Most people are probably familiar with the problem of trying to fall asleep when your mind just won't shut up. Sometimes you're just reciting worries in your head, or sometimes there's a part of you that just seems to want to hear itself talk, tired though you may be. Another manifestation I get a lot is a continuous loop of dance music, with pieces of choreographies coalescing and dissolving along with it. In fact, I can already see the one that's headed for me tonight. I've had Manhattan Transfer singing "Trickle Trickle" in my head ever since this afternoon, and there are just too many fun swing things you can do to the "— Trickle Trickle, — Splash Splash" part of the chorus. This just has long night written all over it.
Luckily, in class tonight we learned a technique for dealing with this kind of thing. It's called articulatory suppression, or as Dr. LaBerge puts it: "calming the talker." The first thing you do is to pick any random word, let's say "green." Now start repeating it over and over, but vary the rhythm: "green... green... green green greeeeeeeen... green......... green" etc. The variation is important because what you're doing is overriding the talking part of your brain with something else, but if it gets too monotonous then you can just start talking (thinking) over it. So it needs to keep changing, while still being pretty simple, which is why there's just one word. As you may imagine, this gets pretty dull after a few minutes, but that's exactly what we want. Because if you're laying in bed in the dark with your eyes closed, and you're tired, and you're getting bored, you'll probably drop off pretty quick.
I expect I'll be test driving this tonight, so we'll see how it goes.