I’m a little bit cranky this morning because Gulliver woke me up at 4:30 AM. He thought it was really important to be able to open the closet door, and meowed thusly. When I succumbed and opened the door for him, he became disinterested.
That’s when I found myself lying in bed counting. That’s what gets me back to sleep.
I don’t count sheep. I used to count animals jumping, and mostly I was imagining the curves of their bodies. It had to be complex enough to keep me occupied. Now it’s simpler: I just count. I have to remember how far I counted, and if my mind wanders off and I’ve forgotten where I left off, I backtrack.
I usually get to somewhere between 200 and 300 at which point I’m asleep.
Someone pointed out to me that this is like meditation, and I think that’s true- as long as you remember that I’m not trying to make my other thoughts go away; I’m just keeping my focus in one relatively quiet place for a while. And the numbers aren’t a mantra- I’m not focusing on the same thing over and over; that would never keep me occupied. I think it works because when I’m really tired already, I keep forgetting both what number I was on, and the fact that I’m counting. My mind starts doing all kinds of activities, like writing a blog post, or going to the grocery store, and I might as well actually be doing the activity for all the detail! It’s a bit tiring in itself to be mentally carrying out tasks, but too interesting to let me go to sleep. Counting isn’t interesting, but it takes effort when I’m exhausted.
Last night counting didn’t stop Gulliver from attacking with loud purring an hour and a half later, mind you. Good thing he’s cute.