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Falling Asleep: The Fractal House Method

Thursday October 22, 2020

Here’s a method that’s helped me fall asleep faster lately. I call it the “Fractal House.” I like this method because it’s more interesting to me than methods like breathing, drumming with my fingers, or other methods I’ve tried.

Here are the steps:

  1. Get comfortable in your preferred falling-asleep position.
  2. Imagine a calming, comfortable, and interesting location. I like to imagine a house, but it could be anywhere / anything. A camping site, a cruise ship, your favorite library after closing time, or another place.
    1. If you can’t conceptualize a new place, look to your past and think about a favorite, comfortable, calming place from your past.
  3. Begin the fractal loop: Find a favorite place or thing within that place.
  4. Explore your favorite parts about that place or thing, engaging your senses: Touch things, taste, hear, or smell them if you can (sleep-ready mode).
  5. With a favorite part identified, either keep going deeper in exploring the details of that item, or move on.
  6. Once you’re ready to move on (prospective mode), find a different item inside the Fractal house on which to use the fractal loop.
  7. At this point I’m usually asleep within seconds.

For Example

Example 1: I imagine myself in a small house by the seashore. I imagine that I’m sitting in a comfortable chair at a desk with some interesting items. One of those items is an old computer, like the one I had when I was a teenager. I visualize the screen as I navigate the user interface. I see myself opening a journaling file. I start to type. I can see each letter and word as I type. I can see the pixels that form the letters of each word. (Zzzzz)

Example 2: I imagine myself vacationing in a large yacht. I take a swim in the pool inside the yacht. I visualize the details of the interior of the pool. Its geometry, and the way I swim inside of it. I feel the rough sides of the pool with my fingers. Emerging from the pool, I dry off and grab a slice of pizza from a nearby table. I can smell it, taste it. I then find that there’s a door in the wall which opens into a small, comfortable guest bedroom. Inside the room there’s a counter top with a mirror and sink, next to a bed. On the bed there is a very inviting soft duvet. I climb into the bed and pull up the duvet. Everything is just right and the lighting is warm and dim, just how I like it. (Zzzzz)

Example 3: I see myself using an old minidisc player from the early 2000s. I open the case and visualize myself inside, a miniature person wondering this techno-scape. It turns into a cyberpunk world in which I find a favorite diner. I eat something warm at the diner and the owner invites me to have a nap in one of the rental cubicles. In the cubicle I log into the 5-credit time travel interface. Suddenly I’m laying on a couch in a banker’s office in 1890s London. There’s a roaring fire in the fireplace and I hear the sounds of a holiday party down the hall. I rest my head on the comfortable pillow, pull up the wool blanket, and Zzzzz.

In that last example, you can see how the fractal aspect really transcends any concept of “reality” to engage the imagination. This is done in order to gradually explore more and more comfortable locations or details.

Other Objects and Scenarios

I’ve also done this with:

  • Fractal model-building: Constructing a scale model in my mind’s eye, until I fall asleep. Focusing on the interesting parts of the model first.
  • Fractal scheduling: Designing a fictional schedule as if I’m someone else entirely, using a computing device with scheduling software. Each item on the schedule is planned out in detail.
  • Fractal tourism: Building and then exploring a city in detail. Usually these are pretty idealistic locations, perhaps better fit for Playmobil people in the sense that they’re fun and interesting first, but the idealism factor is very comforting.

As always, the details of the concept are important here: Develop the fractal details. Go deeper, slower, to see if sleep comes (sleep-ready mode). And keep the loop going (prospective mode) if you aren’t asleep yet.

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