones anymore. Thanks to these techniques my anxiety levels are comparatively very low these days.




Using imagination reminds me of some lucid dreaming techniques where you are trying to picture the location you would want to go in the lucid dream. I fall asleep doing that sometimes.

I find that meditation techniques like relaxing your muscles and breathing control help put you in a really relaxed state which helps you drift into sleep.

Sometimes I’ll put a school audio lecture on when I go to bed and just listen and that will bore me to sleep.


Say Goodnight to Insomnia is a very good book on Insomnia including mental relaxation information learned by Harvard Dr. Benson who personally learned it from Buddhist Monks…in addition, a very good book written for athletes as well as people in ALL walks of life is Don’t Leave Your Mind Behind. Dr’s Henschen and Detling are sports psychologist’s who work with all athletes at the University Of Utah, the Utah Jazz NBA team and also the winter Olympic Athletes. Included in the book is a chapter on relaxation in three different ways. Other information includes detailed information on concentration, etc. I have read both books and recommend them highly…You can get both on Amazon Kindle cheaply. BTW I’ve had problems with Insomnia off and on over many many years. John


At the moment my method of falling asleep is just reading. It makes me REALLY drowsy and for me it’s pretty much guaranteed that I will fall asleep but on some days it can take quite a while to fall asleep so I was looking for a different method. Last night I gave counting backwards to try after waking up in the middle of the night, I went down to about 40 and gave up but I ended up falling asleep immediately after giving up. I guess it worked. I’ll give the other ones I tried as well. thanks for the replies.


I sometimes do system reviews when having difficulties falling asleep. I go through a subset of my 1000 or 1352 images, trying to keep a steady slow-ish pace. I usually notice when I start to drift away as I transition from seeing my images to start dreaming. The next morning I’m usually still able to tell how many images I managed to review :slight_smile:


What works for me is not counting sheep, but just counting. I don’t imagine anything I just start counting. I sometimes say to myself “I’ll make it to 500 this time” but never do. Don’t know if it’ll work for you.


Hey haven’t seen anyone say about “thinking about dark”. I just relax with the breathing someone said, and then if I don’t start to see things, I imagine a sunset unitl dark, or just plain colors from orange to very dark blue. And when you start seing the things concentrate in the darker parts.

It’s funny waking up as if time didn’t pass still concentrating in the color.


I’ve always had trouble going back to sleep after going to the bathroom in the middle of the night. The absolute worst thing you can do according by the Dr.'s at Harvard is to Try to go back to sleep…you must have a quite mind. What I have learned to do over 50 years of experimentation is to learn to try to experience total silence for 15 minutes. As long as my mind doesn’t carrying on thinking of something then I have given myself the opportunity to go back to sleep…if something pops in my my I just dismiss it and go back to silence…guess you call it meditation without chanting a word or phrase…in addition I must also be very relaxed. I learned how to do progressive muscle relaxation in detail as outlined in the book titled Don’t Leave Your Mind Behind which explains how to do it progressively with each muscle group in the body. Hope this helps someone. John


I use “pythagorean memory technique” to fall asleep. Every night,I recall all the things I did on that day in sequential order. It is relaxing and engaging. I slowly fall asleep doing it…