Introduction: Flash Nap

Picture of Flash Nap

How I use a flashing bicycle light to make a nap more refreshing.
Like other forms of meditation, don't expect it to work for you on the first try.

Here I am taking a ten minute nap in a closet.

I've got a red LED bicycle flasher resting on my right eye.
It's flashing at about 6.5 times a second.
I'm wearing my jackhammer headphones to block out distracting noises and so people won't expect me to answer them if they talk to me.

The flasher is acting as a simple "mind machine" a.k.a. "light and sound machine", which are devices that help a person control their brainwave activity.
Biofeedback and meditation are other methods of achieving the similar results. Once you've reached a very relaxed state, the body and brain can do some of their recovery functions faster than sleep.

A typical mindmachine is a device with goggles containing flashing lights and headphones that play a throbbing sound. They exploit a phenomenon called "entrainment". The brain's electrical activity seen on an EEG(electroencephalograph) is pretty noisy and fuzzy, but there are discernable periodic fluctuations "brainwaves". If the flashing frequency is near the brainwave frequency, the brainwave will speed up or slow down to match the frequency of the flashing. Then when you speed up or slow down the flashing, the brainwave will also tend to speed up or slow down to match.

A crackpot friend of mine had a bunch of these things. They're fun to play with and you see nifty visual patterns and colors that aren't in the lights . At some point I "got it" and had a session that was like a really great nap but better. So I bought my own machine.
When I was too tired or anxious to get anything done, I'd sneak off to a closet and do a session.
Then my device broke when I needed a supernap. So I looked around for something that flashed in the same way. I had a bunch of different bike flashers and tried putting them on my eyes to see if anything happened. One of them in particular worked well. When I put it on my right eye and looked into the static I could see patterns. I already knew what it felt like, so it was easy to get there. It doesn't change frequency, but it's slower than my brain when I need to use it, so it's sort of like training wheels for meditation.

When I started doing this I was working pretty hard and getting burned out. I tried a bunch of stuff, some of which worked for me. One such thing was Melatonin. To find out how I use Melatonin to improve my sleep, see the next step.

Step 1: Melatonin and Sleep Management

Picture of Melatonin and Sleep Management

Some people use Melatonin as a sleeping pill. I use it to synchronize my body clock to be awake during the day. This method works for me, your mileage may vary.
Melatonin, sunlight, and a few other things give your body signals as to what time of day it is.

When I'm feeling jetlagged I'll take half of one of these Melatonin tablets at 9:30pm local time. About 20 minutes later I'll feel really sleepy and sleep-deprived. Usually I stay up later and try to get to sleep by midnight. The next morning I'll wake up just before 8am feeling pretty good. This system only seems to work if I get some exposure to sunlight during the day and some exercise.

You don't have to get on an airplane to get jetlagged.
When you cheat the sandman by burning the midnight oil, you're doing two things: staying up late and exposing yourself to artificial light. Your body reads these signals and shifts its sleep schedule forward to match the new "day". So the next day you get up early for work and you feel lousy. You've got two problems. You're sleep-deprived, and your body clock is messed up with jetlag.
Jetlag is much worse than mere sleep-deprivation because your body is trying really hard to shut down while you'd rather be awake. Your body's systems can even get out of sync with each other, so no matter how much sleep you get or when, you still don't feel rested.

While building a company I was at work at 8am every day for five years.
I stayed up til midnight or later every night. I'd take a halfhour nap at lunch and a couple of flash naps in a closet during the day.
In the mornings I'll still feel a bit sleep-deprived because I was indeed sleep-deprived, but I wasn't jetlagged.

The first time I tried Melatonin I had a lot of dreams and woke up around 4am with lots of energy.
My friends report similar experiences. After that I would just wake up around 7:30 feeling pretty good.


cyc4015 (author)2008-06-04

for about a year now, I've been sleeping at all sorts of weird hours, and i recently bought a crummy hammock from a yard sale, i patched up the hole, and have been sleeping outside, turns out, for me, at least, the secret to waking at a decent hour is just letting the sun hit your face, and I've started dreaming again, tonight, I'm adding a blinker to my face and hoping for the best :)

hipydude2001 (author)cyc40152010-10-16

aww man ,,that sounds familair but my out doors man ship is ummm well any ways seems that i really enjoy watching the stars before sunrise becouse when the sun is going down every light in town light up, in the morning all the lights turn off for about 1 hour before the sun comes up..and its the best time to star gaze....and i dont know about that sun thing i woke up after the after noon outside and was like , man its hot out here lol...
i think if you think about your actuall truly biological clock, and i would bet that the cave men werent sleeping every 16 hours....more like chase the women and animals around for about 24 hours then get some sleep...its the industrial age ,and so subliminial its upsetting.....

hipydude2001 (author)2010-10-16

ow yea and about the sleeping biologic clock depression and not being awake when you want to be and all that............i believe that before society was constructed soley on a 9-5 basis that we were forced to adopt to that scheadule and i would like to point out that i also belieave that our nature biological clock is sleep 12 hours awake 24,,,,when body repairs sleep 6 hours awake for 18....not that im trying to impress my fealing of 9-5 is a form of slavery ,becouse it says we are to wake when the sun rises,well if you seem to not beable to sleep enough or tomuch so you can keep up with the races then move eithor east or west according to your preferance to be on an awakened mind set with every one else around you..personaly it takes me about one day to boot my humoungus brain take care my friend.

hipydude2001 (author)2010-10-16

check it, the element they use to create the red light in flourescent bulbs and the rate at whitch they are programed for diff treatments would blow your socks off.. now i dont know what kind of music your listening to but its all about the frequince waves and the effects it has on your bodies electro feild, sounds like your around a people with what they call "bad vibes" we that is a proven fact that we all send and receive signals from one another, but with the music the detox box ,will push out some power,but for the more seriouse you would want something that pushes out more power, but ...........i just want to tell you its the element in the bulb when the energy passes through it sends a certain pulse, and a good spot would be on the sides of your neck were your thyroid glands will get the most benifets....

Bardouv (author)2009-06-21

wow, you take half of a 1 mg pill? My doses are usually 6-9 mg...I guess my "mileage may vary." But I can't help but wonder how this will affect me down the line...

Biotele (author)2009-03-10

That actually really works. I am using a similar set up with my ganzfeld mask. It diffuses the light making it less harsh. But I use my netbook and I run BWgen. I put my Netbook over my face. Check my mask:

antirem (author)2006-08-29

this one got me thinking....
i went and looked up the mind machine stuff but it seemed awfuly expensive. So then i found but they too are expensive as well. I-glasses are actually computer screen glasses. The advantage would be you could add more visuals... and you also have the option of using them as a normal screen.

They are a bit out of my priceline but would it be possible to make them with cell phone lcds?

___ (author)antirem2009-02-10

thats a good idea

___ (author)___2009-02-11

I just tryed the screen is too pixelated

dz0004455 (author)antirem2008-05-11

dude, that would be sooo cool... I would do that for sure

DWRead (author)2008-06-05

Is this at all dangerous? Don't flashing lights trigger seizures in some people?

___ (author)DWRead2009-02-10

some people, and people who knew they were prone to that would have to be pretty dumb to put a flashing light on there eye and fall asleep

nivaneus (author)2008-12-21

Could this help with lucid dreaming?

baneat (author)2008-07-17

When I was too tired or anxious to get anything done, I'd sneak off to a closet and do a session. The sentence, taken out of context, was humorous to me. That's what everyone does :P

cheeseefungu (author)2008-06-03

Weird, they say on 12 tips to get a better nights sleep (sorry no link, somewhere on digg though) you should always keep lights very far away from your eyes.

kinawera (author)2008-04-29

Well when you put it like that....

spinach_dip (author)2006-10-05

I'm using a cheapy one I got at the department store. I think it flashes around 2 times per second. Ideally a "mind machine" would start at say 15hz or so and slowly ramp down. This should be easy to build with a PC. Run the LEDs off the printer port and have the initial soothing raindrops or whatever playing through the soundproof headphones. You could pipe in the alarm too, whenever you programmed yourself to wake up. 2hz brainwaves is deep, deep sleep, and that's what happens. It took a bit for my brainwaves sync up, but when they did, I was out like a light. Really, I was already sleepy, but I felt I fell asleep much faster. When my alarm went off 2 hours later I got up and felt refreshed. However, I still had the urge to take a nap later that afternoon. I haven't tried the melatonin, or the blue light LEDs, but they seem like good ideas. I know I suffer from SAD.

A BASIC Stamp with the LEDs would sure solve the strobe frequency problem, and make the optional throb sound. Of course, you can use other microcontrollers.

I will try this. I have a basic stamp and looking for something to use it with. If I want to get "the most" out of a regular nights sleep, what frequency should I use?

Grey_Wolfe (author)2008-03-01

Typically, taking a substance that is naturally produced by the body (i.e. melatonin) can lead to reduced natural production and thereby cause dependancy. Once in awhile is okay, but unless you've a medical condition reducing your natural production, I wouldn't suggest taking it regularly.

Jim M (author)2008-02-15

Looks simple and cool. I was wondering about the effect of the frequency of the light - itself - though as apposed to the flashing frequency of the light. Like what a rife frequency generator would emit. So there would be no frequency pollution/interference between light frequency and flash sequence as they would be interpreted by our electrical bodies. But if this works, I'd be willing to give it a go!

flare765 (author)2007-08-29

seems addictive

antirem (author)2006-08-29

please post it increases lucidity.. i havnt been able to yet but ive started smoking passion flower, skullcap, and mullin (so far only twice) my dream recall has increased A LOT.

vaalessi (author)antirem2007-07-26

Though you've probably already tried this, I'd suggest trying to alter what REM sleep cycle you wake up in--at least before you smoke anymore of the things my mother used to put into her tea. Though its not too much fun to hopscotch from full on REM to bleary-eyed wakefulness, its the best way that i'm aware of that you can recall your dreams, that, and a relaxed desire to remember your dreams. Also, keeping a journal is absolutely necessary, even if at first you don't get anything at first. Lastly, don't try to describe or even imagine in pictures the dream you had right after you wake from it. Just try to retrace the intracies of your emotional state and the rest will come back. I hope it works out.

vaalessi (author)vaalessi2007-07-26

oops, i just realized your name is antirem, as in anti-REM, so i may be preaching to the bishop on this one. tee-hee

Ricky28269 (author)2006-11-20

The flash nap part is cool, but the drug part sounds like an advertisement...

TimAnderson (author)Ricky282692006-11-20

Here's what a TV drug ad looks like in the U.S.: A white horse runs along the beach. A grey-haired couple walks hand in hand. The wind blows through a field of wheat. The narrator says "Shlomofloxin. Relief is here." Happy models from an assortment of races say "It worked for me" and hug their same-race families. Tha narrator says "Shlomofloxin can cause every affliction from the book of Job and the plagues of Egypt, talking boils, and spontaneous amputation. Sue your doctor immediately after taking it and then die." My little blurb about melatonin is what's known as a vitamin endorsement, wherein I carefully avoid making any health claims and/or don't try to sell you any. Google "the death of Wilhelm Reich" to find out a bit about how these different prose styles evolved.

Sgt.Waffles (author)2006-11-10

Genious. im going to bookmark it

Junkernaut (author)2006-10-19

Come on spinach dip!

Blinky light on eyeball = super restorative power nap

I like to see the evidence but I cant read hippiespeak.

mikeybhang (author)2006-10-01

What kind of bikelight? Any? Does frequency matter?

RyanPotter (author)2006-08-30

Hmmm..... either it works, or he's got a bet going with his friends to see how many people he can get to look stupid trying this.... Kind of intreguing...

VIRON (author)RyanPotter2006-09-22

You would feel like a fool if you spent a lot of money on a blinking light, but this one's cheaper than dope, and it really is a (mild) trip, so I'm sure you won't be wishin' you bought dope instead. And how will he know if you do it or not?

stonehenge360 (author)2006-09-16

"You will be asimilated, resistance is feutile!" lol u look like a borg.

Crash2108 (author)2006-08-30

I've programmed one of those mind machines once, lost the program though..

mikesty (author)2006-08-29

Years ago my dad gave me this goofy thing he found - it was a little badge doodad with a blinking light and a reflector for trick-or-treaters. It was actually a nice little gadget, and it's floated around my desk and has a home in the bottom of my mobile office tray. It doesn't blink quite as fast as yours, but I'm gonna go give it a try now. Seeyah at 6:30 :)

Neodudeman (author)2006-08-29

Wow. how odd. I'm curious, does it possibly help lucid dreaming?

radiorental (author)2006-08-29

I've always wondered about those mind machines, I dont have a flashing bike light. I've been feeling very burned out lately, thanks for the heads up - time to try this out. The Melatonin never worked for me, never made me feel sleepy or refreshed the next day. As you said - mileage varies

About This Instructable




Bio: Tim Anderson is the author of the "Heirloom Technology" column in Make Magazine. He is co-founder of, manufacturers of "3D Printer" output ... More »
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