Friday, February 4, 2011

Counting Down

Some years ago I learned that if I count backwards, visualizing the numbers while I count and matching each number with a deep full breath, I can often get myself to sleep. It doesn’t always work, and if I hit 70 before feeling that disjunction that happens just before nodding off I usually give up. Patience has never been my strong suit.

(Numbers are easier to count than sheep. I used to try to count sheep, but when I did my tangential thinking…helped along by The Bride…meant that suddenly the sheep were being given names, and personalities, and life histories. There was Alice the Sheep, Betty the Sheep, Charlie the Sheep, and so on. The brown sheep was named Pedro. The black sheep was Shaft.)

You would think that counting backwards would be a pretty easy thing to do, and it used to be quite routine. But since I got back into full-time clinical medicine, I notice that no longer do I count down routinely from 100. Some nights it’s everything I can do to not count backwards as follows: 300, 150, 100, 75, 60, 50.

Forty self-esteem points for the reader who can tell me why.


  1. Using R-to-R waves to calculate heart rates, hmmmm, perchance not the best way to help fall asleep. I can think of better waves...errr...ways.

  2. Well done Dr. Herbel! Yep, it's a leftover from hours spent with Dubin's "Rapid Interpretation of EKG's" during my wayward youth...count the big boxes for rate!