Updated 09/04/12: Martin Zucker, a co-author of the book mentioned here, has offered a suggestion for improving my experience with the Earthing appliances. See comments.
For about two months I’ve been using an Earthing sheet, which was invented by Clinton Ober to lower the electrical current on the body to what it would be if you were standing barefoot on the ground. Ober’s theory is that since we evolved that way, our bodies are optimized at that current, and messing with it can cause health problems. What with all the power lines, cell phone towers, wi-fi, appliances and electronics we use now, we’re exposed to much more current than we were 40 years ago.
Using a splitter and a voltmeter from the hardware store you can compare your body’s voltage with and without contact on the Earthing sheet, which is a cotton sheet interlaced with metal wires that plugs into the grounded port of an outlet, or, ideally, to a rod you stick outside in the dirt. Blogger Amanda has a video demonstrating this. Her body voltage is 17 times lower when in contact with the sheet.
After perusing various discussion forums, I found about five people who had used it for insomnia with some success. I bought a sheet and, for day use, an arm band. The order came with two copies of Ober’s book, which I hadn’t read before. In my humble opinion, his PR team shot themselves in the foot (feet?) by giving it the title Earthing: The Most Important Health Discovery Ever?, but it’s actually well written, articulate, and well edited.
My experience over the first five nights was
pretty common similar to what several of those insomniac experimenters noted — weird tingling sensations in my limbs that felt like arterial spasms, increased insomnia, and a really weird three-minute anxiety attack that might have been more of a semi-lucid nightmare. There was also the dream in which Ian Anthony Dale, wearing old-fashioned sleeve protectors and sitting at an antique wooden desk, told me to go to Utah.
As for the arm band, I discovered that if I used it more than two hours during the day I became very irritable and annoyed, so I gave that up completely.
Except for all that, after five days I experienced…nothing.
However, I continue to use it, mostly out of curiosity and because I like the idea. In a few weeks I shall proceed to part 2 of the experiment, when I will stop using the sheet and see what happens.
For a much cheaper version of the experiment, you can sit or stand with your bare feet on the ground — dirt, grass, sand, or unsealed cement. Much of my so-called yard actually sits on a huge plastic liner, which negates the effect. It seems to be referred to as “barefooting,” which for me brings to mind a moronic 60s song. From my brief review of YouTube videos on the subject, it looks like most people try it for at least 30 minutes a day for several weeks.
You can also find do-it-yourself instructions for making Earthing, aka “grounding,” sheets on the internet. Ober made his Earthing prototypes by crisscrossing conducting tape over wool blankets. A particular type of conducting tape is required, though, so watch out for that detail.