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If you are one of the millions of Americans who struggle with insomnia, you may find that your mind races and your body drifts and shifts when you need sleep.
With the right approach, you can fall asleep within minutes. One of the keys to good sleep is relaxation. Research shows that the relaxation response is a physiological process that has positive effects on the mind and body.
By reducing stress and anxiety, the relaxation response can help you sleep peacefully. Our step-by-step guide offers proven relaxation methods that can help with insomnia and other sleep problems.
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Experts emphasize that it takes time to master these techniques, but practice will pay off. Even better, these methods are customizable, so you can adjust them over time to make them work for you.
Call the Help Me Sleep Hotline at 1-833-I-CANT-SLEEP for tips, meditations and a variety of sleep stories to help you sleep better.
For thousands of years, relaxation has been central to spiritual and cultural practices, bringing a sense of calm and connection to oneself and one’s surroundings.
Only in the last decade, however, has the practice of meditation for relaxation become the focus of scientific research, which has come to identify key elements to promote the relaxation response.
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All of the following methods are ways to achieve these key elements so that you can sleep soundly. Keeping these basics in mind will allow you to adjust these methods to suit your preferences.
Once you’re comfortable in bed, try one of these methods to help you feel comfortable and drift off to sleep.
A series of slow, deep breaths can bring a sense of calm. This method, also known as pranayamic breathing, is believed to help reduce stress in the nervous system and prepare the brain for sleep by reducing excitatory stimuli.
Controlled breathing is perfect for those just starting out with relaxation techniques or those who have difficulty using other focus objects such as imagery or mantras.
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Mindfulness is the center of slow, steady breathing and a non-judgmental point in the present moment. By reducing anxiety and hallucinations, it has been found to have many health benefits, including the ability to reduce insomnia.
There are many variations of mindfulness meditation for different situations. One easy method to use is the body scan meditation.
This version is adapted from UC-Berkeley’s Greater Good in Action (GGIA) program which provides audio recordings for this and other mindfulness meditations.
Anyone can meditate, even with Eight Meditation, but it may take more practice to get used to it. Therefore, it usually works best for those who can devote at least five minutes a day to increase their comfort with it.
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Progressive muscle relaxation (PMR) creates a calming effect by gradually tensing and releasing muscles throughout the body in conjunction with controlled breathing.
Studies have found that PMR can help people with insomnia, and if done carefully, it can be beneficial for people who are bothered by arthritis or other forms of physical pain. PMR is not recommended for people with uncontrolled cardiovascular problems.
Visualizing a peaceful image from your past in all its details causes your attention to promote relaxation.
Visual thinkers who easily recall past scenes, full of details, are apt to use images as part of their relaxation in bed.
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Adverse effects are rare for relaxation techniques, but a few people find they can trigger anxiety. Anyone who is concerned about trying these methods should consult their doctor for specific instructions before starting.
Even meditation experts find that their minds can wander during these relaxation techniques, so don’t worry if it happens to you. Instead, stay calm, take it slow and try to bring your mind back to the main focus of attention.
If you go to bed and can’t fall asleep after 20 minutes, get up, go to another part of your house, and do something relaxing like reading or listening to quiet music.
Staying in bed too long can create a negative psychological connection between your sleeping environment and waking up. Instead, you want your bed to reflect the thoughts and feelings that lead to sleep.
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Before you actually go to bed, a few simple tips can help calm your mind and Your body prepares for easy sleep:
In addition to immediate preparation for the bedroom, a combination of basic sleep tips can help you fall asleep and prevent serious sleep problems.
Eric Suni has more than a decade of experience as a scientist and was previously an information specialist at the National Cancer Institute.
Dr. Singh is the medical director of the Indiana Sleep Center. His research and clinical practice has focused on many sleep disorders.
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Our editorial team is dedicated to providing content that meets the highest standards for accuracy and objectivity. Our editors and medical experts rigorously evaluate each article and guide to ensure that the information is factual, current and unbiased. Kristina Ackermann, B.A., is a professional writer and editor. Her professional experience includes evidence-based research for peer-reviewed medical journals, with a focus on prehospital care. Read more
Insomnia is a common sleep disorder that refers to the inability to fall asleep or stay asleep even when offered the opportunity, as defined by the National Sleep Foundation (NSF). Whether you’ve had insomnia for a few days or a few months, you often wake up tired and unable to recover from each day.
The two main types of insomnia are acute (short-term) insomnia and chronic (long-term) insomnia. Acute insomnia is the most common type of insomnia and is often caused by a specific life event such as a test at school or work that causes fear or stress that makes you unable to sleep. Acute insomnia usually goes away on its own and does not require treatment.
Chronic insomnia, however, may require treatment to maintain normal sleep patterns. Insomnia is characterized as chronic if it occurs at least three nights a week for at least three consecutive months. Causes of chronic insomnia can be poor sleeping environment and sleeping habits, new medications, mental health problems or medical problems.
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The NSF reports that approximately 30 percent of the US population reports some form of sleep disorder. Ten percent of adults nationwide report sleep problems that meet diagnostic criteria for insomnia. A report from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) found that nearly 60 million Americans experience insomnia each year and wake up feeling unrefreshed.
The NSF explains that the short-term effects of insomnia include fatigue, loss of energy, poor concentration, changes in mood, stress and irritability. In the short term, these symptoms may be manageable, but they can quickly escalate if the underlying cause of insomnia is not properly treated.
The long-term effects of insomnia put individuals at higher risk for serious medical conditions as well as mental health problems. Type 2 diabetes, stroke, asthma, seizures, a weakened immune system, sensitivity to pain, inflammation, obesity, high blood pressure, and heart disease are all associated with chronic insomnia. Anxiety, depression, confusion and frustration are also seen in patients who suffer from insomnia for a long time.
In addition to the above medical and mental health conditions, the overall practice suffers from chronic insomnia. Performance at work and school, sex, memory, and judgment are all affected when the body and mind are not getting enough sleep and recovery time. Napping during the day is also a big concern, due to the increased risk of accidents. Up.
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Medication, therapy, and lifestyle changes are all treatment options for insomnia. Medicines can be used in the short term to force better sleep patterns. Sleeping pills can cause dependence, but without increasing the significant amount of quality sleep. Studies have shown that sleeping pills only add about 8-20 minutes of extra sleep per night on average. People still take longer to fall asleep at night and wake up early in the morning despite taking sleeping pills.
Specific medications developed to treat insomnia include sedative hypnotics, benzodiazepines, nonbenzodiazepines, antidepressants, antihistamines, and melatonin. Sedative hypnotics make the user feel drowsy, so they are most useful for those struggling to fall asleep.
Benzodiazepines help reduce anxiety, relax muscles and induce sleep. They are addictive and dangerous to use with other drugs and alcohol, so they are intended only for short-term use.
Nonbenzodiazepines also induce sleep, but they have fewer side effects than benzodiazepines, so they are safer to use for longer periods of time. They are shorter acting and less likely to cause residual effects than benzodiazepines.
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