Sleep app shuffles your thoughts
App mySleepButton prompts the user to think of a range of objects and scenes in quick succession in order to aid sleep. (SFU)
Published Saturday, May 10, 2014 2:48PM PDT
Last Updated Saturday, May 10, 2014 2:49PM PDT
Though some sleep experts suggest distancing yourself from your smartphone at bedtime is a good idea, a Simon Fraser University professor is turning that claim on its head.
A free application called mySleepButton is based on cognitive science including the ‘cognitive shuffle’ technique and the ‘serial diverse imagining’ principle. Audio instructions on the app prompt the user to think of a range of objects and scenes in quick succession.
The app’s developer, Dr. Luc Beaudoin, is an adjunct education professor and an associate member of the cognitive science program at Simon Fraser University. He said encouraging random thoughts can help you get some shut-eye.
“For example, one moment, users may be directed to think of a baby, then next a football game, then beans, a ball, London, and so on,” he said in a release.
Since brain functions including planning or worrying can often delay sleep, the app can help switch off these executive brain functions and promote random thinking.
“While you’re thinking about random objects or scenes, you can’t think about your mortgage, an important meeting or an impending divorce,” Beaudoin said.
“Brain areas involved in controlling sleep detect that sense-making has been suspended. This basically gives them an implicit license to continue the transition to sleep,” he added.
The application could be used as a research tool for fields of study including sleep science and cognitive science since adequate sleep is positively correlated with cognitive productivity. Data collected from consenting users could be used in scientific studies or contribute to further development of the app.