By: SMP Staff
Insomnia is generally taking longer than 20-25 minutes to fall asleep which occurs more than three times a week. 1 According to Sleep Expert Michael J. Breus, PhD., at any given time, one third of the population will have trouble falling asleep, and ten percent of those have chronic insomnia.
This means a myriad of extra health problems for many chronic non-sleepers, not to mention the frustration of not being able to fall asleep when you know you need it. (See Sleep – Frequently Asked Questions for more help and information on health problems associated with not getting a good night’s rest.)
There are many things that may affect your ability to fall asleep including the amount of light you get in the day and the darkness of your room at night, (see Why Bright Lights and Dark Nights are Essential for Sleep). For many, young children, teenagers, traveling, schedule changes, health issues or injuries, diet, and other factors may inhibit the ability to fall asleep temporarily
One of the most common causes of insomnia, and chronic insomnia, is anxiety. Racing thoughts, fears, feelings of needing to do something, and tight muscles, keep many people from relaxing and falling asleep each night. Not being able to fall asleep can increase anxiety and the whole cycle just seems to get worse
How can you turn off those thoughts and fears, and relax your muscles into peaceful slumber? It turns out that there are several things that have proven quite helpful.
Try These Three Tips for Overcoming Insomnia
Worry Journal – There is an amazing power in getting out frustrations and fears on paper. Many people actually feel a physical and emotional release when they write about their day. Sometimes solutions to problems present themselves while writing. If not, just the ability to state worries on paper and then put them aside for the night is beneficial. Some people keep the journals, and some throw the papers away. Either way seems to help those who want to fall asleep.
Distractions – Believe it or not, counting sheep may help. Tricking our minds to think of other, more mundane things can help it to relax and fall asleep. Some suggest counting backwards from 300 by three’s. 1 Another constructive distraction is listening to a relaxation exercise like deep breathing while in bed.
Progressive Relaxation – According to sleep expert, Michael J. Breus from the National Sleep Institute, progressive relaxation (the gradual tightening and releasing of muscles) might be one of the very best ways to overcome insomnia. By tightening and loosening your muscles, your body and mind become naturally relaxed and ready for deep rest.
Check out our new course Master Your Stress for a great mix of progressive relaxation exercises and other tools available for you.
(1) “Good Night. The Sleep Doctors 4 Week Program to Better Sleep and Better Health,”Dr. Michael J. Bruess Ph.D.