+
upworthy
Family

Childless people over 50 are honestly reflecting on whether they made the right decision

Spoiler alert: They’re totally fine with it.

childless couples, kid-free life, regrets of seniors
via Pexels

Childless people over 50 discuss their decision.

People who decide not to have children are often unfairly judged by those who chose a different life path. People with children can be especially judgmental to women who’ve decided to opt out of motherhood.

“You will regret it!” is one of the most common phrases lobbed at those who choose to remain childless. Why do people think they’ll have such awful regrets? Because they often say they’ll wind up “lonely and sad” when they’re older.

They also say that life without children is without purpose and that when the childless get older they’ll have no one to take care of them. One of the most patronizing critiques thrown at childless women is that they will never “feel complete” unless they have a child.

However, a lot of these critiques say more about the person doling them out than the person who decides to remain childless. Maybe, just maybe, their life is fulfilling enough without having to reproduce. Maybe, just maybe, they can have a life full of purpose without caring for any offspring.

Maybe the question should be: What’s lacking in your life that you need a child to feel complete?


Studies show that some people regret being childless when they get older, but they’re in the minority. An Australian researcher found that a quarter of child-free women came to regret the decision once they were past child-bearing age and began contemplating old age alone.

People revealed the reasons they’ve decided to be childless in an article by The Upshot. The top answers were the desire for more leisure time, the need to find a partner and the inability to afford child care. A big reason that many women decide not to have children is that motherhood feels like more of a choice these days, instead of a foregone conclusion as it was in previous decades.

Reddit user u/ADreamyNightOwl asked a “serious” question about being childless to the AskReddit subforum and received a lot of honest answers. They asked “People over 50 that chose to be childfree, do you regret your decision? Why or why not?”

The people who responded are overwhelmingly happy with their decision not to have children. A surprising number said they felt positive about their decision because they thought they’d be a lousy parent. Others said they were happy to have been able to enjoy more free time than their friends and family members who had kids.

Here are some of the best responses to the Askreddit question.

1. Never had any desire.

"I explain it to people like this - you know that feeling you get where you just can't wait to teach your kid how to play baseball? or whatever it is you want to share with them? I don't have that. Its basically a lack of parental instinct. Having children was never something I aspired to. My SO is the same way.

"Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against children. And I get really angry at people who harm them or mistreat them. I just never wanted my own." — IBeTrippin

2. No desire. No regrets.

"Nope. It was never something I wanted. No regrets." — BornaCrone

3. Mixed feelings.

"I have mixed feelings. I don't care much for children and I think it would have been disastrous for us to have them. I was also able to retire at 52. Pretty sure that wouldn't have happened with kids. So yeah, absolutely the right decision.
But I love my family and I do wonder what it would be like to have my own, to teach my child the things I know and not to be without someone who cares about me at the time of my death.

"But again, absolutely the right decision and at 55 I'm very happy NOT to have them. This is reinforced every time I'm exposed to other people's kids." — ProfessorOzone

4. They never visit.

"My wife worked at a nursing home for years. Imagine seeing for years that over 95% of old people never have family visit. Till they die and people want a piece of the pie. This when I learned that the whole 'well who is gonna visit you or take care of you when you're older' line is complete bullshit. We decided to not have kids ever after that. Made great friends and saw the world. No regrets." — joevilla1369

5. It wasn't an option.

"I don't necessarily regret not having them, but I regret the fact that I wasn't in a healthy enough relationship where I felt I COULD have children. I regret not being stronger to leave the abuse earlier, if I had been stronger, I think maybe I could have had the choice at least. So yeah... I have regrets." — MaerakiStudioMe

6. Grandkids are cooler.

"No. I knew what I was getting into when I agreed to marry my husband. He had two sons from his first marriage and a vasectomy. He was worried because I was so young (comparatively, he's 10 years older). I did think it over seriously and concluded that a life with him compared to a life without him but (perhaps!) with a baby I didn't even have yet was what I wanted. It worked out for us, we've been together for 26 years. As a bonus I have 9 grandchildren. All the fun without the work of the raising!" — Zublor

7. I'd be a bad parent.


"Not one bit. I have never believed that I would be a good parent. I have a short temper, and while I don't think I would have been physically abusive, my words and tone of voice would be harsh in a very similar way to my own father. I wasn't happy growing up with that kind parent and I wouldn't want to subject any child to that kind of parenting."
— Videoman7189

8. I'd rather be the cool aunt and uncle.

"No and I found a partner who feels the same. We are the cool aunt and uncle." — laudinum

9. Loneliness is underrated.


"54 yrs.old. I've lived the past 30 years alone. Presently my dog and I are chillin' in a nice hotel on a spur of the moment vacation. I'd maybe be a grandfather by now?! I can't imagine what it would be like to have family. I picture a life lived more "normally" sometimes. All sunshine and roses, white picket fence, etc. but I realize real life isn't like that. No I don't regret being childfree or wifefree for that matter. My life can be boring at times but then I look back at all the drama that comes with relationships and think I've dodged a bullet. I spent 20 years trying to find a wife to start a family. Then I realized the clock had run out, so fuck it, all the money I'd saved for my future family would be spent on myself. Hmmmmm...what do I want to buy myself for Christmas?" — Hermits_Truth

10. No diaper changes and no regrets.

"Nope. I never had the urge to change diapers or lose sleep, free time and most of my earnings. Other people's kids are great. Mostly because they are other people's. When people ask 'Who will take care of you when you're old' I tell them that when I'm 75 I will adopt a 40-year-old." — fwubglubbel

11. Zero desire.

"I’m 55 (F) and never wanted children. I just don’t much like them, and 20+ years of motherhood sounded (and still sounds) like a prison sentence. Maternal af when it comes to cats and dogs, but small humans? No chance.

"And I’m very happy to be childless. Cannot imagine my life any other way." — GrowlKitty

12. D.I.N.K.

"Dual income no kids = great lifestyle!" — EggOntheRun

13. Some regrets

"Over 50 and child free. My only regret is that my wife would have been a great mother, and sometimes I feel like I deprived her of that, even though we both agreed we didn’t want kids. Sometimes I wonder if I pushed her into that decision. She works with the elderly every day and sees a lot of lonely folks so it gets to her sometimes. I was always afraid I’d screw up the parenting thing, so I was never really interested in the idea. I’m a loner by nature though." — Johnny-Virgil


This article originally appeared on 02.08.22

Sponsored

3 organic recipes that feed a family of 4 for under $7 a serving

O Organics is the rare brand that provides high-quality food at affordable prices.

A woman cooking up a nice pot of pasta.

Over the past few years, rising supermarket prices have forced many families to make compromises on ingredient quality when shopping for meals. A recent study published by Supermarket News found that 41% of families with children were more likely to switch to lower-quality groceries to deal with inflation.

By comparison, 29% of people without children have switched to lower-quality groceries to cope with rising prices.

Despite the current rising costs of groceries, O Organics has enabled families to consistently enjoy high-quality, organic meals at affordable prices for nearly two decades. With a focus on great taste and health, O Organics offers an extensive range of options for budget-conscious consumers.

O Organics launched in 2005 with 150 USDA Certified Organic products but now offers over 1,500 items, from organic fresh fruits and vegetables to organic dairy and meats, organic cage-free certified eggs, organic snacks, organic baby food and more. This gives families the ability to make a broader range of recipes featuring organic ingredients than ever before.


“We believe every customer should have access to affordable, organic options that support healthy lifestyles and diverse shopping preferences,” shared Jennifer Saenz, EVP and Chief Merchandising Officer at Albertsons, one of many stores where you can find O Organics products. “Over the years, we have made organic foods more accessible by expanding O Organics to every aisle across our stores, making it possible for health and budget-conscious families to incorporate organic food into every meal.”

With some help from our friends at O Organics, Upworthy looked at the vast array of products available at our local store and created some tasty, affordable and healthy meals.

Here are 3 meals for a family of 4 that cost $7 and under, per serving. (Note: prices may vary by location and are calculated before sales tax.)

O Organic’s Tacos and Refried Beans ($6.41 Per Serving)

Few dishes can make a family rush to the dinner table quite like tacos. Here’s a healthy and affordable way to spice up your family’s Taco Tuesdays.

Prep time: 2 minutes

Cook time: 20 minutes

Total time: 22 minutes

Ingredients:

1 lb of O Organics Grass Fed Ground Beef ($7.99)

1 packet O Organics Taco Seasoning ($2.29)

O Organics Mexican-Style Cheese Blend Cheese ($4.79)

O Organics Chunky Salsa ($3.99)

O Organics Taco Shells ($4.29)

1 can of O Organics Refried Beans ($2.29)

Instructions:

1. Cook the ground beef in a skillet over medium heat until thoroughly browned; remove any excess grease.

2. Add 1 packet of taco seasoning to beef along with water [and cook as directed].

3. Add taco meat to the shell, top with cheese and salsa as desired.

4. Heat refried beans in a saucepan until cooked through, serve alongside tacos, top with cheese.

tacos, o organics, family recipesO Organics Mexican-style blend cheese.via O Organics

O Organics Hamburger Stew ($4.53 Per Serving)

Busy parents will love this recipe that allows them to prep in the morning and then serve a delicious, slow-cooked stew after work.

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook time: 7 hours

Total time: 7 hours 15 minutes

Servings: 4

Ingredients:

1 lb of O Organics Grass Fed Ground Beef ($7.99)

1 ½ lbs O Organics Gold Potatoes ($4.49)

3 O Organics Carrots ($2.89)

1 tsp onion powder

I can O Organics Tomato Paste ($1.25)

2 cups water

1 yellow onion diced ($1.00)

1 clove garlic ($.50)

1 tsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper

2 tsp Italian seasoning or oregano

Instructions:

1. Cook the ground beef in a skillet over medium heat until thoroughly browned; remove any excess grease.

2. Transfer the cooked beef to a slow cooker with the potatoes, onions, carrots and garlic.

3. Mix the tomato paste, water, salt, pepper, onion powder and Italian seasoning in a separate bowl.

4. Drizzle the mixed sauce over the ingredients in the slow cooker and mix thoroughly.

5. Cover the slow cooker with its lid and set it on low for 7 to 8 hours, or until the potatoes are soft. Dish out into bowls and enjoy!

potatoes, o organics, hamburger stewO Organics baby gold potatoes.via O Organics


O Organics Ground Beef and Pasta Skillet ($4.32 Per Serving)

This one-pan dish is for all Italian lovers who are looking for a saucy, cheesy, and full-flavored comfort dish that takes less than 30 minutes to prepare.

Prep time: 2 minutes

Cook time: 25 minutes

Total time: 27 minutes

Servings: 4

Ingredients:

1 lb of O Organics Grass Fed Ground Beef ($7.99)

1 tbsp. olive oil

2 tsp dried basil

1 tsp garlic powder

1 can O Organics Diced Tomatoes ($2.00)

1 can O Organics Tomato Sauce ($2.29)

1 tbsp O Organics Tomato Paste ($1.25)

2 1/4 cups water

2 cups O Organics Rotini Pasta ($3.29)

1 cup O Organics Mozzarella cheese ($4.79)

Instructions:

1. Brown ground beef in a skillet, breaking it up as it cooks.

2. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and garlic powder

3. Add tomato paste, sauce and diced tomatoes to the skillet. Stir in water and bring to a light boil.

4. Add pasta to the skillet, ensuring it is well coated. Cover and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

5. Remove the lid, sprinkle with cheese and allow it to cool.

o organics, tomato basil pasta sauce, olive oilO Organics tomato basil pasta sauce and extra virgin olive oil.via O Organics

Science

Americans see gardening changes as 'plant hardiness zones' shift across half the U.S.

Here's a quick tool to find out if your zone has changed due to warmer temperatures.

Photo by Jonathan Kemper on Unsplash, Map by USDA-ARS and Oregon State University (Public Domain)

The USDA has issued a new Plant Hardiness Zone Map

Millions of American households have a garden of some sort, whether they grow vegetables, fruits flowers or other plants. Gardening has always been a popular hobby, but more Americans turned to tending plants during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic for both stress relief and to grow their own food so they could make less trips to the store. For many people, it's a seasonal ritual that's therapeutic and rewarding.

But a shift is occurring in the gardening world. Now, due to rising temperature data, half the country find themselves in a different "plant hardiness zone"—the zones that indicate what plants work well in an area and when to plant them. Gardeners rely on knowing their hardiness zone to determine what to plant and when, but they haven't been updated since 2012.


The U.S. Department of Agriculture updated its Plant Hardiness Zone Map in late 2023, months before people in most of the country start planning their planting. We saw the 10 hottest summers ever recorded in 174 years of climate data between 2014 and 2023, but hardiness zones are actually determined by the coldest winter temperatures each year. Winters are warming at an even faster pace than summers, according to nonpartisan research and communications group Climate Central, but that may or may not be the entire reason behind the zone changes.

The USDA acknowledges that some of the zone shifts could be due to climate change but cautions against using them as hard evidence for it since factors such as improved data collection also contribute to changes in the map.

people planting flowers

Gardening can be a solo or community endeavor.

Photo by Kenny Eliason on Unsplash

"Temperature updates to plant hardiness zones are not necessarily reflective of global climate change because of the highly variable nature of the extreme minimum temperature of the year, as well as the use of increasingly sophisticated mapping methods and the inclusion of data from more weather stations," the USDA wrote in November 2023. "Consequently, map developers involved in the project cautioned against attributing temperature updates made to some zones as reliable and accurate indicators of global climate change (which is usually based on trends in overall average temperatures recorded over long time periods)."

At the same time, Chris Daly, director of the PRISM Climate Group at Oregon State University that developed the map with the USDA, told NPR, "Over the long run, we will expect to see a slow shifting northward of zones as climate change takes hold."

As an example of zone shifting, Dallas, Texas, was classified as Zone 8a in 2012, when data showed the coldest winter temperature in the city was between 10 and 15 degrees Fahrenheit on average. In 2023, with data showing the coldest winter temps falling between 15 and 20 degrees Fahrenheit, it's been shifted to Zone 8b.

Some zone shifts resulted in moving to an entirely new zone number, such as Seattle shifting from Zone 8b to Zone 9a. The overall trend was for zones to be pushed northward, but not all areas saw a shift. NPR has a helpful tool here in which you can enter your zip code, see what zone your city was previously in, what zone it's in now, and the temperature changes that caused the shift.

The bottom line is if you have a gardening book with a hardiness zones map printed before 2024, it's time for an updated map. Or check online to see what zone you fall in now to give your garden the best chance of thriving this year.

Images provided by P&G

Three winners will be selected to receive $1000 donated to the charity of their choice.

True

Doing good is its own reward, but sometimes recognizing these acts of kindness helps bring even more good into the world. That’s why we’re excited to partner with P&G again on the #ActsOfGood Awards.

The #ActsOfGood Awards recognize individuals who actively support their communities. It could be a rockstar volunteer, an amazing community leader, or someone who shows up for others in special ways.

Do you know someone in your community doing #ActsOfGood? Nominate them between April 24th-June 3rdhere.Three winners will receive $1,000 dedicated to the charity of their choice, plus their story will be highlighted on Upworthy’s social channels. And yes, it’s totally fine to nominate yourself!

We want to see the good work you’re doing and most of all, we want to help you make a difference.

While every good deed is meaningful, winners will be selected based on how well they reflect Upworthy and P&G’s commitment to do #ActsOfGood to help communities grow.

That means be on the lookout for individuals who:

Strengthen their community

Make a tangible and unique impact

Go above and beyond day-to-day work

The #ActsOfGood Awards are just one part of P&G’s larger mission to help communities around the world to grow. For generations, P&G has been a force for growth—making everyday products that people love and trust—while also being a force for good by giving back to the communities where we live, work, and serve consumers. This includes serving over 90,000 people affected by emergencies and disasters through the Tide Loads of Hope mobile laundry program and helping some of the millions of girls who miss school due to a lack of access to period products through the Always #EndPeriodPoverty initiative.

Visit upworthy.com/actsofgood and fill out the nomination form for a chance for you or someone you know to win. It takes less than ten minutes to help someone make an even bigger impact.

Robin Williams and Billy Crystal.

Actor Billy Crystal once referred to Robin Williams as “my closest friend,” and the pair worked together as well. They hosted 8 "Comic Relief" charity events in the ‘80s and '90s with Whoopi Goldberg and starred together in Kenneth Branagh's “Hamlet” (1996), "Father's Day" (1997), and Deconstructing Harry” (1997).

In 2014, 2 weeks after William’s death, Crystal was given the difficult job of eulogizing his dear friend at the 66th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards. Crystal only had a few minutes to express his love for Williams and describe his incredible contribution to comedy, but he did a commendable job speaking for the countless people left heartbroken by his death.


"It's the hardest thing I've ever had to do, [being] the spokesman for everybody in front of 17 million people,” Crystal later admitted.

[Video]

Over the course of 3 minutes, Crustal shared Williams' comic brilliance by recounting a time when he improvised as a Russian baseball player on live TV. He also shared his humanity by sharing how he spent time with his older relatives at family gatherings.

Finally, he summed up Williams by putting his indescribable brilliance into words.

“For almost 40 years he was the brightest star in a comedy galaxy,” Crystal said. “But while some of the brightest of our celestial bodies are actually extinct now, their energy long since cooled. But miraculously, since because they float in the heavens so far away from us now, their beautiful light will continue to shine on us forever. And the glow will be so bright, it’ll warm your heart, it’ll make your eyes glisten and you’ll think to yourselves, ‘Robin Williams—what a concept.’”

All illustrations are provided by Soosh and used with permission.

I have plenty of space.


It's hard to truly describe the amazing bond between dads and their daughters.

Being a dad is an amazing job no matter the gender of the tiny humans we're raising. But there's something unique about the bond between fathers and daughters.

Most dads know what it's like to struggle with braiding hair, but we also know that bonding time provides immense value to our daughters. In fact, studies have shown that women with actively involved fathers are more confident and more successful in school and business.


You know how a picture is worth a thousand words? I'll just let these images sum up the daddy-daughter bond.

A 37-year-old Ukrainian artist affectionately known as Soosh, recently created some ridiculously heartwarming illustrations of the bond between a dad and his daughter, and put them on her Instagram feed. Sadly, her father wasn't involved in her life when she was a kid. But she wants to be sure her 9-year-old son doesn't follow in those footsteps.

"Part of the education for my kiddo who I want to grow up to be a good man is to understand what it's like to be one," Soosh told Upworthy.

There are so many different ways that fathers demonstrate their love for their little girls, and Soosh pretty much nails all of them.

Get ready to run the full gamut of the feels.

1. Dads can do it all. Including hair.

relationships, fathers, dads

I’ve got this.

All illustrations are provided by Soosh and used with permission.

2. They also make pretty great game opponents.

daughters, daughter, father

Sharing life strategy.

All illustrations are provided by Soosh and used with permission.

3. And the Hula-Hoop skills? Legendary.

bonding, dad, child

Tight fitting hula-hoop.

All illustrations are provided by Soosh and used with permission.

4. Dads know there's always time for a tea party regardless of the mountain of work in front of them.

family bond, parent, child-bond

Dad makes time.

All illustrations are provided by Soosh and used with permission.

5. And their puppeteer skills totally belong on Broadway.

love, guidance, play

Let’s play.

All illustrations are provided by Soosh and used with permission.

6. Dads help us see the world from different views.

sociology, psychology,  world views

Good shoulders.

All illustrations are provided by Soosh and used with permission.

7. So much so that we never want them to leave.

travel, inspiration, guidance

More dad time please.

All illustrations are provided by Soosh and used with permission.

8. They can make us feel protected, valued, and loved.

protectors, responsibilities, home

Always the protector.

All illustrations are provided by Soosh and used with permission.

9. Especially when there are monsters hiding in places they shouldn't.

superhero, monsters, sleeping

Dad is superman.

All illustrations are provided by Soosh and used with permission.

daddy-daughter bond, leadership, kids

Never a big enough bed.

All illustrations are provided by Soosh and used with permission.

Seeing the daddy-daughter bond as art perfectly shows how beautiful fatherhood can be.


This article originally appeared on 04.09.16

Education

The surprising places you can't flush toilet paper, even with fully flushing toilets

Greece, Thailand and dozens of other countries have fully flushing toilets but "no flushing the TP" rules.

Even with fully flushing toilets, you can't always flush toilet paper.

In the U.S., it's normal in women's restrooms to see signs that say "Do not flush feminine products," so if you're traveling internationally and you see a sign that says not to flush paper down the toilet, you might assume it means the same thing.

It doesn't. If you're traveling abroad and you see a "no paper in the toilet" sign, it usually means all paper—including the toilet paper you use to wipe with.

My first time experiencing this reality was in Indonesia. The friend I was visiting lived in a large luxury home, modern in every way—except you had to toss your toilet paper into a bin instead of flushing it. Even rustic campsite pit toilets in the U.S. allow you to put toilet paper in them, so it went against every instinct I had not to toss the TP in the toilet after using it and put it in the little bin next to the toilet instead.

Then I encountered the same thing in Thailand, then in Greece, then in Patagonia in South America. These were all places with American-style flushing toilets, so it was unexpected that TP flushing was a no-no. If this is the norm in such vastly different regions, how common is "no TP flushing" around the world?


Surprisingly common for the 21st century, actually. As many advancements as we've made in engineering and technology, there are still lots of established plumbing systems underground that don't handle anything other than onesies and twosies very well.

For people from always-flush-the-TP countries, the inability to flush toilet paper can come as a shock, especially when the toilets seem no different than the ones at home. It's confusing that the toilet paper will physically flush down at the source, it just shouldn't be flushed because of what can happen on down the line.

In Greece, for example, the plumbing pipes are only two inches in diameter, compared to four inches in the U.S., which means paper clogs the pipes much more easily. Our Airbnb host in Athens told us if we smell a terrible sewage smell and hear a big motor running somewhere in the neighborhood, it's because people had flushed toilet paper and the sewage system had to be pumped. Brazil apparently has plumbing similar to Greece, and there are plenty of other countries in the same boat.

map of the world

Where in the world can you flush your toilet paper?

mindofahitchhiker.com

So where are all of these countries? Well, hard to say exactly, as the most recent map I've seen (from mindofahitchiker.com above) is from 2017 based on information from 2012, and things may have changed in some of those countries by now. On this map, the green countries are safe to flush, the orange are "it depends" and the red are generally no-flushers.

Most places where you can't flush paper have signs saying so, but sometimes they're in another language and sometimes there just aren't signs because the assumption is that you know. Thankfully, mindofahitchhiker.com also offers a handy "Flush or not to flush?" flowchart to help you figure it out:

Should you flush the toilet paper

Find out more at mindofahitchhiker.com

Surprisingly, putting TP in a bin isn't as disgusting as I imagined it would be, nor is it stinky like I assumed it would be. In Indonesia and Thailand, nearly all toilets had a "bum gun"—a handheld water sprayer attached to a hose that hung on the side of the toilet—which helped everything feel a bit cleaner on that front. (I loved it so much I bought one to install at home after my trip.) But even without the hoses, the TP bins have plastic liners and usually fliptop lids you open with your foot, so it doesn't really feel as unsanitary as it sounds. And those bins appeared to be emptied frequently almost everywhere I was, so it wasn't any grosser of an experience than using a public restroom in the U.S. (There's also a generally expected level of courtesy, it seems, to make sure your used TP is folded or wadded in such a way as to not gross out other people.)

It may not be ideal and it may fly in the face of our normal habits, but I'm sure we'd all agree that plumbing working properly is important. So if you're traveling to country you've never been to before, do a little research, follow the toilet signs, and when in doubt, toss instead of flush. The locals will thank you.

Counting sleep is a thing of the past.

If you’re having trouble catching those elusive zzz’s, you are not alone. Roughly 1 in 3 adults worldwide have insomnia, which we know can lead to a whole slew of things that negatively impact our health. Which is probably why social media is full of various hacks the promise a better night’s sleep.

Recently Denver-based board-certified dermatologist Dr. Scott Walter made a video touting the efficacy and benefits of “cognitive shuffling,” which he said was an “absolute game changer” for his own sleep schedule.

In the clip, Dr. Walter described cognitive shuffling as “a way to rearrange or reorganize your thoughts similar to shuffling a deck of cards — basically, distracting your mind from conscious thought patterns that may keep you awake.”

The “simple mental exercise” can be done in a number of ways.


“One is just thinking of random words or objects that have nothing to do with each other,” Walter said. “For example, cow, leaf, sandwich, butter, liver, things like that — just random words that make no sense.” Apparently there’s even an app out there called MySleepButton that will feed you random words to form a picture in your mind.

Alternatively, if you “don’t like random,” you could also pick a letter of the alphabet, and start counting your heartbeat. After every eight beats, you’ll think of a word that begins with that letter.

@denverskindoc Stitch w/ @sidneyraz say goodbye to the Sunday Scaries and fall asleep quickly with this doctor approved sleep hack! #sleephack #todayilearned #wishiknew #howtofallasleepfaster #cognitiveshuffling #cognitiveshuffle #sleephelp #doctor #medicine #sleep #sundayscaries #doctorhack #fallingasleep #anxiety ♬ original sound - Dr. Scott Walter | Derm

Walter went on to explain that cognitive shuffling is so effective because in addition to distracting your brain, it ““mimics what are called microdreams, which occur during the transition to sleep, [letting] your brain know, hey, it’s safe to fall asleep.”

Pasha Marlowe, MFT, who also improved her sleep routine with cognitive shuffling, posted her own TikTok claiming that it “interrupts the processes of memory, scheduling and problem solving.

She also explained a slightly different process, saying you could take a word and think of as many words as you can that also begin with the same letters in your chosen word. Her example was the word “PUMPKIN,” and beings listing out “prince, pie, peanut butter, product,” and so on. Then she might go onto the letter “U” and start naming things that start with that letter…you get the idea. Multiple resources recommend following this particular strategy.

Luc Beaudoin, cognitive scientists and creator of MySleepButton, told The Guardian that the hack is superior to the traditional insomnia-busting tactics like counting sleep because the former are so “boring” that virtually any other thought, including worries, will be perceived by the brain as “more compelling.”

But with cognitive shuffling, there’s enough gameplay and “nonsense” involved to distract our hypervigilant cortex from perceiving potential threats just long enough for us to drift off.

Cognitive shuffling isn’t without its limitations. The MySleepButton site says that this method is not effective under the follow conditions:

  • You are too tired to conjure up words, but not drowsy enough to fall asleep. (For example, when you wake up in the middle of the night.)
  • You don’t like to think deliberately when you are trying to fall asleep.
  • You find it difficult to come up with words that start with a given letter, despite practice.
  • You find spelling tedious.

For these instances, the site says you can lay back while MySleepButton does the work for you. Or, you could try a few other proven hacks, found here and here.