How Best to Get Yourself to Sleep — And Stay Asleep

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One in three people has difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep. If you are not getting enough sleep, you may end up facing physical, psychological, and social consequences. It may be difficult to focus and concentrate during the day. It is hard to truly apply yourself when you are drained from lack of rest. Here are a number of strategies that may help you improve your sleep:

1. Prepare for bed with calming activity, not stimulating activity. Watching television, playing video games, and having an emotionally intense argument are not activities that lead to a good night’s sleep. Instead, try reading, taking a warm bath, drinking caffeine-free tea, or listening to calming music before going to bed.

2. Avoid caffeine and nicotine before bed. Taking in caffeine right before bed is really self-sabotage and sends your body a confusing message. Additionally, while alcohol may help you fall asleep, it disrupts the quality of your sleep and should also not be your sleep solution.

3. Deep breathing. We often spend our days with shallow breathing. This type of breathing holds stress in the body. When you lie down to sleep, slow down your breathing by taking nice, deep cleansing breaths to send your body the message that you can relax.

4. Progressive muscle relaxation. As you lie down, take time to intentionally relax each muscle in your body. When you are so stressed about trying to sleep, you end up holding tension in your back, neck, or face, making it even more difficult to sleep. Go through each area of your body and relax your muscles.

5. Move clocks out of view. It creates more stress if you spend the night watching the time pass. Turn clocks away from your bed to reduce the pressure.

6. Do not nap and do not sleep in. If you keep taking naps during the day, you will continue to have difficulty sleeping on a regular schedule. You are creating a pattern that communicates to your body when it should sleep.

7. Try to limit the noise, heat, and light in your room. Television, uncomfortable temperatures, and music can be stimulating and take your energy and focus away from relaxing. Additionally, if the room is bright, you may find yourself focusing on things you see instead of allowing yourself to unwind.

8. Address your stress during the day. Often those who suffer from sleep problems have a lot of worry and anxiety. Work to actively solve the problems that are creating stress for you. Also learn to let go of the things that are beyond your control. By finding ways to handle your stress during the day, you will be less stressed at night.

9. Work out during the day. Exercising right before bedtime can actually make insomnia worse. You may feel more energized and instead of relaxing, your body may be charged up for more activity.

10. Reduce time you spend in bed when awake. If you journal in bed, read in bed, and watch TV in bed, your bed is associated more with activity than rest. If you cannot sleep, you should get out of bed to do activities instead of remaining in bed.

11. If you continue to have difficulty falling or staying asleep, you should seek professional help. Whether your sleep challenges are more medical or psychological, there is help available.

12. Adopt positive thinking. If you embrace the idea that your situation is hopeless, you will contribute to your sleep challenges. There is hope. Your sleep may not become identical to others, but you can experience a higher quality of sleep.

Tags: healthy, Self Care

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Written By

Nedra Glover Tawwab, Clinical Social Work/Therapist, MSW, LCSW

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CircleAround will make financial distributions to benefit current Girl Scouts: the next generation of trailblazers who will CircleAround after us. So CircleAround for inspiration, and CircleAround the leaders of tomorrow. CircleAround is owned by One GS Media, a subsidiary of Girl Scouts of the USA.

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