How To Trick Your Brain Into Falling Asleep | Jim Donovan | TEDxYoungstown

How To Trick Your Brain Into Falling Asleep | Jim Donovan | TEDxYoungstown


Translator: Tanya Cushman
Reviewer: Rhonda Jacobs It’s October 2010. I’m freaking out. Sirens are blaring above me. I’m laying on a stretcher
in the back of an ambulance. My doctor just told me
I’m having a heart attack. I’m trembling, my arms are tingling, and this pain in my chest
is crushing me from the inside. Tracey and the kids
have no idea where I am. I might never get to hold them again. This can’t be happening. My life cannot be over! And yet here I am, probably dying. But it doesn’t happen. Instead, I get extracted
from my good life and thrust into a reality
out of my control. I’ve got tubes jammed in my veins, sensors covering my chest, and a cold, silver bedpan
waiting patiently beside me. I also get to wear
this unflattering hospital gown while they administer every possible test they can charge my insurance company for. (Laughter) On the third day of this drama,
my doctor walks in and announces, “Well, good news, Jim. You’re healthy as a horse. No heart attack,
just some really bad anxiety.” And then he asks me, “Now, what’s a healthy man like you
having so much anxiety for? What’s your life like?” Well, then I got to confess about the morning routine I’ve developed
being a drummer in a band on the road. When I wake up in the morning,
I crack open a can of Red Bull so that I can wake up enough
to drink a pot of coffee. (Laughter) Then I drink several more cans
through the day. I also fess up about
eating too much sugar – like four bowls of Lucky Charms
before bed too much – and that for some reason, I have trouble sleeping. Even though I am chronically exhausted, I usually get about four hours
of sleep per night. The doctor’s face turned somber. He looks at me and he says, “Jim, this is a get-out-of-jail-free card. I want you to know, there was a man
who came in the day before you, a year younger than you, with a similar condition, and who died this morning. Today you have a chance to make changes
that will let you see your kids grow up. Four hours of sleep per night
is sleep deprivation, and there is no quicker way to die early
than to skimp on sleep, especially with all the crap
you’ve been consuming. You need at least seven hours
to stay healthy.” Seven hours. I haven’t gotten
that much rest in a long time, and now my body’s breaking down. I know I’ve got to do something,
or my next trip here might not end well. Soon I would discover something
that changed my life from that moment on: the key to falling asleep is rhythm. This discovery came from my need
to solve a lifelong problem. Ever since I was a kid, at bedtime, I can never
get my mind to stop thinking. Sometimes it will be a worry, other times a song
would get stuck in my head and just loop around and around. When I got home from the hospital,
I decided to do some research, and so I researched sleep
and the effects of sleep deprivation, which I learned include heart attack,
stroke, weight gain, and just as my doctor had told me, premature death. I also read a Harvard Business study that shows the impairment that happens
at four hours of sleep per night is similar to the impairment that happens when a guy my size
drinks five regular beers. Then I came across
some startling statistics. In the US alone, 35% of adults – that’s 86 million of us – are sleep deprived. What’s worse, 87% of teenagers. That’s 36 million kids
whose brains are still developing are chronically sleep deprived. Worldwide, scientists are calling sleep deprivation
an emerging global epidemic, with low-income people and women
being affected the most. I know I’ve got to do something, and so I let go of the energy drinks, I cut way back on coffee, and I even give up
my nightly Lucky Charm feast. And it helps. A little bit. But at bedtime, I still cannot
get my mind to stop thinking. On my way home from work that week, an idea hit me. I don’t know why
I haven’t thought of it before. Since 1999, I’ve been leading
drumming workshops. At the beginning of these programs, I lead an exercise where the group and I drum together
a steady unison pattern like this: boomp, boomp, boomp, boomp, boomp. We do this for a few minutes. At the end, without fail, people tell me that the exercise
helps them to feel more relaxed. It had never occurred to me that I could do the exercise
without my drum. And so that night, I did an experiment. At bedtime, I sat at the edge of my bed,
and I brought my hands to my lap, and I began doing my drumming exercise
on my legs, very lightly. Upon seeing my strange behavior, my wife, Tracey, looked over at me, rolled her eyes
and just turned out the light. But I kept at it. I wanted to find out
if I could get the exercise to work. And at first, nothing happened. But then, after about four
minutes of persistence, I noticed my eyelids
starting to get heavy. I was yawning, and I decided just to lay down
and shut my eyes for a minute. When I opened them again, it was morning. I slept a solid seven-and-a-half hours
with no struggle falling asleep. And most nights, since 2010, I’ve been getting
the best sleep of my life. I do it using an exercise
I’m going to show you today that I call “brain tapping.” Now, this exercise uses a phenomenon
that happens in the brain: it’s called the
“frequency-following response.” This is a very fancy way of saying that your brain loves to follow
repeating, rhythmic patterns. Essentially, your brain, first,
notices that there’s a pattern, it connects with it, and it begins to follow it. Whenever you listen
to your favorite music and do this, that’s the frequency-following
response happening. What we’re going to do is we’re going to help that
frequency-following response to occur; we’re going to activate it, and then we’re going to help to slow
the speed of your brain activity down by slowing down the rhythm. Now, there might be
a few of you out there right now that are thinking to yourself, “Does this hippie
really want me to believe that I can use rhythm
to help me fall asleep? Really?” And what I’d say back to you
is “What if I could? What if I could show you
how to fall asleep tonight in less time than it takes you
to eat a bowl of cereal?” Would you try it? Now, here’s the great news. You do not need to be good
at rhythm for this to work, only willing to try. Here’s what happens. The exercise, it’s 30 seconds. What we’re going to do
is bring our hands to our lap like this. We’re going to be tapping
at the speed of a ticking stopwatch – so right left, right left, right left – very lightly. As we do this, we’re going
to breathe slowly. At the end, we’re going
to slow the rhythm down. So, if you’re willing, I’m going to invite you just to settle in. Take a big breath in. Begin very lightly tapping on your legs
at the speed of a ticking stopwatch – right left, right left, right left. If you’re comfortable, I want to invite you
just to close your eyes so you can get the full experience. Next, we’re going to do
a very slow breathing technique. Your job is just to do your best
and take breaks if you need them. So eyes are closed, we’re tapping lightly, and let’s start the breathing. Breathing in slowly, two, three – it’s very slow – four, and slowly out, two, three, four. Breathing in – doing great – two, three, four, and slowly out, two, three, four. Breathing in – almost there – two, three, four. And slowly out, two – very good – three, four. And now, slow the tapping down, and slow it down again. Four, three, two, one. And relax. Take a moment to notice
how your mind feels. Let’s take a big breath in, and let it go. You can open your eyes. And I saw a couple of you yawning. I take that as a compliment, so thank you. (Laughter) If you got the exercise
to work the first time, congratulations. You’ve got a new friend
you can call on tonight to help you get to sleep. If the exercise didn’t work
as you hoped it would, don’t worry, you’re not broken. Sometimes it takes a few tries
to get used to the exercise. Please don’t give up. Now, imagine getting
great sleep from now on. Imagine how much better you’ll feel, and then imagine people all over the world doing this exercise
and getting better quality sleep. Imagine how that might
affect peacefulness everywhere. I’ve got a challenge for you: for the next five nights, I want to invite you just to run
the exercise for at least three minutes. Remember, tap like a ticking stopwatch, breathe slowly, and at the end, slow the rhythm down. Once you’re comfortable with it, I want you to feel free to teach it
to anyone who needs it, especially kids. Good luck and sweet dreams. Thank you. (Applause)

100 thoughts on “How To Trick Your Brain Into Falling Asleep | Jim Donovan | TEDxYoungstown

  1. I've been rocking my leg back and forth since I was a baby. Still do it. As a truck driver my sleep schedule is fu*ked, still rocking me foot and leg I fall asleep quick.

  2. You made me fall asleep on the toilet again!!! And what if the problem is getting to the bed instead of falling asleep on the toilet , four hours at a time and then stand there at the bed in such a daze you end up on the toilet all over again!! Lol seriously though.

  3. I was working another round of being awake for over 24 hours and finally sleeping – so getting sleep every other night – when I chanced upon this (YouTube telling me I need to sleep more? How considerate!) and I tried it – I modified it a bit but it worked!! And I had no idea about the health risks! I have told every doctor I have seen about my trouble with insomnia and they never do anything about it!

  4. LOL! IDIOTx Talks. Too bad. This used to be such a good Chanel, now 90% of it is pure idiotism with a narcissist.

  5. Yeah… this makes sense, that must be why whenever we feel tensed we start taping our fingers together, shake our legs or a pen we are holding.

  6. I have a better and quicker idea! Just hear me out…
    So, my leg or arms fall asleep pretty easily when I cut off the circulation to them for a period of time. I assume the same would be true if you could just wrap something tightly around your neck for say….5-15 minutes.

  7. Thank you for this video and taking the time to do your talk. I have never really slept since I was 4 years old. If I follow your thing I fall into sleep paralysis, so no thank you. Keep playing your drums.

  8. I like the theory but have you considered a longer exhale than inhale. It’s a free diving technique that slows your heart rate

  9. Makes sense why a ticking mechanical wind up clock drives me nuts and keeps me awake….too fast…makes my heart equal the beat.

  10. I doubt this movement thing will work on me. The deep breathing, doing alphabet quizzes, sometimes works. But my best remedy — after authorising my mind to say yes to sleep — is simply to read an interesting book. (A boring book or anything boring will only irritate me, making sleep impossible.) After a page or two, I begin to yawn. I have to trust the author. Or I listen to a bbc audio reading or dramatisation, say, of Poirot. I trust Poirot. He’s paternal just as Miss Marple is maternal. She works for me too. Or I watch them or actors/characters like them. I have to TRUST the source & then I can do it. NB: I was insomniac in my mother’s womb & hardly slept as a child. So I know of what I speak.

  11. Absolute best and sure way for me to fall asleep is to literally think of nothing for as long as I can with my eyes closed and Bam, I'm out. It took me around 30 times to realize this. First time I tried it was the first time I ever did coke, and the only time. I couldn't sleep and my heart was racing. I hated it. So I laid down and forced myself to not think of anything. Lights out for 26 hours. I woke up and decided to never do that again. Later, now that I'm in my 30s having issues with sleeping, I force myself to not think about anything as long as I can. Works 100% of the time but it takes dedication to not think about anything. I estimate it takes about 20-30 seconds of absolutely no thoughts and I'm out. The only way it doesn't work is if I think about things; what someone said, how I felt and how it influenced me, what I'm going to eat tomorrow, a hobby I'm doing, anything. It all has to stop, and sometimes I don't want it to stop so I continue thinking about things till couple hours later. Then I force my brain to stop thinking and I'm out. It works, you just have to train yourself to cut the thoughts out.

  12. As I was tapping rapidly under the blankets, my stepfather opened the door, he then gazed unto my eyes. The expression on his face uttered a thousand words. He then left the room without another word. He thought he understood what I was doing, but he was gravely mistaken. After that incident, we never spoke again.

  13. Thank you for sharing. I am a senior and suffer from lack of sleep. Will definitely try this and pass it on to other seniors

  14. it’s almost 5 am and i can’t sleep because i am thinking about the fact that if the universe is truly infinite, that everything you can think of exists and that is kinda scary

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  16. I read several comments here on YouTube, when they recommended a hacker, about him hacking into their partner's phone. I message him on Instagram @redhackpro when I suspected my husband cheating and you wouldn't believe this hacker helped me hack into his phone without any glitch. He did it remotely and swift and his service cost me a few bucks, the hacker's whatsapp +1(937)815-1491 is for anyone that may require his help

  17. I took a couple of sleeping tablets and then did this exercise for the first time and it worked great, will try again tomorrow to make sure it was not a one off.

  18. Sleep deprivation drives you mad.
    I am on an assault charge because I got into a fight over people playing the radio and TV 24/7.
    Hope the judge understands.
    Gonna give this a try.

  19. That would be the most EPIC Ted talk if he just fell asleep or pretended to fall asleep while standing on the stage, and then someone in the crowd had to go wake him up….

  20. Prayer to Creator God works the best. Knowing that I am forgiven and free and have no regrets before the Holy Father because of Christ Jesus, is true peace.

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