Counting Sheep - Does it Work?

June 28, 2017

Does it take you ages to get off to sleep? Do the thoughts of the day just gone or the day ahead go around and around in your brain? Do you toss and turn and try counting sheep in a desperate measure to get off to sleep?


Ever wondered where the idea of counting sheep came from? Some believe that it originated from shepherds in Britain counting their sheep as they brought them in for the night. Anyway, it appears that whatever its origins, over time, it has become part of our culture.

However, does counting sheep really work? Well, Scientists at Oxford University in 2002 did a study to find out which method of getting off to sleep worked better; imagining a peaceful scene, counting sheep, or going about their normal sleep routine. The results were fascinating as it turned out that the group who imagined a peaceful scene, like their favourite beach for example, went to sleep on average 20 minutes early than the others in the study.


Researchers concluded that counting sheep doesn’t use “sufficient cognitive space” within the brain to distract from other thoughts. In other words, counting sheep is such a monotonous and boring activity that the brain gets distracted and doesn’t stay with the activity for long enough to see any success.


So what’s the message for those of us who struggle to get off to sleep? Next time you are tossing and turning, don’t waste your time playing shepherd, try imagining lying on your favourite beach soaking up rays and listening to waves, and you will get off to sleep in no time!



Here at Wenatex The Sleep System we offer a range of Wenatex SilverMed® products that will ensure you are sleeping in the correct environment, orthopaedically and healthy. We also conduct sleep consultations tailored to each individual to help you get the best sleep you deserve. Contact Us today to find out more.


This blog is for information only. For health advice specific to you, please consult your Health Professional.