Get Fuzzy, By Darby Conley
For whitenoise upon the occasion of his entering a sleep clinic:
I've employed a few things since college that have greatly improved my ability to fall, and stay, asleep.
1. Do not clock watch.
If you must keep a traditional alarm clock, turn it around to the wall and make sure you can't reach it in the middle of the night. Trust that the alarm will work. Setup a backup alarm if you're untrusting. In school I switched to using a kitchen timer, setting it for the number of hours I wanted to sleep. Worked like a freakin' charm.
2. Get a sound machine and use it at home AND away.
Its consistent noise cancelling will mask the odd sounds of strange and familiar places and be your personal serenity device. The clock I use now has 6 different sounds, and I use the one that sounds oddly enough like riding on an airplane at 30,000 feet. My Mom has the same clock and uses the waterfall sound, and when I sleep at her place I have to get up to pee in the middle of the night. Suggestable, am I.
3. Play Solitaire on a PDA.
Numbers 1 and 2 helped me stay asleep, but it used to take me an hour plus to fall sleep. A few years back I started playing solitaire on my PDA as I lay in bed, and in a few weeks something good happened. Playing it required enough brain power to concentrate on the game that my pointy head began to let go of the thoughts that would keep me going as I tried to fall asleep. And the brightness of the screen had the same mind numbing, soporific effect as a TV does in a dark room. I could then play just 5 to 10 minutes and I'd find my eyes getting droopy - sleep would come within minutes of turning off the PDA. Somehow in the past year or so, I stopped even needing the PDA, as I seem to have trained my pointy head to simply relax, listen to the airplane noise, and fall asleep.
I've recommended each of these to several friends with best results from the sound machine action. People have a hard time giving up clock watching - but trust me, it REALLY works. And sleeping leads to dreaming. Yum.
Gaping Void by Hugh MacLeod.