Do you struggle with falling asleep, staying asleep, or waking up too early in the morning? If so, you are not alone. One of the major sleep disorders that people face is insomnia. Insomnia is an inability to get the amount of sleep needed to function efficiently during the daytime. Poor sleep has been shown to significantly worsen the symptoms of many mental health issues.
How can you get a better night’s rest? First, it is important to take care of any underlying conditions that may be causing problems with sleeping, for example, sleep apnea. Also, consider improving your sleep habits by maintaining a regular sleep schedule and having a comfortable sleep environment. Below are some relaxation techniques that can help induce sleep:
- Taking slow, deep breaths is one of the easiest ways to engage your body’s relaxation response. If you find that you are lying awake in bed, start by taking 10 deep breaths. This is effective by slowing the breath and creating a sense of calm.
- Diaphragmatic Breathing (also known as belly breathing) reduces stress and increases relaxation. This is achieved by lying down and placing one hand on your upper chest with the other hand at the top of your belly. Breathe in through your nose so your belly expands against your hand; your other hand and chest should remain still. While keeping your chest still, tighten your stomach muscles and exhale through pursed lips. Repeat this process.
Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR)
- PMR is based on the practice of tensing or tightening, one muscle group at a time followed by a relaxation phase. Tense and relax the muscle groups one at a time in a specific order, starting with the lower extremities and ending with your face, abdomen, and chest. This should be practiced sitting or lying down, with comfortable clothing on, and in a quiet space.
- Journaling is a great, easy way to clear your mind before bed or in the middle of the night. Keep a journal beside the bed and write your thoughts, to-do lists, and worry lists – then close the book on them! Writing these things down can provide relief and reduce racing thoughts.
- “Brain dumping” is a specific exercise that you can do while journaling by simply writing any words or thoughts that come to mind. You can start with a specific prompt like “I am feeling…” to help you begin. Let the words flow out without pause for grammar.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia (CBT-I)
- CBT-I explores the connection between the way we think, the things we do, and how we sleep. It is a short, structured, and evidence-based approach to combating symptoms of insomnia. Thoughts and feelings about sleep are examined and tested, while behaviors are examined to determine if they promote sleep. Treatment can range between 2 to 8 sessions, depending on the patient’s personal needs. Please reach out to the front desk for referrals to CBT-I providers in the area.