How to Go to Sleep Easily Using Paradoxical Intention

PART 1: How to go to sleep? It’s as easy as 1,2,3 ( if you know how)

Nearly 1/3 of our lives is for sleeping. It plays an important role in a person’s life. There’s a Vietnamese idiom: “Sleep well, eat well, feel like God”. ( I’m a Vietnamese, my ancestors have many really thoughtful idioms which I’m very pleased to share )

But, do you know how to sleep? How many ways to fall asleep?

The most important note: Stay away from sleeping pills. Natural is way better than synthetic.

In my opinion, there’re two ways to sleep: the hard and the easy way.

a. The hard way: or “bad exhaustive sleep” which can be achieved through overloading your body, e.g extremely, continuous hard working day, too much alcohol or using computer for a long, long time. The body is squeezed to its last life drops, exhaustiveness, tiredness, and there’s only one meaningful thing in this word: sleep.

This method is easy, quite easy, but harmful. Because you’ll look like death warmed up the following day. Have no time for yourself, to relax, to play, to enjoy the sleep. Sickness, stress are the results.

It isn’t good!

b. The easy way: or “good exhaustive sleep” can be achieved through preparation and habits, although it needs more time for the body to adapt. Here’s some pieces of advice.

  • First, avoid TV and computer at least 30 minutes before bed time, especially if you have myopia.

All the information, films, scenes, clips, news put the mind to exciting state, and when it’s time to hit the sacks, the sleep won’t come easily.

This 30-min-period is called ” The release time” when the body relax and let go all the stress and worries.

What to do in this period? Read a book ( I recommend The Diving Bell and the Butterfly – Jean-Dominique Bauby ), pray with your family members, have a walk with your spouse, treat yourself with hot shower, have a glass of warm water, listen to some music, or just sit in silence, alone.

You took care for everybody all day, now, at least give yourself 30 minutes.

  • Second, bedroom. Remember this, no TV in the bedroom and no laptop on bed. It’s deadly serious. The bedroom serves for one thing only, sleep. Make it clear, the mind and body will gradually take that message. Each time you go to bed, then the sleep comes easily. Besides, there’re something more to do with the bedroom:

_ Dim light, or no light, it’s up to you. I prefer no light.

_ Get rid of dust and dirt, make it clean and tidy.

_ No clock in bedroom. Crazy idea? No. Clock puts more stress if you’re sleepless. Wake up in the middle of the night, look at it and “No, it’s midnight and I can’t sleep. I’m a goner”. Forget the clock. Use phone as your alarm. That’s all.

  • Third, music. Music soothes the soul, refreshes the spirits. It speaks wonderful language which can’t be expressed. Either listening to music in 30 mins before bedtime, or doing so when you’re in bed, is good.

Here are some tips

_ Keep the volume as low as possible.

Night is a sacred time for everybody, so don’t ruin that of your neighbors, family, roommates with nice-but-loud songs. The best solution is using earphone ( in-ear). Smooth, soft and convenient. Best earphones deliver incredible sound, and you can always find good products with reasonable price

Remember, even with earphones, keep the volume as low as possible, for your ears’ shake. And be careful with the earphones’ wire, better use wireless or turn the player off when you feel sleepy.

_ What kind of music?

Love songs, choose those from the favorite collection of yours.

Please, no dance, no hip hop, the body needs to relax, not to be brought to climax.

You might want to hear, for example:

Summer kisses winter tears by Elvis Presley

Bridge over troubled water, Scaborough fair/Canticle by Simon & Garfunkel

Love story, Speak softly love, A time for us by Andy Williams

Symphony is another great choice. I love Paul Mauriat. I admire yiruma piano for his soul-captive piano. Also Kitaro with one of his sensational masterpieces, Matsuri. Check them out.

If you’re in love with Vivaldi’s Four Season – Summer, then choose baroque music

_ What devices? Anything which has a playlist function is welcome. In my opinion, an iPod is best among others.

I prefer iPod Shuffle because it’s cheap and has no screen. When your eyes get used to dark, they become sensitive to light source. Unfortunately, the light from iPod screen can disturb them. Other iPod products can trigger the light with each action. iPod Shuffle has no screen, therefore no light.

  • Fourth, enjoy sleeping: Remember, at this very moment, someone’s taking their last breath. Life is a miracle. Now, take a deep breath, embrace each of it, be grateful. Enjoy every second of life, because you don’t know for sure how long it will last. Enjoy it while you still can!

Finally, this room is your sacred place, now is your sacred time. You can work when tomorrow comes. This sleep is a reward, and you deserve it. You have the rights, my friend. No one in this world can ruin this moment. No one.

PART 2: Cure insomnia

Whatever you do with the bedroom, whatever good habits you have, insomnia may rarely come.

It’s normal. Be calm.

First, consult a doctor for health check. Make sure your body is OK before using this technique.

This method is derived from paradoxical intention, an awesome technique devised by Viktor Frankl. He’s a survivor from Nazi Death Camp and the author of Man’s Search for meaning. This influential book has 2 part: The former is an analysis of Frankl’s experiences in the concentration camps, the latter introduces a theory of logotherapy and paradoxical intention. A must read, really.

OK, enough talk, let’s start

In most cases, we can’t sleep because there’re so many thoughts filling the mind . You go to bed with something to think about ( a project, an idea, a worry.. maybe fear for insomnia itself ).

“Wait, this one is cool. Sleep can wait” or ” What happened if I fail the exam?”, “What happened if I can’t sleep? ” blah blah blah…

A few more minutes, these thoughts will multiply into streams of endless ideas. Soon, emotions will flood the mind and keep you awake all night long.

Is this picture familiar? You stay in bed, sleepless, try to keep your eyes closed while chanting ” Go to sleep! Go to sleep! “. Of course, the sleep hardly comes.

Sleeping in this situation is hard because the mind is currently in a state called ” paradoxical intention” which can roughly be explained that it will do the opposite of the things you want it to do. So, the more you try to sleep, the more awake you become.

Got it? Good, we can use paradoxical intention to strike back and cure insomnia!

Remember this, sleep is like ocean waves . One passes, another comes. The problem is, you’re often too busy trying to catch the first wave to know there’s also a second or third wave.

Solution? Stay awake! It’s serious, like the surfers waiting for their waves, you’ll do exactly the same.

Now, next time when you find yourself thinking too much and can’t sleep, follow these steps:

_ OPEN your eyes ( I mean Open, not staring, as if you’re laying on bed ).

_ SAY to yourself: ” I need to stay awake to think about it! I need to stay awake!” a few times while keep thinking about what has been bothering you. Forget the sleep! At this time, the more you expect it, the harder it comes.

The thought that bothered you from sleeping, now deal with it, think about it to the end. Don’t let it run around barking like a mad dog, leash and fight with it.

_ Gradually, your eyes become heavy and begin to shut, just say again one or two times: ” I need to be awake “, resist a bit, then let them shut down.

_ IMAGINE putting your thought into a box, close it, bring it to a room, then close the door.

_ ENJOY sleeping.

It’s a counter attack using paradoxical intention. Now, the more you want to stay awake, the easier you fall asleep. However, when the sleep comes, remember to “put the thought into a box and seal it”. We use our thought only as a tool to fall asleep.

This method may sound funny, weird. But it works like magic to me, 100% effective. Once you try, you like it.

Final words, insomnia exists only in mind. You have full control over it. Show it who’s the boss.


  1. Books:

They’re plenty of books to read before bedtime. If you’re an avid reader, selecting your favorite book is easy.

  1. Music:

Mainly classical, symphony, piano, and lullaby. Enjoy!