Introduction: Crazy Good Sleep
For a number of years I have noticed a deterioration in my sleep patterns, particularly waking too early and awake during the night, unable to go back to sleep for a couple of hours.* I am 73 years old and have tried numerous things, none of which helped much. This Instructable is about something simple that does work and has worked for nearly all who have tried it, even though it sounds like medical quackery. It is known as earthing or grounding. You can spend a couple of hundred dollars for commercial earthing devices. This Instructable will show how I made all I need to reap the benefits of being grounded through the night as well as for several hours during the day and did it with simple things, even scraps.
- Light gauge stranded wire. Speaker wire works.
- #10 machine screw and nut, or a steel rod 3/16 inch in diameter
- Flattened copper or brass or aluminum about 20 gauge
- A diode (optional) or a large washer (also optional)
- Heat shrink tubing (optional) or Duck Tape (optional)
- Wire cutter
- Soldering gun
- MIG welder (optional)
*UPDATE: After nine months of grounding I had my gall bladder removed. The surgeon told me it was inflamed, twisted, and full of stones. I had no painful attacks, only a need for an occasional ant-acid tablet. I grounded most of the day in the weeks after surgery. From the first week doctors were amazed at how quickly I was recovering. In 2003 the US Cycling team used grounding to speed the healing of rider wounds from tumbles and falls at racing speeds. Since the removal of my gall bladder, I am not awake during the night like I have been. My blood pressure also dropped into a much better range without any change in habits. Other things are also improving. I theorize some benefits of grounding were being used in my body to calm my inflamed gall bladder.
Step 1: My Basic Setup
The goal is to connect yourself to a grounded wire. You can do that in a variety of ways. Some run a wire out of their bedroom window and drive a metal rod about 18 inches long into the earth. A metal foil could be used to get through a tight fitting window and connect to the foil both inside and outside the window.
The photo shows what I have been using during the last six weeks. I use a piece of 3/16 inch steel rod to connect to the third or grounding hole of a 120 volt wall outlet of the type used in the USA. I know many other nations use a 230 volt outlet as their standard. I assume there is a grounded terminal, but I am not sufficiently familiar to comment.
I welded a #8-32 nut to the end of the rod and inserted a #8-32 screw, This is the terminal for about 10 feet of #20 gauge plastic covered wire. See the third photo.
A video advertising a commercial cable spoke of a feature that allows electrons to flow only one direction. That means there is a diode. I have used a diode with a peak inverse voltage (PIV) of only 50 volts. A jolt of static electricity from synthetic sleepwear might destroy my diode, even though it has very nicely survived six weeks so far. A 1N4007 diode has a PIV of 1,000 volts and would likely survive most static electricity discharges. I placed the diode as near to my body as possible to work against and hopefully block electro-magnetic fields (EMF) picked up by the 10 feet of wire. There is more about a diode in a later step.
I have some rigid copper tubing I used as a terminal. I cut and flattened some to make a square about 5/8" x 5/8". This is soldered to the end of my #20 gauge wire and lays against my skin. Initially I used an old metal watchband for holding the copper in place and for making a broader connection surface. (Commercial cables use EKG pads to connect to one's body. My copper square has a larger surface area than an EKG pad.)
The second photo shows a close-up of my copper square attached with a flexible metal watchband.
Step 2: A First Consideration
The electrical wiring is not always done properly in all houses, especially older houses that may not have included a third wire for grounding before that was required. It can happen that an outlet with two slots only had to be replaced, but only three prong outlets are available at the time. There is no third wire in the wires feeding power to the outlet. The tester shown is called an outlet tester or a three-prong outlet tester and they are available at hardware stores, as well as big box home improvement stores. They cost about $5 US. If everything is as it should be, the center and right LEDs should be lit as shown, but the left LED should not be lit. A handy friend may have one of these you can borrow for a very short time. (You can also ground to a metal water pipe, if the whole system uses metal pipes, not plastic.)
Step 3: Is It Safe?
People have phobias about electricity. Some cannot imagine sticking a wire into an outlet and then connecting the other end of that wire to one's body.
But, look closely at the photo. It is typical of appliances in your kitchen and tools in your garage. You will notice a three prong grounding male plug. The handle on this heat gun is a rubberized plastic and insulated. But, in order to reach the trigger switch, your finger must rest on the metal frame of the tool. You do not receive a shock because the third wire carries no electricity, unless there is a fault and the wires carrying power short to the frame of the tool. In that case, the third wire carries the current away from you and safely to the ground.
Step 4: Cheap and Easy Ways to Make a Cable for Yourself
The first photo shows a #10-32 round head machine screw and nut used as a terminal and post. This is an easy way to make what is needed for the person who has few tools and very little technical prowess. One problem with this approach is that the screw slides into the third hole on a grounding outlet, but practically needs to be turned out with a screwdriver. That is OK if you do not need to remove the screw from the outlet very often. I am glad I used a smooth steel rod because I can easily take my cable with me when I travel.
See the second photo. Someone who does not have copper or a soldering iron could use some scrap aluminum or steel sheetmetal, or go to a hardware store and buy a piece of flat brass. Brass is not cheap, though. Hardware store do sell individual brass washers. If you do not have a soldering gun, you can bend some of the metal over the end of the wire and crimp it in place. You will want to avoid oxidation because that can ruin the electrical connection over time. Cover the joint with hot glue or Vaseline to protect against oxygen exposure. I rounded and smoothed all edges to avoid irritating my skin.
See the third photo. This is a homemade toroidal coil. Potentially undesirable EMFs are usually higher frequency alternating currents. Wire wrapped around a steel core presents a huge hindrance to the flow of such currents called inductive reactance. EMFs are everywhere. Some come into our houses from things in our neighbors' houses, like computers, WiFi routers, and a plethora of electronic devices common to life in our time. No one toroidal coil will eliminate all EMFs, but this may help reduce some EMFs in a frequency range. EMFs come in a wide variety of frequency ranges. There will be a discussion of diodes as limiters of stray EMFs in the next step.
Step 5: How to Attach to Yourself
I have come to like slipping my copper square under an elastic band to hold the copper against my skin. The photo shows slipping the copper square under the elastic band on top of my socks. It normally goes an inch or two into my sock. Find a place on your skin where you do not notice its presence. That is very easy to do. During the cold of winter sleeping with socks on feels good. An elastic band around your waist on your sleepwear works, too.
The black bulging section on the wire is some heat shrink tubing that covers a diode and provides some physical strength to reinforce the diode and solder joints from physical damage. If you choose to use a diode to limit EMFs you may use it together with a toroidal coil, or separately. The silver polarity band on the diode should be placed so it is toward the wall outlet and away from your body. You want electrons to flow into your body. See the second photo. It shows a test for getting the diode connection right and for testing to see if a diode is still good. Use the diode test function on a multimeter.* While the use of a diode is optional, I recently had opportunity to compare a wire with a diode and a wire without a diode. I could tell right away the wire with the diode was better and the only way to use a grounding wire. Diodes were easy to get before Radio Shack stores went out of business. Often you can harvest a diode from an old piece of electronic equipment, but use a heat sink to protect the diode from too much heat that can destroy it. Keep the wattage of the soldering iron as low as possible to avoid too much heat. Or, find a friend who dabbles in electronics, maybe a radio amateur, and ask if he can give or sell you a diode. I find myself making grounding wires for friends, so I ordered a quantity of diodes on-line to have on hand.
I sometimes slide the copper square up a sleeve on my T-shirt and just onto the back of my shoulder where it will be pressed against my skin. Sometimes I slip the copper square under the elastic waistband on my undershorts. Any of these seem to work well. In all cases, I need to pull the copper square off of my skin in the morning. This is especially true on another cable I made. I used Duck Tape to cover the diode and it folded over to make a strip about 1/2 inch wide. That smooth surface really sticks to my skin. The copper square does not move during the night, but I do not thrash around a lot when I sleep, either. I have never had the wire separate from contact with my body during the night.
Commercial connectors for grounding include sleeping on conductive mats or sheets put into the bed. These can be expensive. Some use a conductive cuff that goes around one's lower arm.
*Benjamin Franklin thought charges flow from positive to negative and electrical devices have been stamped that way ever since. Today we know that idea as conventional current. When JA Fleming was working with attracting and repelling charges on a grid in a vacuum tube he saw that Franklin had guessed wrong, and electrons actually flow from negative to positive. We call that electron current. What I wrote about the polarity of the diode and its placement may seem wrong, but electron current flow is important here, not conventional current.
Step 6: To What Benefit?
About five years ago I noticed some occasional sharp flashes of pain in my right wrist when I used a drill press. While the results of grounding are different from one individual to another and the time span after which they first appear is different, about four weeks after I began sleeping grounded I noticed the nascent arthritis in my right wrist has all but completely disappeared. That is something objective that is not just my opinion.
After about five weeks of sleeping grounded and attempting to ground when sitting to read or do computer work, I noticed I had some nights during which I did not need to rise and use the bathroom to empty my bladder. Sleeping through the night without using the bathroom is becoming the rule rather than the exception. Previously I could count on two trips to the bathroom each night.
I was a pastor for forty years. There have always been some stage jitters on Saturday night and Sunday morning as I tried to make sure my sermon was ready. Grounding calms people. When I waken during the night I have such a contented sense of calm that it is unbelievable. As I get ready to go to a church where I am to give a sermon, I simply feel mellow and unworried. My wife says my sermons come off better, too.
The first thing most notice shortly after they begin grounding is waking in the morning feeling much more rested than they have in years. You may still waken during the night, but in time that will likely change for the better, too. After six weeks of grounding I find I now waken briefly and go back to sleep fairly soon. I am not awake for two or more hours as in the recent past. Grounding oneself brings a better balance between cortisol and melatonin in one's body, but it is not immediate. That has been shown with blood tests. If more and better sleep were the only benefits of earthing or grounding, it would be more than worthwhile to connect each night and as often as possible during the day. For a really interesting account of what happened when the whole town of Haines, Alaska began grounding, search YouTube for the 65 minute film "The Grounded."
At my current age (73 years) seventy percent of men experience serious ED (erectile dysfunction). Grounding aids circulation, apparently by making the blood more viscous. That helps many with ED problems. But, some blood pressure medicines also increase ED problems. I have experienced some benefit, but that has been muted as I am on a particular blood pressure medication. I am hoping my doctor will take me off of it at my next physical now that my blood pressure dropped into a much better range after my gall bladder removal.
Clint Ober is a pioneer in grounding oneself. In his 2013 book Earthing he lists a whole series of benefits from grounding that are quite phenomenal. I will not mention those here, but will stay with those I have experienced myself up to this point. It appears the human body can make many, many repairs to itself if it has access to free electrons. Most of our disease problems are related to inflammations and those involve free radicals that are missing an electron. Grounding oneself seems to provide the missing electrons and kill off the free radicals.
It is very popular to criticize and find fault with grounding. Before you do that, try grounding yourself for a week and see what happens. Ten weeks is an ideal test period. I was very skeptical, but realized it would cost me nothing to try it. If it was a sham, no one needed to know I had tried it. If I found benefits, I am well ahead. From what benefits I have experienced already, I plan to ground myself as much as possible until the day I die.
Step 7: Grounding on an Airplane?
We flew across three time zones in one day recently. I have read that grounding is a big help in overcoming jet lag. Some remove their shoes and socks as soon as possible after landing to walk in the grass for 20 minutes or so. That is a very easy way of grounding.
I wondered if I could ground while in flight.* The first photo shows the outer part of the wing on our Boeing 737-800, Notice the two black rods about six inches long. They are called wicks. They are to wick away the static electricity that accumulates on the metal of the airplane as it strips electrons from air molecules at cruising speed. That is similar to the belt inside a Van de Graaf static generator. The purpose of the wicks is to bring static charges down so they do not interfere with radio communications. Although the airplane is a Faraday Cage, those protect occupants from pulse charges like EMPs and lightning. But, they do not block occupants from steady charges. To me that suggests touching metal on the seat frame provides an electron rich environment, just as the earth does. See the second photo. I am touching the seat frame ahead of me from my window seat. I cannot say for certain if touching the seat frame provided extra electrons for me or not.
I could be very wrong about this and would welcome correction from anyone who has more data and knowledge than I have. I do know I was not conscious of any jet lag after we got home.
*Since posting this Instructable, I bought and read the e-book version of Clint Ober’s Earthing. One chapter mentions an experiment with long haul truckers. At a California truck stop truckers were randomly asked to volunteer to be grounded to the frame of their trucks by means of a grounding mat on the driver’s seat. Those who took part reported feeling less fatigue at the end of the day. I have some questions about this. First, there are a couple of layers of clothing between the trucker’s skin and the grounding mat. Unless a lot of perspiration is involved to become a conductor, it seems the driver would not be in contact with a grounded surface. Second, the rubber tires on the truck prevent direct contact with the earth’s surface. Were there free electrons in the massive metal structure of the truck? Did the truck moving at highway speeds strip electrons from the air and those built up on the truck? But, if that is true, a trucker would feel a shock when exiting the truck and touching the truck while a foot first touches the ground. We have a long day of auto driving soon and I want to try grounding to the frame of the car to see what I notice.