You’re lying in bed, staring at the ceiling, listening to cars go by. You have no idea how long you have been like this, but it must be a few hours, at least. Go to sleep, you tell yourself. Just close your eyes and: Go. To. Sleep. You shut your eyes tight, force your body to relax, and wait for the blissful slumber to come. But, nothing happens. More minutes pass and… nothing happens. It’s 3 a.m., and you’re still staring at the ceiling.
We have all been in this situation. Try as we might, it is nearly impossible to consciously will yourself to sleep. Sleep comes to those who let their mind wander and focus on anything other than sleep itself. Count sheep, control your breathing, listen to an audiobook, or whatever — so long as it turns your mind from wanting to sleep.
This is a common and familiar example of the “law of reversed effort.”
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