Author’s Note

This book is an outgrowth of sixty-five years of experimentation and research. I have had difficulty sleeping since I was a child. At the age of eight, I had an imaginary girlfriend — the flying girl on the cover reminds me of her — who went on adventures with me while I waited for sleep. My father was a farmer and prone to worry over product prices and the weather, things he could do nothing about. I absorbed a certain amount of his insomnia and worry, and passed it along to my kids. This same story with different characters plays out every night throughout the world, and by all reports is getting worse because of the accelerating pace, complexity and dangers of modern life. This book is my attempt at turning the tide.

If you have difficulty sleeping, the first thing I want to get across is that nothing is wrong with you. Your brain does not have a defect. The problem is that when you were born, you didn’t come with a user’s manual, and you didn’t get the chapter you should have gotten on how your mind works. It would have had a special section on sleep. In all probability, you don’t need medication. What you do need is a little help controlling the way your mind functions while negotiating that gray zone between being awake and being asleep. If you have been lying awake at night waiting helplessly for sleep to come, it is time you went on the offensive.

This book is about pursuing sleep. It presents all the information you need to chase sleep all the way to Slumberland. It is not about tricking yourself into going to sleep. The method is based on scientific principles and decades of research. It builds off of what we know about the way the mind works. It does not involve medication. And it doesn’t take weeks of learning before you can get started. You don’t have to change your lifestyle. Read this today, use the method tonight.

I am an author and an engineer with an MS from Stanford University. I have written nine books, both fiction and non-fiction, two of them on the creative process and the inner-workings of the mind close to the sleep state. I have experimented with dreams and lucid dreaming and how to use them creatively. I have developed a method for dealing with insomnia, and it isn’t something you’ll find in the literature or an Internet search, and it doesn’t involve meditation. It is completely new. Will it work for you? Chances are excellent that it will.

If you have a job or little ones to care for, you need good sound sleep. Sleep interruptions can occur at any time during the night. Your child can wake you. You might have to go to the bathroom. Your sleeping partner can wake you for any number of reasons. How do you get back to sleep under these circumstances? This method will help you get the sleep you so badly need to get you through the day.

I have only taken four types of medication to get to sleep, three self-medicated and one under prescription from a doctor. The first I tried was melatonin, which is a hormone involved in circadian rhythms. It had no effect. Neither did valerian root, an herb that is supposed to cause drowsiness. For a couple of years I took Benadryl, three capsules at bedtime and two the first time I woke, about four or five hours later. Benadryl helped some, but I didn’t like taking so much since it does have side effects.

For six months while teaching astronomy at New Mexico State University – Carlsbad, I took Ambien, which worked well enough but didn’t seem to give me the kind of sleep I needed. When I went off it, I had scintillating scotoma every day for a couple of weeks. I had large flickering blotches in my field of vision and blank spots where I could see nothing. For six months after quitting, I also had more difficulty getting to sleep than before I took Ambien.

I started researching solutions for insomnia seriously in December 1990. I had been using all the “tricks,” like counting sheep and trying to hold my eyelids open. I investigated cognitive behavior therapy, sleep hygiene, and tried meditation to clear my mind of thoughts. None of it had a measurable impact. I was an engineer working on NASA missions to the outer planets and US Air Force projects. I was also an author writing novels and accumulating material on the creative process. I became interested in the periods just before and after sleep because they seemed to be inordinately useful for many authors as well as other creative people. I developed a method of taking my characters into my dreams, and I developed work strategies and solutions for difficult engineering tasks just before I went to sleep and when I woke. Sixteen years ago, I started exploring the scientific literature on the period of time just before sleep and eventually discovered a complete world of information under the title “hypnagogia.” I then developed a method to solve my insomnia problem.

I am a professional but not a sleep professional, and apparently that is a good thing. Little or no rigorous research has been accomplished on techniques to direct the mind to enter sleep. Sleep research has been predominantly performed, or at least paid for, by pharmaceutical companies interested in developing medication to make the subject unconscious. I wouldn’t doubt but what there is a conscious effort on the part of pharmaceutical companies to steer research away from thought-directed methods of getting to sleep in favor of researching drugs to get us into a state that simulates sleep. These drugs usurp the natural processes involved and do not achieve the same result as the patient actually being asleep. If the general public found out that it is possible to cure severe, long-time insomnia with a simple thought-directed procedure, it could put them out of business. However, I do not recommend that you quit taking any medication that a healthcare professional has prescribed for you.

We do have extensive psychotherapy procedures to resolve issues that flood into consciousness and co-opt the process of going to sleep, but these deep-seated emotional problems are not even necessarily the problem. Therapy can take years and have mixed results. It also can make matters worse. An online search will reveal many methods for producing an environment conducive to sleep and even some superficial methods of tricking your mind into going to sleep. My guess is that none of them work reliably for you, or you wouldn’t be reading this.

The other reason that provided the impetus for writing this book is that I went through five years of psychotherapy. At the time, I was having all sorts of problems, from troublesome relationships to panic attacks. At times, I had a fear of dying in my sleep. Although therapy was helpful in many ways and my psychiatrist was very good, I also came to realize its limitations. I walked away with many of the problems I came to it with, and getting to sleep was one of them. I even came away with a problem or two I didn’t have when I entered therapy. As my psychiatrist told me, every treatment has it side effects, even therapeutic treatment. Therapy helped me realize that the medical profession did not yet have a solution to insomnia, and that I would have to solve my problem myself.

What I present here appears to be the first serious research into methods to direct the mind along a path into sleep. My most fervent wish is that this book will prod sleep professionals to start research into directing the mind toward sleep. Perhaps then we, as the world of the sleep-deprived, can actually do something about our insomnia without being drugged.

Will this be the answer for everyone? Some people have more serious problems with sleep than the ones I provide a solution for here. They have brain damage, chemical imbalances, and/or chronic pain. They will have to rely on professional medical help. However, I contend that most people, even while suffering all the stresses of modern life and regardless of age, should still be able to get to sleep in less than five minutes. That certainly has been my experience. And it does not take a six-week program and hundreds of dollars to get you there. But even if you do need medication or have chronic pain, this method should be of benefit.

After a year or so of practicing this technique, which I call the Transition Trek, I just let my mind freewheel to remind me how I used to try to get to sleep. Took me about an hour to “fall” asleep, when now I can get to sleep easily in less than a minute. Waiting for sleep is such a messy and ineffective way to get where you are going. It is like standing on a corner waiting for a bus when you don’t know the bus schedule or even if a bus comes down that street. You don’t “fall” asleep. Gravity is not the sleep solution. Sleep doesn’t come get you either. Sleep is waiting on you to come for it. I am going to show you how to go get it.

You don’t have to change your life to get to sleep quickly. What you do have to change is the way your mind functions during the five minutes it takes to traverse the transitional state from being awake to being asleep. Read this book today, use the method tonight.

Chapter 1: The Sleep Problem