Understanding Insomnia -- Treatment
What Is the Treatment for Insomnia? continued...
Many poor sleepers simply need help relaxing. If you're a habitual insomniac and trying to get to sleep just makes you more anxious and awake, try these alternative choices to help reduce your worry about sleep while relaxing your body and mind. If the root cause of insomnia is stress, any treatment must address the problem of stress in your life.
Breathing exercises can promote relaxation. Here's a routine you can do anywhere, anytime:
Exhale completely through your mouth.
Inhale through your nose to a count of four.
Hold your breath for a count of seven.
Exhale through your mouth for a count of eight.
Repeat the cycle three times.
Moderate exercise can help you sleep better and give you more energy while awake. Aim for a 20- to 30-minute routine three or four times a week. Tailor the workout to your physical condition, and exercise in the morning or afternoon, not close to bedtime.
Meditation, yoga, and biofeedback can reduce tension and promote better sleep. Visualization or guided imagery, during which you hold a peaceful image in your mind before bedtime, is also an effective path to relaxation. You can learn these techniques from an instructor, a how-to book, or an instructional tape.
Good Sleep Habits
Be sure your bedroom is quiet and dark. Eye shades may help since light comes in even through closed eyelids.
Both children and adults may have trouble sleeping if they are overstimulated by activity or watching television just before bedtime. A quarter hour of quiet conversation, light reading, or soft music before going to sleep may make all the difference. Also, these steps are important:
Try to keep a regular sleep schedule.
Avoid heavy meals, smoking, alcohol, or caffeine near bedtime.
Keep the bedroom reserved for sleep and sex only.
If you wake up at night and can't go back to sleep, remain quiet and relaxed. Even normal sleep can be punctuated by periods of restlessness or even waking. Be patient; sleep usually returns. Remember, a few nights of poor sleep do no long-term harm. Even if you toss and turn trying to get to sleep, you are probably getting more periods of sleep than you think.