Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Fishing: induced boredom

One thing I've done several times to help me get to sleep is to fish right before bed. In World of Warcraft, I mean. WoW has this fishing game that is absolutely incredibly boring. You press a key or click a button to start fishing, and then about 20 seconds later you hear a splash, and you have a couple seconds to click a bobber. If you click it in time, and the sum of your luck and your character's fishing skill is high enough, you catch a fish. Then you start it over. It's painfully dull. And... it's exactly what I need right before bed. I've gotten back into the habit over the past week or so, and it's been effective.

One of my problems with getting to sleep is that when I lie down there are still a hundred things racing through my mind any given night. Stuff I read that day, ideas I have for projects I'm working on, work, things that friends said that day, and so on. It takes me a long time to get it out of my mind. I've tried focusing on one specific thing, focusing on nothing at all, listening to music, and other stuff, and none of it works. It just takes so long to clear my mind so I can start to fall asleep—sometimes 30 minutes, sometimes 90 minutes, sometimes longer. I'm a lot better off than I was a few years ago, but I'm still spending too much of my day wishing I could fall asleep.

The fishing game really helps. I get everything ready to go before bed—contacts out, teeth brushed, melatonin taken, etc.—and then I find a nice body of water and fish. It's boring like a morning economics class. I recline a bit in my chair, turn on the soothing in-game instrumental music (see the bottom of this post), and rest the mouse on my chest (hooray optical mice). Then, I cast my line, move my cursor to the bobber, and close my eyes. I focus my mind on the music and listen for the subtle water splash sound effect, and I immediately click the mouse. Then I cast the line again, look for the bobber, and then close my eyes. This works really well. I can focus on the sounds, which helps with my racing thoughts quite a lot, and keeping my eyes mostly closed helps me to become sleepier.

The lure I use in-game, the Aquadynamic Fish Attractor, lasts for 10 minutes. That's a pretty good length of time, though sometimes I feel like putting another one on and doing for another five minutes or so. Ten minutes of this and I'm in a totally different frame of mind than when I started. My mind is relatively clear, and I actually feel sleepy as I walk to my bed. I often find that I fall asleep in just a few minutes after doing this. In the end, basically, I'm putting myself to sleep through induced boredom and the ability to focus on something that requires no mental energy whatsoever. It's sort of like meditation with the side effect of finding that my bag is full of raw fish the next time I log into my character.

Music sample: Matt Uelmen—Zangarmarsh (very soothing)

No comments: